State Politics

Group buys Burr ‘lost & found’ ad

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., left, and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., walk from a policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2015.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., left, and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., walk from a policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2015. AP

Claiming that North Carolina’s Republican U.S. senators are dodging their constituents, a group of activists took out a quarter-page “lost and found” ad in The News & Observer on Sunday.

“LOST – United States Senator,” the ad begins. “He may respond to the title ‘Senator Richard Burr’, though his constituents have been unable to verify whether this is still the case, as they have been unable to contact him in recent weeks. … If found, please return Senator Burr to his constituents by way of a Town Hall meeting or other suitable gathering in which the Senator demonstrates his accountability to his constituents by listening to and honestly addressing their concerns.”

The North Carolina chapter of the national group Together We Will, which focuses on the fallout from President Donald Trump’s election, is behind the newspaper ad. Evalyn Johnson of Apex said Monday the idea came from frustrations over not being able to connect with the senators’ offices, a concern she hopes will resonate with moderate Republicans.

“I wanted it not to be partisan, so I could get the message to people who aren’t liberal,” she said.

Johnson came up with most of the approximately $2,000 to buy the ad through the GoFundMe online fundraising site.

A separate group of activists has scheduled a meeting on Wednesday in Cary and invited Burr and Sen. Thom Tillis. Some politicians have faced rowdy crowds at public meetings in Raleigh, Charlotte and in other states, following the election, many upset at the uncertain future of federal health care and other issues.

Earlier this month Tillis wrote a letter to constituents saying it was difficult to schedule such meetings weeks in advance, and noted that some people are more interested in disrupting meetings than in meaningful dialogue.

“I think there have been number of instances around the country where town hall meetings became confrontational,” Heather Hazelwood of Together We Will N.C. said. “I guess my question is, if an elected official has chosen not hold a town hall meeting, not to answer telephones, only respond to emails with canned responses, how are we supposed to interact with our elected officials?”

Burr’s spokeswoman could not be reached for a comment.

Burr and Tillis are traveling out of state on official congressional business during this 10-day recess, which began Friday. Democrat U.S. Rep. David Price is also traveling. On March 6, Tillis will participate in a lunch meeting as part of a speaker series hosted by the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce; admission is $25.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO