11/03/10 — Republicans: For some, it was a chance to 'change'

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Republicans: For some, it was a chance to 'change'

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 3, 2010 1:46 PM

Her 6-year-old grandson, Jaden, resting on her shoulder, Donna Woodard made her way through the Wayne County Public Library parking lot Tuesday evening shortly after casting her ballot.

"In 2008, I voted for me -- to see a black president in my time," she said.

But this year, the 67-year-old voted on behalf of the little boy she brought with her to the polls.

"Things just haven't worked out the way I thought they would," Ms. Woodard said. "I don't want him growing up somewhere where there aren't any jobs -- no hope."

So for the first time in decades, the grandmother of four picked one party and stuck with it.

"Republican all the way," she said. "Mr. Obama had his chance, but I'm sad to say, we aren't moving forward. Too many people out there are hurting."

Wayne, for the most part, seemed to agree that two years after a change was promised for Americans, it wasn't delivered, as a majority -- 51.98 percent -- voted straight ticket against the party that has controlled the White House, Senate and House of Representatives since 2008.

Holly Hartley was among those who picked the Republican candidate in every race.

"Whose life has gotten better since the Democrats took over?" she said. "Just look around Goldsboro. Businesses are closing. People are losing their jobs. I even got hit up for money and food the last time I went to pay my water bill -- right downtown outside City Hall.

"So, no. There hasn't been any change for the better of people. Things feel worse than I can remember them ever being."

Things did, however, seem to be looking up inside the Wayne Republican Head-quarters as results shifted from uncertain to confirmed.

Like when a makeshift drumroll broke out inside a small room packed with those huddled around a computer.

They knew their wait for final results in the State Senate District 5 race was about to be over -- that within seconds, they would know whether their candidate, Louis Pate Jr., had prevailed over Democratic incumbent Don Davis.

And when the numbers, at last, loaded, that drumroll gave way to cheers -- Pate beat Davis 25,423 to 21,090.

Efton Sager was among those who showed up for what was, for much of the night, a celebration.

But even though he had his own victory to savor, his thoughts were on the other races -- how a Republican majority could benefit the people of both North Carolina and the country at large.

"If you're in the majority, you're able to pass your own agenda ... but I've always been in the minority," he said. "So this is such a historic night."

And it was a night, he added, that confirmed what Sager says he has been hearing from his constituents for months now.

"Be careful what you try to change," he said. "You can make it worse."

The Obama administration, Sager said, has done just that for the past two years -- primarily, when the president pushed for health care reform.

"It was too drastic. It was going too far," he said. "The more (the public) heard about it, the more they didn't like it."

It was that issue, Sager believes, that brought people to the polls looking, again, for change.

But health care, he added, wasn't the only thing on voters' minds.

"We have to do something to improve the economy. A lot of people are hurting, so you're going to see a lot of changes," Sager said. "Because when you talk to the people ... I got the feeling they aren't happy about a lot of things. And one of those things is the economy. So it's not just about health care. We've got to do something about ... creating jobs."

The chairman of the county Republican Party agreed that the state of the economy brought voters seeking change to the polls -- the kind of change they have not gotten for the last two years.

"I don't think (in 2008), the public voted for tripling the national debt," Caroll Turner said.

So with joblessness rates still high, it was fear, he said, that likely brought major victories to his party Tuesday night.

"They are scared to death. You know, it's hard to make a decision about investing in your company and expanding it if you don't know what your costs are going to be. Well, the general public has the same fear," he said. "People are frightened because, if they've got a job, they are a little frightened they might lose it. If they're unemployed, they are wondering where the help is.

"You've heard of people voting their pocketbook? Well, I think this time, they've voted their uncertainty."

But for local Republicans -- and those from states across the country -- victory, Turner said, can only be celebrated for a snapshot in time.

"The people want a change right now as much as they did two years ago, so it's certainly going to be a challenge. Now, we'll share the responsibility," he said. "So while it appears that tonight we can have a big celebration, tomorrow the responsibility comes."