This past Saturday I attended my first local GOP meeting – a monthly breakfast of the Rockingham County, NC GOP. It is my first step in getting active in local politics after years of following only the national scene. I could write a much lengthier post about the issues and challenges my local GOP sees – and perhaps I will at some point. However, the big agenda item at this meeting was the chance to hear from three of the four candidates running in the primary to unseat Brad Miller (D, NC-13).
NC-13 covers parts of north-central North Carolina (Wake, Person, Caswell, Rockingham, Granville, Guilford, Alamance counties). NC-13 voted for Bush in 2000 (50%-49%) but voted democrat in 2004 and 2008. I add the disclaimer that although I live in Rockingham County I am in NC-5, represented by Virginia Foxx.
Before the candidates spoke, the local GOP chair took a moment to state that any of the candidates would be supportable against Brad Miller. He also briefly noted Reagan’s 11th commandment (for those who do not know, this is “do not speak ill of a fellow Republican”). Although not worded as a warning to the candidates, I can only assume that was the intention of the comment.
The first candidate was Bill Randall. I had heard Mr. Randall’s name previously, as he has active Facebook and Twitter accounts and keeps frequent contact with those who follow him. He grew up in New Orleans as part of a military family and served 27 years in the Navy. While mentioning his wife and children, he noted that this is his second marriage and he has an older daughter. This statement appears to have been made due to a comment by our lead speaker, Tim Johnson (Vice Chair, NCGOP), who stated that marriage should be “one man, one woman, one time“. I mention this only because it came up later in the meeting. Mr. Randall appears to be a solid conservative. As part of his discussion on issues, he stated that before supporting any bill he would consider it against four criteria: Constitutional, Affordable, Necessary, Ethical. Only if the bill met all four would he proceed with further review.
The second candidate to speak was Frank Hurley. He is a former Congressional staffer for Jack Kemp and former Deputy Chief Scientist at NASA. Mr. Hurley started out with a description of his background and stated that he was right for the job because he had real solutions and ideas. He brought a display with him that listed some of them – unfortunately I did not get them noted and they are not listed on his website. However, they seemed to be “one note” ideas – his economy idea was simply to eliminate one particular federal agency. During his talk he said that we should penalize companies that export jobs. He then ventured into illegal immigration. He stated that even if those who are now illegal went home and started the legal route we wouldn’t want them here, because they would change our culture. “Do we want that? Hell no!” He continued down this path but the moderator stepped up and spoke to him. It was apparent he had lost track of time as he was already over the “7-8minutes” he’d initially said he would speak, and would have gone on for some time if they’d let him. He did not finish his comments but rather wrapped up quickly and sat down.
The third candidate was Dan Huffman. Mr. Huffman is a North Carolina businessman. He has a good slate of issues and appears to be a solid conservative. One item he mentioned that I liked was “one issue at a time in any bill” and writing bills in such a way that they can be read and understood. However, I was put off late in his comments when he noted that he had six children – “all by the same wife by the way”. This was clearly a personal swipe at Bill Randall and although there was some laughter at first, it stopped once the room realized what had happened.
There is one other candidate who was not present – Bernie Reeves. I was unable to find any website for him online so I can’t report on his positions.
My personal thought on hearing these three candidates is that Bill Randall is in the best position to challenge Brad Miller. He spoke confidently and has a good command of issues. He is connected with the technology he will need to get his name & issues out there. I like Dan Huffman but didn’t get the same sense that he was a good fit for the general election, and of course his personal swipe at a fellow Republican seemed quite out of order. If he wins the primary though he is definitely someone I could support. Frank Hurley appears to be the outsider in the room and I don’t think he will do well in the primary, much less the general.
This may be an excellent opportunity for a GOP pickup in the House.
I hope to continue reporting on this race and other North Carolina items as I hear about them in local GOP meetings…and to do a better job of getting the details next time!