GOP Congress Hopefuls Leverage Family Values - TribPapers

GOP Congress Hopefuls Leverage Family Values

Photo by Kelly Sikkema.

East Flat Rock – The eight Republican candidates for Congress touted their values and abilities at a local debate Saturday, and most outlined a quest to restore the American economy and family values.

Seven of the eight agreed on such stances as lower taxes and federal spending, and a balanced budget amendment. They noted excessive spending fuels ongoing inflation, after more money is printed and devalues the dollar. They are for reducing earmark “pork” pet projects that get piled onto constructive bills.

Most are for closing the Southern border, allowing more oil drilling to regain energy independence, abolishing the Department of Education due to its interference with local schools, and for banning critical race theory instruction before it takes hold. They want expanded broadband Internet access and veterans’ health care.

Most also called for greater protection of gun rights, fetuses and public protest. They varied in degrees of conservatism and calls for action.

They debated for three hours at Blue Ridge Community College. More than 300 people attended. Sponsors were the Henderson County Republican Party, Men’s Club and Women’s Club. Bill Fishburne moderated. WTZQ broadcast the debate.

The presumed frontrunners in the May 17 primary are incumbent U.S. House District 11 Rep. Madison Cawthorn and State Sen. Chuck Edwards, the other experienced lawmaker. Both are from Hendersonville. Should votes split enough to force a run-off, the top two vote-getters advance.

Cawthorn was initially redistricted into another district which triggered an influx of candidates. But he was put back into the 11th House District by court-ordered new redistricting by state lawmakers.

Other GOP contenders are Matthew Burril, Bruce O’Connell, Rod Honeycutt, Michele Van Hooser Woodhouse, Kristie Sluder, and Wendy Marie Limbaugh Nevarez. All eight participated in the debate, which allowed countering comments.

Bruce O’Connell, at left, and U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn listen. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Caustic Cawthorn

Cawthorn, 26, said Donald Trump “mentors me” and “it’s my honor to fight for you.” Cawthorn noted he co-signed the Veterans Fellowship Act that helps vets find jobs and careers. He said he brought to WNC about $70 million in federal aid such as grants.

He took his vocal saber to Democrats who control Congress and the White House. “Bureaucracy is ruining our country, and must be destroyed.” He said health czar Anthony Fauci should be jailed, and Pres. Joe Biden impeached.

Cawthorn said the Jan. 6 committee — instead of persecuting Donald Trump — should direct investigation of suspected election fraud in 2020. He drew applause when calling for a “forensic audit” of 2020 ballot improprieties in many states, for greater “election integrity.”

He called the U.S. national debt “our gravest concern,” and skyrocketing inflation a “national security concern.” He said Social Security slipped into a de-facto Democrat “slush fund, to fund their woke agenda and Bambi (pricey unnecessary) projects.”

In foreign policy “our new motto should be ‘Offense Only!’”

Cawthorn bit into trans-gender rights resulting in genetic males winning in women’s collegiate sports. “It’s easy” to distinguish sexes and eligible competitors, he said. “”XX chromosome. No tally-wacker.” The crowd howled.

Edwards: Tax Cutter

Edwards pointed to his “proven track record” as a tax cutter. He said he is also the sole GOP candidate to help balance a government budget — as this state requires. He said Dems bankrupted the state when “robbing from every available program” to fund social programs. He said the GOP righted the financial ship, since taking control of the General Assembly 11 years ago. He helped remove the state income tax on military pensions.

Edwards said Congress should cut some programs and even departments, to more “adequately fund” priority programs.

He noted he budgeted for decades of owning eight area McDonald’s. He said as a legislator he helped “outlaw sanctuary cities” that let in undocumented residents, and “took action against cities that defund police.” He is for parental “school choice.”

Edwards said he rates as the third most conservative legislator in this state. He pledged to continue to “fight vehemently” rights-limiting bills. Edwards said he relentlessly combats Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper on such issues as tax cuts and school choice, and wants to take on Pres. Joe Biden.

Woodhouse Wacks ‘Em

Woodhouse once chaired the GOP for the entire 11th District. She owns Purple Door Aesthetics. She at one point held up a U.S. Constitution booklet in one hand, and a Bible in her other hand. She called restoring conservative principles in federal policies. She added, “we need to claim back state’s rights.”

She urged closing the Mexican border to “get it out of the hands of Mexican drug cartels,” and to reduce flow of Chinese-made fentanyl and human trafficking.

Woodhouse said the latest controversies over Cawthorn‘s actions and comments “puts the (congressional) seat into jeopardy.”

But she was most vocal about the local Democrat congressional candidate with the largest war chest — Buncombe County commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara. Woodhouse labeled gay rights activist JBF a “socialist, Marxist” radical – lumping her in with Alexandra Ocasio Cortez.

O’Connell, Burril

Pisgah Inn owner O’Connell touted his own business ownership acumen. He said the federal government should only borrow if “we’re at war,” and otherwise avoid deficit spending. Burril said “it’d take a billion years” to erase the $30.3 trillion national debt that Democrats recently ballooned. Burril chairs the Asheville Regional Airport Authority, and oversees its budget.

O’Connell called bill earmarks “bribes” by congressional leaders to get colleagues’ votes.

Burril noted most earmark spending is “totally unrelated” to the bill’s supposed theme, and is “social and human engineering shoved down our throats.”

On war in Ukraine, O’Connell said the U.S. should avoid “boots on the ground and no-fly zone” dogfights with Russians, but strongly supply Ukraine. He said other hot spots are at stake. “China is looking at its best buddy Vlad (Putin). If he isn’t able to take a country, China might think twice” about invading Taiwan.

State Sen. Chuck Edwards, at left, speaks at the debate. L-R are Rod Honeycutt, Kristie Sluder and Matthew Burril. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Sluder, Honeycutt

Sluder also swung at education with CRT or other “indoctrination” she views as “Marxist, socialist and anti-Christian.” She said government “should not override parental rights.” She said tuition funding should follow the student, even for those home-schooled.

Regarding protecting constitutional rights, she noted the Constitution starts with “We the people” and there needs a return to public will instead of radical leftist revisionism.

Honeycutt, like Sluder, lives in Weaverville. Newly-retired Army Col. Honeycutt earned two Bronze Stars. He has a master’s degree in strategic studies. He said rather than promote trans-gender rights among soldiers, the Army should train them to effectively “shoot, move and communicate.”

Categorizing Jan. 6

Donald Trump and the Jan. 6, 2021 incident in D.C. came up in questions. Most described it as a justifiable protest that got out of hand. Burril called it a “bright day.” He said there instead should be scrutiny of violent Antifa and BLM riots in many cities in 2020.

Rep. Cawthorn said the Democrat-run Jan. 6 Committee should look at alleged FBI infiltration of protestors that resulted in agents egging on protestors to get violent.

Sluder criticized leftist infiltrators “stirring up people,” and police’s fatal shooting of unarmed protestor Ashli Babbitt.

Edwards said “it’s a dark day, but it’s not an insurrection” — which is an attempt to overthrow the government. He said protestors had the right to peacefully “assemble and show concern” about possible election fraud. But “it’s illegal to be attacking the Capitol and destroying property.”

Dissident Nevarez

Nevarez drew loud crowd boos after calling Jan. 6 an outright “insurrection.” She repeatedly countered the other seven’s conservative views.

She unleashed an F-bomb. The veteran disputed a claim that U.S. military efficiency declined from too much emphasis on “woke” policies – perhaps even contributing to a recent collision of two naval ships. Nevarez instead figured that crash was a crew goof. She reasoned, “someone wasn’t (bleeping) paying attention.” She later apologized for using foul language, saying she got “lost in the moment.”

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