GOP congressional candidate speaks
By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 24, 2009 1:46 PM
With his focus the economy and the need to create more job opportunities in eastern North Carolina, Ashley Woolard is hoping his message can propel him not only to the Republican nomination for the First Congressional District seat, but past three-term Democrat Rep. G.K. Butterfield.
"The focus of my campaign will be jobs, jobs, jobs," Woolard said. "I'm looking at the economic situation we're facing in eastern North Carolina, and I just think we need a change in direction."
Woolard, who is 34 and hails from Beaufort, works in his family's insurance business and served as his county's Republican Party chairman from 2007 to 2009.
"I don't think the current path we're seeing -- the administration, which Mr. Butterfield has voted with 96 percent of the time -- is the right one," he said. "I'm not questioning what he thinks he's doing is wrong, but our path back to prosperity is a far different direction than what we're seeing from the current administration.
"I don't believe Congress can legislate prosperity. Prosperity comes from the mind, the heart and the will of the American people -- not out of Washington."
Woolard explained that he believes in three basic principles: Individual rights, limited government and entrepreneurship.
And he believes those are principles that cross party lines -- the reason he thinks he can win in what is considered to be a majority Democrat district.
"Mr. Butterfield hasn't had serious opposition since he was elected in 2004. It's been a historically tough district because of the way it's drawn,," Woolard said. "But I believe we're going to have a '94 type movement like we saw with the Contract with America with the Republican Party. And I believe the message I'm go into be talking about -- the economy and jobs -- will resonate with people regardless of their party affiliation. As long as we stay on message, people will be willing to listen to what I have to say.
"I'm just an average guy and that's who I'm out to represent in Washington."
In fact, speaking to the Wayne GOP Club Monday night, he pledged to be a "citizen legislator" and to be home back in his district whenever he could be, and to not get caught up in the Washington political social circles.
"I have no desire to be in Washington full-time," he said.
But, he added, when he is there he wants to help boost the economy and create jobs, by focusing his efforts on small business.
"I feel government is the problem. I feel we need to help our small businesses by lower taxes and lower regulation. The majority of business in eastern North Carolina is small business and we need to be focused on getting them back to work," he said, commenting on issues like high corporate taxes. "I'm a small businessman and I'll always be a small businessman. We've got to do it in the private sector."
And that also applies to the current debate on health care, he said, though he believes he won't have the opportunity to influence that outcome.
"I think that issue will be decided one way or another long before I'm in Washington in 2011," Woolard said.
But, he added, he does have four areas he'd like to see addressed - tort reform, open competition across state lines between insurance companies, menu-based insurance plans and the ability for people to transfer health insurance between jobs.
He also emphasized his support for the military and the veterans - especially while in Afghanistan and Iraq and as they return home.
He does not, though, support an outlying landing field in northeastern North Carolina.
"I don't think northeastern North Carolina should be burdened with an OLF while we see all the economic benefits go to Virginia Beach," he said.
However, at the end of the day, he believes the election will turn on the economy, which he does not believe will have significantly improved by November 2010.
"I think the economy will be the big issue for us in eastern North Carolina and in the United States," he said.