On the one hand, you’ve got to hand it to the Triad’s newest congressman. US Rep. Ted Budd came to Greensboro to face about 200 of his constituents last week, and by all reports he seemed to have taken his lumps for everything from the GOP’s healthcare debacle to unpopular budget cuts to the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
Budd stood his ground, staying true to a Republican worldview that is, by today’s standards, moderate — extreme though they may be.
We learned that federal funding of Planned Parenthood and other women’s health organizations is a nonstarter with the congressman, as is an independent investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia.
“I think the best we can hope for is bipartisan,” he told a constituent about the Russia probe.
But on the other hand, the format of the event— a “meet and greet” as opposed to the town hall that was initially advertised — was a sad joke.
Budd got creamed in Guilford County in the 2016 election by Democratic contender Bruce Davis — the only thing most of us knew about him was through the obnoxious billboards for his gun shop that he frequently places along Business 40. Davidson, Davie and Iredell counties gave Budd the election in a district rated as “safely Republican” by Ballotpedia. And the only reason he got the nomination at all was because it landed in a special June primary in which 17 Republican candidates ran and just 7.7 percent of the electorate participated. Budd got 20 percent of that vote — and a crucial endorsement by the conservative Club for Growth PAC — to beat Guilford County Rep. John Blust and Guilford County Commissioner Hank Henning by just 3,000 votes. Even Vernon Robinson managed to pull almost 1,000 votes in that race.
This is how we now elect our representatives to the US Congress in this part of North Carolina.
Budd hardly has a mandate here in the third-largest county in the state. And his interaction with voters here seemed designed to placate, to work his undeniable charm, to avoid the embarrassing town-hall gaffes that can go viral and be fatal to a re-election campaign.
So now the county with the largest share of constituents in Budd’s district knows that the congressman is good at cocktail parties. And that, like any good pitchman, he can take the abuse with a smile — or at least a good-natured grimace.