WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Chris Rey's days are full. He is the Mayor of Spring Lake, a small town in Cumberland County with a population of about 13,000 people. Rey is a Major in the Army National Guard, following eight years of military service. He is Executive Director for a non-profit group "Cumberland HealthNET", which works to secure healthcare for underprivileged residents. Rey is also married with three children. Now, he is running as a Democratic candidate for Senate, with the goal of replacing Richard Burr in Washington, DC.
"Trying to balance all of that has been difficult, but it's necessary," Rey said. "When you decide to run a race of this capacity, you just have to find the time to balance it all, because it's that important."
Rey is campaigning on becoming the voice that he says is missing in Washington, DC. "As the Mayor of a town at the local level, you recognize the laws that are being passed in Raleigh and in DC, and how they really impact what is going on on Main Street," Rey says. "I really, really don't believe there are folks in Washington, DC that really get it."
Rey is one of four candidates running in the Democratic Primary Election for Senator. In his campaign talks and videos, he rarely mentions any of the other primary candidates, focusing more on Burr, the two-term incumbent. While respecting the effort Burr has put forward in serving the people of North Carolina, Rey is critical of the job Burr has done.
Rey's initiatives include working to help reduce debt for students going to college, and to expand opportunities like Pell Grants so students in underprivileged families can continue into higher education. Rey says he would work with the state's community college system on vocational training opportunities, push to expand Medicaid, and improve access to healthcare and education for men and women who have served in the military. Rey says his military experience, and the experience he has from serving two terms as Mayor, make him a well-rounded candidate to serve in the Senate.
"I've worked with local governments," Rey said. "I've worked at the state level with state leaders. But also I've worked at the federal level in the federal government writing cyber security policy with the Department of Defense before I came home, so I have domestic policy experience. I also have foreign policy experience. Not from just being a veteran, but also I'm a member of the Truman National Security Project, which is an organization that works with foreign policy leaders to develop progressive foreign policy initiatives for hot spots around the world. I've worked with foreign governments, especially in Central America, to help them with their local government issues and their economy. So you have an individual who brings domestic policy experience, foreign policy experience, and for my folks on the Democratic side, I really believe that my campaign is going to bring a different kind of energy to the ticket. That's going to be necessary if we're going to win in November."