Faithful weigh options

Published 8:10 pm Friday, June 1, 2012

Lieutenant governor candidate Tony Gurley on Thursday emphasized his credentials as a conservative leader in remarks to the Beaufort County Republican Club. Gurley faces Dan Forest in the July second primary for the GOP nomination. (WDN Photo/Betty Mitchell Gray)

Three Republican candidates facing challenges in July’s second primary made their case to GOP faithful Thursday night at the Beaufort County Republican Club.

And although the two candidates for election to the N.C. House of Representatives from the 6th District faced some tough questions, club members agreed that they would put aside their differences and support the party’s nominee in November.

“Whoever the candidate is, is the candidate I am going to support in November,” said Al Klemm, program chairman for the event, in remarks to the club. “You may not like all the candidates but you need to find a candidate that you do like and get out there and support them.”

Speaking to the club on Thursday were Tony Gurley, a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, and two candidates for the GOP nomination for the state House of Representatives.

Mattie Lawson, a Dare County resident who finished first in the May 8 primary election, faces a second primary with Arthur Williams, a Washington resident and former state representative, in the GOP nomination for the 6th District.

As she did in the weeks before the May primary, Lawson emphasized her conservative credentials and experience as a founder of the Tea Party in Dare County.

“I am an activist because I refuse to sit back and watch our country going down the tubes,” she said. “I am very interested in continuing the good work that the General Assembly has done.”

When questioned about her willingness to work across party lines to pass legislation that would benefit the people of the state, Lawson responded that “moral principles should not be compromised.”

But, she added, “Most of the comments I have made tonight are nonpartisan, founding father principles.”

In remarks to the club, Williams touted his experience in the state legislature and his record as a conservative.

“We need to continue to reduce regulations and cut spending,” Williams told the group. “I have experience to do a good job in Raleigh. I know how the system works.”

One club member questioned Williams about his voting record before joining the Republican Party.

Williams is a former Democrat who switched parties after being passed over two years ago by Democrats in his efforts to succeed former Sen. Marc Basnight in the N.C. Senate.

“I am a conservative,” he said in response. “I have always been a conservative.”

In May, Lawson fell short of the 40 percent needed for the nomination, receiving just over 37 percent of the votes cast followed by Williams with just over 36 percent.

Jeremy D. Adams, also a Dare County resident, finished third in the race with almost 27 percent of the vote. Adams has endorsed Williams in the second primary.

The eventual GOP candidate will face Democrat Paul Tine, a Dare County resident, in the Nov. 6 general election.

Gurley, a Wake County commissioner, faces a second primary for the GOP nomination against Dan Forest, also of Wake County.

Gurley also touted his credentials as a conservative.

“I always had the aspiration of being to the right of Jesse Helms,” he said in a light moment with the club. “I’m not there yet, but I can see it from here.”

In a more serious note, Gurley added, “I have always tried to govern as a conservative person.”

He noted endorsements he has received from prominent members of the GOP including former U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth and former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner.

The winner in the lieutenant governor’s race for the GOP nomination will face Democratic nominee Linda Coleman in November.