U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Lumberton native who wants a ninth term in Congress, is calling a recount of his race with state Sen. David Rouzer for the District 7 seat a waste of taxpayers’ money, saying the voters have spoken.
On this issue, McIntyre is wrong and Rouzer is right, because the incumbent’s apparent winning margin is well within the 1 percent threshold of all the votes cast that allow for such a recount — and another look is needed to ensure that the voters’ wishes are indeed honored. Trust us, McIntryre, were he on the opposite end of the vote total, would do the same — and in 1996 called for an expensive runoff that eventually placed him in Congress.
We say all this as a fan of McIntyre, who earned a rare endorsement from this newspaper in 2010. We hope that Monday’s recount will return him to Washington, D.C., because we believe he, more than Rouzer, will best serve the interests of Robeson County.
If McIntyre clings to his twice-declared victory, he will have managed something political pundits would not have predicted when the Republican-controlled General Assembly unveiled the gerrymandered congressional district lines following the most recent census. Perhaps surprisingly, McIntyre, a Blue Dog Democrat who doesn’t hesitate to cross party lines, was clearly targeted in the drawing of the new district lines. Most of Robeson County, including McIntyre’s Lumberton home, was carved out of District 7, which suddenly included Rouzer’s home of Johnston County and an electorate that had heavily favored John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, giving him 58 percent of the vote.
McIntyre was instantly on the endangered list, and it didn’t help his chances that a lot of Republican-raised money poured into District 7 in an effort to build on the GOP majority in the U.S. House.
“I’m the underdog in this race because of the way the district was redrawn to determine the outcome of the election and the barrage of negative ads that are being run distorting my votes,” McIntyre told The Robesonian in advance of the Nov. 6 General Election. “It’s been very frustrating to me to have to fight off these negative ads and get my positions across.”
McIntyre’s win will have been achieved on the grassroots levels, with endorsements from mayors all across District 7, which remains majority Democrat, and an emphasis on his pro-defense, pro-agriculture and pro-God record. McIntyre was able to distance himself from Barack Obama, a polarizing president in Southeastern North Carolina, with a campaign that highlighted his votes against the auto bailout and ObamaCare, and in favor of extending President Bush’s tax cuts.
Should Monday’s recount affirm McIntyre’s victory, he will return to Congress in line to become the second-ranking member on the Agricultural Committee and the No. 3 man on the Armed Services Committee, powerful positions in a district with an economy heavily dependent on agriculture and defense.
It will be a victory achieved without the benefit of a heavy vote in Robeson County, his home base, and will demonstrate that the new District 7, just like the old District 7, also likes Mike.