03/03/04 — Ballantine pledges support for base

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Ballantine pledges support for base

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 3, 2004 1:59 PM

N.C. Sen. Patrick Ballantine promised Tuesday to be an advocate for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the state's other military bases if he's elected governor this fall.

During a meeting at the Goldsboro News-Argus, Ballantine, a Republican, noted that the military bases, which pump $18 billion per year into the state economy, would rank second, behind agribusiness, among the North Carolina's industries.

Yet, Gov. Mike Easley has not been outspoken in the effort to protect the bases during the Base Reduction and Realignment Commission's review next year, he said. "The governor is finally getting engaged, but it was slow."

If elected, Ballantine would lead efforts to keep the bases, expand their missions and develop even more ties between civilian industries and potential military customers, he said.

For example, uniforms could and should be made in North Carolina, he said. "This state was built on textiles. I don't see any reason why we couldn't do this work."

He continued, "I would think a Republican governor would have an easier time dealing with President Bush, (Secretary of Defense) Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon."

Ballantine also said he would support President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages, which he termed "an oxymoron."

Ballantine sponsored state legislation in 1996 that defined marriage in North Carolina as a union between a man and a woman. But the state must recognize marriages from other states, which necessitates a national change in law, he said.

"You can be gay all you want to, but don't push your marriages on me," he said.

Ballantine, 38, of Wilmington, is in his fifth term in the N.C. Senate. He was elected the Republican leader in 1998 and unanimously re-elected in 2000 and 2002.

He is one of at least seven Republicans who have announced plans to run for governor against Easley, the likely Democratic candidate.

He has campaigned in nearly 70 counties so far, which includes a previous visit to Wayne County in October. Tuesday night, he attended a Republican fund-raising event at Billie's Backstreet restaurant on Center Street.

Ballantine is a 1987 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned his law degree from the University of Dayton. He and his wife, Lisa, have a daughter, Wilker.

For more information about his campaign, go to www.ballantineforgovernor.com.