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Phil Berger Jr. Best Choice In

6th District Runoff

 

By JOHN HAMMER

July 10, 2014

Phil Berger Jr. is the best candidate to replace retiring 6th District Congressman Howard Coble, and he deserves your vote in the July 15 runoff election.

 

Berger won the primary with 34 percent of the vote over Mark Walker, who had 25 percent.  But in North Carolina, if a candidate does not receive more than 40 percent of the vote in the primary, the second place finisher can call for a run off election, and Walker did.

 

If you have doubts about Berger, just ask Howard Coble, who has made it abundantly clear that he believes Berger is the right man for the job.

 

Most of the time endorsements don’t mean much.  However, in the Republican Party in the 6th Congressional District, an endorsement from Coble is the gold standard of endorsements.  Coble has served in Congress for 30 years, and during that time has been very parsimonious with his endorsements in Republican primaries.  In this case, Coble has left no doubt about who he believes will best fill his seat and serve the district.  Coble has not only endorsed Berger, he has campaigned for him.  And if anyone knows who will best represent the 6th District in Congress it is Coble.

 

But it isn’t just Coble who has endorsed Berger.  He has been joined in his endorsement by 5th District Congresswoman Virginia Foxx.  Before the congressional districts were redrawn in 2011, Foxx represented much of what is now the 6th District in Congress, and Foxx has also unequivocally endorsed Berger, as has 11th District Congressman Mark Meadows.

 

The representative of the 6th District will have to work with the other members of Congress to get anything done.  To have the endorsement of Foxx and Meadows makes it clear that they believe they can best work with Berger for the betterment of North Carolina.

 

Berger, the Rockingham County district attorney, has been unwavering in his conservative stance on the issues – from the repeal of Obamacare, to reducing taxes and out of control government spending, and dealing with the illegal immigrant population.  His opponent, Mark Walker, has not.

 

Berger was not just in favor of the marriage amendment, he campaigned statewide for the passage of that amendment.   He isn’t just in favor of charter schools, he helped found one.  And although being district attorney is not a legislative position, it is an elected one, so he knows what it means to represent constituents.  The recent ratings of district attorneys show Berger to be one of the toughest and most effective in the state.

 

Much of the campaign for the July 15 runoff has focused on illegal immigrants.  Berger has always stated that he is opposed to amnesty in any form for the illegal immigrants who are already here, as well as the thousands who are crossing the border every month.

 

Walker is late to the anti-amnesty camp.  He now says that he is against amnesty, but it wasn’t always so.  In Walker’s earlier campaign material, he wrote about being in favor of a “pathway to legalization.”  It was still up on his website in June.  And despite what he now says, a pathway to legalization is a pathway to citizenship, and is simply amnesty by a different name.

 

Walker doesn’t like the fact that people have done research on his early campaign material and has accused me of collaborating with the super political action committee (PAC) Keep Conservatives United to smear his campaign.  I have never met anyone from Keep Conservatives United, never spoken to anyone from that organization on the phone and never received a personal email from anyone I know to be involved in the organization.  I have received the email blasts from the PAC that have gone out to a vast number of people during the campaign.  I’m not sure how I could collaborate with people I don’t communicate with, but Walker says that I have and that the Berger campaign has also, which would be a violation of campaign laws.  If Walker really believes this is true, he should file a formal complaint and take legal action.  Instead, he has simply posted the accusations on his Facebook page.

 

Walker admitted to me in a face-to-face interview that the “pathway to legalization” was from his website and that his position on illegal aliens had “evolved.”   Now he is saying that somehow I conspired to create the website, which he previously told me was his, and that he has always been opposed to amnesty in any form.

 

What I do know is that before the primary the Walker campaign tried to place an advertisement in this newspaper that implied the leadership of the Rhino Times was split on its endorsement of Berger in the primary.  The endorsement, which went up on the Walker4NC Facebook page, said that “William Hammer co-founder of The Rhino Times” endorsed Walker.  William Hammer, my brother, is not the co-founder of the Rhino Times and has never had anything at all to do with this newspaper.  He was the publisher of The Rhinoceros Times until 2011.  The Rhinoceros Times went out of business in 2013.

 

The company that William Hammer does own, Biz Boost Pros, was paid over $8,000 by the Walker campaign, which is not mentioned in the endorsement.  It seems that that is relevant information.

 

The Rhino Times has sold advertising to both the Berger campaign and the Walker campaign.

 

But my experience is not an isolated incident of Walker playing fast and loose with the facts.  Walker was endorsed by Howard Coble’s brother Ray Coble.  The Walker campaign said it was endorsed by “the Coble family” in the primary when Howard Coble had not endorsed anyone.  Now Congressman Howard Coble, one of the most respected members of Congress as well as one of the most respected elected officials in North Carolina, has in no uncertain terms endorsed Berger.  For Walker to say that he was endorsed by “the Coble family,” while true, is misleading.

 

Walker makes a big point of leading from the heart, which is supposed to give him leeway on things like amnesty for illegal aliens.  But when push comes to shove I want a congressman who will take definite positions on issues and then stand by them, not a congressman who will check and see which way the wind is blowing and then follow his heart to make a decision that if his heart changes he can change.

 

There is another factor that places Berger head and shoulders above Walker in this race, and that is electability.  In the runoff Berger has outpaced Walker in campaign contributions by more than a 2-to-1 margin.  The general election is coming up in November, when the Republican nominee will face a well-funded Democratic opponent.  Proof of who the Democrats want to run against can be found in the News & Record endorsement of Walker.  The N&R doesn’t want Walker to win in November, but the editors there know that Walker, with his limited fundraising ability and his inability to connect with mainstream Republicans, is the easier candidate to beat.

 

If Berger wins the runoff he is almost assured a victory in November.  If Walker wins then the Democrats are going to throw money at the campaign of the Democratic candidate, Laura Fjeld, and have a much better chance of winning.  If you want to see a Republican representing the 6th District then you should vote for Berger.

 

Berger has another advantage: He is the son of President Pro Tem of the state Senate Phil Berger Sr.  He has grownup around politics and worked on political campaigns his entire life.  So he knows how politics works and how political battles are fought and won.  To have the congressman from the 6th District have a close relationship with the most powerful man in state government would be good for the state and the district.

 

Walker, by contrast, says that not knowing much about politics and not being involved in politics before he decided to give up the ministry and run for office is an advantage.  From his campaign and the rookie mistakes he has made, it is obvious that Walker is telling the truth when he says he doesn’t know much about the political game.  He seemed genuinely shocked that anyone would challenge his statements or look into his past.  I don’t think Congress is the place to send someone to learn how the political game is played.  Washington is a rough place and people who don’t understand its nuances get run over and tossed by the wayside.  Congressman Coble knows this better than anyone, and he has endorsed Berger.

 

We need someone in Congress representing us who can hit the ground running, not someone who will be shocked when others are playing the game at an entirely different level.

 

On July 15, vote Berger to represent the 6th District in Congress.

 

 

 

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