David Rouzer garnered a sliver under half the total votes in his 2012 pursuit of a Congressional seat, losing by a razor-thin margin in the nation’s closest race that November. He said there is unfinished business.
Rouzer lost by 654 votes in that election, the final tally putting Democratic incumbent Mike McIntyre’s 168,695 votes ahead of Rouzer’s 168,041 and earning McIntyre his ninth term as representative of North Carolina’s 7th Congressional district. The longtime congressman announced in January he would not seek a 10th.
In an interview with the Independent, Rouzer said he and his supporters were fueled by the success of the campaign two years ago, even though it fell just short. After some thought, he knew he wanted to try again.
“I think we’re in a very strong position, in large part probably due to the previous run. People know my name. There were a lot of folks that worked really hard for us in the last election and we fell 654 votes short out of almost 337,000 cast. After that race I chose to get back in the battle at the encouragement of a lot of folks across this district.”
That support base has been strong and continues to build, he said.
“I firmly believe we have a very short window of opportunity to begin to turn this country around,” Rouzer noted. “I felt like if I left the battle now with as much at stake for this country, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. Coming just 654 votes short really compelled me o come back and finish the job.”
Rouzer said he wants the country to get back to the founding principles of individual liberty and economic freedom. That means getting the government “out of the way and off of our backs as much as possible,” he attested. GOP leadership is needed to lead that push, he said, and it was his hope the 2014 and 2016 elections would go the Republicans’ way.
“I’m very hopeful that the American people will very forcefully make their point … so we can chart the course to repeal Obamacare and put in place more common-sense solutions that bring about more transparency and more competition in the healthcare market,” Rouzer said.
Similar to healthcare, less “onerous rules and regulations” are key to the success of small businesses, the Congressional hopeful said. Tax reform also needs to be simpler, fairer and flatter.
“Our small business owners, our farmers, our entrepreneurs are dying by a thousand cuts,” said Rouzer. “Our job creators need to be able to keep more of what they earn, therefore enable them to invest and create more jobs. That’s how we get this economy growing again.”
Now a resident of McGee’s Crossroads in Johnston County, Rouzer grew up in Durham and spent all his summers working on the family farm just outside of Four Oaks, he pointed out. He said he always enjoyed the physical labor and appreciated the dedication that went into taking care of the land. At a young age, he was given eight rows of tobacco to tend. It taught him responsibility and instilled in him the value of hard work and a dollar.
He saved his money and paid his way through school at N.C. State, earning three degrees, in agriculture business management, agricultural economics and chemistry.
He would go on to serve as a senior staffer for former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms and stayed on with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole to see through the passage of the tobacco quota buyout, “which was very critical for eastern North Carolina and this area in particular,” Rouzer stated. He also served the USDA Rural Development, where he had oversight responsibilities for a $5 billion loan portfolio that saw investments in rural America, including many in the 7th Congressional district.
“I have a great deal of experience that I bring to the table,” said Rouzer. “I know how the liberal bureaucrats operate and I know how to deal with them.”
Most recently, Rouzer served in the N.C. Senate from 2009-12, representing the 12th district covering Johnston and Wayne counties.
During that time, as chair of the Senate Ag Commitee, co-chair of the Regulatory Reform Commission and Senate chair of the Environmental Review Commission, he said he fought for regulatory reform, knowing mom and pop operations could never pick up steam and boost local revenues if they are saddled with new added expenses every year.
“It’s really gotten to the point where business is no fun anymore,” Rouzer remarked. “When our entrepreneurs and our small business owners are searching for their exit strategy versus looking for ways to grow their business, that is a real problem for this country.”
The economy would have to grow in order to tackle the national debt, Rouzer said. Limited government and reform on the tax system, as well as the financial sector, would be necessary to encourage that growth, he noted.
“We need to make this country the most attractive place to invest and do business,” Rouzer asserted. “Capital goes where it is welcomed. If you have all these rules and regulations in place, the United States is not as attractive a place to do business as it used to be.”
Along with growth, spending cuts are paramount to righting the ship, and Rouzer said his experience in the Legislature has prepared him for that budget process. He voted to cut $1.2 billion from the state budget during his time as state senator and said, if elected, he would introduce a series of bills cutting spending and directing a portion of that money back to the states to do as they see fit.
“I’m one of those candidates who has not only talked the talk but walked the walk,” he said firmly. “Each of us who are running for office are in essence applying for a very important job. Do you want to hire somebody who has the experience and shown they can withstand the test of the fire? Or do you want to hire somebody who simply says the right things but hasn’t proven they can withstand that test?”
In the 7th Congressional District Republican primary on May 6, Rouzer will face Woody White of New Hanover County (see today’s related story) and Chris Andrade of Cumberland County. Walter A. Martin Jr. of Johnston County and Jonathan Barfield Jr. of New Hanover will meet in the Democratic primary.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.