LIGHTNING RECOMMENDS: Choose Meadows in runoff
Republicans and independents will trickle to the polls on Tuesday to choose the Republican nominee for the 11th Congressional District, a likely pickup for the GOP.
After they took control of the General Assembly, Republicans redrew the boundaries to cut out Asheville, virtually assuring that with a strong well-funded candidate the Republicans would take the seat from the Democratic Party, which won it in the Democratic tide of 2006.
If nothing else the new lines proved that Heath Shuler could read polling numbers better than he could NFL pass defenses. The three-term incumbent announced his retirement, leaving his chief of staff, Hayden Rogers, to try to hold it for the Democratic Party. Rogers is capable, smart and personable but without the Democratic redoubt in Asheville he faces a steep challenge.
The 11th District was a conservative GOP-leaning region even before Republicans redrew the lines to their decisive advantage. The Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball both rate the NC 11th as a likely Republican pickup while the Rothenberg Political Report describes it as "Republican favored."
One way the Republican Party could blow it would be to nominate Vance Patterson, the Morganton businessman who has been spouting Tea Party platitudes for two years while spending $600,000 of his own money to run for Congress.
In his 10th District run against incumbent Patrick McHenry in 2010, Patterson "raised" $283,000, $277,500 of which was his own money. This cycle he has raised $322,000, which again translates into writing himself checks: $311,000, or 97 percent, is self-financing. (An annotated examination of "discrepancies" in Patterson campaign finance reports circulating among Republicans runs 73 pages.)
His self-funded ego trip and FEC carelessness might be excused if Patterson had good ideas. He doesn't. A proven master of deficit spending himself, Patterson will go to Washington and wipe out the national debt. How? Easy. (Things are always easy at the Tea Party.) He will eliminate the departments of Energy and Education, move the EPA to Interior and send Homeland Security functions back where they came from, to Justice and Defense (actually, one of his only good ideas). Then he would order the secretaries still standing to cut personnel by 30 percent. By our calculation, Patterson would order the layoffs of 1 million federal workers his first day in Washington. Meanwhile, he promises that his policies will create full employment back home in the 11th District. Dream on.
Although Meadows toes the Tea Party line closely himself, he avoids the outlandish and groundless promises that Patterson makes.
Republicans face a simple choice on Tuesday. Indulge the Tea Party fantasies uttered by Vance Patterson and watch Rogers hold the seat for the Democrats or nominate Mark Meadows and move it back to the Republican column. We recommend voters choose Meadows.