Senate hopeful stumps: Twiddy: He'd offer 'new ideas'

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Clark Twiddy, a Republican candidate for state Senate in District 1, fields a question from the audience while speaking at a dinner meeting of the Pasquotank County Republican Party, at The Villa Restaurant in Elizabeth City, Tuesday night.


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Senate District 1 candidate Clark Twiddy presented himself in Elizabeth City Tuesday night for what he described as a “job interview,” fielding questions from members of the Pasquotank County Republican Party.

Twiddy is a Republican businessman and military veteran from Dare County who is seeking his party’s nomination for the open Senate seat in the newly drawn 11-county District 1. He’s squaring off against state Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, in the GOP primary and the winner will face the winner of the Democratic primary between Cole Phelps of Washington County and Richard James of Hertford County.

Twiddy told the audience gathered for the GOP event at the Villa Restaurant that he thanked Steinburg for his three terms in the House and wished him well, but said he could offer something Steinburg cannot: “new ideas and fresh perspectives.”

Citing his background in his family-owned Twiddy and Company, Twiddy said he'd also “bring more of an economic focus” as state senator than would Steinburg. Steinburg's professional background is as a salesman.

Though stressing his commitment to conservative positions and ideals, such as lower taxes and less government, Twiddy faced skepticism from some fellow Republicans Tuesday.

Asked if he considered the U.S. Constitution a “living, breathing document” — a viewpoint that clashes with conservative, “originalist” jurisprudence — Twiddy said it does have to “evolve” over time. An example, he said, would be requiring warrants to obtain personal information through social media, a technological platform not envisioned in the 1700s.

However, Twiddy assured fellow Republicans he opposes “legislating from the bench.”

Responding to a question from Pasquotank GOP Chairman Pete Gilbert, Twiddy said there should be mechanisms to hold judges accountable for decisions that overstep their bounds, but he couldn't name specific ones.

After another audience member asked if Twiddy disagreed with Gov. Roy Cooper's defense of gay marriage — he said he did, based on the 1st Senate District's opposition to it — Twiddy also acknowledged that he made campaign contributions to Cooper while he was the state's attorney general.

Steinburg has made an issue of those donations, citing Cooper's work against numerous GOP initiatives.

“I made a mistake,” Twiddy said, explaining he donated to Cooper then to maintain good relationships to support his business and didn't know he'd run for governor then.

Twiddy noted that he also made numerous donations to Republicans, including Steinburg and state Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, who is not seeking re-election in the newly drawn Senate District 1.

Twiddy also faced questions from Steinburg supporter Holly Audette, also a contributor to The Daily Advance.

Audette asked Twiddy about the Hertford-based Albemarle Commission, including its purpose and funding formula. The Albemarle Commission is a regional planning and development commission — all 10 of its counties are in the new Senate District 1, notably — and plays a role in economic development, infrastructure planning and services for senior citizens.

Twiddy said he didn't know much about the benefit the commission brings to the area. “As a private businessperson, I've never dealt with the Albemarle Commission,” he said.

Audette also asked Twiddy about Mike Morgan, whom Twiddy said he didn't know. Audette explained later she was referring to the Supreme Court justice elected in 2016 as a registered Democrat and, Audette noted, opposed a Republican-crafted law requiring photo identification to vote.

On the issue of voter ID, Twiddy noted he supported requiring it, commenting photo ID is required for many routine activities, such as purchasing certain medications.

Twiddy also shared his positions on various other issues Tuesday night:

* On offshore drilling, Twiddy said he's not opposed but warned an oil spill off the coast of the Outer Banks would be devastating to the environment and the tourism economy. He explained he would want assurances it could be done safely, and that drilling companies would employ state residents.

* On renewable energy, Twiddy said he supports renewable energies, such as wind and solar power, but said they should be developed without taxpayer subsidies and without hurting surrounding properties.

* On redistricting reform, Twiddy said he opposes taking redistricting powers out of the hands of elected officials. Reacting to North Carolina's long history of litigation against “gerrymandering,” Democrats and some Republicans have endorsed creating an independent redistricting commission to try to take politics out of the process.

* On opioid abuse, Twiddy said it’s “worse than a hurricane” for northeastern North Carolina, where he said it's killing people or ruining lives. However, he said any new efforts to curb the problem should be done with existing funding, not spending more tax dollars.

* On a plastic bag ban along the Outer Banks, which was recently repealed, Twiddy said it was intended to protect the environment. While that is good, he said, “I'm not a big fan of banning bags.” He also noted the issue wouldn't have been his top priority.