But his radio talk show, Talk of The Town, is a major political force along the east coast of the state. Most GOPe types view Hinton as an easy interview — kind of like celebrities view Barbara Walters or Larry King. Neither King nor Walters are likely to get in your face if you are from their world — and neither is Hinton.
So, one would think congressional candidate and current Craven County commissioner Scott Dacey would be in for a round of patty-cake and spooning when Hinton and his show rolled into New Bern for a live broadcast on September 22. A Hinton-Dacey confab — a coming together of GOPe types — should have been quite cozy. According to the show audio and eyewitness accounts, Dacey decided to go another route. (Pertinent part begins on the audio at about 14:20.)
Hinton started off the interview letting Dacey wax eloquently for a few minutes about his work fighting the opioid problem in Craven County. Things took a turn for the worst when Hinton started talking about Dacey’s primary challenge to incumbent congressman Walter Jones:
[…] Hinton: Let’s talk about the campaign a little bit. You have decided to go in to the race against Walter Jones. Many have tried, as you know. If you go out to the communities in Eastern North Carolina, the name recognition is a big deal.
Dacey: Well Henry, you’ve helped him a great deal with that.
Hinton: Well I’m having you on today.
Hinton: You’re welcome to come back Scott. My goodness.
Dacey: Well I appreciate that. It will be a good opportunity.
Hinton: He is our sitting Congressman. I didn’t realize you were going to be attacking me this morning.
Dacey: Well, we have to put the facts on the table here. You have been a close friend of his for many years, everybody knows that. That’s OK. That’s fine. It’s good.
Hinton: I absolutely don’t deny that. Walter has done many things over the years I agree with, he also, by the way, done some things I don’t agree with. So as a result, you probably don’t know how many times we’ve had discussions like that. We are friends, just like I hope you and I are friends. After this interview I’m not sure.
Dacey: (Laughter.) Absolutely.
On one hand, I can see a consultant advising Dacey to do this. Hinton is not a popular figure among conservative primary voters. Slapping down an unpopular figure on-air like this can score points with conservative primary voters Dacey is trying to peel away from Jones.
[…] Hinton: Why are you running against Walter Jones? The point I was going to make was he’s got the name recognition all the way back to his father.
Dacey: That’s true. 50 years of being in office will do it. That’s what will happen. But I’m running because I am profoundly disappointed in the work Walter Jones has brought to us here in Eastern North Carolina. It almost feels like there are two Walter Jones’. One that is in Washington D.C. voting and the other one who comes back to Eastern North Carolina and talks about the things he is doing. My concern is that when he’s the Washington DC Walter Jones he was the most reliable vote that Barack Obama had during his administration and that Nancy Pelosi had going to the floor.
To me, there’s something wrong with that. And I believe the people of Eastern North Carolina have the right to know that fact.
And the unfortunate part is now that we have President Trump in office, he’s still Nancy Pelosi’s most reliable vote. That also is a problem. To me, the Republicans hold the House of Representatives, they hold the United States Senate, they’ve got the White House. This is the opportunity for Republican’s to do big, bold things in the United States Congress. and that’s not what’s happening. And it’s my belief that Walter Jones is part of that problem.
Hinton: You know the knock on you is that you’re a Washington insider.
Dacey: Oh sure Henry, you’re going to bring that up right away.[…]
And why not? The front page of the web site for the DC-based lobbying firm, where Dacey is a partner, brags about how the staff is a bunch of “political insiders.”
Dacey: When are you going to give me any credit for the 15 years of public service I’ve brought to Eastern North Carolina?
Hinton: I certainly have. But you do make your living as a lobbyist in Washington.
Dacey: That’s right. And you make your living as a talk show host. And that’s terrific. We all have to make a living for our families.
Hinton: But I’m not running for Congress Scott.
Dacey: No, that’s fine. And I am going to do everything I can to give up everything…
Hinton: Can I ask my question?
Dacey: By all means.
Dacey: First of all, the only people who have had concerns about that are folks like you. Second of all, second of all…
Hinton: Folks like me?
Dacey: Yes, folks like you. Folks that want to perpetuate some big deal that’s going on. Now what the fact is, that there are folks in this community that understand that my experience is something that can be very, very helpful to the people of Eastern North Carolina. We’ve got lots of issues going on with our natural resources.
Having a relationship with, I don’t know, the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee to help get things done is going to come back in spades for Eastern North Carolina. Having a relationship with the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and I mean a productive relationship, where we can work together, is going to be something that is a great deal of benefit to the people of Eastern North Carolina. So I would hope that, once people put aside this idea that there’s a lobbyist running for office, when they start to recognize what it is that I’ve been doing in the world of public policy for the last 30 years, to work on issues of substance, rather than just positioning himself for the next vote that’s coming up, the way Walter Jones does on a day in, day out basis, maybe they will start to understand that there’s some value in that. […]
For the record, Dacey’s lobbying clients are ALL Indian casinos. How does that help eastern North Carolina?
Sources on the ground in the 3rd district tell me Dacey doesn’t touch on his lobbying work at his campaign events. Other than a reference to “an active government relations practice in the nation’s capital”, it’s conspicuously absent from his campaign website.
Here’s an eyewitness account of this whole on-air incident:
”Dacey waited for Henry to go to the next break and started accusing him of shilling for Jones. He accused Henry of having Jones on his show the day Dacey announced to rebut Dacey’s campaign announcement. Hinton pointed out that Jones was not on his show, but another show on the same station that he has nothing to do with scheduling guests. Dacey continued to raise his voice and point his finger at Henry in front of a crowd of 20 to 30 at the live remote until Hinton had to return to the air.”