Pate announces bid for N.C. Senate seat
By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 19, 2009 1:46 PM
Announcing his intentions to run again for the 5th North Carolina Senate District, former state Rep. Louis Pate is confident that this year's results will be different -- if he gains the Republican nomination.
Pate, who left the state House after four terms in 2008, was defeated last year by Sen. Don Davis, D-Greene, in his bid to replace Wayne County Democrat John Kerr.
But Pate said he's decided to run again in 2010 because of his dissatisfaction with the job Davis has done so far in his first term.
"Don Davis has voted with the liberal Senate leadership over 95 percent of the time," Pate said. "He voted for the largest tax increase in North Carolina history. He voted for numerous wasteful pork barrel spending projects. The people of eastern North Carolina deserve better.
"I think we can do better than that. I think that the state is going the wrong direction under the current leadership. There were plenty of bad decisions I think were made."
In 2008, Pate lost to Davis by about 4,000 votes -- Davis winning 55.11 percent of the vote to Pate's 44.89 percent.
But Pate believes that loss can be at least partially attributed to the excitement and turnout generated by the presidential election, and that next year, the mood across the nation and state will be different.
"People are turning out at tea parties, town hall meetings. They are very frustrated at what's going on, and that's all going to come out to bear in November next year," he said. "I'm going to appeal to the voters, and I'm going to be aggressive and work very hard."
Among his objections to Raleigh's current direction, Pate took issue with several of Davis' votes, specifically one in favor of the school anti-bullying bill, which included protections for people on the basis of their gender, race, sexual orientation or disability.
"I'm against bullying, but I don't think we need to specify certain classes of individuals or single out certain protected classes," he said.
More important, though, Pate said, is his objection to the state budget and the tax increases it included.
"You can't increase taxes when we're in the middle of a recession. I don't think that's ever been proven to work," he said. "The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is quit digging."
Raising sales taxes, he said, with unemployment around 10 percent, only hurts those who lack jobs, and because of the state's high corporate tax rate, replacing those jobs will be hard -- although he plans to concentrate on improving the state's ports, its rail system and capitalizing on the Global TransPark in Kinston.
"What we've got to do is find jobs for people. But a lot of these jobs are gone. Education is the key, and showing people that we have a qualified work force," he said. "But (corporate taxes) are one thing that I think will hold us back."
And so if elected, he promised to work to improve the state's budget situation and tax structure -- whether the Republicans are able to take a majority or not.
"We're a two-party state, and I can work with Democrats. My record has proven that. We (Republicans) have got some good ideas, we just haven't been listened to the past several years," Pate said. "But I think we've got a good opportunity to (win a majority), and I'd like to be part of that group that brings North Carolina back."
Pate, who retired from the Air Force as a major after 20 years, also is a former mayor of Mount Olive and a former local businessman.
North Carolina Senate District 5 encompasses most of Wayne County, all of Greene and part of Pitt.
Filing for the May 4 primary will run from Feb. 8 to Feb. 26. Currently no other candidates have announced their intentions to run for the seat.