Robeson County conservatives took two steps forward and one step back this election.
As the first Republican governor in 20 years, Pat McCrory wishes to make the state competitive with surrounding states. He is a buffer to national liberal policy and won about a dozen county precincts. With Democratic support, McCrory closed in on 40 percent of the local vote. Any Republican who can secure that local percentage easily wins statewide.
Richard Hudson is the new Republican congressman representing Robeson. Though there was more of a partisan divide, he still won half dozen county precincts. They’re still counting votes between Rouzer and McIntyre in the congressional District 7, so we’ll be analyzing these races for weeks. Conservative strategists called these races correctly. McCrory big win, Hudson comfortable win and Rouzer close either way. This may be McIntyr’es last win, as the numbers are not trending in his favor. A mid-term election would be worse. His survival though demonstrates his strength nonetheless.
The presidential race was the huge setback. Obama’s re-election seemed illogical in light of his first-term track record.
The president delivered an eloquent victory speech vowing to put a nasty campaign behind and now work in a bi-partisan manner. Reagan said “trust but verify.” But you can’t argue with a 60 percent Obama win out of Robeson. That’s huge. Obama simply had an incredible ground game and no one can argue that point.
In local losses, Republicans would have liked to retain the NC Legislature seat and pick up another commissioner seat. But from the beginning, both candidates understood it was an uphill battle.
Rep. G.L> Pridgen has been one of the most effective legislators in Raleigh. Though he won 2 to 1 in Robeson, the campaign was unable to overcome re-districting into Democratic Columbus. His service has been admirable and the loss of a Republican voice in a Republican Legislature is a setback.
Commissioner Tom Taylor alone shouldered the public backlash over compensation controversies. But no other candidates came forward to provide choices except Dennis Harrell, who provided a legitimate option during the short campaign.
Taylor and Harrell should be commended for exhibiting excellent campaigns and absorbing the public heat. Providing choice exercises and strengthens a democracy. It is now time to rally behind all the winners as they represent both Democrats and Republicans — a unity unique to American politics.
We also need to thank the commissioner and legislature races for mobilizing an electorate that favored McCrory and Romney in the process. Only 9 percent of voters selected a straight Republican ticket in 2008. Four eastern precincts led the way in a campaign to move that to 20 percent this year. Democrat straight ticket topped at 78 percent.
In the end, Republicans enjoyed huge advances, which has Democrats singing the blues. Democratic leaders make the point that McCrory was mayor of a big city citing urban issues as different from rural issues, so somehow rural areas will be ignored. But the argument is irrational.
If Robeson is ignored, it is because Robeson is stubbornly a blue county in a red state. The issue isn’t urban areas turned red; the fact is the whole state turned red. Just examine a map of donor and vote margin in the state.
McCrory only lost 23 counties and won rural areas by larger margins than urban areas. Math favors rural areas electing McCrory. Actually, he barely won Wake and Mecklenburg while losing Durham by a huge margin.
Donor origination is a different argument but with the same conclusion, raising $9 per Charlotte vote and $8 per Robeson vote — essentially the same ratio. McCrory understands this and visited Robeson quite a bit.
Again, McCrory’s plan is to make North Carolina competitive with neighboring states. Since Robeson borders South Carolina, that’s a rational solution everyone can appreciate.
Certainly there is national trepidation. But Republican policies should advance this state. And if Democratic policies continue to fail nationally, 2014 will be an even bigger year for conservatives.
Phillip Stephens is chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.