By GARY D. ROBERTSON
RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- North Carolina's most powerful state senator for the past 18 years is resigning from the chamber, rather than remaining in the Senate for one more term as he previously announced.
Outgoing Senate leader Marc Basnight of Dare County told reporters Tuesday that he is leaving for health reasons. Basnight has been struggling for a few years with a degenerative nerve disease that affects his balance and speech.
His decision comes two months after the Republicans won a majority in the chamber for the first time in a century. The GOP majority means Basnight wouldn't have kept the president pro tempore's job he's held since 1993.
Basnight said earlier he would serve in the Senate through 2012, then retire. Now Democrats in Basnight's northeastern district will choose his successor immediately.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)