Republican Larry Holmquist can still remember the day and time he decided he’d run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
It was Sept. 27, 2013. At about 2 p.m.
He was driving from his Greensboro home to Florida, where an aunt had died. And he happened to be listening to the radio.
“The news came across that the Senate had voted to fully fund Obamacare,” he recalled in a recent interview. “And I said: ‘That’s it!’ Everybody has their breaking point.”
He decided then and there that he would challenge Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., for the GOP nomination for Senate this year.
Holmquist blamed Burr because North Carolina’s senior senator was one of 25 Republicans in the upper chamber who voted to end a filibuster led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The vote to end debate cleared the way for a budget resolution that avoided a government shutdown.
Cruz and other hard-core conservatives also argued that the cloture vote also effectively preserved funding for the Affordable Care Act. In a subsequent vote, though, Burr and all the other Senate Republicans voted to go along with House language to end funding of Obamacare. But Senate Democrats, then in the majority, prevailed in their vote to strip out the language.
Holmquist wants to be the kind of senator who would have stood with Cruz, whose filibuster strategy was publicly criticized as hollow and hypocritical by Burr.
“I’m anything but a big name in North Carolina politics, but I was not going to let Richard Burr go unchallenged,” said Holmquist, 61, who formerly owned a small advertising company.
By the filing deadline, Holmquist and two others had launched candidacies to challenge Burr.
Holmquist said he has support from tea party conservatives in the state, and plans to base his low-budget but fervent campaign on pledges to do more to fight terrorism, lower taxes to spur the economy and stand up to Democrats promoting a liberal agenda.
“I feel very good about my chances on March 15,” Holmquist said. “There are people all over the state who are disappointed, even disgusted, by the job Mr. Burr is doing. I don’t care how much (campaign) money he has. They’re not going to vote for him.”
“I am really, really disgusted by the damage done to our country by Mr. Obama,” he said. “I’m equally upset that there’s been no meaningful push-back (by the GOP-controlled Congress) – almost none – against Mr. Obama’s agenda.”
Holmquist said that, for him, the most important issue in the Senate campaign is national defense. “If we’re unable to defend our country, everything else is moot.” Among other things, he would push to rebuild the U.S. military, which he said “is weaker than they have been in a long time. And the world is not getting any less dangerous. It’s getting more dangerous.”
Holmquist also said he’d vote to lower taxes and reduce regulations as ways “to get the economy going again.”
This is Holmquist’s first run for political office, though he was campaign manager in 2014 for Jeff Phillips, a county commissioner who ran for the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s 6th congressional district seat. Phillips lost.
Holmquist said he raised $4,200 for his Senate bid in the final quarter of 2015. Burr’s campaign war chest was close to $5 million.
“I feel very good about my chances on March 15.
“It’s the year of the political outsider and voters are ready to make some wholesale changes,” Holmquist said. “There are people all over the state who are disappointed, even disgusted, by the job Mr. Burr is doing. I don’t care how much (campaign) money he has. They’re not going to vote for him.”
Education: B.A., Drake University, 1976
Professional experience: Owned a small advertising company, with “Money Mailer,” 1999-2001. Volunteers with the Salvation Army and the Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center.
Political resume: Was campaign manager in 2014 for Jeff Phillips, an unsuccessful candidate in the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 6th congressional district seat.
Family: Wife Cindy