11/08/06 — Pate reclaims seat in District 11 fight

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Pate reclaims seat in District 11 fight

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 8, 2006 1:46 PM

State Rep. Louis Pate earned another two years in office Tuesday night as Wayne County voters gave him a 2-to-1 margin at the polls, allowing him to look forward to his fourth term in the state House District 11 seat.

"I am surprised at the margin, but I had been very hopeful I would win," Pate said.

And while it wasn't the outcome his Democrat challenger had hoped for, Ronnie Griffin said he would accept it.

"The voters get to pick and they picked Louis and that's OK. If the voters are pleased, then that's OK with me," Griffin said. "That's the way the system works, and I support the system."

Pate, a Republican, won Tuesday night with 66 percent of the vote (8,987). Griffin pulled only 34 percent (4,732). Of the 23 precincts involved in the race, only four swung in favor of Griffin. The 11th district consists of the northern and western sections of Wayne County.

"I did everything I could," Griffin, a former Marine and retired National Guard general said. "I had thought I would offer Wayne County a little stronger voice in the legislature, but the voters didn't agree. I wish Mr. Pate the best."

His two downfalls, he added, were his lack of money as compared to Pate, and the makeup of the district.

"I could have used some more money, but it's hard to match the amount of money an incumbent can raise," Griffin said. "I think it's unfortunate we've come to a point in this country where we whittle the districts out and races aren't competitive and the incumbent remains the incumbent."

Pate, however, after a quiet celebration night at Lane Tree Golf Course, said he is already looking ahead to the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.

"(The race) pointed out some issues that are on people's minds in the county," the former Mount Olive mayor said.

According to a poll he took about a month ago, education is the No. 1 issue in Wayne County, with illegal immigration and health care following closely behind.

"I concentrated on education and illegal immigration and didn't do a lot of talking about health care, other than identifying that it is a problem," he said.

Pate emphasized that something needs to be done about county governments' Medicaid financial burden.

"That's how I attacked the health care issue and we've got to remedy that," he said. "Those are the kind of things we will begin addressing when we get back to Raleigh.

"I hope we will be able to do some good things when we get back up there."