Elect 2012: Candidates share viewpoints, backgrounds during forum

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2012

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Richard Hudson and Dr. Scott Keadle answered questions about where their loyalties lie during a Rowan County Tea Party Patriots candidate forum Tuesday.
Republicans Dr. Scott Keadle and Richard Hudson are both competing in a runoff to represent North Carolina’s 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The two shook hands cheerfully at the beginning of Tuesday night’s forum, but it didn’t take long before the two began trading barbs.
Hudson spoke first about his dissatisfaction with federal government. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education should be abolished, he said.
He criticized the government’s increasing debt and the President’s executive order granting a form of amnesty to about 800,000 illegal immigrants.
“Our federal government is out of control and spiraling worse,” he said. “We need members of Congress who are going to stand up and scream if his kind of thing happens.”
Keadle said he agrees on the EPA and the Department of Education.
“I think the U.S. government has been hijacked by a select group of insiders who live in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
He then listed measures he said he opposes and Hudson has supported in Congress, including the bank bailout, raising the debt ceiling and others.
Hudson called that “ridiculous,” saying he can’t vote on bills if he’s never been elected to office, Keadle clarified that he was referring to Hudson’s “boss” in Congress.
“Richard didn’t do any screaming then,” Keadle said.
Over a span of about 10 years, Hudson worked as district director for Rep. Robin Hayes, and later chief of staff for Rep. Virginia Foxx, Rep. John Carter of Texas and Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas.
Hudson fired back later in the forum.
“I’ve been a lifelong grassroots conservative,” he said. “My opponent has run for six different offices over last 15 years.”
Reading a submitted question, moderator Darlene Blount asked, “Please tell us about your business, where it’s located, how long it’s been in operation and how much of your business is here in North Carolina.”
In his introductory remarks, Keadle called himself the “only candidate in the race who has owned and operated a small business.”
Throughout his campaign, Hudson has said he runs a consulting business.
Hudson said he started Cabarrus Marketing Group, LLC, in September when he came home to run for Congress. He runs the small company out of his home on Spring Street in Concord, Hudson said, and he is the only employee at this time.
Keadle said his dental practice is located at 480 Jake Alexander Blvd. W. in Salisbury, and all of his business is in North Carolina. It has been in operation for 22 years and has five employees, including him.
“Were you recruited by the GOP, and did anyone from the GOP or from Congress ever ask either of you not to run?” Blount asked.
Hudson said he helped in the process of trying to recruit a candidate for the district in 2010, and again for the 2012 election. He said party officials did approach him to ask him to run.
“After saying, ‘Absolutely not, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,’ I started thinking about it,” he said. “I talked to a lot of people, but it was ultimately a decision between me and my wife.”
Keadle said he has “absolutely not” been recruited by anyone in Washington, D.C.
“To me, the notion to recruit someone to run in the 8th district is not what we should be doing,” he said. “Nobody asked me. In fact, someone asked me not to.”
The 8th district party chairman once told him not to run, Keadle said. After he began a campaign anyway, the chairman later told Keadle that he approves.
The final question Blount read was directed toward Hudson.
“You and your supporters try to make an issue of Scott Keadle’s residence (in Iredell County) being outside the district,” she said.”How can you assure us that you’re going to serve the constituents of District 8 rather than your friends and neighbors in Washington, D.C.?”
Hudson said he was grateful for the question, “because it lets me answer some of these negative attacks that are just not true.”
He said he’s lived in North Carolina almost his entire life. His mother moved here when he was 4 years old. As an adult, he went to Washington for three years, returned home, went back for two years and came home again in September of 2011.
“I think it’s important that a Congressman who represents a district understands the issues of that district,” Hudson said.
Keadle said he does live outside the district boundaries near Mooresville, but he works in the 8th district and has a strong relationship with it.
The two also voiced their opinions on legislative issues, which will be compared and contrasted in a Post article within the next week.
Earlier in the meeting, Republican runoff candidates for county commissioner – Gus Andrews, Mike Caskey, Gene Miller and Craig Pierce – spoke to the crowd and answered questions.
Stories about both parties’ runoffs for county commissioner are also upcoming in the Salisbury Post.
Also speaking Tuesday were Tony Gurley, candidate for lieutenant governor, and Richard Alexander, candidate for state superintendent of public instruction. Their respective opponents, Dan Forest and John Tedesco, had prior commitments.
TEA Party leaders said Democratic candidates were invited but did not attend.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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