Brian Walsh

Original Post:

For the past 14 years, North Carolina’s Seventh Congressional District has been held by Democrat Mike McIntyre, who, lacking any significant challengers, has managed to maintain his grip on this culturally conservative district. But this fall McIntyre faces his first serious threat when he battles top-tier Republican candidate Ilario Pantano.

A decidedly Republican district with a strong conservative base, the Cook Partisan Voting Index for the Seventh District is R+5. Located in the southeastern corner of North Carolina, this district stretches from Sampson and Duplin counties to Columbus and Brunswick in the south, covering nine counties in total. It includes parts of Fayetteville, is anchored by Wilmington, and spans several coastal towns. Showing a Republican voting trend in both of the last two presidential elections, George W. Bush carried this district with 56% of the vote in 2004 while John McCain won with 52% of the vote in 2008, even as Obama took the state.

Voting with his party 90% of the time, McIntyre has repeatedly proven that his loyalty lies with Nancy Pelosi and not the constituents he was elected to represent. Not only did McIntyre vote for the failed trillion-dollar stimulus, which has only led to higher unemployment, but he continues to rubber-stamp his party’s runaway spending spree, which has pushed our national debt to the highest level in American history. McIntyre has cemented himself as yet another out-of-touch Democrat, in support of a radical agenda that is killing jobs and ruining the economy.

His GOP challenger has one of the most compelling personal stories of any congressional candidate in the country.

Ilario Pantano embodies the fiscally conservative leadership needed to put America’s economy back on track. Pantano is focused on job creation and stimulating the lagging economy by reducing government spending and taxes. He is also a staunch supporter of homeland security, and as a former U.S. Marine Corps Second Lieutenant, Pantano knows what it takes to keep Americans safe. He began his career of public service at 17 when he enlisted in the Marine Corp. and became an elite scout sniper. He served active duty in the first Gulf War and immediately rejoined the Marines after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Described by his superiors as the best platoon commander in his battalion, Pantano earned a reputation for hard work, honor, and dedication.

An economics major from New York University, Pantano also worked as an energy trader for Wall Street – rejoining the military after becoming disillusioned by some of the excesses. A successful entrepreneur, Pantano helped create a winning electricity trading joint venture and knows firsthand the benefits of reduced regulation, tax relief for businesses and an educated workforce. However, his personal reason for running for Congress is so his children and future generations can grow and prosper without being saddled by mountains of debt. In addition to fiscal responsibility, Pantano will go to battle for our God-given liberties, constitutional rights, the Second Amendment, and traditional conservative values. Pantano lives with his wife and two sons in North Carolina, where he serves and protects his local community as Deputy Sheriff, while pursuing a Masters in National Security Policy.

This fall, Pantano’s prospects look promising. After handily winning the GOP primary and out-fundraising 7-term Democrat incumbent McIntyre, Pantano’s campaign has liberals on the defensive. The top 2nd Quarter fundraising of all congressional incumbents and challengers in the state of North Carolina, Pantano was named “On the Radar” in the Young Guns program by the National Republican Congressional Committee. A race that was considered “Safe Democratic” in January is now considered competitive by the Cook Political Report. And McIntyre knows he’s in trouble – he is one of a handful of House incumbents already airing television ads.

Pantano’s formidable campaign, this year’s anti-incumbent sentiment, and McIntyre’s out-of-touch voting record make this a prime opportunity for a Republican to take back this seat and take another vote away from Nancy Pelosi.  This November, voters have a clear choice: more of the same from Pelosi’s puppets or a principled, accountable conservative to represent their interests in Washington. I hope you’ll visit Ilario’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages to keep up with the latest news and information on his campaign. 

Brian Walsh

Brian Walsh is the Political Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.