This November will be the first time in 18 years the Charlotte area’s 9th congressional district will have a new representative. Longtime Rep. Sue Myrick announced in February that she was stepping down, and now 10 Republicans are vying to fill her spot. The district boundaries have been redrawn to stretch from Union County to south Iredell, and the district now includes north Mecklenburg. Lisa Miller of our news partner WFAE-FM talked about the race with “Morning Edition” host Marshall Terry on Friday.
TERRY: Lisa, it’s certainly a crowded field.
MILLER: Oh yes, it certainly is a crowded field. We have the ten Republicans, one Democrat, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts, and one Libertarian. And at least for this discussion we’ll focus on the Republicans since their primary is contested. This district includes parts of Mecklenburg, Union and Iredell counties. Right now a lot of the attention has been focused on the showdown between former state senator Robert Pittenger and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendegraph. Now, no finance reports are available yet, but Pittenger appears to be spending the most. He’s aired a few TV ads and the latest one is causing the stir. It’s the first attack ad of the campaign. Listen to this:
ADVERTISING CLIP: Lifelong Democrat Jim Pendergraph. The Observer exposed his secret government bonus that broke government policy…
TERRY: Well, is there any truth to these charges?
MILLER: Well, that last part is misleading. What the ad refers to as a secret government bonus was actually money Pendergraph received for unused sick days, when he retired as sheriff. Now it was unusual, but it was approved by County Manager Harry Jones. But, yes, he was a Democrat including when he was sheriff. He said he changed four years ago and he says it’s not a big deal.
PENDERGRAPH: If you look at Ronald Reagan, he was a Democrat. Jesse Helms was…they realized ‘this wasn’t for me.’ And I did the same thing. And after I changed parties I felt cleansed ever since.
TERRY: So there’s that scuffle, but are there any big ideological differences between the Republican candidates?
MILLER: Ah…not between most of them. You hear the candidates talk a lot about cutting spending, reducing the country’s debt, and lifting some regulations they say hamper businesses. State Senator Ric Killian has put a lot of emphasis on foreign policy too. He’s a colonel in the Army Reserves. He just got back from a six-month tour in Afghanistan and has also served in Iraq. He says that experience gives him credibility on those matters.
KILLIAN: I think that the purpose of our military is to fight and win our nation’s wars. It is not to build nations. I think that with respect to Afghanistan, it’s a very, very difficult situation, but I believe we’re on course to end that mission in 2014 and we should do that.
MILLER: Another candidate Edwin Peacock casts himself as someone who keeps an open mind and tries to build consensus. He’s a financial advisor and a former Charlotte city councilman. Now, there are two Republican candidates running on Libertarian themes. Mike Steinberg is a financial advisor and insurance agent. He was actually the only one who announced his run before Myrick said she was not seeking re-election. He says the federal government needs to be limited to the powers specifically delegated to it by the Constitution. Richard Lynch, an inventor from Belmont, believes the same thing. Now, neither of them has held office and they’re proud of it. Here’s Lynch:
LYNCH: Congress doesn’t need experienced politicians. We need people who have experienced the hardships created by those experienced politicians.
TERRY: There are several political newcomers in this race. What do we know about them?
MILLER: Jon Gauthier has never run for office, but he has spent several years on Capitol Hill. He was an assistant to former Secretary Jack Kemp at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. During the Ronald Reagan administration, he worked in the management and budget. Now, he’s a financial planner. He says his training in public policy and economics would serve him well in Congress. Ken Leonczyk is a lawyer and ordained minister. He was serving as a counsel to the house financial services committee. During his time there, he says he worked with Republicans on repealing parts of the Dodd-Frank Act. That’s the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. He says some of those regulations are actually hurting economy. Leonczyck actually moved back to Charlotte just to run for the office.
TERRY: And the other candidates…who are they?
MILLER: Charlotte City Councilman Andy Dulin is in the race. He’s a real estate agent and has been popular in his South Charlotte district. He says his city council experience has prepared him for Congress because many of the issues are the same, but on a grander scale. Dan Barry is the mayor pro-tem of Weddington. He’s also a regional VP for an investment management company. He says the federal government should pass more power back to states.
TERRY: Now with so many candidates is a run-off likely?
MILLER: Well, with ten candidates in the race, there’s a good chance, no one will get the required 40 percent. If that happens, a run-off would be held on June 26 July 17 between the top two vote-getters.
TERRY: Thanks for the update, Lisa.
MILLER: Thank you.
9th District Candidates
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