News: CJ Exclusives

Outcome of 13th Congressional District race could indicate who controls House

Contest marks culture clash between GOP incumbent Ted Budd, a Davie County businessman, and Democrat Kathy Manning, a Greensboro attorney and philanthropist

N.C. 13th U.S. Congressional District (Southwestern half of Guilford County, and parts of Forsyth, Davidson, Davie, Rowan, and Iredell counties.)

• Ted Budd, Republican (first-term incumbent). Education: Appalachian State University, bachelor’s degree in business management. Wake Forest University, MBA. Dallas Theological Seminary, master’s in educational leadership. Career highlights: The Budd Group, family-owned facility services business. Owner of Pro Shots, and firearm retail store, training center, and indoor range. Board member, North Carolinians for Home Education

• Kathy Manning, Democrat. Occupation: Attorney specializing in immigration law. Education: Harvard University, bachelor’s degree. University of Michigan, law degree. Career highlights: The Jewish Federations of North America, board chairwoman. Former partner at major law firm. Worked with various civic and religious organizations. Fundraiser for community projects.

As the Nov. 6 midterm elections approach, many pundits project Democrats will retake the majority in the House of Representatives and think North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District could figure in that blue wave.

The race between incumbent Rep. Ted Budd, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Kathy Manning is the “biggest culture clash in the country,” according to one political analyst.

It isn’t hard to see why the Cook Political Report would characterize the 13th District race that way. The district itself is a clash of cultures, stretching from the progressive suburbs of Greensboro into the more rural areas of the western Piedmont.

The candidates reflect these differences. Budd is a businessman involved in The Budd Group, his family’s facility services company. He also owns and operates a gun shop and shooting range in the Davie County town of Advance.

“As the owner of a gun store and range,” Budd writes on his website, “I understand how important the Second Amendment is to our nation.”

Manning is a Greensboro-based attorney and philanthropist. Most recently she played a major role in raising private funds for Greensboro’s Tanger Center for the Performing Arts. The $78.1 million center, which will be completed by June 2019, is a “public-private partnership,” with half the funds coming from Greensboro taxpayers, and the other half coming from private donations.

The race is tight both in the polls and in fundraising. A New York Times poll from Oct. 3-8 had Budd leading Manning 47 percent to 41 percent, with 12 percent undecided. Real Clear Politics lists the race a toss-up. Its average of polls from Oct. 3-12 had Budd leading 45.5 percent to 41 percent.

Manning holds the fundraising advantage, with a total of $1.9 million raised compared to Budd’s $1.2 million.

The contest has become more heated as it heads to the wire. Both the Budd campaign and a political action committee supporting him have aired ads claiming Manning is benefitting from a $30 million taxpayer-funded downtown Greensboro parking deck. The facility would service a Westin hotel in which Manning’s husband, Randall Kaplan, is an investor.

Manning said the ads are “riddled with lies,” and she has nothing to do with the Westin project.

Manning’s campaign did not respond to requests for an interview.

Budd doubled down on his claims in an interview with Carolina Journal. He said people parking in downtown Greensboro “are having their rates increased to pay for a deck that’s not needed, with the benefit going to Kathy Manning and her husband.”

Budd runs on a straightforward, conservative platform, saying American citizens “deserve freedom from oppression, both foreign and domestic.”

He voted against a defense appropriation bill in September, arguing in a press release it “does not have enough funding for President Trump’s border wall.”  

CJ asked Budd if he anticipated the cutthroat, inside-the-beltway atmosphere when he was elected in 2016.

“It was more extreme than I would have ever imagined,” he said. “This obstruct-resist-delay tactic works all the way down to the committee level. It’s been awful.”

Budd believes policies enacted by the Republican-led Congress and Trump — most notably individual and corporate tax cuts — will continue to have a positive effect should Republicans maintain control of Congress.

“We’ve got to keep this country going,” Budd said. “Look at what we’ve done. Our country has not been this competitive as an economy in the last decade. We missed out from 2008 to 2017, and now we’ve got it back. We don’t want to go backwards. We want to keep moving forward.”

The biggest issue to tackle is the national debt. Democrats claim Republicans will cut Social Security and Medicare in an effort to reduce the debt. Budd considers the claim “laughable.” He said many on the opposite side of the aisle want to expand Medicare to provide universal health insurance to everyone at a cost of $32 trillion over a decade.

Budd, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, said the best way to trim the debt is to continue growing the economy.

“The one tool you have in your toolbox is economic growth,” he said.

Budd thinks the debt can be whittled down by keeping spending flat. He praised Trump’s request that his cabinet present a 5 percent spending reduction.

“I see redundant departments, and departments that can be consolidated,” Budd said. “It’s going to take tremendous leadership from the president and Congress, but this is something we can do.”

The GOP will have to hold its majorities in the midterm election to maintain the progress, he said.

“It’s going to take a lot of guts to do this, but President Trump has a whiteboard where he has all his campaign promises, and he is literally marking them off,” Budd said.

Manning’s website lists the standard issues most candidates say they’ll fight for: Jobs, better education, and health care.

Manning says she’ll fight for good paying jobs for North Carolinians, adding “the last thing our government should do is incentivize American jobs to go overseas.”

Trade has been a hot-button issue since Trump was elected in 2016. Manning said “we have a responsibility to make sure trade deals are fair to American workers, and that countries that cheat are required to pay the requisite penalties.”

Health care became a personal issue for Manning when her daughter became ill several years ago. She said she “will work hard to find solutions that will allow every American to get affordable health care.” Manning also supports allowing Medicare to negotiate more affordable prescription drug prices.

A big question is how Manning would govern should Democrats flip the House. Some say the party is becoming more extreme. They point to the controversy surrounding the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Democrats’ vow to fight Trump on every issue.

Manning aired an ad stating she would not support Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, for House speaker if Democrats reclaim the chamber.

“I’m running to clean house in Washington,” Manning said in the ad. “I’ll vote against Nancy Pelosi, support term limits for party leaders, and I won’t take a dime of corporate PAC money.”