11/06/06 — Political newcomer takes on incumbent in U.S. House race

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Political newcomer takes on incumbent in U.S. House race

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 6, 2006 1:45 PM

Despite facing a 10-year incumbent in her bid for the District 7 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Shirley Davis does not believe her lack of congressional experience will hinder her. In fact, she does not believe that she is really less qualified than her opponent Democrat Mike McIntyre.

"I understand that during the first year as a congressman that you are supposed to sit and learn. Speaking of experience reminds me of the saying that McIntyre has one year of experience 10 times. He has not progressed from the first year in Congress. I am aggressive, pro-active, not afraid to stand for what is right," said Ms. Davis, whose only political experience is as a volunteer in various state races and a failed bid for a Sampson County Commission seat.

"I am a voice to be heard, not just a face to be seen. McIntyre had no experience when he was elected and now he has become stale."

That is a charge that McIntyre refutes.

"We have made significant progress in a number of areas over the past 10 years and I want to continue to build on that progress and move forward even stronger," he said. "I want to continue to work as hard as I can to continue to improve the quality of life for families in southeastern North Carolina."

Chief among those areas of progress, McIntyre said, is the tobacco buyout, which he co-sponsored as the ranking member of that sub-committee. The legislation, he continued, will help send about $4 billion into North Carolina's economy during the next 10 years.

He also is the co-chairman of the Congressional Waterways Caucus, which has focused on improving the Intercoastal Waterway and North Carolina's beaches and ports at Wilmington and Southport.

"Tourism has been the success story of the economy in Eastern North Carolina at the coast and it has a ripple effect inland," he said.

In addition, he continued, he serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where he worked to not only protect the state's military bases, but also to direct an additional $1 billion toward them.

"That has made a significant difference in the quality of life for our men and women in uniform and the economy of North Carolina," he said.

But for his challenger, the biggest issue facing the country is that of illegal immigration.

"It is my goal to help reclaim America from the many non-citizen illegal aliens that are in North Carolina and the United States of America," Ms. Davis said. "By leaving the southern border open, my opponent has allowed thousands and thousands more of these individuals to come into the U.S.A., thereby threatening our voting system, threatening our national security and taking jobs."

However, her stance on the issue mirrors that of McIntyre's in many ways.

"We must absolutely secure our borders and make sure we stop the drain on health care, education and law enforcement," McIntyre said.

During the recent debate on illegal immigration, he continued, he threw his support behind the House bill that called for the building of border fences, new requirements of employers to verify the legality of their workers and tighter security of the U.S. border with Mexico.

It did not allow for foreign workers to gain legal employment or citizenship, but McIntyre did not rule out such a possibility, even though he stressed the first step had to be securing the borders.

"There has to be a plan for those who are here illegally to be processed," McIntyre said. "Then, if they can't meet the legal requirements (of citizenship) they must be deported."

One area where the candidates differed, however, was Iraq.

"We need to be moving toward a successful conclusion," McIntyre said. "I think both of those words are very important. We need to be moving, not just staying the course.

"When I was in Iraq we talked about lessening the American footprint and bringing our troops home and that should be expedited now that the Iraqis have assumed official control of their security forces."

Ms. Davis, however, said America is doing the right thing by staying in Iraq, which she believes is integral to the fight against terrorism.

"Before you can stop terrorism you must raid and destroy the nest. You cannot wait for them to strike on an individual basis. Leaving the nest intact could be tantamount to leaving a nest of rattlesnakes in the backyard where the children play and just killing the ones that actually come into the middle of the yard and bite a child," she said. "I support the President in his actions in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Any withdrawal must be on an honorable basis."

Another area where the two candidates do not see eye-to-eye, is the economic development of Eastern North Carolina.

Ms. Davis blamed the various free trade agreements approved by the federal government during the last decade for the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs and the decline of agriculture in the state, and she holds McIntyre responsible for allowing those to occur on his watch without providing programs to help revitalize the region.

In response, however, McIntyre maintains he has not supported such policies and points to his sponsorship of the Southeastern Crescent Authority in 2005 as proof of his efforts to revitalize Eastern North Carolina.

"It's a national issue of trade, but it's had a negative impact on Eastern North Carolina," McIntyre said.

The Authority, which encompasses seven southeastern states, is a federal focus on economic development through small business incentives, job training and worker education.

And while both candidates agree on the need for permanent tax relief and the revamping of the current tax code, the bottom line for the 53-year-old Davis, is that she believes it's time for a change.

"First of all I feel that God called me to run in this race," the Clinton resident said. "However, after I became involved I became more aware of the many things that the incumbent has not done over the last 10 years.

"McIntyre is fighting against a Republican Congress, which limits his involvement in getting things for the 7th District. I am a certified and experienced mediator and negotiator and I am able to work with both the Democrats and Republicans -- plus I am a Republican.

"I am in touch with the people. McIntyre, over the 10 years, has become stale in the job and has lost touch with the people of the 7th District."

McIntyre countered, however, that his record speaks for itself and that because in Congress seniority is the key, he gives Eastern North Carolina the best opportunity to have its needs met -- pointing again to his work on the tobacco buyout and the Southeastern Crescent Authority.

"Washington operates on seniority and the more senior a member, the stronger a voice they have. Having been given the opportunity to serve in Washington the last 10 years has allowed me to become a more effective legislator and a stronger voice for Eastern North Carolina's needs," said the 50-year-old McIntyre, a Lumberton native.