WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It's been six years since David Rouzer has been in this position, running as an incumbent in a race for political office. He won his second term as state senator from District 12 in 2010, before setting his sights on a seat in Congress. In 2012, Rouzer came up short against Mike McIntyre by 654 votes seeking the Seventh Congressional District seat. When McIntyre decided not to seek another term in 2014, Rouzer ran again, winning the GOP nomination and then the General Election to take over the seat.
Rouzer says one of the goals he had when taking office was to set up a staff that would be responsive to the needs of people in the district, which runs from Johnston County inland all the way to the coastal areas of Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties. "So far, we have worked on more than 50,000 individual cases, which is an astronomical number," he says. "But also a testament to the office we have in place and my staff. I'm very proud of them."
Rouzer does have a challenger in the GOP primary election. Mark Otto entered the race on the final day of the candidate filing period, and has been vocal in criticizing Rouzer on two recent issues. One is the first-term Congressman's vote in December for the FY 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill, which funded the federal government including Planned Parenthood. Earlier in 2015, Rouzer was one of 28 Republicans that signed a letter pledging "oppose any legislation to fund the government that also continues to fund Planned Parenthood". Rouzer defends his vote on the bill as a matter of priorities, calling it very important because of the more than $606 billion included for national defense, homeland security and border security. He says he balanced that against new information he learned in a detailed briefing about Planned Parenthood.
"What I did not know, and what I think most people still don't know, is that Planned Parenthood is not a line item in the budget," Rouzer said. "88 percent of their money comes from Medicaid reimbursements, which means even if the government shuts down the money for Planned Parenthood continues to roll on. So, when the Omnibus package was presented to us certainly there were things in there that on a standalone basis I would not have voted for. But when you consider the threats we face in this country, after going to Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, sitting in on the national security briefings that are held for us in Congress and you see what we are facing in this world, if we don't have our national security and our military capability where it needs to be, nothing else matters quite frankly."
Rouzer also recently pulled his support for CSX's proposed rail terminal project in Johnston County. Rouzer initially sent out a news release voicing his support, saying it would also benefit the state Port in Wilmington. But days later, upon learning about the lack of input from residents in the area of the proposed site, Rouzer pulled the original news release from his website.
"What I learned on Friday was that nobody in the neighborhood where this project was going to be placed had been given any advance notice or knew anything about it until officials from CSX showed up on their doorstep on Thursday morning," Rouzer said when asked why he changed his mind. "If you're going to do something like this, you need to have buy-in from the community, and it was very clear to me that was not the case, which is why I changed my position. It's my responsibility to advocate and protect the interests of all the citizens throughout the district, and I wasn't going to stand by and just watch this happen, and happen in a way that was unnecessary and unfair."
Rouzer has spoken out against President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act programs, and most recently said after the State of the Union that the President did not address "the issues and fears that are front and center in the hearts and minds of the American people. "I think we need to make it clear to our allies that we are serious about the war on terror," Rouzer said when asked about his criticism of the President's strategies to deal with ISIS and other terror threats. "Our allies are not sure where we are. When we cut this (recent nuclear) deal with Iran, everybody looked at us and said 'what's going on here?'. I equate it this way, and I think we need to talk about it in these terms. America is the greatest force for 'good' that mankind has ever known, that the world has ever known. When America recedes from the leadership table, 'good' recedes. When 'good' recedes, 'evil' prevails, and that's what we're facing today".