McLaurin: I ‘try to look out for the little folks’

Senator hopes to retain seat in November election against challenger Tom McInnis

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — State Senator Gene McLaurin spoke before a friendly audience of an estimated 90 people Thursday evening at a reception held at Discovery Place KIDS in downtown Rockingham.

McLaurin, a Democrat from Rockingham who served the city as mayor from 1997 to 2012, kicked off the general election campaign with the notion that he wants to return to the Senate for a second two-year term. The purpose of the reception was to elicit donations from supporters.

Returning to office will cost money, said former Rockingham Mayor G.R. Kindley.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Sen. Gene McLaurin, right, talks to an audience of about 90 supporters as he seeks re-election this November against challengers Tom McInnis and P.H. Hawkins.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Sen. Gene McLaurin, right, talks to an audience of about 90 supporters as he seeks re-election this November against challengers Tom McInnis and P.H. Hawkins.

“When your opponent is from the same county, it makes it a little bit more difficult,” Kindley said. “It’s going to take a lot of money, a lot of effort.”

McLaurin is pitted against Ellerbe resident and Republican Tom McInnis and Libertarian Prentice Harold “P.H.” Dawkins, of Hamlet. While it’s expected that McLaurin will win Richmond County, other counties in District 25 — which includes Anson, Rowan, Scotland and Stanly counties — could be problem areas for him. Campaign supporter Monty Crump said the district is 53 percent Republican, and the fact that it’s not a presidential election won’t help with voter turnout.

In 2012, McLaurin won the general election with 53 percent of the vote — 44,560 votes in his favor compared to 39,506 for Republican challenger McIntyre.

McLaurin wants to surround himself with people who represent integrity and high quality. Kindley said McLaurin was doing just that by having North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper speak on McLaurin’s behalf Thursday evening.

Cooper noted many of North Carolina’s strengths, including being the No. 2 banking market in the country. The good vibes didn’t last long.

“I am concerned now that we are going to lose that future for North Carolina,” Cooper said. “I am concerned that leadership in Raleigh does not understand the problems that we face.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Former Rockingham Mayor G.R. Kindley, left, Sen. Gene McLaurin, center, and Mary Ellen Kindley.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Former Rockingham Mayor G.R. Kindley, left, Sen. Gene McLaurin, center, and Mary Ellen Kindley.

Of course, that leadership is Republican. And to combat that, Democrats need someone who can appeal to voters on both sides.

“We need people of integrity and common sense,” Cooper said.

Cooper encouraged the Democrat-friendly crowd to “put people in office who understand what it takes to move North Carolina forward.”

Of course, he was referring in this case to McLaurin, who waited a moment before speaking

“Well, gosh,” he said — an opening that likely earned him at least a couple of votes.

McLaurin looked around the room and noted the building, Discovery Place KIDS, and the effort it took to make that vision become a reality.

“We worked together,” McLaurin said. “Democrats, Republicans … we put aside any differences we had, we showed what a community can do.”

McLaurin said he sent to Raleigh with a “rural North Carolina agenda” and while he appreciates the financial prosperity of the larger cities, some of the wealth is needed — and can fit — in the state’s rural counties.

He also spoke on education; specifically, teacher salaries, which currently rank 46th in the nation.

“Our teachers deserve to be paid at least … the national average,” McLaurin said.

McLaurin also said a key part of his desire to remain in office is constituent service.

“We do the big-picture things, but we also go to Raleigh … to look out for the little folks,” McLaurin said.

He noted his support, and the support of fellow Democrats Garland Pierce and Ken Goodman, of the Hemp Oil Bill that is nearing final passage in the General Assembly. Hemp oil is the politically correct name, he said.

“I don’t give a hoot if you call it marijuana oil,” McLaurin said. “It’ll help Jack from Ellerbe.”

Jack Berry, the 12-year-old son of Ellerbe Mayor Lee Berry, suffers from Dravet Syndrome. He was diagnosed with the rare form of epilepsy when he was 6.

 

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  • Cami

    I hope the voters of Richmond County remember that it was Tom McInnis who tried to protect their property rights when the county commissioners were pushing so hard for ordinances many years ago. The people of the county need someone like him in office to safeguard their rights.

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