In my early days of blogging and column writing one of my most frequent topics was the war in Iraq. I was appalled by much of the media coverage and the fact that many politicians were willing to not only ignore the good work being done in the field by our troops, but to go so far as to smear them in an attempt to gain political advantage. It should not be surprising that the story surrounding the primary in NC District 7 struck a nerve with me. The latest news from the losers in that primary race is disappointing to say the least.
From the Politico story headlined "GOP Split Clouds McIntyre Race:"
Two unsuccessful Republican candidates in North Carolina have turned their guns on the primary election winner, endangering the party's hopes of defeating longtime Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) in November.
GOP voters in the 7th District on May 4 nominated Ilario Pantano, a charismatic Iraq warveteran with a personal story many find compelling and a past encounter with military justice that gives others concern.
Among the latter is Will Breazeale, the second-place finisher and 2008 nominee against McIntyre, who told POLITICO on Wednesday he would do what he can to keep Pantano from winning the seat. He said the third-place finsher, Randy Crow, would join him at a news conference Tuesday in Wilmington, N.C., to discuss their plans.
"We're going to work against him," Breazeale -- also an Iraq veteran -- said. "If the Republicans don't like it, they can kick me out."
Breazeale says he has a moral obligation to oppose the nominee because of his actions in Iraq. "It takes a military man like me to explain to civilians how bad that is." Here is how Breazeale "explained" it following his primary defeat:
Buyers remorse is a tough pill to swallow. I cannot help but think that perhaps many who voted for Ilario Pantano are now realizing their nominee's claim to fame is the execution of two unarmed Iraqis? In turn, they are already attempting to set up a scapegoat (me) in order to justify his inevitable, massive failure in November.
Breazeale argues that Democrat incumbent McIntyre will use the issue against Pantano in the general election. If McIntyre is stupid enough to go that route I predict the tactic will be every bit as effective as it has been for Breazeale, and might even ensure the first Republican in 140 years takes the seat.
When Ace of Spades wrote about Pantano's primary win last week the first comment to his blog post was, "What are the odds his Dem challenger outright calls him a murderer anyway, even though he was cleared?" The response from another commenter was, "If it happens, I think the campaign will effectively end, since the D will have just ended his chances of victory and indeed his political career." They accurately predicted the tactic, but got the party wrong, although the accusations do sound a lot like those of one Democrat - Rep. John Murtha, who declared the Marines in Haditha guilty before all the evidence was in. Several years ago Pantano commented on Murtha's charges in the Washington Post.
Breazeale has announced he will be calling a press conference next week to continue this attack on Pantano. He is currently reaching out to various media outlets (most recently The Daily Beast), but I can't help but wonder if he might regret doing so if some of his own past is dredged up in the process. That would not only embarrass Breazeale, but it would continue to take attention away from the choice voters have to make in November.
Now that Will Breazeale and Randy Crow have lost, the focus of the race should be on the differences between Pantano and McIntyre rather than grandstanding by those no longer in the running. Pantano has pointed out that in spite of voting with Republicans on some issues, McIntyre's vote is for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. I expect to hear Pantano cite that and many other differences frequently over the next six months.
For those concerned about the charges against Pantano, as Jammie Wearing Fool points out, "Pantano's history is out there for all to see and he isn't hiding anything. A simple Google search will tell you everything you need to know."
Beginning in 2005, Blackfive's Matt Burden followed Pantano's case in a seven part series of blog posts ending with news that the murder charges were dropped and Pantano was exonerated. Burden wrote, "I know Marines who commanded Pantano...every single one of them support Pantano. Every. Single. One. The ones that I know would follow Pantano to hell and back." Burden enthusiastically endorsed Pantano in February.
The Politico headline cited in the beginning of this post is incorrect. The Republican party is not split. Pantano's two opponents lost and instead of honoring the wishes of the voters of NC's 7th congressional district, and the overwhelming victory they handed Pantano with 69 percent of the vote, the men are desperately trying to stay in the game. To do so they may attempt to split the party, but that is not going to happen.
Iliano Pantano is a strong candidate. He is young and energetic, as well as media savvy and a wonderful speaker. Most important, he appears ready to do the work necessary to win the race. His "100 Days of Work" videos remind me of Charles Kuralt's On the Road reports - in both production and entertainment value. (In the first video his barber talks with Pantano in a down home southern drawl about Mr. Smith going to Washington and "filly-bustering" and says he wants to see more politicians like that.)
Read Matt Burden's Blackfive posts regarding the charges against Pantano - all of which have been dropped. Read Pantano's book, Warlord. Go to Pantano's website and watch some of his 100 days videos and read his blog posts. While there watch his interview with Jon Stewart about the book. Then decide whether or not he is a candidate you might want to support.
Pantano recently posted the following note to supporters about his strategy going forward,
"We have much to do, but let's do it softly, and with honor and dignity. We are not looking for fights nor do we need to be disrespectful. Imagine a U-boat, that has just fired torpedoes and now moves quietly underwater to a new attack position. Don't ever confuse kindness, and civility with a lack of steely resolve. So get out there and smile. Kill them with kindness. These times are too critical and this race too important to succumb to emotion or foolish rancor. We will win by our rigorous faith and our discipline."
If you would like to help Pantano prevail in November and be the first Republican to win the NC 7th district seat in 140 years you can visit his website and contribute to his campaign. If you are short on cash or live far from his district, his campaign has suggested ten ways you can help him from the comfort of your own home.
Update: In my first draft of this post I misspelled Ilario Pantano's first name in the post title. I apologize for the mistake, which has been corrected. Since I wrote most of the post around 3 a.m. this morning I may find a few more mistakes. I apologize for those in advance.
(Crossposted at LorieByrd.com)