For Congress: Steve Wilkins
T he crazy-quilt 2nd Congressional District was carved out, through the miracle of partisan redistricting in Raleigh, with the intent of making it extra hard for anyone to beat the Republican incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers.
Therefore, her Democratic opponent, Steve Wilkins, faces an uphill battle in his effort to unseat her. But we at The Pilot will be cheering him on all the way. We enthusiastically endorse his candidacy.
Party affiliation aside, Wilkins comes across as far more representative of Moore County and the rest of the district than his opponent. A retired Army officer who also served in the Special Forces (and who looks too young and energetic to be retired), he laughs off the "liberal" label and focuses on a sensible, humane, pragmatic approach to government. He comes across as honorable, straight-arrow, serious of purpose, and dedicated to the public good.
A Strong, Caring Leader
Most important, this soft-spoken, level-headed Whispering Pines resident knows this area and its needs like the back of his hand and has played a leadership role in a number of local organizations and activities.
This stands in marked contrast to Ellmers, a Michigan native who won election as a quirk in 2010 when the longtime Democratic incumbent in a differently configured 2nd District, Bob Etheridge, got caught in an unflattering on-camera confrontation on a Washington, D.C., street.
To her credit, Ellmers has irked some former allies by distancing herself somewhat from the far-right end of the spectrum while in Washington. She also opposed North Carolina's Amendment One, strictly a state issue. But her main claim to fame is the stand that helped get her elected in the first place: her outspoken opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
Wilkins, who served with distinction in Grenada and Iraq, takes more nuanced and thoughtful positions than Ellmers, opposing the trashing of Obamacare and saying that the fashioning of a budget must involve more than simply lowering spending and slashing taxes.
Best Bet to Fill Coble's Shoes
It seems clear that Ellmers takes Moore County and its Republican majority for granted. Wilkins, who has worn out a lot of shoe leather in this campaign, has been outspokenly critical of what he describes as Ellmers' failure to spend much time getting out into the newly formed 2nd District to attend functions and learn about its needs. "People say they haven't seen her since she was elected," he says. "I've heard it all over the district."
She denies that. But to us at The Pilot, at least, it became obvious during our endorsement interview that she knew little about Moore County. She also became surprisingly defensive at some of our questions. Maybe the congresswoman was just having a bad day.
Still, the experience made us realize all the more how much we miss longtime Republican Congressman Howard Coble, a friend who knew the people and places in our special community intimately and represented us so effectively and cordially - until he got redistricted away.
We think Steve Wilkins holds out a far better hope than Renee Ellmers of filling those considerable shoes.
More like this story