FAYETTEVILLE — With the June 7 primary a little more than a week away and the U.S. House race in full swing, Congressman Richard Hudson (R-08) spent Friday talking jobs and military readiness at the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. Hudson’s district was reconfigured in the redistricting earlier this year and now encompasses Fayetteville, home of Fort Bragg, the largest U.S. army base housing more than 52,000 service members. Bragg gives North Carolina the third largest military presence in the nation, so looking out for soldiers would become a top priority if Hudson is re-elected to congress.
“This is a very pro-America, pro-military, can-do kind of community, and of course the men and women at Fort Bragg are the best among us, so being given the opportunity to be their advocate, I’m thrilled,” he said.
Hudson brought N.C. Senator Thom Tillis and House Armed Service Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) to meet with local business leaders in Fayetteville. They talked about the National Defense Authorization Act which recently passed the House, and Hudson’s amendment that requires the Pentagon to report regularly on the number of airborne jumps and evaluate the level of air support for paratroopers. Creating accountability through that measure and his recently introduced bill to expand access to healthcare at the Department of Veterans Affairs are what he says is part of giving veterans what they deserve, and soldiers what they need to be ready for deployment. Hudson said he never wants to see U.S. soldiers in a fair fight.
“I want to make sure that the men and women of Fort Bragg get everything they need so that they are properly trained and equipped,” he said. “They put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf I want to make sure we can make it as safe as possible and they are prepared.”
Hudson faces fellow Republican Tim D’Annunzio, in the upcoming primary. D’Annunzio is a five-time candidate for U.S. House, hoping that on June 7 voters will make him the Republican nominee. D’Annunzio won the Republican primary for North Carolina’s fourth district in 2012, losing that election to the incumbent, Democrat Rep. David Price.
D’Annunzio hopes to capitalize on the anti-establishment sentiments of voters this election cycle, as he espouses limited government principles, but is not without his own challenges as a candidate.
A former Army paratrooper himself, and self-made millionaire, D’Annunzio struggled with addiction to heroin in his youth, resulting in multiple stints behind bars for stealing to support his habit, including assaulting a police officer, among other arrests. When he was 15 he lied about his age to enlist in the Army, but was later found out. At 19 he enlisted under a false name, but accrued an honorable record before it was discovered and therefore was allowed to remain in the service. Once discharged, D’Annunzio founded and built a successful company specializing in body armor for soldiers in combat.
Despite his rags to riches story and principled political stances, then N.C. GOP Chair Tom Fetzer said, during the 2008 campaign season, that D’Annunzio was “unfit to run for public office at any level.” Court documents from a 1995 divorce may shed light on why Fetzer characterized D’Annunzio’s candidacy in such negative terms.
D’Annunzio’s then-wife attested in court that he was diagnosed as bipolar and thought he was the Messiah, or God himself; claimed to have found the Ark of the Covenant in Arizona; and believed he could raise people from the dead. She explained he underwent a religious conversion that led to this erratic and concerning behavior, causing her to question his suitability for unsupervised visitation with the couples’ three children.
While Republican primary voters may be interested in such allegations as they choose a representative for high office, the D’Annunzio campaign says they are irrelevant to the issues at hand.
“Not sure why you bring up stuff from 40 years ago but I guess you are being asked by the establishment to bring up stuff that is not relevant,” said Scott Rhodes, D’Annunzio’s current campaign manager, when asked about the allegations. “This is the revolution, it is time for a return to government of the people, for the people and by the people.”
Voters will choose who is best to carry the Republican torch and put those principles into action for the 8th district on June 7. The new primary date following redistricting is putting additional pressure on the campaigns to make sure voters turn out and know what new district they are in.
“A lot of people are confused,” said Hudson. “They think they’ve already voted, not sure which district they’re in. When you have a district that’s now split three ways, people are really confused, but that’s one of the challenges in redistricting.’
The North Carolina Board of Elections recommends that voters visit ncsbe.org to find out details about their district.