Crowd competes for Hagan’s seat

by Miriah Hamrick
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The primary ballot for Sen. Kay Hagan’s U.S. Senate seat is teeming with options in a nationally noticed midterm election.

If Republicans can secure six Senate seats during the November 2014 election, the GOP will control Congress, enabling it to hamstring the last two years of President Obama’s agenda.

Quashing the Affordable Care Act would be a top priority for Republican Congress, a measure North Carolinians largely support after 473,000 plans in North Carolina were dropped last year for not complying with new federal coverage standards. 

It is a big challenge facing Sen. Hagan, even after she responded by signing a bill allowing people to keep their plans permanently.

Hagan said in a March 10 email interview that Thom Tillis, N.C. Speaker of the House and top GOP contender for her seat, refuses to stake a clear position on healthcare. 

“This election isn’t about just one issue. I talk to N.C. families across the state who tell me they are concerned about jobs and the economy, education, supporting veterans and protecting Social Security and Medicare,” Hagan stated.

Hagan supports a bill currently in Senate that would raise minimum wage, and she points to Tillis again, citing his stance against the minimum wage.

It is clear Hagan and Tillis are focused on each other as key competitors. 

Jordan Shaw, Tillis’ campaign manager, counters that Tillis has staked a clear position on healthcare. 

“He wants to repeal Obamacare, period. We need to replace it with commonsense solutions that are affordable and don’t contribute to the nation’s debt problem,” Shaw said during a March 5 phone interview. 

His free-market solutions include increasing competition across state lines, coverage for dependents at a higher age and some treatment for preexisting conditions.

Shaw also mentioned the country’s debt crisis as a big issue for the Tillis campaign, citing a failure in leadership and responsibility in Washington as the problem.

Free-market reforms in place of the Affordable Care Act and the federal debt crisis are big issues for fellow Republican candidates Mark Harris and Ted Alexander.

Harris, a prominent Baptist pastor, also sees the need for strong conservative leadership in Washington, D.C.. It is what motivated him to run for office.

Mike Rusher, Harris’ campaign manager, said in a March 6 phone interview that Harris supports a balanced budget amendment to control federal debt. 

Ted Alexander also supports the amendment. Other big issues for Alexander include bolstering the military, achieving energy independence and supporting agriculture.

Alex Lee Bradshaw and Jim Snyder are running on differing platforms.

“The Republican Party needs new ideas,” Bradshaw said in a March 7 phone interview, adding that tax cuts worked in the Reagan administration but no longer make sense economically or politically.

For Snyder, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which sent jobs overseas, is a largely ignored cause of economic hardship. 

Other Republican candidates include Greg Brannon, an OB/-GYN endorsed by Rand Paul; Heather Grant, a nurse practitioner who wants to stop changes ushered in by President Barack Obama’s administration; and Edward Kryn, a Catholic physician who fled Canada 17 years ago because he opposed the secular path of socialized medicine. 

But Republican candidates are not the only competition Sen. Hagan could face in reelection. Democrats Will Stewart and Ernest T. Reeves are running in the May democratic primary against her.  

Stewart, who is concerned with corporate-funded campaigns and NSA reform, said he was running as an option for average Americans. 

Reeves, who cited his military service in Washington as a source of political ambition, said he is not running to oust any fellow Democrats.

“The Senate seat does not belong to Senator Hagan. It belongs to the people of this great state,” Reeves said in a March 7 phone interview.

The primary ballot will even feature a rare Libertarian race between Sean Haugh, known Libertarian activist, and Tim D’Annunzio, who ran for N.C. House of Representatives as a Republican in 2008 and 2012. 

The primary election will occur on May 6. Election day is Nov. 4.

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