Cook turns out Williams

Published 2:49 am Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Staff Writer

A novice campaigner rode the crest of a statewide Republican wave to defeat an entrenched incumbent in state House District 6 on Tuesday.
Voters rejected state Rep. Arthur Williams, D-Beaufort, of Washington in his re-election bid, accepting first-time Republican candidate Bill Cook of the Cypress Landing community as Williams’ replacement.
With all 21 of Beaufort County’s precincts reporting, Cook had 8,664 votes to Williams’ 7,691 votes.
District 6 also takes in part of northeast Pitt County.
With all eight Pitt County precincts reporting, Cook had 4,144 votes to Williams’ 3,435 votes.
These results are unofficial until “canvassed,” or made official, by elections officials Nov. 12.
“I guess I’m humbled,” Cook said Tuesday night. “I worked very hard, I had a lot of good people helping me. I tried to run a good campaign and I’ve done what I felt was important. I want to get jobs and sanity back to government. I think there’s a lot of things that we can do with taking over both houses of the Legislature that maybe should have been done in the past.”
Cook was unable to discuss specific proposals as he was pulled into a developing celebration at a Washington restaurant.
Williams attributed his loss to a trickle-down backlash against the federal government.
“I think, to be honest with you, I really think everybody’s upset with the federal government and Obama and all that stuff, and I think they used that and blamed me for that,” he said. “I didn’t have any more to do with that than you did. I’m not so tickled with what the federal government’s doing, either.”
The last round of legislative redistricting took Hyde County out of District 6, leaving Williams with a Republican-heavy district, the lawmaker said.
“This is a Republican district, and I think all the Republicans knew that,” he said.
Asked what he’d do next, Williams responded, “I’m going to enjoy my life, that’s what I’m going to do.”
He said he’d have to reassess his political ambitions later on.
The District 6 returns clearly surprised some Democrats awaiting the numbers at the Beaufort County Board of Elections’ offices in Washington.
“That one is hard to explain,” said Alice Mills Sadler, chairwoman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party. “We expected that Arthur was in trouble early on and did whatever we could to get the word out, the good word out, about what he’s done for the community. Evidently, we didn’t get it out soon enough.”
The district was the object of fierce advertising campaigns as conservative groups labored to unseat Williams, a four-term incumbent from Washington.
The conservative ads, funded by organizations like Civitas Action and the North Carolina Republican Party’s executive committee, attempted to paint Williams as a liberal who favored big government and was out of touch with his constituents.
In turn, Williams’ campaign seized upon Cook’s outsider status, using a television ad to highlight the fact that Cook, a retired electric-utility executive, recently moved to Beaufort County from Washington, D.C.