Eastman touts support for vets, outsider status in US Senate bid

Marjorie K. Eastman is pictured with her family, in this undated file photo. (Courtesy Photo)

CARY — Marjorie K. Eastman says her campaign of late feels like a “rocketship” after landing an endorsement from two-term Iowa U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. 

“I’m supporting Marjorie because she’s a mom, a great conservative, and she is a combat veteran. She’s exactly what we need in the U.S. Senate,” said Ernst at a recent fundraising event.

It’s that experience as a combat veteran that Eastman has leaned on – something, she says, the other candidates in the race lack.

“We have over 700,000 veterans and we need to make sure that we are taking care of them,” said Eastman in an interview with North State Journal.

“There’s no cost that’s too high supporting a veteran who would’ve given their life for us and defended our freedoms. So number one, it’s understanding the military,” Eastman said. “Number two, it’s about the border. What are the first things they teach you as a soldier – especially as a leader in combat – you have to secure the perimeter and our nation’s leaders are not doing their job.”

After being stationed at Fort Bragg nearly 20 years ago, Eastman and her husband, who served in special operations, decided North Carolina would be their forever home – once he retired. 

Their family would spend time in Tennessee, where Eastman attended business school at Vanderbilt University. According to voting records Eastman registered in Wake County in 2018. That was an issue during a debate between candidates hosted by ABC11 in late February.

Former Gov. Pat McCrory “welcomed” Eastman to the state and questioned her conservative bona fides. She had been an unaffiliated voter and re-registered as a Republican shortly before entering the race in October.

“The debate tells the whole story. Number one, he attacked me unprovoked and totally baseless. Why do politicians attack? Because they feel threatened,” said Eastman. “He was insulting to the military community. I mean, as a service member, I was stationed here at Fort Bragg in 2002, 2003. Quite frankly, it’s not just insulting to the military, but every new North Carolinian. There’s so many people that live in our state that were not born here that love this state. They love North Carolina values and (McCrory) really shut the door on them, which was disappointing.”

Eastman went to say that she registered as a Republican in college and switched to an unaffiliated registration while enlisted.

She says as a fiscal conservative, she’s very concerned about inflation. Eastman said you don’t have to go to business school to understand that career politicians created the current inflation problems, not businesses. She says she’s helped grow and scale small businesses and how to solve problems.

Another passion she has is helping veteran entrepreneurs. 

“That brings together two things I absolutely love, my military family and solving problems here at home.” said Eastman.

Eastman also talked about why she got in the race late – months after the candidates currently leading polls entered the primary.

She stressed that the race isn’t about four candidates, it’s about two choices.

“All three of these politicians are pick a flavor: what kind of politician do you want? I’m the only outsider. I’m the only mom with a little boy climbing onto a school bus,” she said. “We need a Glenn Youngkin (Virginia governor elected in 2021) for North Carolina.”

Eastman added that being an outsider, she’s also a voter who is “sick and tired of politicians” said that it was laughable that experience as a politician is a reason to vote for them.

“We need people that understand business and have served their country in uniform,” she added. 

She tackled the issue of outsider spending in the race by deflecting some of the $1.2 million spent on her behalf by Restore Common Sense, a PAC supporting her founded by Wilmington executive Fred Eshelman.

A Jan. 13, 2022, report from The Associated Press said the ads backing her “highlighted Eastman’s service in the military as a combat veteran and criticized ‘career politicians’ who ‘abandoned common sense,’ leading to an environment that’s brought ‘crippling inflation, massive new government spending’ and ‘surging crime’ to the country.”

Eastman responded saying that North Carolinians should be making the decision.

“The support that I’ve had, it’s all been from within the state. I have friends and family all across the state like anybody else does,” said Eastman.

On a personal level, Eastman shared the story of her son, who was diagnosed with childhood cancer at six months of age. She called it “the biggest challenge of their lives” and said their went through a special kind of hell. 

“For five years, we had to live that live that hell. The biggest blessing is he’s cancer free today,” said Eastman. “We were so lucky we found it because infant cancer only happens to about 700, 800 babies in the U.S. every year. And my son got it and they (doctors) say it’s the most mysterious, too.”

She said she still remembers vividly the sixth floor of Vanderbilt’s pediatric oncology department, seeing children with no eyelashes, no hair on their head and in the fight of their lives.

Eastman says “It’s a reminder of what the human spirit is capable of enduring and producing. We all have it in us.”