Waving their mini American flags and singing “God Bless America” in unison, local Republicans rallied behind the conservative surge that is sweeping the nation.
At a rally in Hillsborough, Republican Party candidates energized supporters in hopes of a strong turnout in the general elections.
B.J. Lawson, who is vying for Rep. David Price’s U.S. House seat for the second time, was the main attraction at the event.
“I lost the election in 2008 before Election Day thanks to early voting,” Lawson said. “This year we can beat Mr. Price if we can get another 14 percent out to vote, especially early.”
After winning only 37 percent of the vote in 2008, Lawson’s 2010 campaign has been invigorated by a strong anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat feeling in voters in North Carolina and nationwide.
A recent poll conducted by Action Solutions, a conservative political communication company, found that Lawson had a slight lead over Price.
Lawson has touted the poll’s results, but political experts have questioned its credibility.
“In troubled times people always tend to go conservative,” said Bill Knight, chairman of the Orange County Republican Party. “Those who voted for change in 2008 haven’t gotten what they were looking for.”
At the historic courthouse, the diverse crowd cheered enthusiastically at the speakers’ messages emphasizing smaller government, fewer taxes and reduced spending.
“The biggest thing is the high taxes and growing deficit,” said Matthew Berry, a Hillsborough resident. “A lot of my friends couldn’t get jobs coming out of school because businesses are scared of coming.”
Another speaker was Ryan Hilliard, who is running against N.C. Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange.
“All three levels of government have gotten out of control — we already have one of the state’s highest tax rates,” Hilliard said. “Taxes and government aren’t what make America great.”
Both Hilliard and Lawson will face uphill battles come November, as Orange County is one of the state’s most liberal areas, said Leroy Towns, a professor of political journalism at UNC.
But they are seeing support from UNC students.
Republicans have made themselves more visible this year on campus, said Anthony Dent, president of the College Republicans.
“If signs on campus are any indication, things in November are going to be great,” Dent said. “This year we have close to 300 members – triple what we had in May.”
As the light faded on the courthouse lawn, the conservatives’ visibility was evident in the cheers of the crowd of more than 50.
“I just think it’s time for a change,” said Sean Murray of Hillsborough
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