Rep. Bill Faison is clarifying his earlier remarks about running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2012.
“I am not challenging Perdue in a primary,” he said this morning.
Faison was asked that question twice yesterday, but didn’t give a straightforward answer either time.
“Why not?” I asked.
Faison said he’d been involved in a very difficult medical malpractice mediation yesterday and had stepped out of a conference room to take the call.
“I don’t know. Maybe it was the mediation,” he said. “I was looking through the panes of the window. A lawyer was waiting to talk to me.”
“I could have been distracted,” he concluded. “Maybe there was a better way to handle it.”
Would he consider a run if Perdue were to withdraw from the ballot? “Yes,” he answered.
He declined to clarify his comments yesterday about the challenges Perdue faces for 2012. “My focus is on winning the House back. My focus is on getting us a jobs plan.”
On the plan
Faison said he’s concerned about the “very real probability” of a worsening economy. “I really do believe we’ve got to get the stops put on this before it cascades into a double-dip recession, which is what folks in Washington are talking about.”
He said the jobs plan passed by the GOP this year, offering some employers a $3500 tax credit, is insufficient. “You can’t hire anybody for $3500,” he said. “You’re not going to solve unemployment that way.
“And worse, they came up with a budget that fired people,” Faison added. “You can’t DO that in a recession. It’s like pouring gas on a fire.”
Faison is touting a proposal to reinstate a portion of the one-cent sales tax and use the proceeds to hire back some state workers and pay for larger tax breaks for small employers, who he says make up 87% of the employers in NC.
He also said he believes House Speaker Thom Tillis, whom he describes as “a moderate guy,” has been forced to “feed the ultra right-wing social agenda” in order to maintain control of his GOP caucus.
“I just think it’s awful,” Faison said. “We need to deal with the practical problems, and get the yoke of the right wing off the state’s neck.”
Faison ran for the chair of the NC Democratic Party earlier this year, but lost that contest to current chairman David Parker. “My interest in doing that was to find a vehicle, to find a way to try to win back the House. That was my point then, and it’s my point now.”
He also ran for House Speaker in 2007, the year Democrats had to choose a replacement for disgraced former Speaker Jim Black. He ran against now-Senator Dan Blue, now-Minority Leader Joe Hackney, and now-Appropriations chairman Jim Crawford.
Faison, who withdrew early, threw his support to Blue. But when Blue was eliminated, Faison says he backed Hackney, who ultimately won the speakership and held it four years.
Tension in the ranks?
Faison and Hackney have often seemed disconnected this session, though Faison says they are in communication. When Faison rolled out his jobs plan recently, it was without Hackney’s support. That’s not commonly how things are done at the General Assembly.
Thirty-four House Democrats have signed onto Faison’s plan, but Hackney has not yet done so. “The speaker said that if we had a vote in caucus and we adopted it as our position, then he would sign on,” Faison said, but he said there hadn’t been time for a caucus vote on it this week. When there’s time for a vote, he believes the caucus will adopt it.
It’s not clear whether Faison’s plan will be discussed as House and Senate Democrats kick off a statewide bus tour next week. Faison says the tour planning was done without the input of most of the caucus, and was only announced this week, so he and others have prior work obligations that may keep them away. “But it’s certainly something the caucus supports. I support it wholeheartedly.”