Former North Carolina Rep. Cullie Tarleton, a Blowing Rock resident and Democratic activist, has announced a return to politics.
Tarleton officially announced Monday his candidacy for the office currently held by Rep. Jonathan Jordan, the man who took the seat from Tarleton last election cycle.
“I was always leaning toward that direction,” he said of his decision.
The big tasks ahead, he said, will be repairing what a Republican-led budget has cut — mainly education spending. That budget put North Carolina 49th in the nation in per pupil spending.
“I’ll take every opportunity to advocate on the floor for our students, for our teachers,” he said. Job creation is another area in need of attention, he said.
“This [Republican] legislature campaigned on jobs, but instead of creating jobs, they destroyed jobs,” he said. “They’ve actually created more people looking for jobs.”
Instead of working with small businesses to promote job growth, Jordan and the rest of the legislature has been focusing on social issues, he said.
“[I'll be] trying to restore some sensible balance and some common sense balance to the North Carolina House,” he said, offering the vetoed Voter ID Bill as an example of unnecessary legislation.
The bill, passed by Republicans, would have required voters to present identification at the polls, a move Democrats feared would complicate voting among elderly people and minorities.
“That’s sort of like creating a solution without a problem,” Tarleton said. “We don’t have a voter fraud problem in North Carolina.”
Jordan, a public proponent of the Voter ID Bill who also voted in favor of the controversial budget, said he’s not intimidated by Tarleton’s bid.
“With so many folks out of work and applying for jobs, I don’t mind at all re-applying for mine,” he said, adding in a defense of the Republican budget: “Only four states in the nation had a worse budget crisis than North Carolina coming into the new budget cycle last year. My legislative colleagues and I faced such a disaster on behalf of our state and citizens thanks to Cullie and his cronies who have controlled state government for 140 years.”
Jordan said he looked forward to the campaign.“Let’s make this campaign about the issues, the facts and a comparison of our two records, and I am confident that the citizens of our district will reap the benefits,” Jordan said.
Tarleton previously served in the state House from 2007 to 2010 and chaired the House Committee on Commerce, Small Business and Entrepreneurship.