The Biblical Recorder encourages our readers to express your convictions in the political process, especially by voting in every election. The primary election for U.S. Congressional candidates was moved from March 15 to June 7 due to the redesign of congressional districts in North Carolina and a legal challenge that forced the primary to be delayed.
We have identified six congressional candidates that we know to be affiliated with N.C. Baptist churches. Three are incumbents, three are ordained ministers and three are lay leaders.
We hope the following introduction to these men will be helpful to you. We are informing you, not endorsing candidates. Being a Baptist does not mean a person is a better candidate, but we believe it is our responsibility to keep Baptists informed about fellow Baptists. Please vote June 7.
– The Editor
H. Powell Dew Jr. (1st District)
H. Powell Dew Jr. is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Congress in the 1st District. Since 2001 he has served as the pastor of Fremont Missionary Baptist in Fremont. He was born in South Boston, Va., and grew up in Raleigh.
H. Powell Dew Jr.
After attending Mars Hill College for two years, he transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating with a bachelor of science degree in business administration in May 1984. He earned his master of divinity (2004) and doctor of ministry degrees (2010) from Campbell University Divinity School.
Dew and his wife, Jo Anne, who has since died from cancer, served as house parents at Kennedy Home, a North Carolina Baptist Children’s Home facility in Kinston.
In a statement to the Biblical Recorder, Dew said, “Like many other Americans, I have become dismayed at the direction our nation has taken over the past decade. I could not be a part of the solution unless I was actively involved in the process.”
Dew said his desire to be part of the decision-making process drew him into the local political arena in his hometown of Stantonsburg. He currently serves as a town board member. That office has involved him in the N.C. League of Municipalities Tax and Finance Committee in Raleigh.
“Over the past few years, I felt there was more that needed to be done besides what I was doing where I live. There has been a slow, steady discontent in my spirit concerning our nation. The issues facing our nation will not be solved on the local level. If someone does not step up and enter the arena of Washington, D.C. where our nation’s laws are written and our budget is being crafted, and hold the line – we can say good bye to the America we grew up in – if it is not already too late!”
Some of his convictions include, “I believe the family is the bedrock of our nation and that marriage should be between one man and one woman. I believe the free enterprise system is the best economic system to reward those that work hard and encourage wealth generation to provide for their families and communities. I believe the fundamental role of government is to protect the inherent rights guaranteed to us in the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
“I believe and support the free exercise of religion and oppose any restrictions on that. I support the second amendment and the right to bear arms and oppose any laws that restrict that constitutional right.
“I believe life begins at conception and should be protected. I am opposed to abortion – and most especially partial-birth abortions.”
Dew has no Republican opponent in the June 7 primary, but faces Democratic incumbent G.K. Butterfield, one libertarian and one independent candidate in the Nov. 8 election.
George Holding (2nd District)
Republican Congressman George Holding grew up in Raleigh. He is the fifth generation in his family to attend Wake Forest University where he studied classics and law. After graduation he practiced law, then served on the staff of United States Sen. Jesse Helms in Washington, D.C. In 2006, after serving as an assistant U.S. attorney, he was appointed to serve as U.S. attorney by President George W. Bush.
He resigned in 2012 and was encouraged to run for Congress.
“When I was leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office I was going back into private practice,” he said. The districts had recently been changed and he believed the new boundaries created a favorable chance to win a congressional seat.
“This is an incredibly unique time in our history, putting it politely,” Holding said. “I think we are really at a big turning point in the history of America. I can either be at home getting angry reading the newspaper every morning and getting upset watching the TV news every night, or I can come up and get in the middle of what I think is a fight to save the America that we know and love, for another generation. That’s why I ultimately decided to run.
“My son is five years old, and I want him to have all of the same opportunities that I had. If it doesn’t work out, I want to be able to tell him I did everything I could to try to preserve those opportunities for him.
“If we get much further down the road of this progressive liberalism and moral relativism, we’re not going to be able to turn this ship around. I’m prayerful and hopeful and feel pretty good about turning it around. I wouldn’t be trying unless I thought it could happen. We just cannot give up.
“I still think America is the greatest country in the world. You’d be hard pressed to find more opportunities somewhere else.”
When asked to identify the nation’s greatest challenges, Holding said, “The overarching, biggest problems are terrorism and debt. ISIS is growing exponentially across the globe. They are not only in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, but the FBI has recently revealed that there are some 1,000 ISIS cells here in the United States. This is a tremendous problem that requires a lot of leadership to defeat. Couple that with our fiscal problem of government debt that is almost insurmountable, this will wipe our opportunities for generations to come.”
He is also deeply concerned about the moral climate of the country. “The Obama administration has a view of the world that defies common sense,” he added.
The National Journal ranks Holding the second most conservative member of Congress.
Holding and his wife, Lucy, have three daughters and a son and are members of Christ Baptist Church in Raleigh. He said, “My wife and I went to Providence Baptist Church – in fact Pastor David Horner married us in 1997 – and we went with the Christ Baptist Church plant in 2002 as part of the mother church’s mission to plant new churches.”
Holding faces Congresswoman Renee Elmers and Dr. Greg Brannon in the Republican primary on June 7.
Mark Walker (6th District)
Congressman Mark Walker was born in Alabama and grew up in the panhandle of Florida in the home of a Baptist minister who is still pastoring today. He moved to North Carolina in 1991 and worked in business and finance for five years.
Walker felt God’s call to ministry, so he enrolled in Piedmont International University in Winston-Salem. “I had the privilege of working at Calvary Baptist Church under Dr. Mark Corts and Dr. Gary Chapman. What an experience that was – listening and learning from the influence of their wisdom and godly leadership. It still impacts my life today.”
In more than 18 years of vocational ministry Walker has served as an executive pastor, lead pastor and worship pastor. He began serving at Lawndale Baptist in Greensboro as pastor of worship arts in 2008 and resigned when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2014.
“I made the decision three years ago to run for Congress because I felt there is a need to talk about issues that are important to our culture and our community,” he said. “The thing that drove me most in making that final decision is that I felt there was a way to talk about conservative values without all of the vitriol and without all the rhetoric that we see sometimes.
“My goal in seeking the Lord’s discernment every day is to be able to hold that conservative position, but do so in the right tone and the right spirit. Ultimately, God doesn’t call us anywhere that we are exempt from being a light for Christ – even in Washington, D.C.”
When candidates use mud-slinging and name calling, it gets a lot attention on talk shows and media outlets, but is negative self-promotion, according to Walker. “What I feel called me to do is to be a conservative voice, but earn the respect of people who disagree with me.”
He hopes others will agree with his heart and tone to accomplish the right things.
In the attacks against religious liberties he said it’s hard to maintain the balance of standing firm while fighting for principles in a way that honors God. “That is a challenge, I admit it. It’s something I’m faced with every day. I know that in my own power, I’m going to lose that battle if I don’t stay close to the Lord.”
The American Conservative Union recently gave Walker a “100 percent, perfect score” rating for 2015. He was one of only six members of the 114th class of Congress who received a perfect score.
Addressing North Carolina’s HB2 legislation, Walker said, “I have a nine-year-old daughter that I believe needs to have privacy in the restroom. I believe the LGBTQ community deserves all of the rights of every other American citizen. However when it infringes on the rights of others, we have to draw the line here.”
Currently Walker is working on the First Amendment Defense Act. “I am very concerned that there is a militant wing of the left community that wants to do away with a pastor’s ability to be able to speak on certain passages from the scriptures,” he said. “And what I’m concerned with is that a pastor and a church will be threatened with their tax exempt status if they read certain passages that might be considered hate speech. We are concerned that ultimately this is where all of this is going. That’s the next fight we have to face.”
He has one Republican challenger, Chris Hardin, in the June 7 primary.
Walker’s wife is a family nurse practitioner at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. They have three children.
David Rouzer (7th District)
Congressman David Rouzer was elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in November 2014. He serves the citizens of the 7th District, covering the Interstate 40 corridor from Johnston County to Wilmington. The new redistricting plan left 73 percent of his district unchanged. He does not have a challenger in the June 7 primary.
Rouzer grew up as a member of First Baptist Church in Durham. He described being raised in “a very strong Christian family, and that has certainly shaped my values.”
While a senior at North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh, Rouzer participated in an international student program in Prague, Czech Republic, that included a dozen American students. His roommate was Romanian and approximately 50 other students came from communist bloc countries.
“It struck me that [those] students grew up behind the iron curtain,” he said, “but they knew more about America, its history, its purpose and its founding – and knew a whole lot more about free enterprise – than we [Americans] knew. Of course, in our defense, a lot of that is not taught in our schools today. But the other thing that struck me profoundly was that if you take America off the world timeline, this world is a very dark, dangerous place.”
Rouzer added, “There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that it is with God’s hand that this country was founded and has prospered.”
By serving in the U. S. Congress he said, “I want to do my part to preserve the founding principles that made this country great, and of course, those are based on the moral and spiritual principles embodied in our constitution and adapted from our faith.”
When he graduated from NCSU in December 1994, Rouzer weighed his interests and the lessons he learned overseas. Although he majored in agriculture, economics and chemistry, “I decided that if I was ever going to have an opportunity to participate in what Thomas Jefferson called the great experiment in self-government, that was my opportunity. So I packed my bags, moved to D.C. and started knocking on doors.”
He met Sen. Jesse Helms and was hired to work as a senior staff aide. “He was a very strong believer and godly man. That shaped a lot of my political and legislative acumen,” Rouzer said. Later he served as a senior aide for Sen. Elizabeth Dole.
The Congressman believes the nation’s greatest need is to get back to the moral and spiritual principles that made the country great. “We have become a spiritually poor country over the last several decades,” he said. “I think it’s important for those of us in elected office to talk about those issues and bring awareness to them.”
Rouzer served two terms in the N.C. Senate from 2008-2012 representing Johnston and Wayne counties. He is single and is a small business owner.
Todd Johnson (9th District)
Todd Johnson is an insurance executive whose family was actively involved in Mount Beulah Baptist Church in Wadesboro where he grew up. His brother, Jeff, was a Southern Baptist pastor who served a number of small rural churches until he died of a brain tumor in 2003.
“I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Lord and Savior on July 13, 1986,” he said, “and I went to Fort Caswell every year since the fifth grade through college. I have a biblical world view. While some say we should not mix religion and politics, we have to elect godly leaders.”
Johnson describes himself as “a grass-roots candidate who doesn’t have a lot of money or big endorsements.”
“I’m just a regular guy who loves his family, his community, his country and his state,” he said. “I’m simply fed up with Washington and how we have completely strayed away from where we started as a nation,” Johnson told the Recorder. “We were built on Christian values. We have a Congress right now that passed a budget to continue funding Planned Parenthood. To me it is the most offensive organization on earth. How can an organization that sells body parts still exist and be tax funded?”
The issue of abortion is a major concern for Johnson. “I firmly believe that a man and a woman do not make a child. I believe a child can only be conceived with the hand of God. Therefore you cannot take the life of a child God has given us – under any circumstances. That’s why I am adamantly against Planned Parenthood.”
Johnson served as county commissioner in Union County from 2010-2014. “We came under scrutiny for praying in Jesus’ name before our meetings,” he said. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisc., threatened us multiple times with lawsuits, but the lawsuit never came. We continued to pray in Jesus name. Also, we were one of the first counties to pass a resolution to support the Marriage Amendment in 2012, which defined marriage between a man and a woman.”
There are fiscal matters that prompted his decision to run for Congress. “Our nation is headed toward a fiscal cliff at 100 miles per hour. It is out of control. I want to say that Planned Parenthood is not just a social issue. It’s a fiscal issue also, because tax-payer money is funding these atrocious practices.” The Republican primary is a three-man race in the 9th district. Incumbent Congressman Robert Pittinger, Mark Harris and Johnson face each other June 7.
“The other two gentlemen are professing Christians, and I feel fortunate that the 9th district has the opportunity to elect a strong Christian man. I think any of the three the voters choose – based on their profession of faith – we’re going to be in good shape. Now, I want to be that one, but I think it’s important that the Biblical Recorder readers know that I’m not going to get into the game of trying to ‘out-Christian’ someone. What I’m going to do is to live and work and let you see it. I have professed my faith publicly and I will continue to do that, but I will not do it for political gain.”
Johnson earned a bachelor of arts degree in management and society from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000. He returned to Wadesboro to work in the family business, Johnson Insurance Management, where he now serves as president.
He married his high school sweetheart, Amanda, in 2003. They moved to Monroe in 2004 and joined Lakeview Baptist Church, where they continue to actively serve along with their two sons.
Mark Harris (9th District)
Mark Harris announced his candidacy for N.C.’s 9th District seat of the United States Congress on March 28. He is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and former candidate for the U.S. Senate. The Biblical Recorder ran a story about Harris and the state’s redistricting plan in the April 23 edition.
NOTE: The rescheduled North Carolina primary election June 7 includes candidates for the U.S. Congress and four non-partisan candidates for the N.C. Supreme Court. Early voting is May 26-June 4. Visit this site to see a samble ballot. See a map of new districts here.