Hudson, Keadle trade barbs in political forum
By Emily Ford
CHINA GROVE — Republicans Richard Hudson and Scott Keadle took aim at each other Tuesday, trading barbs as they compete for the chance to run against U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell to represent North Carolina’s 8th congressional district.
Hudson, a former congressional aide who lives in Concord, and Dr. Scott Keadle, a Salisbury dentist and former Iredell County Commissioner who lives in Iredell County, have a July 17 runoff. The debate at Jesse Carson High School was moderated by Dr. Michael Bitzer of Catawba College and sponsored by the Salisbury Post and the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce.
Hudson went on the offensive early, accusing Keadle of accepting millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds as a county commissioner.
“That’s the wrong mentality,” Hudson said. “That’s the thing I’m running against.”
Keadle accused Hudson of exploiting a complex issue he could not explain within two minutes and reeled off a list of endorsements by conservative groups, including the Tea Party.
“I hope you don’t buy into this garbage you get in your mailbox,” Keadle said, holding up an ad by the Hudson campaign. “It’s just not true, and it’s embarrassing.”
Keadle painted Hudson as a Washington insider supported by lobbyists. Over a decade, Hudson worked as district director for Rep. Robin Hayes and chief of staff for Rep. Virginia Foxx, Rep. John Carter of Texas and Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas.
Hudson said although he’s a lifelong conservative who first volunteered in 1990 for Sen. Jesse Helms, he never wanted to be a politician and is only running for office because he’s fed up with elected leaders like Keadle.
Hudson said he will stand against government bailouts and President Obama’s “liberal agenda.”
“We’ve got to go to Washington and change the way they do business,” Hudson said.
Keadle said he never supported the stimulus and would never support Obama in any way. Saying he led the effort to cut the Iredell County budget by 12 percent, Keadle said he has a “reputation of being a bulldog who gets the job done and gets conservative results.”
“There’s no denying who the conservative is here, and it’s me,” he said.
• Jobs and the economy
Both men named jobs their top priority.
Asked to name legislation they would introduce to create jobs, Hudson said a balanced budget amendment, legislation to repeal excessive regulation and a sunset provision forcing all federal departments to justify continued funding.
Keadle also listed a balanced budget amendment and cutting regulations. He added a taxpayer protection amendment and domestic energy plan to decrease reliance on foreign oil.
• Immigration reform
Monday’s Supreme Court ruling overturned most of Arizona’s illegal-immigration law.
“It’s a doggone shame, and I hate it,” Keadle said.
Keadle said the federal government needs to enforce current immigration laws, not create more. His wife immigrated to the United States from China with a green card and sponsorship by her employer, he said.
Hudson said the U.S. needs to build a wall at the Mexican border and guard it with electronic surveillance and troops. The country needs to use technology to track people with visas, as well as create a worker program “that makes sense” but never allows illegal immigrants to become citizens, he said.
• Health-care reform
Both Keadle and Hudson want the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Hudson said the act kills jobs and has prevented small businesses from hiring so they remain under the 50-employee threshold.
“We have to bring market forces to bear in healthcare,” Hudson said.
He supports health savings accounts, allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines, small businesses banding together to buy insurance and risk pools going to the states.
Keadle advocated for tort reform and equal tax treatment for people who want to buy health insurance, which should not be tied to a job.
Government should be less involved in healthcare, Keadle said. As a dentist, Keadle said he wants to discuss healthcare with his patients without “some bureaucrat in Washington telling us what we can and can’t do.”
• Regulations burdening small business
Keadle said small business owners tell him they are “being regulated to death.”
When he constructed several buildings on Jake Alexander Boulevard, he said landscaping regulations governed the size of hole needed to plant a shrub. Regulation has stifled growth, he said.
Companies “can’t do their job for you, the consumer, if they are worried about complying with federal regulations they can’t read or understand,” Keadle said.
Hudson said he would do away with the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and new environmental regulations that govern navigable waters, light bulbs and how farmers deal with chemicals. Federal regulators sit at job sites waiting for a company to slip up, Hudson said.
“The federal government is not there to play gotcha,” he said.
• Raising debt ceiling
Both men said Congress made a mistake last year by raising the debt ceiling.
Congress “kicked the can down the road” instead of standing firm, Keadle said. If elected, he said he would make it known “that the answer for a credit card bill that’s out of control is not to go to credit card company and ask for a higher line of credit.”
“We’re not blinking, and we’re not going to raise the debt ceiling,” Keadle said.
Hudson said Republicans committed a tactical error by compromising to raise the limit. Americans were ready for a fight, he said.
Refusing to raise the debt ceiling would have meant a few days of disruption, Hudson said, but voters “are looking for leaders who are willing to take a stand.”
• Special interests
When asked if they would be beholden to the special interest groups supporting their campaigns, both candidates said no.
Hudson, supported by the Young Guns Action Fund, said he is beholden to no one but God, and every decision he makes will be in the best interest of the country.
Hudson said he has more than 1,000 donors, most from North Carolina, and has more contributors in the 8th District alone than Keadle has total.
Keadle said Hudson enjoys substantial financial support from lobbyists and congressional staffers in Washington, to which Hudson repeatedly uttered “not true.”
Hudson said the Club for Growth will spend $1 million on Keadle’s campaign. The conservative network that backs Keadle recently helped defeat six-term incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.