Rufus L. Edmisten

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Rufus L. Edmisten
21st Secretary of State of North Carolina
In office
Governor James G. Martin
James B. Hunt Jr.
Preceded by Thad A. Eure
Succeeded by Janice I. Faulkner
46th Attorney General of North Carolina
In office
Governor James E. Holshouser Jr., and James B. Hunt Jr.
Preceded by James H. Carson Jr.
Succeeded by Lacy Thornburg
Personal details
Born Rufus Lige Edmisten
(1941-07-12) July 12, 1941 (age 76)
Boone, North Carolina, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill

Rufus Lige Edmisten[1] (born July 12, 1941) is a former North Carolina Secretary of State, Attorney General, and candidate for Governor in 1984. He is currently a lawyer in private practice.

Life and career[edit]

Rufus L. Edmisten was born and raised in Boone, North Carolina. He earned an undergraduate degree in political science with honors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law Center in Washington, D.C., where he served on the Law Review. During law school, he joined the Capitol Hill staff of North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin, where he served as the Counsel to Senator Ervin's Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights and as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Separation of Powers. In 1973-1974, Edmisten was the Deputy Chief Counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee, which Ervin chaired. With Terry Lenzner, an assistant counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee, Edmisten served the subpoena to the White House for the Watergate tapes.[2] It was the first time in history that a Congressional Committee served a subpoena on a sitting President. During his time working for Senator Ervin, Edmisten participated in important legislative initiatives, such as securing constitutional rights for American Indians and providing constitutional protections for military personnel. Following Senator Ervin's retirement in 1974, Edmisten returned to North Carolina. He was elected state attorney general in 1974 and served in that post for ten years. While attorney general, Edmisten engaged in a successful effort to prevent the damming of the scenic New River.[citation needed] He launched a variety of legislative efforts, such as securing victim's rights, enhancing the state's historic preservation laws, and setting new educational standards for the state's law enforcement personnel.[citation needed] Edmisten was the Democratic nominee for Governor in 1984, losing to Republican James G. Martin, a loss attributed to Martin's endorsements by Edmisten's Democratic primary rivals.[3]

After his unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign, Edmisten practiced law with Reagan H. Weaver for four years. In the 1988 and 1992 elections, Edmisten won the office of Secretary of State. As Secretary of State he broadened securities oversight in an effort to protect investors, and worked with the General Assembly to craft a law to establish Limited Liability Corporations in North Carolina.

In 1996 Edmisten resigned from office after an audit of the Secretary of State's office led to a State Bureau of Investigations inquiry into several alleged abuses of office.[4] The investigation, which involved more than 100 interviews and culminated in a 3000-page report, exonerated Edmisten and his staff from all the accusations. Edmisten maintained that his resignation had nothing to do with the investigation. After his resignation in 1996 Edmisten launched a legal practice that merged with that of former NC Department of Justice colleague and Deputy US attorney, Woody Webb, in 1998.

Edmisten has filled key roles in several private organizations outside of his legal practice. He runs a charity in North Carolina called the Foundation for Good Business: Extra Special Super Kids. The Super Kids program provides college scholarships to underprivileged high school students who wish to pursue higher learning. Rufus has served on the N.C. Capitol Foundation for over 25 years, including a six-year stint (2000-2006) as President of the foundation. He is a member of the boards of directors of the Julia Crump Foundation and Project Enlightenment, both of which are charitable organizations that seek to enhance educational opportunities for disadvantaged youths. Rufus also served as a board member for the Raleigh region of Union Bank. Thirty years ago, Rufus, famous Jim Valvano, and Don Shea founded the Jim Valvano Kids Klassic Golf Tournament, which has raised several million dollars to seek a cure for children suffering from cancer at Duke University Hospital.

Rufus and his wife, Linda, live in a designated 1921 National Register and Raleigh Historic Landmark house.

He is a panelist on NC Spin, North Carolina's longest running political talk show, and he is a frequent guest on the Weekend Gardener, a 40-year-old popular garden show on WPTF Radio. Edmisten is an avid gardener. Jasper, a six-year-old, feisty English Setter, is Rufus's best buddy[citation needed] and the protector of the 2 1/2 acre home place.

Electoral history[edit]

Democratic primary election, Governor of North Carolina, May 8, 1984
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Rufus L. Edmisten 295,051 30.87
Democratic H. Edward Knox 249,286 26.08
Democratic Duncan McLauchlin "Lauch" Faircloth 153,210 16.03
Democratic Thomas O. Gilmore 82,299 8.61
Democratic James C. "Jimmy" Green 80,775 8.45
Democratic John R. Ingram 75,248 7.87
Democratic Robert L. Hannon 9,476 0.99
Democratic Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. 5,790 0.61
Democratic J. Andrew Barker 3,148 0.33
Democratic J.D. Whaley 1,516 0.16
1984 NC Governor Democratic Primary Runoff Results[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rufus L. Edmisten 352,351 51.91%
Democratic H. Edward Knox 326,278 48.08%% -3.83%

General election results[edit]

1984 NC Governor Election Results[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican James G. Martin 1,208,167 54.26%
Democratic Rufus L. Edmisten 1,011,209 45.41 -9.49%
Libertarian H. Fritz Prochnaw 4,610 0.21%
Socialist Workers Gregory McCartan 2,740 0.12%
Turnout 2,226,743 100%


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Rufus Edmisten". WUNC. Retrieved 2016-04-12. 
  3. ^ Hood, John (2013-10-11). "Political Grudges Are Nothing New". Carolina Journal. Retrieved 2016-04-12. 
  4. ^ "Secretary of State Edmisten Will Resign". 1996-03-11. Retrieved 2016-04-12. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Atlas Forum Index". Atlas Forum. March 2011. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
James H. Carson Jr.
Attorney General of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Lacy Thornburg