Richardson campaign under way

Published 5:30 am Thursday, March 18, 2010

Staff Writer

Editor’s note: This profile continues a series of candidate profiles.
Hood Richardson has won three four-year terms on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, but longevity in county office isn’t enough — he’s aiming for a higher seat.
Richardson, the top vote-getter in the commissioners’ contests of 2004 and 2008, is running against state Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, who represents Beaufort and seven other counties in the state Senate.
A former candidate for state House, Richardson is unfazed by failed previous attempts to rise to the rank of lawmaker.
In 2006, he ran against fellow Republican Ron Toppin, a frequent Basnight challenger. Richardson lost by 135 votes in a primary election that saw just 5,501 votes cast.
Toppin went on to lose against Basnight, who received 30,398 votes to his opponent’s 13,758 votes.
Basnight was unopposed in 2008.
No stranger to controversy, Richardson has been embroiled in one brouhaha after another, from getting arrested for campaigning on school property to challenging Gov. Beverly Perdue to remove the Spanish language from state Web sites.
Never one to shrink from brash pronouncements, Richardson was direct in February when asked why he wanted to take on Basnight.
“Because the form of government in Raleigh over the years has been corrupt, and we need to change it,” he said. “Also, the leadership up there, for solving problems they only understand one thing: raise taxes.”
Asked about his candidacy Wednesday, Richardson was upbeat, saying he’d received pledges of support from several Democratic elected officials.
“I won’t name them,” he added. “I’ve got a lot of Democrat support.”
He said he has campaign signs and bumper stickers at his Washington business.
“It’s early in the campaign to be putting out signs,” he said.
Richardson said he had raised around $1,000 so far, adding that his fundraising drive hadn’t started in earnest.
(Basnight has traditionally raised more than $1 million for his re-election bids.)
“This is a campaign that I think, because there are so many different television companies that cover the district, we’re probably going to run most of (our ads) in the newspapers,” Richardson commented. “I don’t anticipate buying any TV time.”
He said “$100,000 will run a very comfortable campaign.”
Richardson has made his first campaign appearances outside of Beaufort County, having attended the local Republican Party conventions in Dare and Pasquotank counties.
He said he is due to appear at the Washington County Republican Party convention next.
Asked to list the highlights of his political career, Richardson cited the battle to keep out the Navy’s proposed outlying landing field, which targeted Washington and Beaufort counties.
Richardson at first favored the OLF, but later became one of the leading spokesmen for the groups opposing the landing strip.
“The highlight of my political career was the accomplishments of winning the OLF thing,” he said. “I didn’t win it by myself. The volunteers did the work.”
He also pointed to his involvement in the commissioners’ advocacy on behalf of a permit for expansion sought by PotashCorp Aurora.
Richardson has inspired words of praise from two Washington-based congressional candidates, Greg Dority and Ashley Woolard.
“It’s in my interest, the state’s interest, the nation’s interest to have conservative candidates running, from school board to U.S. Senate, those that believe in the Constitution, what it stands for, and are willing to fight tooth and nail to make sure those principles are upheld,” Woolard told the Washington Daily News in February.
More recently, Richardson got a nod from Buddy Harrell, a current GOP commissioner candidate and a longtime colleague in the Beaufort County Republican Men’s Club.
“He’s a true conservative,” Harrell said Wednesday. “He’s not a waffler, and he will not give to the beggars. … You can’t keep giving and giving. The taxpayers are strapped to the hilt.”