David Price's history an asset in race

Experience may give him the edge

Rep. David Price faces B.J. Lawson in the upcoming election.

After 20 years representing the 4th district in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. David Price has dealt with many ups and downs during elections.

But this year, Price — a Democrat originally from Tennessee — said his most formidable threat is not his opponent or his platform, but the economy.

“People are anxious and concerned about the economy and jobs,” Price said. “It’s a difficult time and the political consequences of that could be all over the place.”

This fall, Price is facing his 13th Republican challenger since being elected in 1987. Thus far he has been highly successful, winning 12 of those contests, but the political climate could make this fall’s election unique, he said.

Opposing Price is B.J. Lawson, a medical doctor and former business owner with a libertarian platform emphasizing reductions in government oversight and spending.

“I have never faced a more extreme candidate. He’s way, way beyond the Republican Party,” Price said. “He has views that historically go back to before Hoover.”

Although little polling has been done on the race, political analysts such as Dean Debnam, the president of the left-leaning think tank Public Policy Polling, say Price’s fundraising and name recognition should ensure his re-election.

Being a long-term incumbent has allowed Price to not only have advantages come election time, but also rise through the House ranks.

As chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Price controls the drafting of the Homeland Security budget, which in 2010 totaled more than $50 billion.

In his years in Congress, Price has maintained a platform emphasizing welfare, financial aid and research funding for universities and Research Triangle Park, Price said.

“He really understands what we want from a politician,” said Lee Storrow, president of the Young Democrats. “We need to care about social justice and marginalized students and citizens.”

It’s because of those same values that he made it to the Triangle in the 1960s, Price said.

At the time, he didn’t have political ambitions, but that changed when the Civil Rights Movement began to take hold in Chapel Hill.

“The experience of the Civil Rights Movement really shaped my political outlook and changed it,” Price said. “I came out of that and decided by conviction I was a Democrat because they were addressing the major issues of the day.”

Price has lived in the Triangle for most of his life and strives to connect to his constituency there, he said.

“Congressman Price can go around Chapel Hill or Durham and everyone knows who he is,” said Amit Rao, former intern for Price.

“He has a lot of strong ties to this area and it shows in how enthusiastic he is.”

For the DTH profile of B.J. Lawson, click here.

Contact the State & National Editor at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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