Woolard likes his chances in 2010 Congressional race|Republican says jobs are focus of his campaign

Published 10:28 pm Saturday, October 10, 2009

Community Edito

CHOCOWINITY — Ashley Woolard intends to become the next congressman from the state’s 1st Congressional District.
He made that intention known at the Beaufort County Republican Men’s Club’s meeting Thursday night.
Woolard, who served as chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party from March 2007 to March 2009, wants to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, in the November 2010 general election. Woolard will have to become the Republican nominee for that seat before he can take on Butterfield in the general election. If another Republican decides to run for that seat, the GOP nominee to take on Butterfield in the general election would be decided in a primary in spring 2010.
Woolard gave a rousing 10 minute-plus speech to an audience of about 50 at the meeting, fielding a host of questions afterward.
Woolard said the thrust of his campaign is “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“It’s a message that resonates with the people of eastern North Carolina,” Woolard said.
During his speech, Woolard pointed out than when Butterfield took office some five years ago, the country’s unemployment rate was a mere 4 percent and that it is now up to 11 percent.
Woolard said the country has gotten away from the entrepreneurial spirit it was founded on, adding the only way to save the economy is to bring that spirit back by lowering corporate tax rates.
“We need to get away from the idea of regulations on small businesses,” he said.
Woolard is an experienced small-business owner. He serves as vice president of his family’s company, Woolard Insurance Group.
“I’m just an average guy facing the same challenges as so many in North Carolina,” he said before announcing his candidacy.
During the speech, he questioned how small-business owners, of which he said there are many in the 1st Congressional District, could turn a profit when the country has the highest corporate tax rate of any industrialized country at 35 percent.
Woolard said he does not consider himself a politician, and he wants to turn Congress back to a citizen legislature.
“Congress is full of Ivy League politics,” he said.
As far as his chances of winning in the historically liberal 1st Congressional District, Woolard said, he likes them.
Woolard said he is the first individual to declare his or her candidacy for the district seat in the 2010 election, which should help him get a jump-start on votes.
“My campaign is going to be proactive, not reactive,” he said.
Woolard believes momentum is shifting back to the Republicans after the Democrats’ landslide victory in the 2008 general election.
Greg Dority, a campaign advisor to Woolard and a former candidate for lieutenant governor of North Carolina, said the 2010 election could be similar to the Republicans’ momentous victory in Congressional elections in 1994.
From a personal standpoint, Dority said, Woolard is “the strongest candidate we (Republicans) have ever run in the district.”
Woolard graduated from Washington High School and East Carolina University. He lives with his wife and two sons on Market Street Extension.