One day after new redistricting maps put Johnston County in the 7th Congressional District, N.C. Sen. David Rouzer of McGee's Crossroads announced Wednesday that he'll run for the seat in 2012.
Rouzer won't be challenging his area's current Congresswoman, fellow Republican Renee Ellmers of Dunn. Under the maps released Tuesday, Ellmers' 2nd District would extend west from her Harnett County home into Lee, Moore, Chatham and Randolph counties.
Rouzer wants to represent the district extending southeast from his Johnston County home, covering Sampson, Duplin, Bladen, Columbus, Brunswick and New Hanover counties. He'll face Ilario Pantano of Wilmington, the former U.S. Marine who ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre in 2010. Pantano months ago announced his plans to run again, long before the new district maps were released.
Under the new maps, the Democratic incumbent would likely be weaker. McIntyre's Lumberton home would no longer be in the 7th District the maps place him in the 8th District with incumbent Rep. Larry Kissell.
But McIntyre told the Wilmington Star-News that he'll still run for reelection next year in his district. Congressional candidates aren't required to live in the districts they represent. McIntyre also said he'll push to have his native Robeson County restored to the district.
Rouzer said he's running because he thinks the federal government is on a "dangerous course."
The only way to reform our federal government and regain our foothold for the future is to remove the shackles of taxation and burdensome regulation that have put millions of people out of work," Rouzer said. "To do this we must elect members of Congress who have proven themselves to be common-sense conservative leaders. My conservative record in the state legislature and the relationships built from years of work with many of the citizens and the major industries throughout the 7th District make this a natural move.
Rouzer, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, has represented Johnston County and western Wayne County in the N.C. Senate since 2008. He currently chairs the agriculture and environment committee, the natural and economic resources appropriations subcommittee and the joint regulatory reform committee.
Rouzer said that although he wasn't involved in drawing the new lines, he has many supporters in the new district thanks to his work on agricultural issues. "Ive got a pretty vast network of folks, particularly along that I-40 corridor," he said, adding that he has endorsements from former U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth and N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler.
But had his home remained in the 2nd District as it did under the first proposal Rouzer said he would have stayed in the state Senate. "I had no interest in running in the 2nd Congressional District," he said. "I think (Ellmers) is doing an excellent job."
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