Hudson tops D’Annunzio in 8th District GOP race

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

By Mark Wineka

SALISBURY — U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., received strong support Tuesday from voters in Rowan, Cabarrus and Stanly counties on his way to winning the Republican nomination for the 8th District U.S. House seat.

With all votes in, Hudson essentially doubled the count on opponent Tim D’Annunzio of Raeford by a 16,305-8,943 margin.

The Associated Press called the race in Hudson’s favor at 9:26 p.m.

In an interview Tuesday night with the Post, Hudson said he will support Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee for president.

“Hillary Clinton is unacceptable,” Hudson said. “In my opinion, she would be a terrible commander-in-chief. … Four more years of the same course would be a disaster.”

Hudson, a Concord resident first elected to Congress in 2012, is seeking his third term.

In the November general election, Hudson will face Democrat nominee Thomas Mills of Carrboro, who faced no opposition in the primary. Mills is founder and publisher of the PoliticsNC blog and is a former political and public affairs consultant.

The newly drawn 8th District takes in a significant portion of Rowan County — 23 precincts —  and except for East Spencer, the area is strongly Republican based on registration numbers and past elections.

The towns of Granite Quarry, Faith, Rockwell, China Grove, Landis and the Rowan County portions of Kannapolis are part of the 8th District, as are areas such as Trading Ford, Enochville, Bostian Heights, Atwell Township and Morgan Township.

Rowan County strongly favored Hudson over D’Annunzio by a 2,996-571 margin. Hudson’s home county of Cabarrus gave him a resounding win. He topped D’Annunzio in Cabarrus 5,408-1,204.

Stanly voters favored Hudson 2,014-441; and Montgomery County liked Hudson by a 523-148 spread.

With the realignment, the new 8th District touches all or parts of seven counties — Rowan, Cabarrus, Stanly, Montgomery, Moore, Hoke and Cumberland. Previously, it spread through 12 counties.

D’Annunzio topped Hudson by slim margins in Moore, Hoke and Cumberland. But Hudson’s winning margins in Rowan, Cabarrus, Stanly and Montgomery counties made Hudson the clear-cut winner.

“Voters who knew me the best is where I did the best,” Hudson said Tuesday night.

Hudson said he didn’t think the likely Trump-Clinton clash for the presidency would have a big impact on North Carolina’s congressional races. He said he would run his own campaign based on his record in Congress and vision.

Though he didn’t win Cumberland County, Hudson says he had a history of working on matters important to Fort Bragg as district director for former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes. Hudson also has family ties in Hoke County, where D’Annunzio also bested him.

“I’m really excited to go to work for the new district,” Hudson said.

Hudson also was chief of staff for Hayes. He has touted conservative, pro-business principles that he says are aimed at creating jobs, cutting taxes, reducing regulations and funding worker retraining at community colleges.

Hudson is pro-life, pro-gun and has pledged never to vote for increased taxes.

A member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Hudson has said government is standing in the way of domestic energy exploration and production and he has spoken for offshore drilling for North Carolina.

Hudson has called the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the worst example of government overreach.

On immigration, Hudson has said no reform measures can take place until the U.S. borders are secure, and he describes it as a national security issue.

The American Conservative Union has bestowed its Conservative Achievement Award on Hudson three times, though in the 8th District race, D’Annunzio tried to portray himself as the more conservative candidate.

An Army veteran, D’Annuzio, 58, is a former member of the Golden Knights parachute team, and he has built several companies around his skills in parachuting and as an instructor. Most recently, he is the builder and operator of the world’s largest freefall simulator wind tunnel, according to his campaign website.

Over recent years, D’Annunzio had run as a GOP candidate for the 8th District in 2010. He was the GOP nominee in the 4th District U.S. House race in 2012 but lost in the general election.

In 2014, he ran for the U.S. Senate as a Libertarian, but did not win the party’s nomination.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.