Four Oaks Mayor Linwood Parker speaks at a press conference for U.S. Congressional candidate David Rouzer. Parker was one of a handful of Johnston County officials who publicly endorsed Rouzer on Tuesday.
SMITHFIELD -- David Rouzer has friends in high places too.
Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, Rouzer’s opponent for a U.S. House seat, came to Johnston County to announce he had received endorsements from four Johnston mayors, including Jody McLeod in Clayton and Daniel Evans in Smithfield.
On Tuesday, on the courthouse steps in Smithfield, Rouzer showed off his own local support, including Johnston County commissioners, Sheriff Steve Bills, Four Oaks Mayor Linwood Parker and Kenly Mayor David Grady.
In brief remarks, Rouzer, a state senator, emphasized his Johnston County roots and portrayed McIntyre as an outsider. “A vote for David Rouzer is a vote for Johnston County values,” he said to a small gathering of local supporters that included judicial candidates Mary Howard Wells and Levonda Wood.
Grady, the Kenly mayor, is unaffiliated with any political party. He said McIntyre’s announcement didn’t sit well with him.
“They made it look like all the mayors in Johnston County were supporting McIntyre,” Grady said. “I didn’t like the way it was done.”
Grady said he has been a supporter of Rouzer’s since 2007, when Rouzer launched his first campaign for the N.C. Senate. Back then, Rouzer was a career political staffer who had never held elected office, though he had been an adviser to U.S. senators Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole.
“I’ve never met a more gracious person running for office,” Grady said.
After McIntyre’s news conference, Grady called Parker, a Republican, to help bring together local politicians who support Rouzer. Those supporters include Johnston’s county commissioners, all but one of whom came to Smithfield on Tuesday to endorse Rouzer. (Commissioner Ray Woodall is in poor health and did not attend the news conference.)
Commissioners’ Chairman Allen Mims said Rouzer said the county’s fiscal values. “We live within our means here in the county, our county lives within its means, and all our citizens live within their means,” Mims said. “That’s what we’re trying to do – send a conservative to Washington so our country can live within its means.”
Leo Daughtry, a longtime member of the N.C. House, said Rouzer was a natural fit for Johnston County and shared its residents’ values. “I can’t imagine why anyone in Johnston County wouldn’t vote for David Rouzer,” he said.
Parker was the most outspoken of the group. As a state senator, he said, Rouzer helped Four Oaks secure funding and navigate state regulations to complete the Four Oaks Business Park.
“He helped us put that together, which created jobs; this election’s about jobs,” Parker said. “Without his help, we couldn’t have gotten the extra money we needed for the streets that went into the business park, as well as the water and sewer.”
Rouzer has said in the past that he wouldn’t focus too much on getting federal dollars for district projects; he’s more concerned about national issues like Medicare reform and the deficit. But that doesn’t bother the local officials endorsing him. They said they shared his fiscal conservatism and believe the county would benefit from having him in Washington.
“It’s all about turnout,” said Parker, who urged county Republicans to get out and vote. “The question is whether we’re going to vote or not.”