I’ve talked to a lot of people from this congressional district who believe they got snookered — sold a bill of goods — by a certain preacher from Greensboro. Mark Walker talked a good game to get into office — like Renee Ellmers — and ran into the embrace of the DC establishment — again, like Renee Ellmers — after being sworn in. Walker has a primary opponent this year — a Coast Guard veteran and former lawman named Chris Hardin.
This is Hardin’s first run for office, but he is coming after Walker like an experienced pro. He’s come after Walker on all kinds of fronts — including promising to vote against John Boehner for speaker, but then voting FOR HIM. Check out this exchange from a recent debate between the two:
On Walker’s vote for former Ohio Rep. John Boehner as speaker of the House: Several times Tuesday night Hardin criticized Boehner for failing to stand up to President Barack Obama and other Democrats — and criticized Walker for voting to re-elect Boehner as House speaker last January. Walker said Boehner was the only serious candidate up for consideration.
“Leadership isn’t just about how far to the right you are,” Walker said. “Leadership is about being able to lead people.”
Holy Cow. He and Renee are reading from the same crib notes. MORE:
Hardin’s Democratic affiliation: Walker noted that Hardin had voted in seven Democratic primaries up until 2010. Hardin called himself “a Southern blue-dog Democrat” — a conservative Democrat like those who voted for Republicans Jesse Helms and Ronald Reagan.
“You can question many things,” Hardin said, “but my conservatism would not be one of them.”
Um, *BOOM.* MORE:
The night’s testiest exchange centered on Walker’s affiliation with the Freedom Caucus, a group of about 40 very conservative Republican members of the House who ousted Boehner as House speaker in September. Hardin suggested that the group is mostly for show and hasn’t had much influence behind the scenes where it really counts.
Walker said he’s close to several members of the caucus and has their support. But Walker said he has declined to join the group so he could vote his conscience, not how someone else told him to.
“The answer there is no, folks, in case you missed that. He’s not a member of that caucus,” Hardin said. “He thinks it’s very important, and it’s a leading light, so to speak, but he didn’t bother to join. …”
Hardin: “… You’re the one who talked about what a good job they did and how great they were. If you were concerned about the voters in this congressional district … I think you would have listened to all of us and not voted for John Boehner.”
Walker: “So you agree with me that I shouldn’t be in the Freedom Caucus? Is that right? Is that correct?”
Hardin: “I agree you’re difficult to deal with sometimes, like right now …”
I hereby declare this primary one to keep an eye on.