County GOP figure Toppin suffers stroke

Published 12:51 am Sunday, September 16, 2007

By Staff
Hospitalized in Durham
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
Ron Toppin, a well-known figure in the Beaufort County Republican Party and a perennial challenger of Senate leader Marc Basnight, is in Duke University Hospital following a stroke.
Toppin was diagnosed on Sept. 5 as having had a cerebellar stroke, following about a week’s worth of symptoms, his wife Ellen said Saturday. Initially flown to Duke and listed as critical, he has since stabilized, but still has several blood clots, she said.
Toppin resumed his usual activities, his wife said, including campaigning for gubernatorial candidate and Republican state Sen. Fred Smith. Toppin is managing some of Smith’s campaign activities in northeastern North Carolina and has helped Smith promote his Statewide BBQ Tour.
But for several days following, Toppin, who lives in Washington, would be in an out of urgent-care facilities and emergency rooms in both Beaufort and Pitt counties before being airlifted to Durham. It was there that he was diagnosed with a stroke of the brain that has “affected all of his senses,” his wife said.
Toppin, 63, is perhaps best known as the longtime political rival of Basnight, the Manteo Democrat whose First District includes Beaufort, Hyde, Washington and Tyrrell counties. Toppin has challenged Basnight for his Senate seat four times. In 2006, Toppin narrowly defeated Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson in the Republican primary before challenging, and losing to, Basnight in the Senate race.
Toppin was listed in good condition as of Saturday night, a hospital spokeswoman said. He recently passed the “swallow test,” but is still being fed by a tube, Ellen Toppin said. Doctors continue to monitor three blockages that can’t be corrected with surgery.
Toppin has battled medical issues in the past, including cancer, said his daughter-in-law Stacey.