Republicans in the 10th District were given the rare delight of a Friday night dinner with two former US Senators and two sitting Congressmen recently. Over 110 people flocked to downtown Lenoir to hear from Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, Congressman Patrick McHenry, former Senator Jim Broyhill, and the guest of honor Governor George Allen. Candidates for the NC House and NC Senate were also in attendence to begin the campaign year as Republicans eagerly try to take control of the General Assembly in Raleigh. If the enthusiasm and energy on display in Lenoir was any evidence then Mark Basnight and Joe Hackney better prepare to vacate their lush office space for more modest accomodations.
The crowd was abuzz from the beginning, with only three days having passed since the "Upset Heard Around the World" with Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts. The common refrain heard over and over in conversation was that if Ted Kennedy's Senate seat can go to a populist Republican then anything can happen in North Carolina.
Bob Etheridge, David Price, Brad Miller, and Larry Kissell will all want to take heed in their future votes. While mingling with the crowd Governor Allen urged everyone to follow up on this victory and work hard to send good common sense conservatives to Congress.
After dinner was served the crowd heard from 10th District Chairman Wayne King. Under King's leadership the 10th District has hosted visits from high profile national conservatives such as Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee, with more to follow this year. The visit of George Allen to North Carolina's Republican heartland has only further cemented the high regard in which King's leadership is held.
Virginia Foxx had the honor of introducing the man who next to Jesse Helms can call himself North Carolina's Mr. Republican, Jim Broyhill. At 90 years old Broyhill was still full of the fire that made western North Carolina a Republican bastion during his tenure. Blasting the irresponsible spending by the Obama Administration, Broyhill declared that he'd never seen a more reckless fiscal policy in his life.
But the show belonged to George Allen. He stated that the healthcare bill was a bad stew that couldn't be cured with the addition of a few delicacies, but should be thrown out entirely. Allen warmed to his passion of energy independence by asking the crowd in NASCAR country to start their creative engines to pursue common sense Jeffersonian solutions. He brought the crowd to it's feet by declaring, "Americans are not addicted to oil, Americans are addicted to freedom!" His speech was well received by a crowd that was fired up and ready to bring North Carolina and the nation back to sanity.
The event concluded with a brief Q&A session, with Allen and Congressman McHenry taking questions. In a light moment Allen was asked if his brother, Bruce Allen, would be able to revive the flagging fortunes of the Washington Redskins as General Manager. Allen simply quipped, "He better." The visit to the Tarheel state only heightens George Allen's profile as speculation builds that his return to electoral politics is imminent. Either way the event was a success and inspired the crowd to, in Allen's concluding exhortation, "To stand strong for freedom!"
Editor's Note: Writer Carlton Huffman (right, with Gov. Allen) is a former staff member of Pat Buchanan's American Cause and has served on a number of political campaigns throughout North Carolina and Virginia. He is a proud graduate of Campbell University and native son of Caldwell County. We look forward to more from Mr. Huffman and hope this native son will continue covering the 10th district for us.
All photos courtesy and copyright CARLTON HUFFMAN, 2010