Under the Dome

'Honest, truthful' Republican challenges NC lawmaker who claimed to be a nurse

State Rep. Beverly Boswell and her Republican primary opponent Bobby Hanig.
State Rep. Beverly Boswell and her Republican primary opponent Bobby Hanig.

A North Carolina legislator who was recently scolded by the state Board of Nursing for identifying herself as a nurse faces a challenger who says he's providing a "truthful" alternative for Republican primary voters.

State Rep. Beverly Boswell, a Republican from Dare County, faced criticism Wednesday and made national headlines after the North Carolina Board of Nursing disclosed that it had asked Boswell twice to stop referring to herself as a registered nurse online. Boswell, a phlebotomist who's up for re-election this fall, said a campaign worker misidentified her on her Facebook page and website.

That was a step too far for Bobby Hanig, Boswell's opponent in the Republican primary. Hanig — who only two days ago invoked President Ronald Reagan's commandment to never speak ill of another Republican — released a statement encouraging voters in NC House District 6 to vote for a "truthful" conservative.

The statement doesn't mention Boswell by name but alludes to her in subtle jabs. It says Hanig, chairman of the Currituck County Board of Commissioners, stands by his "legitimate, truthful record of being a true conservative."

It notes that Hanig is an Army veteran, but is "not claiming to the the Chief of Staff of the Army," adding that Hanig is "fastidious about honor and integrity, noting that 'My word is my bond.' He believes that candidates, before and after getting elected, always should be truthful in presenting themselves and their views."

Hanig ends his statement with a punch, saying "Do not disrespect those who have completed specific exams or obtained necessary licenses to earn a title, such as lawyers, doctors, or even nurses."

He quoted a line that he attributed to Albert Einstein: "Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted with large ones either."

Thursday night, Boswell doubled-down on her claim that the mistake was made by "an overeager campaign volunteer."

"We have restricted access to both the website and the FB page to ensure this doesn’t happen again and have verified the accuracy of all info currently posted," Boswell said in a statement.

The statement notes that her biographical information on her legislative webpage is correct, adding "Representative Boswell has never personally claimed to be a registered nurse."

As for Hanig, Boswell's statement says her record makes it "clear that Rep. Boswell is the real conservative in this race and that Bobby simply is not. Bobby Hanig is the candidate in this race with a proven history of standing with liberal Democrats and fighting against President Trump’s agenda."

The winner of the Republican primary will likely go on to face Democrat Tess Judge. The primary is May 8.

Republicans hold a supermajority in the state House and state Senate and can override the vetoes of Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat. But Democrats hope to gain influence in Raleigh through midterm elections later this year.

Boswell's district overwhelmingly supported President Donald Trump in 2016 but leaders of the NC Democratic Party said in a press briefing Thursday that it's among 33 Republican-controlled House districts that they consider winnable for Democrats.

The nursing board's scolding of Boswell marked the second time this week that someone has taken issue with her Facebook presence. She garnered attention on Monday after posting about her phone conversation with a school leader who held an assembly on the day of the national school walkout, when thousands of students left classrooms across the United States to protest gun violence.

She referred to students as "Tide pod" eaters and suggested the school leader was allowing students to run the school.

Hanig, for his part, said in a phone interview that he shares some of the same core beliefs as Boswell but has more experience. He owns a business called "The Pool Guy Aquatic Services."

"People have been asking me how I'm different. I tell them I'm honest. I know what it takes to start a new business. Those are traits she doesn't have."

Hanig described himself as a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association who's a pro-life, pro-business supporter of HB2, the controversial law that gained national attention as the "bathroom bill" and that state legislators partially repealed last year.

Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht
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