March 10, 2012. BLOWING ROCK – It wasn’t even a question for Cullie Tarleton whether or not he would make a run at taking back the 93rd District seat he lost in 2010 to Representative Jonathan Jordan.
“In November of 2010, when I lost, I filed in the back of my mind that I would certainly consider running again. I enjoyed it, it was a privilege for me to serve. After redistricting, they left the [93rd] District, as it was and didn’t make any changes, so it just made sense for me to do it.” Openly admitting most of it was coming from long-time supporters, some out of Raleigh, Tarleton said he received “a lot of encouragement” to run again.
In reflecting on what happened in 2010 and how to prevent a repeat, Tarleton said that he was in the camp of people who believe the driving force behind the Republican/Tea Party victories across the state was one man, Art Pope.
“You know, the Senate and the House, is the best Legislature that Art Pope could buy. He is personally responsible for many of the victories that occurred in 2010 by the amount of money he spent.”
Tarleton isn’t alone in his belief that Pope’s money led to the Conservative landslide of 2010. According to a New Yorker article by reporter at large Jane Mayer, the ‘Institute for Southern Studies found that three-quarters of the spending by independent groups in North Carolina’s 2010 state races came from accounts linked to James Arthur (Art) Pope, the chairman and C.E.O. of Variety Wholesalers. The total amount that Pope, his family, and groups backed by him spent on the twenty-two races was $2.2 million’
Tarleton also points directly at his race as a prime example saying, “You know Jonathan Jordan didn’t defeat me, Art Pope defeated me, Art Pope defeated Steve Goss, Art Pope defeated John Snow, and the list goes on and on. The victories came because of the amount of money he spent in targeted districts with ugly, nasty, and vile mailers, cable TV ads and with [published] distortions and out and out lies.”
The victories, which Tarleton credits to Pope, led to the first Republican controlled Legislature in more than 100 years. But Tarleton sees quite a bit wrong with the current state body, not the least of which is their repeated attempts to create tougher requirements for voting.
“The Republicans have the majority in both houses and instead of focusing on creating jobs, they start slashing them. Then they spend their time trying to pass voter ID bills, which is a solution in search of a problem. We don’t have a voter fraud problem in North Carolina. They lessened the amount of time people have for early voting, they got rid of same day registration, and they keep doing things that set our state back instead of moving our state forward.”
Education and jobs will be the leading issues Tarlton will campaign on because he feels these are two areas where Jordan and the Republican controlled House have exacted significant damage to the state.
“I am particularly distressed about the cuts they [GOP majority] have made to education. There is absolutely nothing, in this state, that we do that’s more important than education. No matter if it is at the public school level or secondary education or higher if we ever expect our citizens to work themselves out of the economic stress that we face, education has to be part of the solution. If we want to attract business, we have to show we have an educated and trainable workforce ready. This is often done through our community colleges.”
Jordan v. Tarleton II will offer voters a chance to see head-to-head examples of legislation both candidates have presented and backed during their terms of office. Also the State Democratic Party, “is energized,” according to Tarleton who said that “voters have had two years to see what type of leadership the Republicans are providing in the legislature, so I think we’re going to take the House back, so that we can restore some common sense back into the legislature.”