By Pete Zamplas
Conservative businessman Mark Meadows, who beat Vance Patterson three-to-one Tuesday in the GOP primary run-off for Congress, is linking Democrat candidate Hayden Rogers as incumbent Heath Shuler’s top aide to Shuler’s votes with the Democrat majority such against repealing “Obamacare” health care. Real estate entrepreneur Meadows of Highlands, 52, won the primary by 76.3 percent to 23.7 percent, over 61-year-old businessman Patterson of Morganton, in the 17-county U.S. 11th House District. Meadows won every county but Cherokee and Burke, Patterson’s home, both he barely won. The district-wide tally was 17,399 to 5,405.
The district’s biggest turnout was in Henderson County, where Meadows earned a whopping 90.2 percent to win 5,267 to 573. He was endorsed by 2010 GOP candidate Jeff Miller, a respected Hendersonville businessman. The next largest vote was in Buncombe County, which Meadows won 1,787 (76%) to 562. He also topped 1,000 votes in Caldwell (1,521) and McDowell (1,055) counties. Neither Meadows nor Patterson reached the required 40 percent mark in a crowded eight-person field in the primary May 8, prompting the run-off. Meanwhile Rogers won outright May 8, over Asheville councilman Cecil Bothwell and retiree Tom Hill of Zirconia. Robbinsville native Rogers lives in Brasstown, is a Princeton grad and Shuler’s chief of staff. The main election is Nov. 6.
Meadows looked ahead to Rogers and the Democrats as part of the 11th GOP final runoff debate with Patterson July 3 in Hendersonville. It was sponsored by the Henderson County Republican Men’s and Women’s clubs. Though Rogers may speak about his issue views as distinctive from Shuler’s Meadows said, Rogers “leads Shuler’s paid staff. He’s the (prime) political advisor. They go lock, stock together.” Specifically, Meadows bashed Rogers for Shuler voting along with Democrats to oppose the House-passed repeal of Pres. Barack Obama’s Congress-enacted federal health care program. Opinion polls show 60 percent of constituents want the program undone, but Rep. Shuler ignored “what the people want,” Meadows said.
Pres. Obam “usurps our freedoms” with mandated health insurance, Meadows said. “Hayden Rogers said ‘move on.’ We need to challenge the status quo.” The U.S. Supreme Court this month upheld constitutionality of the “individual mandate,” of forcing of citizens to buy a private product in health insurance by 2014 or else be fined. Chief Justice John Roberts, in his controlling opinion, ruled the fine and in turn the mandate behind it is part of congressional taxing power.
Yet that enables the GOP to vote against the mandate “tax,” with a mere 51-vote simple majority in “reconciliation” rather than the usual 60-vote filibuster-proof super majority. Now, Democrats have 51 votes to 47 for the GOP and two independents — conservative Democrat Joe Lieberman and socialist Bernie Sanders. Republicans hope to gain four seats for a majority, in the election Nov. 6. People can get reimbursements for health care premiums only if their state sets up an insurance “exchange,” according to the complex health law. State GOP leaders want North Carolina to opt out. The more states that join in, the higher the program costs soar. Meadows and other GOP candidates call for fully repealing “Obamacare.” Meadows’ prospects for winning Shuler’s seat are brightened by various people’s comments about his common-sense stands, relaxed and confident nature, charisma and statesmanship. Further, the 11th District has a new, clear GOP majority after losing liberal bastion Asheville to the neighboring safely-GOP 10th, as redistricting put four Democrat-held seats into play. North Carolina’s delegation tilts 7-6 to Democrats. These races affect Democrat efforts to win 25 more seats than Republicans, to take back the U.S. House.
The 11th is bound to get much national funding from both parties’ allied groups, as usual, as pivotal to another close nationwide battle for Capitol Hill supremacy. Meadows said his many volunteers are motivated by concern over the future, and share his zest to “reclaim our country” from a “path to socialism.”
The stakes include spending, taxation, Obamacare, national debt, military preparedness, and ideological balance of the Supreme Court with a handful of justices nearing retirement age, Meadows said. He is determined to help “not allow liberal judges to interpret it and make laws.” He said regulatory agencies too often redefine rather than implement policies, and thus “it’s important to confirm good men and women to these posts” in a Republican administration.
He pounded Democrats for such steps as to “steal $500 million from Medicare,” and raid the Social Security trust fund with hard-to-reimburse IOUs for other spending. He urges spending, tax and regulatory cuts to spur business and economic growth. Meadows said “we should get government out of the way” of business growth. He has backed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “20/20 Plan to lower corporate taxes from 35 to 20 percent, and cut out 20 percent of regulations. Another Perry component, which Meadows said could be studied for its viability, is to give individuals the option to pay income tax at a “flat” 20 percent or whatever rate from the standard but more complex system.
But Meadows said implications need to be thought out well, for any such change in the federal tax system. He avoided falling in Tea Party line for the “fair tax,” and cautioned against it. That is a “consumption” tax, intended in place of income tax. But critics warn a national sales tax might have to be at severe rate, unless accompanied by sharp budget cuts Democrats oppose. And future Congresses could reviving income tax, even keeping sales tax as well. Further, Shuler’s campaign in last-ditch television ads referring to the fair tax as Miller’s plan, though it was not and he did not endorse it. He simply said it warranted discussion.
Meadows said “Heath Shuler and Hayden Rogers have put together zero proposals, to truly reform taxes.” Meadows touts Christian values and protecting traditional marriage, fetal right to life, and gun ownership among constitutional rights. He espouses fiscal restraint with a “business approach,” rather than steadily raising the debt ceiling and going “over a fiscal cliff.”
The runoff election Tuesday also decided several statewide candidates. GOP winners are Dan Forest over Tony Gurley for lieutenant governor, Ed Goodwin over Kenn Gardner for secretary of state, John Tedesco over Richard Alexander for Public Instruction superintendent, and Wayne Causey over Richard Morgan for insurance commissioner. Labor Commissioner John Brooks fended off Marlowe Foster, in a duel of Democrats. Henderson County results mirrored statewide ones, except for Morgan barely prevailing.