GOP candidate seeks to grab open NC-11 seat.
Republican Congressional candidate Mark Meadows – a Jackson County real-estate investor – is attempting to gain some traction and separate himself from the rest of the GOP field, which includes seven other challengers, before the May primary. Meadows’ greatest strength thus far may be his ability to self-finance his campaign and raise additional money, an asset that has become crucial for anyone seeking political office to have in the modern era.
Indeed, 78 percent of Meadows’ campaign money raised came from his wallet. The latest campaign finance report released on Dec. 31, shows that his campaign has more money on hand with $321,832 than any other candidate. The next closest contender in terms of money raised is Ethan Wingfield, who has just over $204,000 in his campaign war chest.
Furthermore, Democratic incumbent Heath Shuler announced two weeks ago that he would not seek a fourth term in office. His decision led the highly respected and non-partisan Cook Political Report organization to designate the 11th Congressional seat of North Carolina as likely Republican, instead of their formerly designated toss-up status. It is yet be seen how Hayden Rogers’, Shuler’s chief of staff, announcement to run for the open seat will effect the race.
Shuler’s decision may have handed the seat over to Republicans, based off of the Cook Report’s projection. “I was in Burke County meeting with the Medical community on health care issues when I heard the news,” said Meadows on Rep. Shuler’s announcement two weeks ago. “I was encouraged by the news, not that it would put any less emphasis on our message of jobs, reduced regulations, and stopping the administrations big government agenda, but 88 percent of incumbent congressmen get re-elected,” he said.
Adding to Meadows’ recent momentum was Jeff Miller’s endorsement of his candidacy. Miller, a Hendersonville small business- owner, challenged Shuler in 2010 and lost by eight percentage points. “We were pleased with Jeff Miller’s endorsement. He is well thought of across the district and loved in Henderson County,” said Meadows. “I met him in 2010 and he liked the fact that I was a small businessman that understood how Washington D.C. was making it harder on the working man,” he said.
Looking ahead, Meadows understands that seeking the now open seat is a full-time job. “It is very hard to reach everyone in this district,” he said. “17 counties, four hours and 42 minutes from one end to the other. It is taking a great deal of effort to just show up and meet people,” stated Meadows. “My biggest frustration is my desire to meet everyone personally and yet finding there is not enough hours in the week to do so,” he said.
The district received a dramatic makeover in the latest decennial redistricting maps. Avery, Burke, Caldwell, and Mitchell counties are now apart of the district as a consequence of the 2010 gerrymandering by state legislators.
How does Meadows’ campaign plan to clear a path to victory this spring and fall? “We are spending countless hours meeting with people to understand their concerns. We have met with farmers, homebuilders, educators, the medical community, business people, local governments, and church groups to better understand their needs,” said Meadows. The candidate believes his team of nearly 150 volunteers will enable his campaign to spread his core message of liberty. “We are on a path to socialism that will only lead to more unemployed friends and neighbors,” said Meadows. “Thomas Jefferson stated it well when he said a government big enough to give you everything you need is big enough to take away everything you have,” he added.
When asked to expand on why he believes President Obama supports socialist policies, Meadows explained that the health insurance mandate, the administration’s contraception compromise, and their tireless spending is leading the country down an untenable path. “I know the individual mandate was proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation in the early 90s, but it’s not something I agreed with then and I don’t agree with it now. I think anytime the government gets involved with anything, it distorts the market. Look at what happened with the deregulation of the telecommunications industry. That sparked dramatic private investment and growth once government got out of the way,” he said.
Meadows also feels like liberal calls for increased public spending is yawning. “They talk about low interest rates and little inflation to back up their policy positions, but anyone who goes to the grocery store knows that prices for commodities are increasing,” he said. Inflation is not being measured accurately because real estate prices are so low, explained the candidate.
On the road, the candidate is touting his new economic plan, entitled the 20/20 vision. He believes the economic plan demonstrates his ability to be straightforward with voters and illustrates his conservative principles. The 20/20 plan would eliminate tax loopholes and corporate tax rates from the second highest in the world to 20 percent to “keep small businesses competitive and keep jobs in the United States,” said Meadows. The top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, but with so many loopholes in the tax code, many corporations pay much less than that in effective tax rates.
He is also calling on Congress to reduce regulations across the board by 20 percent, and to put a moratorium on new regulation laws until the 20 percent threshold was met. “We currently spend approximately 1/6 of our GDP on regulations,” he explained.
His 20/20 vision calls for a reduction in the nation’s demand for foreign oil by 20 percent by the year 2020. Meadows would accomplish this goal by sponsoring or endorsing proposals to lift restrictions on drilling and tapping the country’s large national gas reserves. “No single factor affects the family more at this point in history than the cost of gas and fuel. We fail to remember that gas was approximately $1.80 a gallon when Obama was elected. This doubling of fuel prices has resulted in a middle class squeeze,” he said.
Moreover, his plan would allow earnings being held abroad in Europe, China, and other countries to be brought back to America, tax free “as long as it is invested in the private sector for job creation,” he explained. “Currently, there is more than 1.25 trillion dollars being held abroad and invested there. This single act would have four times the benefit of President Obama’s stimulus plan,” stated Meadows.
The 2012 electoral season is beginning to get busy for Meadows. “Things kick into high gear this month, radio and mail are starting, key endorsements roll out, personal phone calls, etc. Most people in the district do not know any of the candidates that are running but with the plan and organization that we have in place, our message of a limited government, which protects our liberties, our families and our jobs will hopefully start to reach every voter. I stand for life, liberty and less government,” he concluded.