By MICHAEL TOMSIC
CHARLOTTE - The two candidates aiming to represent North Carolina’s 9th congressional district held their first debate Wednesday afternoon. Republican Robert Pittenger and Democrat Jennifer Roberts are running to fill the open seat created by the retirement of Republican Sue Myrick.
Pittenger is a former three-term state senator, and Roberts is finishing her fourth term as a Mecklenburg County commissioner.
Their debate was civil, but there were clear policy differences. For example, on President Obama’s health care law, Mr. Pittenger said: “I see the Affordable Health Care Act as one that’s not going to be affordable.”
He wants to repeal it. Ms. Roberts does not.
“It’s great that you can still get insured with preexisting conditions. So there’s some good things. You don’t throw out the whole process,” she said.
Also, Ms. Roberts put a big emphasis on funding public transit – think buses and light rail – while Mr. Pittenger says that money should be used to improve roads.
But there were also things they agreed on. Both think the national fiscal cliff – the automatic tax increases and spending cuts set for January – should absolutely be avoided. And both agreed that too much regulation is a bad thing.
After the debate, Mr. Pittenger put their differences this way:
“Ms. Roberts has been a traditional liberal, so she believes in a bigger government, as does Mr. Obama,” Mr. Pittenger said.
But Ms. Roberts says she uses a different word to describe herself when she’s meeting people in the district. “I say, I’m an American. And I think that one of the problems we have right now is people are just identifying with their parties and nothing else.”
Ms. Roberts is using that kind of middle-of-the-road language for a reason – if people only identify with their parties, she’s unlikely to win the ninth Congressional district. Its voters have sent a Republican to the U.S. House in every election of the past 50 years, and almost 40 percent of the registered voters there are Republican.
MORE LOCAL FORUMS
Candidates for county, state and the 9th district race will participate in other forums in our area in the coming weeks. Ms. Roberts and 9th District Libertarian candidate Curtis Campbell will meet in an Oct. 11 forum at Davidson College. Mr. Pittenger is not participating. And next week, Oct. 4, voters will have a chance to hear from candidates for the state House 92nd District seat, County Commission. Details below:
THURSDAY, OCT. 4, 7-9 p.m., CPCC Merancas Campus (North Campus), 11930 Verhoeff Drive, Huntersville – Lake Norman Chamber Election 2012 forum with candidates for NC House District 92 and Mecklenburg County Commission District 1. Also, information about the Huntersville bond package. Moderated by Callan Bryan, the chamber’s public policy chairman. Info on the LakeNormanChamber.org website.
THURSDAY, OCT. 11, 7-9 pm, Davidson College Chambers Hall, Hance Auditorium, Davidson – Lake Norman Chamber Election 2012 forum with candidates for District 9 Congressional seat, Democrat Jennifer Roberts and Libertarian Curtis Campbell. (Republican candidate Robert Pittenger not attending.) Also, candidates for Mecklenburg County Commissioner at-large and District 1 seats. Moderated by David Boraks, editor and publisher of CorneliusNews.net and DavidsonNews.net. Info on the LakeNormanChamber.org website. Sponsored by the Lake Norman Chamber, United Family Services, Lake Norman Political Association and DavidsonNews.net/CorneliusNews.net.
Jennifer Roberts’ official site, VoteJenniferRoberts.com, including word of a new poll of likely voters that shows the two candidates neck-and-neck, with 38 percent for Pittenger, 37 percent for Roberts, 22 percent undecided.
Robert Pittenger’s official website, RobertPittenger.com
Curtis Campbell website