Elect 2012: Charlotte attorney to challenge Watt in 12th District
By Mark Wineka
Charlotte attorney Matt Newton, a onetime participant in the Occupy Charlotte movement, filed today as a Democratic candidate for the 12th District of the U.S. House.
Newton, 32, will be opposing 10-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Mel Watt in the May Democratic Primary.
In a telephone interview today, Newton said his campaign would not be accepting contributions from political action committees, unlike Watt who draws significant funds from PACs.
“We want to draw that line in the sand,” Newton said. “… It will be a tough row to plow, but we want to run a principled campaign in that regard.”
In early January, Newton left the Occupy Charlotte movement to become part of the newly established People’s Coalition of the Carolinas, whose aim is to work for social and economic change by addressing issues such as income inequality and the potential for political and corporate corruption.
Newton attended the Charlotte City Council meeting Monday in support of a Peoples Coalition of the Carolinas resolution, which he authored, to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission.
The Citizens United decision is blamed for allowing unlimited sums of corporate cash to be contributed to Super PACS on behalf of political candidates.
Newton said he believes in the “Occupy” movement in a broader sense and sees it as a catalyst for the public.
“I think this is the next step,” he told the Post. “We need to have candidates in office who will speak for the people” and not be on the side of special interests.
Newton stressed he is not anti-corporation and believes the free market system is a good thing, except he isn’t sure what the country has now is truly “free market.”
He said he would like to rein in corporate and special interests that hurt individuals. He also looks to restore public confidence in government.
“That’s what we’re all about,” he added.
In a statement released earlier in the day, Newton said, “Our district has succumbed to the pitfalls of business as usual in Washington, a business designed to maintain the status quo rather than implement and encourage real change and real progress.”
Newton grew up in Charlotte. He’s a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and earned his law degree at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
This is the first time he has sought public office.
The 12th District includes parts of Rowan, Mecklenburg, Guilford, Forsyth, Cabarrus and Davidson counties.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.