The political tug of war over gerrymandering of congressional districts was settled on Dec. 2 by a North Carolina Appeals Court decision that leaves congressional districts as they were drawn by the Republican-led state legislature. That means a change for voters in most of Harnett, parts of Johnston, Lee, Moore and all of Cabarrus, Stanly, Montgomery and Cumberland counties, who now make-up the 8th U.S. Congressional District. It also means a new face will be representing most of those voters in Washington, D.C.
Current 8th District Congressman Richard Hudson, who officially filed to re-gain his seat shortly after the new districts were declared valid, visited Dunn recently in an effort to bring awareness to residents of the pending changes to their representation. Hudson has served as the representative for the district since 2013.
“My philosophy is if I’m you’re a congressman, I need to know you and you need to know me,” Hudson said. “So, I got here as soon as I could.”
Voters will have a bit of a foggy path to travel until the changes take effect. While voters in the re-drawn 8th district will choose their representative in the 2020 primary and general elections, the candidates chosen and eventually elected, won’t actually represent the new district until it becomes official in January of 2021.
“I’m going to represent my old district until January 3, 2021,” Hudson said. “I’ll be campaigning here, but if you need help with the federal government, I’m not legally allowed to help you until then. It’s going to be confusing for people because they’re going to see my ads and my signs thinking they can come to me, but I’m not really allowed to help them. But I can help direct people and we won’t turn anybody away.”
Hudson defines himself as “a conservative, but common sense person who likes to get things done.”
He is ranked as the 12th most conservative member of the House by the National Journal, he also carries another distinction according to one survey that dubbed him the “most effective North Carolina Congressman.”
The University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University did a study on the subject and Hudson was rated as most effective among all Republicans and Democrats in the state.
“I think I demonstrate you can stand on principle,” he said. “But you can also reach across the aisle and get things done for the people.”
Among his duties in the house, Hudson serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee as well as on sub-committees for health care, energy and digital privacy.
As far as a primary focus currently, Hudson says veterans and the military are high on his list. Fort Bragg sits in the heart of his district. That fact, combined with the large number of veterans who have made North Carolina their home, has made Hudson want to focus on them and the issues concerning them, he says.
“We probably have more veterans in this part of the country than anywhere,” he said. “Then, I represent the largest Army base in the world, Fort Bragg, the epicenter of the universe, and that’s a big priority for me: making sure we’re giving those men and women everything they need to do their jobs well, get home safely and also take care of their families.”
Hudson spoke on the latest efforts by the House to pass a needed spending bill. He noted a continuing resolution, which allowed spending to continue temporarily at current levels, was recently passed. That handcuffs the military, though, and doesn’t afford them the chance to start new programs or get needed funding increases, he said. It expires on Dec. 20.
“When we do continuing resolutions, in which we say keep spending at the same levels as last year, it’s devastating to the military,” Hudson said. “They can’t start new programs, they can’t buy new systems. It’s really bad news for our troops.”
Hudson said the largest obstacle to get a new spending bill passed comes in the ongoing argument between Democrats and Republicans over funding President Donald Trump’s border wall. He said the stalemate has led to a lack of negotiation between the two sides.
“The biggest sticking point is the Democrats in Washington refuse to give the President any money for the border wall,” Hudson said. “And if there’s no wiggle room there, there’s no negotiations. I don’t know how you get out of that.”
He quotes former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms when speaking about the matter.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to compromise,” he said. “As Senator Jesse Helms, one of my heroes, used to say ‘I won’t compromise my principles, but I will compromise my preferences’ and at the end of the day you’ve got to be willing to compromise some of your preferences and come back and fight for more later.”
Hudson says the ongoing impeachment inquiry by Democrats is hindering efforts to resolve other issues, just as important, if not more. He says the focus is preventing getting anything done.
“They’re so focused on that, we’re not getting things done like funding the government,” Hudson said. “There’s a lot of things we can agree on like funding infrastructure, like dealing with drug pricing. There’s so many things that we could be doing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on that the people here expect us to be doing, and that’s the frustration for me.”
After filing for reelection on Dec. 2, Hudson released a statement.
“I’m running for reelection to continue to be a conservative, common sense voice for the people of North Carolina’s 8th District,” Hudson said. ”I’ve always been clear on my priorities for the district – creating an environment where folks can find good-paying jobs, rebuilding our military and being a voice for our veterans. I look forward to continuing to share our positive message from Cumberland to Cabarrus and everywhere in between.”