Coble Faces Democratic Challenger
The Democratic challenger to Republican Congressman Howard Coble wants "to see politics changed in the nation's capital."
Sam Turner says the United States should pull out of Afghanistan by next summer, and he favors term limits. He says big corporations have overtaken the government.
Coble says the best way to stimulate the economy and create jobs is to lower taxes.
Turner is a former Air Force pilot and now works as a pilot for United Airlines. The 49-year old Salisbury resident is making his first run for public elective office.
Coble, 79, is seeking his 14th term representing the 6th District. An attorney, he lives in Greensboro and is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran.
Both men agree on some concepts espoused by the tea party movement that promote fiscal conservatism, smaller government and limited government spending.
Coble supports the tea party's major issues, but he does not have this independent group's endorsement because of his years in Congress. Turner agrees with the tea party's term limit initiative and has signed the group's bonded term limit pledge.
Otherwise they don't agree in many areas.
Coble says President Obama "missed the mark" when he called health care the nation's No. 1 issue.
"The No. 1 issue is jobs and unemployment," Coble says. "The worst thing we could do is a tax increase. Lowering taxes in this dismal economy would be the best way to stimulate the economy."
Although Coble says he is not averse to outright repeal of health care reform, he thinks it would be wise to take another look at the bill and make some adjustments.
The incumbent says the nation needs "a friendly tax atmosphere" to improve the job picture. And even if the GOP does not gain a majority in both houses in November, Coble says he would not be surprised if the president extends the Bush administration tax cuts.
Asked about the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Coble says he does not favor announcing an exit plan deadline, because the Taliban would "just cool their heels until then."
"Folks, we are in a mess," he says of the situation in Afghanistan.
Turner acknowledges that it is an uphill process to challenge a popular congressman in a Republican-leaning district. But he says he decided to stop complaining about the economy, the world trade situation and other issues and to run for office "to see if I could do something about it."
Still a member of the Air Force reserves, Turner says the nation has been on a 30-year path of unleashing Wall Street, which he says has been bailed out eight times since 1980, including a couple of foreign monetary crises.
Turner says the GOP has been behind all of the free trade agreements and a lot of moderate Democrats have fallen in line.
"This has tied our hands on economic growth," he says.
Turner calls the World Trade Organization, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and most-favored trade status for China "the world series of free trade." He says the United States needs to restore its independence and begin competing.
Part of the problem, Turner says, began with deregulation of financial institutions some years ago. He says this has opened the way for Wall Street to take its own direction and for large corporations to take over.
"Unfortunately, Washington has been captured by corporations," he says. "Corporations, even foreign companies, can flood the system. Money has taken over the process. The government's broken, but it's broken because corporations have taken over."
Turner favors health care reform but is disappointed that the bill passed by Congress does not contain a single-payer clause. He says health care costs will eventually bankrupt the country if not brought under control.
As for the war in Afghanistan, Turner thinks the country should pull out by summer.
"We don't have the monetary resources to continue this fight for 20 years," he says.
Turner says he is willing to listen to all sides of issues and has even met with "tea partyers" although they disagree on most issues.
"I have no vested interest in Washington, D.C., other than the best interest of the country," he says. "I want to see politics changed in the nation's capital."
Coble is a graduate of Guilford College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is member of the Guilford College Board of Visitors and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Board of Visitors.
Unmarried, he is one of two congressmen who have pledged to decline their federal pension.
Coble has co-sponsored a resolution opposing legalization and use of medical marijuana and voted for an amendment to authorize drug testing on federal employees.
Turner was born at Turner Air Force Base in Georgia to a career Air Force pilot and a homemaker. The family later moved back to North Carolina. He earned an engineering degree from N.C. State University, then worked at a nuclear power station before following in his father's footsteps in the Air Force.
After piloting KC-10 air fueling tankers, he became involved in miscellaneous military flare-ups overseas. Turner led flights of KC-10s and fighters in Bahrain when Iraq invaded Kuwait, flew the first KC-10 into Mogadishu and, after cross training in C-130s, flew supplies to refugees in Bosnia.
A graduate of Air Command and Staff College, he received a master's degree in international business. He left the Air Force in 1997.
Turner is married to Joan O'Connell, of Montreal, and has three daughters, Meghan, 23, Alexi, 20, and Jennifer, 7.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
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