The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY BRIAN MUR­PHY

First-time can­di­date Man­ning spot­lights health care in tight race for U.S. House against in­cum­bent Budd.

Davie, Guil­ford, Ire­dell and Rowan coun­ties. Lib­er­tar­ian Party can­di­date Tom Bai­ley and Green Party can­di­date Robert Cor­ri­her are also on the bal­lot in No­vem­ber.

Ear­lier this month, the Se­nate over­whelm­ingly passed a House-backed bi­par­ti­san pack­age of more than 50 bills re­lated to com­bat­ing the opi­oid cri­sis. Budd men­tioned sev­eral in­di­vid­ual bills to the group — one to limit the over-pre­scrib­ing of drugs in hos­pi­tals, one to pro­vide money for tran­si­tional hous­ing for those in re­cov­ery and an­other to help those in re­cov­ery to re-en­ter the work force.

“Look to me as one of the fighters on your be­half,” said Budd, who co-spon­sored two of the bills.

Budd’s pitch is that he’s an old neigh­bor who hap­pens to be a con­gress-

man work­ing across the aisle on im­por­tant is­sues, like the opi­oid cri­sis. It comes at a time when his Demo­cratic chal­lenger is hop­ing to de­fine him as a rub­ber stamp for con­ser­va­tive groups that have fi­nanced his first two po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns. Budd pointed out that ma­jor­ity of mea­sures in Con­gress are bi­par­ti­san.

Man­ning has made health care a top is­sue for her cam­paign, ar­gu­ing Repub­li­can poli­cies would leave many with­out af­ford­able in­sur­ance. Budd has tried to por­tray Man­ning as a lib­eral donor who would be work­ing for Demo­cratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s pri­or­i­ties.

“His neg­a­tive on her is ty­ing her to (Nancy) Pelosi and (Hil­lary) Clin­ton. Her neg­a­tive is he’s gone up there to clean up the swamp and has ba­si­cally be­come part of it,” said Hunter Ba­cot, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at UNC Greens­boro. “That race is districted for a Repub­li­can can­di­date. Any Demo­crat, no mat­ter how well funded, is go­ing to have an up­hill bat­tle.”

Budd won the open seat with more than 56 per­cent of the vote in 2016 af­ter win­ning a 17-way Repub­li­can pri­mary.


Budd, who earned an MBA from Wake For­est and a mas­ter’s from Dal­las The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, worked in the fam­ily busi­nesses — jan­i­to­rial, land­scap­ing, un­armed se­cu­rity and com­mer­cial chick­ens and grass seed be­fore he opened a gun shop and shoot­ing range in Ad­vance.

In 2016, af­ter re­dis­trict­ing, Repub­li­can Rep. Ge­orge Hold­ing opted to run in a dif­fer­ent dis­trict, leav­ing a va­cancy in the 13th dis­trict and not much time for Budd, who turns 47 on Oct. 21, to make a de­ci­sion. He dis­cussed the idea with his wife and three teenage chil­dren be­fore opt­ing to run.

“I told him he’s crazy,” said Rep. Richard Hud­son, a Con­cord Repub­li­can and friend of Budd’s for more than 20 years.

Kim Kin­der, the man­ager at Budd’s gun store, ProShots, and a long-time friend, said while most are con­tent to com­plain, Budd de­cided it was time for ac­tion.

“Ted had the courage. He said, ‘I’m go­ing to try to rep­re­sent the folks that live around the area I live around. I hear them say­ing this and this and this, but I don’t know that peo­ple are lis­ten­ing,’” she said.

Budd got a large as­sist from the Club for Growth, a con­ser­va­tive group that fa­vors lim­ited gov­ern­ment. Its PAC Club for Growth Ac­tion, which is ded­i­cated to elect­ing “progrowth, lim­ited gov­ern­ment con­ser­va­tives,” spent nearly $500,000 in sup­port of Budd dur­ing the GOP pri­mary in 2016.

His fam­ily, which founded and runs The Budd Group, a fa­cil­i­ties ser­vice com­pany, has do­nated gen­er­ously to Repub­li­can can­di­dates and causes, in­clud­ing the Club for Growth. Ted Budd has do­nated nearly $20,000 to Repub­li­can can­di­dates, most of them from North Carolina, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign fi­nance records.

Richard Budd founded the Budd Group, which sprung from his pur­chase of a jan­i­to­rial sup­ply com­pany in 1963. Joseph Budd is now its CEO.

In tele­vi­sion ads in 2016, Budd ran as some­one who would clean up Wash­ing­ton. “I’m run­ning to turn D.C. in­side out then get back home as soon as pos­si­ble,” he said.

‘‘ THAT RACE IS DISTRICTED FOR A REPUB­LI­CAN CAN­DI­DATE. ANY DEMO­CRAT, NO MAT­TER HOW WELL FUNDED, IS GO­ING TO HAVE AN UP­HILL BAT­TLE. Hunter Ba­cot, po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at UNC Greens­boro, on the 13th Dis­trict

But a re­cent Man­ning tele­vi­sion ad ar­gues that Budd failed and in­stead en­joyed the trap­pings of po­lit­i­cal life.

“Con­gress­man Budd promised to shake up Wash­ing­ton, but once he was elected, he im­me­di­ately sold out his con­stituents to the high­est spe­cial in­ter­est bid­der. He hired lob­by­ists to run his of­fice, took lav­ish trips around the world paid for by spe­cial in­ter­ests, and is tak­ing cam­paign cash from big banks, pay­day lenders, and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies — and then vot­ing their way,” said Tori Tay­lor, cam­paign man­ager for Man­ning.

Budd, a mem­ber of the con­ser­va­tive House Free­dom Cau­cus, hired lob­by­ists from Her­itage Ac­tion to key staff po­si­tions, ac­cord­ing to Legis­torm which tracks Hill staffing. Her­itage Ac­tion is the lob­by­ing arm for the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, a con­ser­va­tive think tank. Budd was one of 10 Repub­li­can law­mak­ers who at­tended a Club for Growth week­end re­treat at an ex­clu­sive ocean­front re­sort in Florida, ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ous re­port­ing by McClatchy in June of 2017. His wife also at­tended.

There is noth­ing il­le­gal about the trips or the ex­penses.

“It’s laugh­able that Greens­boro’s big­gest po­lit­i­cal in­sider, Kathy Man­ning, is at­tack­ing Ted Budd for at­tend­ing a few con­ser­va­tive pol­icy con­fer­ences and hir­ing staff from con­ser­va­tive think tanks,” said El­iz­a­beth Oglesby, Budd’s cam­paign man­ager.

Her­itage Ac­tion, the House Free­dom Fund and Club for Growth have made in­de­pen­dent ex­pen­di­tures on Budd’s be­half this cy­cle.

He has been a re­li­able con­ser­va­tive vote, earn­ing a 95 per­cent score from the Club for Growth in 2017, and he earned the club’s “De­fender of Eco­nomic Free­dom” award.

Budd said his con­stituents ex­pect him to sup­port Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s poli­cies on tax re­form, dereg­u­la­tion and giv­ing more re­sources to the mil­i­tary, even if some of them have prob­lems with Trump’s per­sonal style.

“Peo­ple in the 13th Dis­trict care about pol­icy. What do you be­lieve and are you go­ing to do what you said you are go­ing to do,” Budd said. “And so far they say thank you for do­ing what you said you are go­ing to do.”

In his first months in Con­gress, Budd, who sits on the fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­mit­tee, ran into pol­icy op­po­si­tion from a group he ex­pected to be on his side — the Na­tional Re­tail­ers Fed­er­a­tion.

As Repub­li­cans worked to re­peal Dodd-Frank, an Obama-era bill that reg­u­lated the bak­ing in­dus­try, Budd pushed for the elim­i­na­tion of lim­its on so­called credit card “swipe fees,” the fees banks charge re­tail­ers when cus­tomers use their debit cards.

Banks dis­like the lim­its and have ar­gued that losses from the fees are why they have ended free check­ing ac­counts and other mea­sures, ar­gu­ments Budd echoed in a piece ex­plain­ing his po­si­tion and call­ing the lim­its “price con­trols.” But the Na­tional Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion like the pol­icy and ran an ad hit­ting Budd.

The re­tail­ers won as Con­gress left the swipe fee lim­its. The Amer­i­can Bankers As­so­ci­a­tion has spent $125,000 on cable and dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing for Budd in the 2018 elec­tion.

Budd’s friend and sup­port­ers use the word “gen­uine” to de­scribe the con­gress­man. He cam­paigned in Au­gust in blue jeans be­fore adding a sports coat when ad­dress­ing the opi­oid group.

“The job he has done is A-plus. He’s rolled up his sleeves and stayed en­gaged,” said Mid­way Mayor John Bynum, a Budd sup­porter and friend. Mid­way is a 9-square mile town of 4,900 in north­ern David­son County.

Budd faced crit­i­cism in na­tional out­lets for his poor fundrais­ing to­tals early in the cy­cle. Na­tional Jour­nal la­beled him as one of the House’s “worst slack­ers.” Politico men­tioned him a in a story about “the lazy Repub­li­can” be­ing a gen­eral fear for party lead­ers. But Budd’s fund-rais­ing, though still trail­ing Man­ning, has picked up, and he said he is run­ning with ur­gency.

“You have to have an at­ti­tude that you’re never en­ti­tled to this po­si­tion and you have to earn it each and ev­ery time,” Budd said in Au­gust af­ter speak­ing to sup­port­ers at the Gumtree Fire Depart­ment in David­son County and be­fore knock­ing on doors and speak­ing to the group in Mocksville. “The at­ti­tude is that you’re 10 points be­hind and gain­ing.”

BRUCE HEN­DER­SON bhen­der­son@char­lot­teob­

GOP con­gres­sional can­di­date Ted Budd owns a gun store in Ad­vance.

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