RHINO TIMES, by John Hammer | October 07, 2015
Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker knows how to draw a crowd.
Several hundred people turned out on a rainy Saturday afternoon, Oct. 3, for the launch of his 2016 reelection bid at Calvary Baptist Church in McLeansville.
The event was supposed to be an outdoor barbecue but was pushed inside by the rain, and barbecue was served.
Walker was an associate pastor at Lawndale Baptist Church when he launched his campaign for Congress. At the time, former 6th District Congressman Howard Coble had not announced his retirement, and for a relatively unknown pastor with no political experience to launch a campaign for Congress seemed like a long shot at best.
Walker may have been unknown at the time in much of the district, but he had a strong core of supporters who worked hard for over a year – through a primary, a runoff and a general election. Many of those supporters came to help him launch this reelection campaign, which cannot possibly be as grueling as his initial run.
Back in the early days of his campaign, I attended a Walker event on a rainy winter night and was amazed that he could pack a hotel ballroom with supporters. Having attended more than a few political events, I thought it might be me, Walker and his campaign staff. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Walker has never been shy about his strong faith and the launch of his reelection campaign was no different. He said that there were times flying back to Greensboro, “When you are emotionally depleted and spiritually depleted.”
He said, “I can do it because people are praying for me.”
And he added that he starts each day in Washington, DC, in scripture.
But Walker did talk about politics. He said, “We must elect a conservative as speaker.” Walker has been criticized by some on the right for voting for Speaker John Boehner at the beginning of this session. But, as he has explained, Boehner was the only one running that he knew anything about, and he has pointed out that the other two who put their names up did so two days before the vote, not giving newly elected congressmen enough time to properly vet someone running for the third highest office in the federal government.
Now that Boehner is stepping down, Walker sees it as an opportunity to elect a speaker more in line with the conservative wing of the House Republican Conference. Walker is on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, and before he spoke to the group Walker said that he thought Chaffetz would be a good speaker and he would probably vote for him.
In speaking of the 2014 election, Walker told the crowd, “I learned some things in commercials about me that I never knew before.”
He said he decided to run because he felt called to do something about the state of our country, and after much deliberation and prayer decided he needed to run for Congress.
He said one of the things he has been trying to do since he was elected was, “Go to new communities and talk about what it means to be a conservative.” He said often these communities have never heard the conservative message from a conservative, but only heard the message filtered through another source. He said he was pleased with his outreach efforts and the key was to begin by building trust
Walker got applause when he said, “Human rights means the rights of the unborn as well.”
Of course, he talked some about President Barack Obama. He said, “The Obama doctrine has failed. Our foreign policy is a disaster.”
He said that with Obama as president it seemed like 1979 all over again with American hostages in Iran and Russia doing whatever it wants.
Walker noted that he has had some success in Congress and was the first new member of the 114th Congress to get a bill passed.
Although nothing in politics is certain, it appears that Walker is not going to find himself in a lengthy bruising campaign like he was last year. Walker was outspent by his opponent Phil Berger Jr., and faced a barrage of negative advertising from political action committees. Walker finished second in the primary but won big in the primary runoff. Although Walker kept running hard in the general election, being a Republican running in a Republican district made the challenge not quite so daunting as the nine-way Republican primary.