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People ‘are looking for experience and return to normalcy,’ Davis says

Moe Davis Moe Davis

When he was a student at Appalachian State in Boone, Moe Davis's friends introduced him to a natural feature in the 11th Congressional District.

“A couple of my roommates were from Brevard and were big rock climbers,” says Davis, a native of Shelby and the Democratic nominee for Congress. “Back in the day, we climbed Looking Glass Rock, back when we were in college. I left here in ’83 when I joined the military. Seeing the rest of the world made me appreciate Western North Carolina. It’s always been my plan to come back here.” He and his wife have lived in Asheville since the spring of 2018.
Davis’s career as a prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, administrative law judge and instructor on defense policy with the Congressional Research Service puts him four decades years ahead of Cawthorn in work experience.
“If you’re in need of an electrician or a heart surgeon, you don’t go in and say, ‘Which one of you has no experience? I want you,’” he says. “Why would you do that with a member of Congress, particularly in the time we’re living in right now.”
Davis’s third quarter campaign finance report showed that he had raised $1.75 million, spent $1.35 million million and had $396,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 30.
Here is the Lightning interview with Davis:


In the pandemic environment, how do you campaign?

“It’s certainly different for me. Mr. Cawthorn has just totally ignored the Covid restrictions, choosing to put public health at risk. Like many campaigns we’ve had to adapt. Unlike the primary, where you actually go out in person and meet people where they live rather than meet them on line. Prior to Covid-19 I had literally Zoomed one time in my life. That doesn’t help in those areas, particularly in the western part of the district where half the population doesn’t have access to broadband. You can’t Zoom with those folks. We’re trying to be responsible and be the adult in the room. In public service, Job 1 is not putting the public at risk.”

How do your volunteers work?

“I’m really thankful for dozens and dozens of folks that have jumped on board and want to help. They’re doing everything from phone-banking and texting. We had a big event to distribute yard signs. We’re doing events that comply with Gov. Cooper’s executive order. … We’re trying to get out where it’s safe to do it and meet people where they live.”

What is the evidence of risk?

“You take a look at his social media, Facebook or Twitter. Back on the Fourth of July, with Dan Forest, you can look at the pictures — you don’t see face masks, everybody’s hugging, group pictures, shaking hands. I’m just not looking at putting people at risk to win an election. He said from the outset Covid-19 was overblown. From Day 1 until now he’s just been cavalier in his attitude about the pandemic.”

What do you tell the voters about experience and why it matters?

“Why would you choose the person that has no education, training or experience that equips them for the job in the midst of a pandemic and a pivotal place in our history. I think a lot of folks are just exhausted from the last 3½ years and I think they’re looking for experience and a return to normalcy.”

You also talk about your experience around Congress.

“On Jan. 3, I’ll get sworn in as the freshman class of the 117th Congress and on that Friday they’ll put all of us on a train to Williamsburg for what’s called new member orientation, conducted by Congressional Research Service. To the 111th Congress, I was on the train, helping to train new members on how to be members of Congress. … I know my way around. And I think it’s advantageous to the district, being a member of the majority. I don’t think anyone thinks the Democrats are going to lose the House. Certainly being in the majority gives you more ability to do good things for the district than being a member of the minority. This has been a red district for a while so if we put a Democrat in that chair I think the leadership will have an interest in giving me good committee assignments that will be good for the district, to try to make sure we hang on to it. (Cawthorn) would be the most unqualified member of Congress, who’s going to be in the minority. It’s a pretty stark contrast between the two of us.”

Would you vote to elect Pelosi as House speaker?

“I would. I think she’s done a pretty steady job in a pretty unsteady period in our history. I’ve got no reason to oppose her leadership. Mr. Cawthorn said it’s me taking orders from Nancy Pelosi that are causing his troubles. I’ve never met Nancy Pelosi, I’ve never spoken with her or corresponded with her and to my knowledge she’s never made any effort to communicate with me.”

Is the 11th District seat winnable for a Democrat?

“I think it’s ours to lose to be quite honest. Our challenge is to be able to communicate to the voters who I am and what I stand for.”

Some coverage has said Cawthorn has used symbols that are associated with white supremacy. Do you agree that that is what he is doing and if so what do you think of that?

“I think it’s up to him to explain to the voters of this district what his intentions were. If it was just one thing, you could pass it off as a coincidence. Company name, Betsy Ross flag. You have to look at the whole picture. I think it’s up to him to explain why all those things are just a coincidence.”


What are the top priorities you would pursue to help the 11th Congressional District?

“I’ve been asked which committees I want to serve on. One obvious one would be the Armed Services Committee. When I was working on the Hill, I testified in front of the Armed Services Committee. I’ve written legislation. I worked with John McCain and Lindsey Graham on the Military Commissions Act, so that would be a logical fit. I’d also like to be on the Veterans Affairs Committee. I’m a big believer in V.A. health care. My dad was a 100 percent disabled veteran. I’m a 60 percent disabled veteran, I used the same V.A. hospital that my dad did. I want to protect and preserve V.A. health care from folks on Mr. Cawthorn’s side who want to find a way to make a buck out of every aspect of life and veterans’ health care is in their crosshairs.”

What’s your position on internet access and broadband expansion?


“Broadband is an issue that impacts a wide range of things. Fourteen of our 17 counties were above the national average in poverty before Covid-19. Broadband is like water and electricity. If you don’t have it (job creators) are not going to come. … If you’re stuck in one of the hollers where you don’t have broadband you can’t use telemedicine. When our kids got sent home from school, a lot of them got sent home with a laptop. If you’re in one of those counties where 50 percent of the folks don’t have access to broadband, that laptop is a big paperweight. … It’s not an insurmountable problem. We just have to have the will to do it. Give me 22 months and see if I can’t make a positive difference. If I don’t keep my word then it’s the voters’ obligation to fire me.”


What is your position on immigration and the border wall?

“The money going to build Trump’s vanity wall is a waste. I support border security but I think we do that through personnel and technology not through this symbolic wall that is all symbol and no substance.”

Do you fear being pro-abortion rights puts you out of step with the voters of the 11th District?

“I know that’s a litmus test issue for many people on both sides. If you don’t have the answer they want, that’s game over. I support a woman’s right to choose. Roe v. Wade has been settled law for half a century.” Through Republican administration and Republican control of the House and Senate, the law has survived. “Charles Taylor was against abortion and Heath Shuler was against abortion and Mark Meadows was against it and we still have Roe v. Wade. A member of the House has little if any impact on whether Roe v. Wade stays or goes. It’s going to take the Supreme Court overturning that ruling and the House plays no role in the Supreme Court process. Whether I win or Cawthorn wins, neither one of us is going to be able to change Roe v. Wade.”


Do you support Joe Biden for president?

“Yes, I think it’s a huge improvement over the Trump-Pence administration. As a member of the military I’m still appalled that we’ve yet to see President Trump do a damn thing about Putin giving a bounty to the Taliban to target American troops. I served for 25 years under Republicans and Democrats. In my 25 years I never agreed with every decision that any president made but I never had any reason to doubt that they had my back. I can’t say that about Trump. Joe Biden is a steady hand and I think that’s what the country needs.”