Woody White says David Rouzer’s campaign donors are defecting - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Woody White says David Rouzer’s campaign donors are defecting

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Wilmington attorney Woody White claims David Rouzer's donor base is eroding. Wilmington attorney Woody White claims David Rouzer's donor base is eroding.
Franklin Rouse, owner of an insurance company in Brunswick County, helped organize a fundraiser for David Rouzer last month but now supports Woody White. Franklin Rouse, owner of an insurance company in Brunswick County, helped organize a fundraiser for David Rouzer last month but now supports Woody White.
Hank Estep of Wilmington, a former Rouzer supporter, thinks White has the ability to quickly make inroads in other areas throughout the district. Hank Estep of Wilmington, a former Rouzer supporter, thinks White has the ability to quickly make inroads in other areas throughout the district.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – When Wilmington attorney Woody White threw his hat in the ring last week to represent North Carolina's seventh district in Congress, he wasted no time in going after David Rouzer, his opponent in the Republican primary. 

In 2012, Rouzer, a former state senator from Johnston County, lost by fewer than 700 votes to Congressman Mike McIntyre (D), who said last week he won't seek re-election. 

"Folks in this district want a winner," White said Wednesday when announcing his bid. "They want someone who's going to go to Washington to change the tone. They don't want a classic insider like David Rouzer, so his base has eroded. His money base has migrated to us, and we are excited about our prospects." 

When asked by a reporter to name Rouzer donors who are now throwing support behind his campaign, White listed: Agnes Beane, a Wilmington attorney; Hank Estep, president at Griffin Estep Benefit Group in Wilmington; Tom Fetzer, former chair of the North Carolina Republican Party; Parks Griffin, principal at Griffin Estep Benefit Group in Wilmington; Robert Holding, a Wilmington businessman; and Franklin Rouse, owner of an insurance company in Brunswick County. 

"When Woody decided to interject into the campaign, I was incredibly excited, mainly because Woody is a son of the district," said Rouse, noting that White was born in Kinston, grew up in Elizabethtown and has spent most of his professional life in Wilmington.  

Estep said he's seen former Rouzer supporters defect to White.  

"Woody's got the ability to raise money. He's well connected in the community and it's not just New Hanover County. It's also the counties surrounding us," Estep said, adding he thinks White has the ability to quickly make inroads in other areas throughout the district.

White staged an RV "announcement tour" Monday with stops at a farmers market in Elizabethtown and Jungle Rapids amusement park in Wilmington, which is owned by former Rouzer supporter Bob Rippy who now backs White. Rippy gave Rouzer's campaign $2,000 in 2012, according to finance reports on the Federal Elections Commission website.  

Jessica Wood, Rouzer's campaign spokeswoman, noted that her candidate won an upset primary against Ilario Pantano in 2012 with $500,000 and raised a total of $1.5 million in the last election. She said Rouzer is on pace to surpass both figures this election. 

"David's fundraising base continues to expand daily," said Wood. "As a battle-tested conservative, David Rouzer has the strong support of grassroots conservatives across Southeastern North Carolina who are hungry to win this year's Republican primary election just as they did two years ago." 

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