Davie voters protect their own candidates

Published 9:32 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

Talk about protecting their own … Davie County voters last week voted 87.6 percent for homegrown products. Seizing on the chance to elect a resident congressman for the first time in history, Davie voters divided their votes largely among the five local residents. Ted Budd finished first in Davie with 1,301 votes; Julia Howard, 1,117; Dan Barrett, 871; Andrew Brock, 569, and Farren Shoaf, 149.

Vernon Robinson, finishing sixth, got 124 votes. He had a campaign office in Mocksville and spent a lot of time here. The other 11 candidates divided a mere 444 votes among themselves.

Unheralded Ted Budd, who advertised himself as an outsider who had never run for office, proved to be a quick study in politics. He also finished first in Davidson, third in Guilford, second in Iredell and fourth in Rowan and had twice as many votes, 6,308, as the second place candidate, John Blust of Guilford.

Four candidates were long-time members of the General Assembly, but political experience was not an asset. In the same way that businessman Donald Trump swept aside seasoned governors and senators to claim the GOP nomination for President, Budd claimed his “outsider” status as a virtue. He also wrapped himself in the 2nd Amendment. As the owner of a gun shop in Winston-Salem, nobody could claim a dearer affinity for the Right to Bear Arms. Many of the candidates pictured themselves in ads holding weapons. Not surprisingly, Budd held the biggest rifle and looked very comfortable with it. Campaigning last Tuesday at the Hillsdale precinct, he dressed in well-worn jeans and a polo shirt, looking like a regular guy, not a spit-polished politician.

By population, tiny Davie should not have had such an influence on the race. Turn-out rate in Davie allowed it to bat above its place in the line up. In the GOP race, 4,575 votes were cast in Davie; a mere 2,762 in Rowan; 6,187 in much bigger Davidson; 6,397 in Iredell and 10,297 in Guilford.

By population, Guilford could have controlled the vote. It split among two resident candidates, Blust and Hank Henning, but Budd finished third to soften the blow.

Budd had a remarkable campaign strategy, financed with a half million dollar gift from the conservative group, Club for Growth. He and his sons knocked on 2,500 doors across the district.

Another Davie candidate, county commissioner Dan Barrett, said the other candidates were overwhelmed. “We were run over by the Budd truck. We saw it coming but there was no way to get out of the way.”

The campaign is not over. Budd will face Democratic nominee Bruce Davis of High Point in the November election, but the district leans Republican.

The race was much like one of those 10-lap NASCAR sprints with little time to prepare for the short campaign. The new Bathroom Law, HB2, seemed to have little influence on the race, which doesn’t bode well for Gov. Pat McCrory in November.

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Whit Merrifield of Oak Valley is off to a breath-taking start for the Kansas City Royals, batting above .300 and acquitting himself very well. Last week, he experienced his first bench-clearing brawl with the Baltimore Orioles. Hit by a pitch, an Orioles batter charged the mound to seek revenge on the pitcher. By my count watching the re-play, Merrifield was the second or third to arrive to defend his teammate.

Whit’s mother and grandfather were in the stands.

And there’s more: On Monday night, Whit hit his first triple and first home run in the Majors.

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Davie High’s graduation ceremony on Saturday morning was precise, meaningful and pleasant. Fearing a sweltering day, we were back in the car at 10:15 a.m. with the temperature having climbed to only 84 degrees. Many young male grads sported natty bow ties. Young women balanced carefully on the football field sod in trendy heels. They all wore killer sunglasses. A touching moment was when doves were released in memory of the few classmates who didn’t live to see graduation. It was a beautiful ceremony.

— Dwight Sparks