Cook courts party support

Published 9:34 pm Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Staff Writer

When state Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, spoke to the Down East Republican Club in January, he highlighted state House District 6 as one of three key eastern districts the GOP must capture this fall to overthrow a 68-52 Democratic majority in the House.
“We need to realistically win at least two of these three seats in order to have a majority in the House,” the deputy Republican whip told his audience in Washington.
Other Republicans have implied that the District 6 seat, long held by Rep. Arthur Williams, D-Beaufort, is a target that’s well within the GOP’s radar sweep.
In an April speech to the Down East members and guests, state Sen. Jean Preston, R-Carteret, said, “Now, I love Arthur, but I would love to see him defeated, and he feels the same way about me.”
Some local Republicans have even suggested that the House Republican caucus will open the floodgates in Raleigh in support of Bill Cook, Williams’ Republican challenger.
So far, that hasn’t happened to any great degree, though Cook said his campaign committee has received a $2,000 contribution from Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake, the House minority leader.
Stam’s check is the single largest contribution Cook has received, the candidate himself related Monday.
But the monetary disparity between Cook and Williams illustrates how high a mountain the political newcomer must climb if he wants to be a real threat to the Democrat in his path.
Last week, in remarks to the Beaufort County Republican Women’s Club, Cook referenced his continuing struggle to run apace of the well-financed incumbent.
After noting that Williams has more than $124,000 in his campaign account, Cook added, “I’m up to almost ($8,000) now.”
Cook’s most recent campaign report, dated April 21 and available online, shows the candidate listed more than $3,500 in total receipts at the end of the first-quarter reporting period.
Cook confirmed that he’s added to that total and plans to hold a fundraiser — A Family Cookout at the Barn — on June 18.
Cook, a novice office-seeker who retired to the area from Washington, D.C., lamented the necessity of fundraising, as he has in past campaign appearances.
Despite lagging behind his four-term opponent in dollars collected, Cook still assesses his chances for victory as “good,” drawing on the biblical story of David and Goliath for inspiration.
“I’m working my butt off,” he said Monday. “I go out there almost every day banging on doors.”
Williams couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
Though Williams’ seat is considered safe by Democrats, there is evidence the party is leaving nothing to chance.
During the Beaufort County Democratic Women’s meeting last month, Alice Mills Sadler, chairwoman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party, said the state Dems had organized telephone surveys of likely Democratic voters in local House and Senate races.
Sadler said she was anxious to see the results of those surveys.
“These are considered by the state to be the hot races,” she said.
Faced with long odds on his bet to represent Beaufort and northeastern Pitt counties in the state capital, Cook is hoping he doesn’t get the cold shoulder from voters on Nov. 2.
“I think it’s unfortunate that so much of politics is involved with money, but that’s the way of the world,” he said. “I think you can make up for lack of money with hard work and desire and sincerity.”