New challenger emerges

Published 12:43 am Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rep. Bill Cook could face opposition in 2012 general election

Rep. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, could have a Democratic challenger in the 2012 general election.

Paul Tine

Next month, Kitty Hawk Democrat Paul Tine is expected to formally announce his candidacy for the District 6 state House seat currently held by Cook.

“Right now, we’re just getting organized, getting our key folks in place,” the Dare County small-business owner said Monday in an interview.

District 6 encompasses Hyde, Dare and Washington counties, plus Beaufort County north of the Pamlico River and the Gilead precinct south of the river.

Cook resides in the Gilead precinct, in the Cypress Landing community.

Asked why Beaufort County voters would shift their allegiance to a candidate who lives outside their county, Tine asserted the county’s interests are bound up in regional matters such as infrastructure and issues affecting community colleges.

“We’re only as strong as we are together,” he said. “We’ve got to stop competing with ourselves.”

Asked how he would cope with a Republican majority in the House, Tine referenced social issues he contends are distracting people from the major concern of getting the economy on the right track.

“Most of the social issues aren’t getting people back to work,” he said, “and it’s not the issues themselves as much as the fact that we’re not focusing on the high priorities.”

He offered no specifics on his campaign platform, and he didn’t mention exact proposals for spurring economic growth.

He said his campaign committee, still in its formative stages, is attracting support from Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters.

Tine acknowledged that Rep. Tim Spear’s, D-Washington, decision not to seek re-election influenced his course.

“It was a big piece,” Tine said. “Being in both a primary fight against an incumbent and a general election versus an incumbent is a difficult fight.”

Tine said he’d been told he’d have to raise $100,000 to $200,000 for his campaign.

“I think you’ll see a very strong first report,” he said of his committee’s campaign-finance report, due out next year.

Herman Gaskins, a local attorney and an unaffiliated voter, accompanied Tine to his interview.

Gaskins confirmed he’s supporting Tine’s candidacy, adding he would vote for the House hopeful in a Democratic primary, if there were one.

“Hopefully, there will not be a Democratic primary,” Gaskins said.

Reached for comment at his home, Cook said he doesn’t know Tine.

“Good luck to him,” the incumbent remarked. “I think most of the folks in the area will be more inclined to have a conservative point of view, which matches my thinking.”

Cook already is working on his re-election effort, and he estimates he’s raised $12,000 for that effort this year.

Tine stepped into the political spotlight early this year as one of seven suitors for the seat then occupied by retiring Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare.

A Democratic Party committee selected Stan White, a former Dare County commissioner, to succeed Basnight, and Tine wasn’t among the top vote-getters in that selection process.

Tine said he’d been in contact with White, discussing the challenges of representation with the senator who represents Beaufort County and seven other counties in the northeast.

Tine has a wife, Whitney, and two boys, ages 5 and 10.

He serves on the board of Northeast Rural Broadband.