Jesse Helms or Forrest Gump? Run Vernon run.

by Jim Longworth

If ‘“Perennial Running’” was an Olympic sport, then Vernon Robinson would win the gold medal.

That’s because he runs for just about everything.

The Winston-Salem Journal called Robinson the ‘“Black Jesse Helms’”, a moniker that hasn’t exactly endeared him to many voters of his own race. Yet somehow, Vernon emerged the victor from among a crowded field of GOP Congressional candidates in 2004, forcing a run-off with Virginia Foxx, which he lost following a joint TV appearance with her on ‘“Triad Today’”.

Be that as it may, I like Vernon, and I admire him for his unabashed flamboyance. He is a political lightning rod, and an accomplished fund-raiser.

This year he knew he couldn’t unseat Foxx in the 5th District, so he decided to take on Mel Watt in the Democrat controlled 12th. Critics say Robinson can’t win, but he’s already ahead of Watt in the money department, and Vernon’s stand against illegal immigrants may begin to ring true with Carolina voters.

Before Robinson can challenge Watt, however, he must first dispose of Mel’s former opponent, Dr. Ada Fisher in the May 2nd primary. Ada and I had tried to get Watt to make a joint appearance on ‘“Triad Today’” back in 2004, but the incumbent declined. Vernon, meanwhile never runs from a fight, is a gracious loser, and is never afraid to admit his mistakes, such as his recent recanting of initial support for Mr. Bush’s wrongheaded invasion of Iraq.

Perhaps the pundits are correct. Perhaps Robinson is no longer a viable candidate. Perhaps he is more Harold Stassen than Jesse Helms. But I don’t care. Congress needs shaking up, and Vernon is the man who can do it.

Jim Longworth is host of ‘“Triad Today’” which can be seen Friday mornings at 6:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7), and Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on UPN48 (cable channel 14).