WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As a North Carolina Senator, David Rouser represents voters in Johnston and Wayne Counties. He took steps this week to expand those responsibilities, filing to run for a seat in the US Congress, representing the state's 7th District.
That newly-drawn district goes from Johnston County south, to include all or parts of Sampson, Cumberland, Hoke, Duplin, Lenoir, Bladen, Columbus, Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover Counties.
"The vast majority of the Republican vote is down here in New Hanover, Brunswick and the coastal portion of Pender Counties," Rouzer said during a sit-down interview in the WECT Studios. "There are a lot of folks down here who don't know me yet, but that's what campaigns are all about."
Rouzer is serving his second term in the North Carolina Senate. He has previous experience in Washington, DC, working on the staffs of former Senators Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole.
While other candidates in the race have called him "a Washington insider," Rouzer thinks his past experience with the federal government is a positive.
"This is not a time for on-the-job experience," Rouzer said when asked his response to the criticisms. "This is a time where we need to be electing people who are capable and who know what they are doing. People may have their opinions about Senator Helms, but he was highly effective and he took care of his constituency. I learned all those lessons from him, and I bring a great deal to the table because of that."
Fellow Republican Ilario Pantano's campaign has also attacked Rouzer on the issue of illegal immigration, saying Rouzer "advocated amnesty for illegal aliens" by advocating for the 2007 Agricultural Jobs Act.
Rouzer responded during the interview inside the WECT studios. "The AgJobs Bill is a very interesting situation because back in 1999, Senator Helms, Senator Paul Coverdell, Senator Thad Cochran, Senator Trent Lott, all Republicans and all Southern members, came together and sponsored the AgJobs Bill," he said. "It was almost identical to the same piece of legislation that I'm being attacked for today."
When it comes to illegal immigration, Rouzer believes a solid approach involves more than just securing the country's borders.
"I'm in favor of building the fence, and doing everything technologically to protect our borders," he said. "But the other way to secure the border, and one of the things we must do, is put in place good guest-worker programs that employers can actually use. Right now, the government does not have in place any guest worker programs that are easy for employers to use. That's one of the big problems, coupled with our welfare programs, that have led to this issue."
Rouzer opened his regional campaign office in Wilmington just days after the area lost an opportunity to land a large manufacturing company. Caterpillar looked at building its new manufacturing facility on a tract of land near the Columbus-Brunswick County line.
Company officials instead decided to locate in Georgia, taking more than 1,400 jobs to the Athens area.
To start winning those types of business ventures, Rouzer believes the state's tax and regulation codes need to change.
"North Carolina needs to revamp the tax code completely. We have some of the highest tax rates, like the corporate tax rate, in the country," Rouzer said in the interview. "We have one of the highest income tax brackets in the country. That's part of the reason why we're losing out on some of these industries. The other thing which we began work on, which we still have more work to do, is regulatory reform. I was a real champion for regulatory reform at the state level. We passed senate bill 781, which completely revamped the regulatory process by which rules and regulations are promulgated, which now needs to take into account the cost of business, which was not taken into account before. Basically, when you get government out of the way, we'll be able to attract more industry all the time."
Rouzer has launched a website for his Congressional campaign. Click here to visit.