The calendar just turned to 2012 and already our office has been visited by two political campaigns looking for traction in May and eventually November. And I won’t even include the very confused and completely unknown (outside of his family I’d assume) presidential candidate who called me a couple of weeks ago seeking to make an appointment. After a few seconds of discussion I determined he was seeking the newspaper in Burlington, Iowa, not Burlington, North Carolina.
Oops. Memo to presidential candidates: If you can’t locate the right Burlington you probably have no shot at sorting out the mess over the Strait of Hormuz.
Anyway I was beginning to think that such time-worn visits to the newspaper are coming way too early this year — after all, candidates can’t even file for office until February. Then again, Republican presidential hopefuls have been pounding the asphalt from New Hampshire to Iowa since the Obama inauguration.
Last week U.S. Rep. David Price stopped by. Price, a Democrat of Wake County, has served in Congress almost as long as Howard Coble. Now, though, if the newly revised congressional districts survive a legal challenge, part of his territory could include Alamance County. He’s never had to run in this area before so he thought a short tour would be helpful. In fact, he could face a primary challenge in his new district from current Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, whose former district included a part of Alamance County. Now, Miller is pretty much a candidate without a district.
Price spent a little more than an hour here talking to a group that included myself, Brent Lancaster and Mike Wilder. Publisher Paul Mauney stopped in to say hello. In a short time span I found Price to be pretty impressive, well-versed on issues and straight forward.
On Monday, Dan Forest paid a call. Forest is a Republican seeking the GOP nomination to run for lieutenant governor. The former member of an architectural firm is a newcomer to running for office himself but he’s no political rookie. His mom is Republican U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte. So he’s been around a campaign or two.
I also found Forest impressive. He’s a sharp guy running from a business background. He quit a lucrative job to run for office and seems to believe in what he’s doing. He is barnstorming the state to get some name recognition.
Stopping by the local newspaper is a way to get some free publicity. I sat in on the Forest meeting with Brent and Chris Lavender.
Both candidates answered myriad questions posed by us. I don’t think any particular one posed a major surprise. There were no noticeable gaffes. I found myself in agreement on some issues with both and some disagreement on both.
Ultimately the discussions in both cases veered into the area of partisan politics. Stands to reason. By definition politics is a partisan business. I took the opportunity to ask each candidate their thoughts on how the seemingly endless gridlock and one-upsmanship could be avoided. How can both sides manage to work together toward a common goal?
Both said leadership is critical.
Price recalled times during the presidential administrations of George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton when the White House and leaders in Congress did sit eye to eye and hammer out agreements.
“It’s a matter of one party getting its act together and getting the job done,” Price said. “it’s a long-term challenge.”
Forest said Washington needs to remember how things used to be done.
“Make congressional representatives sit on the floor and talk to each other they way they used to,” he said, and added that these days too many Washington political leaders talk for show to cameras in order to get into the Congressional Record, which “doesn’t mean anything.”