Race for seat in 11th Congressional District tightens.
Republican voters in the 11th Congressional District will head to the polls once again on July 17 to decide which of the two businessmen will run for Congress on the GOP ticket. Jackson County resident Mark Meadows and Vance Patterson of Burke County advanced to a runoff election after neither candidate was able to secure 40 percent of the votes in the primary held on May 8.
Of the eight candidates who were vying for the seat in Congress, which opened up after Heath Shuler (D-Waynesville) opted not to run for reelection, Meadows won 37.9 percent or 35,733 of the 93,576 votes cast across the 17- county district, and Patterson won 23.62 percent or 22,306 votes.
Whoever wins the July GOP runoff, will be facing the Democratic Party's nominee, Hayden Rogers (D-Brasstown). Rogers, who has served as Shuler’s Chief of Staff for five years, earned his spot in the general election by a landslide after securing 55.73 percent or 35,518 of the 63,728 votes cast.
Patterson filed for the July 17 run off on May 11 and hopes that with fewer candidates, voters will be able to have a clearer choice of which candidate they want to send to the general election in November. “At one time there were 11 candidates pursuing the U.S. Congressional seat in the 11th District,” explained Patterson. “Everybody knew and expected there to be a runoff. Now it is down to two of us, and we are very pleased to be one of the two in the runoff. It is interesting to note that the last two are the businessmen, indicating the electorate believes the best way to approach our fiscal, social, and jobs problems is with business principles. What they need to decide now is which one of us is the best businessman.”
Meadows was also pleased with voter turnout and hopes that both the runoff election and the general election will receive the same attention. “I am humbled and appreciative of the outpouring of support during the recent primary,” he said. “The turnout was tremendous, due in large part to motivated voters turning out for the marriage amendment. I want to thank all of the people who called friends and family to vote for the amendment and support our message of life, liberty and less government. Macon County was very good to me.”
Patterson, a Kansas City, Mo., native, graduated from Hanover College in Hanover, Ind. in 1972 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He attended Butler University, where he studied M.B.A. courses in finance. “I am an American businessman; a serial entrepreneur,” said Patterson. “I've started 16 companies and two of those companies made the INC. 500 list of fastest growing companies in America, and twice I have been Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in the Southeast Region.”
Patterson and his wife of 37 years, Mary Jo, live in Burke County, where they moved 18 years ago. “We picked out Burke County 18 years ago to raise our four children,” said Patterson.
Patterson owns and operates Patterson Fan Company which makes industrial fans. “I am a manufacturer,” he said.
Patterson noted that his campaign plans to spend the next two months using the same strategy for the runoff as he did for the primary election. “We are preparing for the runoff the same way we prepared and ran our campaign to date; from a business point of view,” said Patterson. “We will re-access the market, decide where our strengths and weaknesses are, form a strategy for both and then move. In business you focus on the market, not on the competition. We’ll do the same with the runoff.”
Although both candidates are businessmen, Patterson believes that his experience as a manufacturer sets him apart from Meadows, and makes him better qualified to represent the 11th District in Congress. “We are both businessmen, which is what the electorate wanted. Mark is a real estate developer; I am a manufacturer,” said Patterson. “I believe manufacturing is the key to our economic development and to turning our economy around in Western North Carolina. One manufacturing job can create three to four other jobs in the surrounding community; jobs in education, agriculture, construction, health care, research, entertainment and services. I am the manufacturer.”
Patterson believes that the most important issue facing his campaign is the need for jobs in Western North Carolina, which he continues to make a focus of his campaign. “Too often our elected representatives talk about our local struggles when trying to get elected, but once elected they disappear in the bubble of Washington and we struggle alone. We need jobs; good paying jobs; jobs that cannot be exported. That is our number one issue in the 11th District. I will bring companies and jobs from across the country and around the world to Western North Carolina. I will bring full employment to Western North Carolina within four years.”
Recently, the House adopted Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan for the fiscal year 2013 budget. “The Ryan Budget, ” as it has been dubbed, which was passed by the House of Representatives along party lines, plans to bring nondefense discretionary spending back to pre-2008 levels and freeze it there for five years. Ryan’s budget also proposes to convert federal shares of Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, better known as food stamps, into a block grant that’s indexed for inflation and population growth. The budget calls to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and privatizes medicare.
The Ryan Budget explains that future beneficiaries would be able to use vouchers on a menu of private options. There would no longer be a standard Medicare plan. The proposal is not to be confused with premium support because it delinks the value of the voucher from the cost of healthcare. The Congressional Budget Office reported that, “Voucher recipients would probably have to purchase less extensive coverage or pay higher premiums than they would under current law, for two reasons. First, most of the savings for Medicare under the proposal stem from reducing the amounts that the federal government would pay for enrollees on a per capita basis, relative to the projections under current law. Second, future beneficiaries are anticipated to face higher premiums in the private market for a package of benefits similar to that currently provided by Medicare.”
Patterson supports the Ryan Budget and believes it will help build a firm foundation for the government. “I support the Ryan Budget, which is a macro economic effort to provide a firm foundation of lower taxes, lower spending, and smaller government on which to grow our economy,” explained Patterson. “I prefer the Fair Tax to the Flat Tax, but both are an improvement over the mess we have now with our 70,000-page tax system. I strongly support his proposal to extend the welfare reforms of 1996 to Medicaid and food stamps.”
Meadows stated balancing a budget needs to be a top priority. “I am in favor of allowing more cuts as early as possible,” he said. “Not to be negative toward the Ryan Budget, but we can not afford to wait for the next congressmen to make these decisions. We need the current members of Congress to make the decision now.”
Patterson said that the main difference between him and the Democratic nominee can be found by examining the fundamentals of each party. “I am a Republican standing on the Republican platform; conservative, trusting in American Ingenuity, the American work ethic, and the American free enterprise system to turn our economy around and restore prosperity for our future generations,” said Patterson. “Hayden will be standing on the Democratic platform; big government, increasing taxes, increasing spending and continuing the downward spiral of America.”
Meadows believes the greatest distinguishing factor between himself and Rogers is the fact that Meadows will have a fresh perceptive on Congress. “Hayden Rogers has been a part of Congress that has offered few results, and even fewer concrete decisions that would create jobs,” said Meadows. “The agenda has been one that is placed on our country by the liberals of his party. Even Heath Shuler says he is frustrated that he couldn’t get anything done. I fail to see the prudence of sending a congressman from Western North Carolina who has been part of the Washington machine that has offered little hope, placed blame and has preferred to apologize for America’s greatness instead of standing with pride in defending the American Dream.”
After majoring in business management, Meadows opened a restaurant in Macon County more than 27 years ago and believes that his work ethic and professional success makes him the perfect fit for Congress. “I am a Christian Conservative businessman. I understand that small businesses create jobs, that government regulations hinder that job growth,” said Meadows. “I have lived the American Dream, growing up with very modest means, working my way through college at the University of South Florida. I have been involved in real estate brokerage, construction and development. I know first hand that the people of our district are struggling and it will take action to correct the path we are on. With the vote and confidence of our neighbors and friends, I would be honored to fight along side them to reclaim our country.”
Meadows, who secured the majority of the votes against his Republican challenger and with just 38 percent of the vote earned more votes than his Democratic opponent, feels confident heading into the runoff. “This is an encouragement for us as we move towards a fall election,” said Meadows. “To say we are confident would not be accurate. From the very start of our campaign, we have made a pledge to run as if we were in last place, work hard, stay on message and listen to the voice of the people. That has served us well and we believe that if our heart is to truly serve the people of this district and to take back America, the votes will be there on election day.”
To prepare for the runoff, Meadows’ campaign plans to continue reaching out to voters throughout Western North Carolina to promote fewer regulations and rally support for small business. “We plan on making sure that voters know that we are willing to fight with them to reclaim America,” said Meadows. “To get regulations off the backs of small businesses, to protect our freedoms and to limit government so that job growth can once again return to Western North Carolina. We are identifying our areas of strength and asking volunteers to help us get out the vote. The people who are passionate about our country will play a pivotal role in getting their neighbors to show up in the middle of the summer.”
Meadows noted that although he and his Republican opponent agree on the idea that something needs to change in Washington, their greatest difference lies in their approach to fix Congress. “Vance and I are similar, in that we both know that Congress is broke and that it will take hard, principled decisions to protect our country from our past decisions and the future that awaits us if we don’t act,” said Meadows. “We are different in our approach to how we fix congress. I have been actively involved in conservative causes both social and fiscal for more than 25 years. Our differences show up in our approach to jobs creation. My four-point plan reduces regulations, reduces taxes, closes loopholes, and creates a energy policy that will lower fuel prices with no government bailouts,” said Meadows.
According to Meadows, aside from job creation, one of the most important issues going into the general election is getting control of the energy crisis. “We need a comprehensive energy policy that will lead to our freedom from foreign dependence,” he said. “That is a critical component and will lower fuel costs immediately while creating jobs now and in the future.”
Rogers said that regardless of the outcome of the GOP runoff, he plans to continue building his campaign. “The runoff doesn't change what I am doing or how I am campaigning. I plan to continue getting out and meeting with and listening to as many people in the district as possible and getting our message out to voters in Western North Carolina.” Rogers believes that his experience in Washington as Congressman Shuler’s Chief of Staff is invaluable and sets him apart from both Meadows and Patterson. “I am the only candidate that has the day to day policy and legislative experience which uniquely allows me to go to work for the people of Western North Carolina on day one.”
According to Rogers he also differs from both GOP challengers because his campaign focuses on constituent services, which he views as an important part of the job that his opponents have forgotten about. “As a member of Congress, a critical component of representations is to provide responsive constituent services to people in the 11th District,” said Rogers. “That is a part of the process that often gets overlooked, but in reality it is a part of the job that can have the greatest impact on voters.”
Regardless of who is on the ballot for Republicans in November, Rogers believes that citizens will vote for the candidate who is most likely to work across party lines for the betterment of the district. “I believe that people of Western North Carolina and of America in general are fed up with the theory of partisan practices and nothing getting done in Congress because of it,” said Rogers. “I think it is important to know that I am ready to work together with other members of Congress. We have plenty of politicians and candidates who are trying to move right or left, but I am going to work to do everything I can to move America forward.”