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thedrifter
02-14-06, 08:40 AM
Marines drafted to invade GOP territory
Rob Christensen and Dan Kane, Staff Writers

The Democrats sent in the Marines on Monday in an effort to invade the turf of congressional Republicans.

Craig Weber, a former Marine and a retired TV meteorologist from Carteret County, filed as a Democratic challenger to District 3 Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones.

Weber, 56, said he is pro-military. But he seems unlikely to go after Jones from the political right. Weber said the United States should have focused on Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia as the source of terrorism after Sept. 11, 2001, not Iraq.

Jones angered some conservatives when he urged President Bush to set a timetable to begin withdrawing U.S troops from Iraq.

"Most people think running against Jones Jr. is a done deal and nobody can beat him," Weber said. "But I'm U.S. Marine Corps. I don't know how not to try."

Timothy Dunn, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine reserves and an Iraq veteran, entered the race against Republican U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes in the 8th district.

Dunn, a Fayetteville trial lawyer, made clear he would use Hayes' pro-CAFTA vote against him. Dunn announced his candidacy at Richmond Yarns, a textile plant that will close next month.

Although he is not a Marine, Bill Glass, a 49-year old salesman from Charlotte, has a Marinelike task -- taking on Republican U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick.

The 9th district has been in Republican hands for 52 years.

Taking a shot at office

Ada Fisher, a Salisbury physician and a Republican who is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Mel Watt in the 12th district, has an unusual political calling card.

Fisher, who filed Monday, is giving out a pen that looks like a syringe.

Her slogan: "Get a Doctor in the House."

Holloman discloses funds

State Sen. Robert Holloman, a Hertford County Democrat, has some unfinished business with the State Board of Elections regarding his campaign account.

At the board's hearing Friday, Holloman testified that he had received several checks from optometrists through the man who ran their political action committee, M. Scott Edwards. The checks were made out for $100 but the contributors left the payee and date lines blank.

Holloman said his name had been filled in on the payee lines when he received the checks from Edwards. All the checks, he said, went toward his campaign. In one case, he had received two $100 checks from the same contributor, which meant he needed to identify that contributor. Once a contributor gives more than $100 in an election cycle, the law requires that person be identified.

Holloman said he wasn't aware of the provision. He was a freshman lawmaker at the time.

Elections director Gary Bartlett said his staff is auditing Holloman's campaign records to verify his testimony. They are also looking at three $100 checks from optometrists given to another Hertford County Democrat, state Rep. Howard Hunter.

The PAC had also given Holloman a $2,000 check that did not show up in his campaign reports for the 2004 election cycle. Holloman had erroneously reported the contribution in the previous election cycle.

Holloman could not point to any reason why the optometrists helped him, other than the fact that Edwards resides in his district.

"I got some reading glasses from him one time," Holloman said. "Never used them."

"Well, maybe you should use them," said board member Charles Winfree, a Greensboro Republican. "The rules need to be read."

Decker legal bills questioned

Winston-Salem attorney David Freedman wouldn't say much about his client, former state Rep. Michael Decker, after Decker declined to testify at the elections board hearing last week, citing his Fifth Amendment right to not self-incriminate.

But the one piece of information Freedman did provide raises questions about how Decker's legal bills are being paid.

Freedman said Decker has retained him for the past "seven or eight months." That's about the same time that House Speaker Jim Black's campaign reports reflect two $5,000 payments to Freedman's law firm -- one on June 16 and the other 11 days later -- for "professional services."

The elections board is curious about the payments too. Winfree asked Black when he testified Thursday whether he was helping with Decker's legal fees. Black said he "didn't think so."

"I have a law firm in Winston-Salem," Black said, "but not related to this."

Freedman and one of Black's attorney's, Kenneth Bell of Charlotte, said that Black was only speaking to whether he had helped support Decker's representation before the elections board. They would not comment on whether the payments may have supported Decker in other legal matters, citing attorney-client privilege.
Christensen can be reached at 829-4532 or robc@newsobserver.com.

Ellie