A conservative finds his tipping point

by Jordan Green

The political times they are a-changin’.

Take it from Gerald T. Grubb, a 64-year-old loan officer with almost four decades in the business and a bedrock commitment to conservative principles and his Baptist church.

“I think the tipping point for me was last September,” he said. “I normally go to Mrs. Winners and pay 49 cents for my senior’s Coke. After the legislature voted a sales tax increase, I ordered that senior’s Coke. I laid my 49 cents down, and it wasn’t enough. It went up to 50 cents. I put my penny down, took my drink, went to the car and said, ‘That’s enough.’” Grubb said he has watched the legislature impose new regulations on loan officers without consulting the industry, found lawmakers in Raleigh to be out of touch with constituents and generally concluded that government spending and taxes are out of control.

“When you look at the grassroots movement, the tea parties and the town halls, for elected officials to do business the way it’s been done, I think those days are over,” Grubb said. “I think people are saying — to me — ‘You’re going to hear me now, or you’re going to hear me in November.’” Grubb, who has never run for elective office, is a candidate for the NC House District 61 seat, which is up for grabs with the retirement this year of Rep. Laura Wiley. Covering High Point, the Colfax area, Jamestown and parts of Greensboro, 61 is considered a safe Republican district.

Grubb is one of four Republican candidates vying for the seat. The three other contenders are all considered formidable: John Faircloth is a longstanding High Point councilman and former police chief; Georgia Nixon-Roney is the mayor pro tem on the Jamestown Town Council and the top vote-getter last year; and Paul Norcross is a charter-school founder and businessman who has retained ace political consultant Bill Burckley.

Grubb indicated his decision to run was an outgrowth of his engaged citizenship.

“Basically, I would talk to my friends, the folks in my circle, for about a year and a half. I talked to my clients, sharing what I felt. People began to say, ‘Why don’t you run?’ I began to think about that. I began to look around. I said to myself: ‘It doesn’t look like anyone else is stepping forward that has the view that I have.’” Whether it’s a small businessperson trying to make payroll or a nurse trying to get through a long shift, Grubb said the feeling towards government in Raleigh is the same.

“They’re tired of their elected officials not listening to them,” he said.

“At one of the Republican meetings I spoke at, I said, ‘This is my observation: I have lived in this district 41 years. Not one time has a school board member, county commissioner or state legislator walked into my yard and knocked on my door, or walked into my business and said, ‘What do you think?’ I want to change that. I want to hear what people have to say. I want to go to Raleigh and voice the people’s opinion.”

In keeping with that spirit, Grubb said he will keep open office hours back in his district and will seek out the input of members of any profession that is targeted for new regulation.

Grubb’s campaign website lists standard populist-conservative stances on social issues: “pro life,” “pro Second Amendment,” “no to gay marriage” and “no to amnesty for illegals.”

But the theme he returns to in conversation is standard bread-and-butter economic conservatism: relief for the small businessperson.

“The things that I’m going to be looking at — everybody’s interested in education, everybody’s interested in jobs, and so am I,” Grubb said. “But with me being a small businessman and having to live under the same thing that other small businesspeople live under, I’m concerned about taxes. I just heard a news report that North

Carolina, California and Hawaii have announced that they’re going to delay sending people their tax returns so that they can pay the bills. What does that indicate to you? It indicates that we’ve got more debt than we can handle and we’re spending too much.

“In my business, we have to cut costs,” the candidate continued. “We might have to not advertise as much. Same thing as me and my wife: We have to determine what we can pay and can’t pay for. Hard choices have to be made. My opinion is if the people in Raleigh can’t make the hard choices, send ’em home. Send somebody there that can.”

Grubb said he expects the Republican primary on May 4 to be close.

“It’s going to go down to the last couple votes,” he said. “I don’t think anyone’s going to run away with it. I think Paul and John are going to be very formidable opponents, and I’m looking forward to it.” Grubb outlined a campaign strategy that relies more on volunteer effort than financing.

He put his campaign team together in January. The next step is to go into every neighborhood of significant size and draft what Grubb calls a “community organizer.” In March, the candidate plans to visit small businesses one by one. Then, in the last month before the primary, he plans to “make a big push” in the neighborhoods.

“I’ll give you a football analogy,” Grubb said. “We’ve got a good team. We’ve got a good game plan. If we go out and execute good plays and we don’t fumble in the red zone, we will win. And that might be the strategy of every candidate.”