Local Vocal: Blurry lines on planet Longworth

by Jay Ovittore

I am well aware that Jim Longworth is entitled to an opinion. How he formulates that opinion is a different story altogether.

When an opinion is basedvon misinformation and made-up facts, well that seems to shoot old credibility in the foot.

Longworth wrote a column stating that I had made a cruel age joke about my opponent and that I was not going to be able to debate on his TV show because of this joke [“Longworth takes Coble opponent to task”; Jan. 2, 2007; by Jim Longworth]. What he took exception to is that, when asked about my opponent’s age in a Greensboro News & Record interview, I brought up the fact that he missed votes at the August recess, and he might have been up past his bedtime, or perhaps had a hot date. Longworth states that I had said he missed two votes; the News & Record printed reported I had said 22 votes. The truth is that Coble missed 22 votes, votes concerning the Department of Defense budget through September 2008 and the Protect America Act (which covered the FISA/wiretapping issue) among others.

Longworth also states that, “I’d rather have someone representing me who is 76 and has the energy of a 25-year old, then someone who is 25 and has the demeanor of a 10-year old.” I am actually 34 years old.

What makes a good journalist is the ability to report true factual depictions of a story. When I blog about someone, I always contact that person and ask questions to get his side of the story. I did it with a piece on Sheriff BJ Barnes, and I did it with Vernon Robinson (even though he told me never to call again). Never once has Mr. Longworth attempted to contact me. He pilfered from a story in the News & Record, which included a small piece of what I said.

What wasn’t in the N&R article was me saying that my opponent’s age didn’t matter.

“Fred Astaire danced until he died,” I said.

I also said, “I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. There weren’t any utensils for that matter. I have worked for everything I have and I feel like average voters can relate to me and I can relate to them. I have had the problems that they face; I know what they need.” This also went unquoted.

I spoke with Rep. Brad Miller (NC-13) about Longworth because I remember that he too had a problem with him. Longworth wanted a debate between Miller and Vernon Robinson. Miller never agreed to it, and Longworth insisted that his campaign manager had. Longworth was rude to Miller’s camp and hung up on Miller’s campaign manager.

Longworth wanted this debate after Vernon Robinson had started with his “Mexican Gay Love Festival” campaign ads, insinuating that Miller supported illegal immigration and was somehow (even though he’s married) having a homosexual love affair with Markos Moulitsas from Daily Kos. Not to mention the 2004 Vernon Robinson/Virginia Foxx primary that got as ugly as it gets, which was also a story Longworth covered.

Longworth points out in the article that my opponent was the first Republican to stand up to George Bush on the Iraq war. Well he did… in the papers. His votes in Congress suggest otherwise. He has consistently voted with his party against attaching timelines to funding the war. Of course, this is just one of many examples of my opponent’s ability to pull the wool over the sheep’s eyes and then tell the wolf where to find him. He has also voted against S-CHIP for 10 million children to get healthcare and against cutting student loan rates from 7 percent to 3.5 percent.

People also tout Coble’s constituent services, which admittedly are great. They should be – it is part of his job as a congressman. The other part is being on the floor to vote for the voice of his district and to introduce bills to help his constituents. Go look at the bills that my opponent has introduced this session and last session and see what he has been doing for you. Also note that he has missed more and more votes since the 107th Congress, where he was absent for 0.4 percent of the votes. Halfway through the 110th Congress he has missed 5 percent of the votes.

I have publicly said that I will offer to keep his constituent service staff when I am elected. Jim Longworth, you should know better. You should know I am going to take you to task when you change the facts to fit your story. If you want to partake in the Democratic process that has worked for the last 200 years, then you should hold this debate and stick to the issues so that voters can be as informed as they can before electing their representative. If you want to play favorites and persecute me for stating the facts as they are, then so be it. That would be the demeanor of a 10-year-old.

I don’t want an apology. I don’t want this fight. What I want to fight for are the people of the 6th Congressional District and what is important to them. The rest of it is just semantics.

Call me when you’re ready to talk about the issues.

Jay Ovittore is running for Congress. He lives in Greensboro.