Commissioner and radio personality challenge veteran lawmaker in the 6 th District

by Eric Ginsburg

Republican Rep. Howard Coble isused to serving the 6th CongressionalDistrict — he has since 1985— but this primary he will facelongtime Guilford County CommissionerBilly Yow and radio personality Bill Flynnin a redrawn district that adds eight countiesand drops some that Coble is used to serving.

Yow said the redrawn district will help himdefeat the incumbent, arguing that while theirstances may be similar, constituents wantsomeone with a fi re in their belly that will domore than just cast the right votes. When Yowchallenged Coble in 2010, the congressmanbeat him with nearly 4.5 times as many votesin Guilford County, receiving 9,882 to Yow’s2,241 votes.

Yow said career politicians likeCoble often become complacent.“I’m running to be the voice of reason, thefi ghter that the people are looking for,” Yowsaid. “Somebody’s going to have to get up thereand start hollering off the fl oor. We no longerneed just a vote. We need a vote, a voice and afi ghter.”Flynn made a similar argument, saying hewas the fi rebrand the district needed and thatonly two of the 10 counties in the district wereconsistent with what Coble has historically represented,presenting a signifi cant opportunityfor the challengers.

Coble was initially unsure he would runagain due to the redrawn district, but he hassince visited all of the new counties exceptCaswell, and said he has been in touch withRepublican offi cials there. When asked if theseat needed fresh blood, Coble said the mostimportant thing is constituent service, on whichhe said he has an excellent record.“I will put that up against anybody,” Coblesaid. “If you’re accessible, you’re doing yourjob.”The incumbent added that he has an excellentattendance record over his tenure, that hecontinuously receives awards for his conservativeleadership and that he’s one of onlythree members of Congress who has refused acongressional paycheck.

The three candidates are focused on similarissues for the most part. Flynn emphasizedreducing the size of the federal government,balancing the budget and slashing regulations,especially the Environmental Protection Agency.Yow said the EPA should be cut by at leasttwo thirds, and that it was full of extremists.

“The EPA’s attack on private property mustbe challenged on constitutional principles,”Flynn’s website reads. “It is time to halt attacksby the National Labor Relations Board,keep the secret ballot and embrace the right towork.”Coble also spoke of the need to reduceregulations, and said it could be done without jeopardizing health and safety or environmental concerns. The Keystone pipeline project is a perfect example of how the US can capitalize on its own energy resources and create jobs, he said.

“The Obama Administration has been derelict in not fully realizing the resources of our petroleum,” Coble said. “We have become a country that is too bogged down with regulations.”

Flynn and Yow also emphasized high gas prices, with Yow saying Congress was kowtowing to oil companies by subsidizing them.

“The constituents out here are starving,” Yow said. “The fuel situation drives the economy. Why are they giving them our money to extort from us?” Yow acknowledged the similarities between himself and Coble, even pointing out some like the fact that they are both Masons. One difference, he said, is that Coble is a lawyer, and Yow said there were too many lawyers in Congress. When asked what differentiated him from fellow challenger Flynn, Yow said the two are night and day.

“Flynn doesn’t even live in the district; he doesn’t have any place in the race,” Yow said, adding that Flynn has never served on a board. “There should be constitutional amendment that you have to live in the district. He’s only ever talked on the radio. He doesn’t have a record. Bill Flynn is not even really in the race.”

Flynn said he lives so close to the district line in Kernersville he could walk to it, and that the important thing is the relationship with voters. In his experience as a radio personality, Flynn covered much of the new 6th District, and said he has spoken with tens of thousands of voters over his career that helped to inform his positions.

When asked about the fact that he was running against two candidates with significantly more political experience, Flynn said he recently won a straw poll of Republican leaders in the 6th District by a wide margin and that he was not part of the entrenched power structure but rather was a voice and person voters had grown to trust through his outspokenness on the radio.

Guilford County Republican Party Chairman Al Bolden said only 57 out of 200 eligible delegates voted in the straw poll Flynn referred to, and said a second straw poll held in Guilford County favored Coble with 81 percent. Flynn only received 5 percent in the second poll, but only 27 people participated.

Among other things, Yow said his record showed that he was boisterous and would speak up for his constituents. As a small business owner, Yow said he understood how much regulation, taxes and high gas prices were strangling small businesses in the district. Yow has operated D&Y Well Drilling for 28 years, and is a Guilford County native.

Coble said he understands the threats regulation poses for small businesses, and said his voting record reflects that. If a Republican won the presidency, Coble said his role as a congressman wouldn’t change significantly.

“The issues we talk about will continue to be there,” he said “They’re not going to fly away.”

Coble has served under five presidents and with many congresses, and said Congress continues to be more partisan that it needs to be but that divisions aren’t as big as the media plays them up to be.

Coble added that if he could change his vote in favor of the war in Iraq he would. While he said Saddam Hussein was an international terrorist and that he didn’t believe former president George W. Bush lied, Coble said someone may have lied to Bush and that the wars have been disastrous.

Coble said it was time to bring troops home from Afghanistan, and Yow said troops should be pulled out of Iraq. Troops formally withdrew from Iraq in mid-December 2011.

“I think [both wars are] going to end up costing Americans $3 trillion and that’s just money down the rat hole,” Coble said. “We’ve gotten very little praise for it internationally, as opposed to World War II.”

Yow said money spent on the war and international humanitarian aid could have gone towards balancing the budget, and that he was outraged about the bailouts under Obama.

“They need to get our soldiers out of Iraq and bring em home,” Yow said. “These people are so overly educated in Washington, they’re so smart that they’ve actually run this country into the ground. What right does the federal government have to choose what businesses it’s going to bail out? What about all these other industries out here?” While Flynn said he wasn’t running against anyone, but rather for the 6th District, he and Yow said they wouldn’t have voted to raise the debt ceiling as Coble has. Flynn said Coble voted 19 out of 35 times to raise the debt ceiling, and that this type of leadership was part of the problem with the country today.

“We’re putting our future generations, children and grandchildren, really into a form of slavery with an unpayable debt,” Flynn said. “Go-along-to-get-along Republicanism is dead, and it’s been killing our country for decades. When we don’t pay attention to our government it can destroy us, and our nation.”