Mud Flying In Republican Primary For Eastern NC Senate Seat

RALEIGH – After the redistricting saga resulted in conservative Sen. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort) being drawn out of his longtime district, he elected to retire. Running for his seat is current Republican House member Rep. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan) and Outerbanks businessman Clark Twiddy. With a little more than two months to go before the primary, the mud has already started flying between the three of them.

“Steinburg, a Chowan County Republican, questioned why several Republican Senate leaders are fundraising for Clark Twiddy – a Dare County realtor and former Naval Intelligence officer – given his past support for Democrats.

Seven prominent Republicans are backing Twiddy over Steinburg, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon and Sen. Bill Cook of Pamlico County, whose retirement has created the open GOP-leaning seat in District 1.

“I think if people in Harry Brown’s district knew he was holding a fundraiser for somebody who supported Roy Cooper, I think it would be a real eye opener for the folks in Onslow,” Steinburg said. “I’m a lifelong Republican – I have never even given a dime to a Democrat.””

Twiddy routinely donated to Roy Cooper’s campaigns for Attorney General, as well as other Democrats along the way, He defends the actions as mere business considerations, donating to those who could have influence over legislation that affects Twiddy’s real estate business.

That doesn’t exactly scream ‘principled conservative,’ but then again, neither does Steinburg’s voting record in the N.C. House. He may not have ever donated to Democrats, but he certainly advanced their causes a time or two.

Steinburg fought the moratorium on wind energy projects and sings the praises of renewable energy tax breaks, arguing they are an economic boon for the northeast section of the state. Not conservative.

Cook, a proven conservative, is actually supporting Twiddy, alongside many other Jones Street Republicans. This has made for some interesting salvos between the two camps.

“Clark Twiddy not only exemplifies the best qualities that are expected in a statesman – he additionally exemplifies the utmost ability, character and commitment to protect and defend the interest of the people of Eastern North Carolina in Raleigh,” Cook said in an email.

Steinburg, however, said he thinks Cook is backing Twiddy because Steinburg wouldn’t agree to hire the retiring senator’s legislative assistant. Cook rejected that claim, calling it “delusional at best or intentionally untrue at worst.”

“This misleading kind of statement is an example of why I don’t support Steinburg,” he said. “My LA would not work for him under any circumstance and he knows it.”

Steinburg said he thinks Brown’s support for Twiddy stems from a disagreement the two lawmakers had over renewable energy policy. Brown proposed a moratorium on wind energy development – something opposed by Steinburg, who has several wind projects in his district.”

Perhaps Twiddy’s donations to Democrats are not indicative of how he would vote if elected to the N.C. Senate. Perhaps Steinburg would be pulled Right on energy issues once faced with a Senate leadership that tends to have a more hardline conservative stance on such issues.

Whatever the case may be, it sure would be nice for Eastern N.C. Republicans to have a solid constitutional conservative to pull the lever for with out hesitation.

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