NC-08: Horatio Alger, meet Tim D’Annunzio.

Here in Moore County, some of us were greeted with a pretty ugly 23938_dannunziofcampaign mailer from the Richard Hudson campaign hurling all kinds of allegations at challenger Tim D’Annunzio.  Jailed three times for burglary, assaulting a police officer.  Willful failure to pay child support? Local leaders say he’s “unfit” to hold office?  WHOA.

We’re new to the 8th district here.  A lot of our establishment types are falling in behind Hudson because they are being told to do so by Raleigh.  But who is this D’Annunzio fellow?  Well, we’re being told to dismiss him.  We’re told he’s a “nut” — a “kook”.   I talked with D’Annunzio today to see if we couldn’t drill down into some of this and see if we can separate the truth from the manure:

A kook? One thing D’Annunzio critics have latched onto is a blog he authors that features a lot of citation of biblical scripture.  Some suggest the language hints at kookery or instability.

567c5633e5324.imageIf being a faithful Christian is kooky, then I’m kooky.  Guilty as charged,” D’Annunzio said with a chuckle. “Want to know some of the other ‘kooky’ things I believe in?  I believe God created the Earth.  I believe a whole nation of people crossed through a parted sea.”

On the other hand, we’ve documented pretty clearly that the incumbent, Richard Hudson, fabricated a chunk of his professional bio.  He appears to have fabricated a business that didn’t exist anywhere but on paper.  He campaigned in 2012 as a “businessman” but had challenges keeping his story straight about exactly what the “business” did.

Which of these two strikes you as kookier? 

A rough upbringing.   D’Annunzio confesses his early life was less than idyllic. He grew up dirt poor in a rough neighborhood.  He says he fell in with a rough crowd and made some bad choices.

NC02.02-Tim-DAnnunzioIn 1973, at age 15, his mother gave him permission to join the US Army — as a way to escape the bad influences all around him in the neighborhood.  By 1976, D’Annunzio had bailed on the Army and come home.  He fell into a life of drinking and drugs and out and out mischief.

One particular night out with the guys gave him quite the wakeup call.  D’Annunzio and his crew were heading out to a beer party at the local firehouse.  He recalls they all commented on a window they passed that bore a sticker proclaiming it as “unbreakable glass.”   Young guys under the influence of alcohol and “unbreakable glass” are not a good combination.  *I think you can see where this is headed.*

“I had too much too drink at the party, got a little rowdy, and got put out the door,” said D’Annunzio. “I walked home past that unbreakable glass, and ended up putting my fist through it.”

That act of stupidity earned him a very bloody, battered hand.  He said he put his hand in his pocket and went back to the firehouse, seeking assistance from some of the EMTs there.

D’annunzio ended up at the hospital for treatment.  Meanwhile, the cops found the broken “unbreakable” glass, and followed the blood trail back to the firehouse.  From there, they tracked D’Annunzio to the hospital.

“They told me they were going to charge me with burglary,” he said. “Even though I didn’t go in and didn’t take anything.  I panicked and tried to make a run for it.  That earned me some more charges for my trouble.”

In court, young D’Annunzio was advised to plead guilty to the burglary charge, so that the charges involving the cops at the hospital would be dropped.  D’Annunzio agreed and got three months in the county jail.Golden-Knights-Logo1

D’Annunzio did his time — got out — and went back into the embrace of the US Army.  “The Army saved my life in more ways than one,” the candidate said.

D’Annunzio went on to serve honorably with the Special Forces and the Army’s world-renowned Golden Knights parachute team. He said he was told, some time into this second stint with the Army, that his legal troubles had been cleared from his record.

Later, D’Annunzio went on to work for NASA in the space shuttle program.

Said D’Annunzio: “If I was the unstable person these people claimed, would the Special Forces, the Golden Knights, and NASA have even given me the time of day?”

Another bump in the road. In the 90s, D’Annunzio was out of the Army, living in North Carolina, and trying to get his body-armor business up and running on firm ground.

The business fell into hard times, cash got tight, and his marriage fell apart.

080105_TimKirk“The divorce got ugly,” said D’Annunzio. “But what divorce doesn’t? Are there any pretty ones?”

D’Annunzio and his ex-wife got into serious disagreements over child custody and support payments.  On one occasion, where he attempted to visit the children, his now ex-wife called the police.

Some courtroom action arose regarding child support payments.

“The business was struggling,” D’Annunzio said. “I was running it from my house.  The judge was treating it as though as it was still a thriving, large manufacturing operation.   I didn’t have the cash he was ordering me to pay.  I was trying to keep my business afloat. And it wasn’t there at the time.”

D’Annunzio said he did what he had to do to make this work out — even going as far as taking a job as a laborer to generate some more cash. 

A happy ending? Things turned around for D’Annunzio.  The business got back on its feet.  He and his kids and his ex-wife are now amicable.

D’Annunzio sold his business for a healthy windfall.  He and his family now run a parachuting freefall simulator / wind tunnel on US 401 between Raeford and Fayetteville.  They also own and operate the Raeford airport and operate a fleet of aircraft there for contract work with the government and some private sources.

D’Annunzio hopes that voters will look past the troubling parts of his life to see a man who emerged from tough circumstances to serve his country, become a successful businessman, and a family man.