The Charlotte area’s two newly elected Republican congressional candidates struck softer tones than they adopted on the campaign trail as they reflected Wednesday on heading to a divided Washington.
After President Barack Obama’s re-election, both Robert Pittenger and Richard Hudson expressed an openness to seeing what he and the Democratic Party would put on the table after months of decrying their policies as bad for the country.
“We’re post-campaign now,” Pittenger said at his SouthPark business office Wednesday. “Let’s see what the president really presents to the American people.”
Pittenger defeated Democrat Jennifer Roberts in the 9th Congressional District encompassing parts of Mecklenburg, Union and Iredell counties. He campaigned against raising any taxes and having “the courage to say no to Barack Obama,” as one mailer put it. On Wednesday, he declined to engage with statements the president made during the campaign about his plans on taxes and ways to reduce the federal deficit.
“There’s a lot of hype that comes with the campaigns, when people are trying to offer something to somebody and just trying to gain votes,” Pittenger said, referring to Obama’s rhetoric on the stump.
“I think it’s prudent and I think it’s wise to say, ‘Mr. President, you’re president, present your plan.’ And then we’ll respond to that.”
It’s a similar, but more guarded message to the one presented Wednesday by House Speaker John Boehner, who said he was ready to be led by Obama toward a deal and that Republicans were “willing to accept new revenue under the right conditions.”
Pittenger said he is open to eliminating “corporate welfare” and closing tax loopholes, but opposes new taxes.
Hudson, who unseated U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell in the 8th Congressional District, said it’s clear the public wants their leaders to put party aside and work together.
“That is certainly something I’m committed to doing,” Hudson said. “The fact that the Senate and the White House will remain in Democratic control means that maybe my expectations may change a little bit in terms of what we can get done. And it certainly means, to achieve the things I want to achieve, I’m going to have to work with Democrats. That’s something I’m committed to trying to do.”
N.C. delegation flips
The two men are headed to another divided Congress, but the Republicans will have more company from the North Carolina delegation.
For the first time since 1994, North Carolina will send a Republican majority to the U.S. House after picking up at least two seats – and possibly three – in the newly redrawn districts. The districts currently split 7-6 toward Democrats.
Republican George Holding of Raleigh, elected in the 13th District, joined Hudson in taking a Democrat’s seat. U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, who had held the seat, decided not to run again after his district was extended west into more Republican areas.
Republican David Rouzer, a state senator, was also in a dead heat with U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre in the 7th District. The race, which showed McIntyre ahead by just 507 votes in unofficial results, was headed toward a recount. Washington correspondent Franco Ordoñez, the (Raleigh) News & Observer and Associated Press contributed.