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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — North Carolina’s political primaries are still about six months away, but all the talk about the presidential race has politics front and center.

The Republican nomination for president may be decided by the time North Carolina votes in May, but there will still be the battle for the Republican nomination to represent our area in the US House of Representatives. The two candidates, David Rouzer and Ilario Pantano, are a study in contrast within the GOP.

Rouzer was once an aide to North Carolina icon Sen. Jesse Helms. Currently a state senator from Johnston County, Rouzer has a past in North Carolina tradition.

“I do come from a farming background,” Rouzer said during a visit to Wilmington Friday. “On my mom’s side of the family we have had a farm since the civil war in johnston county. Growing up I spent all my summer working on the farm, and that’s how I paid my way through school at NC State.”

Marine veteran and author Ilario Pantano has taken a much different path to get here.

“I was born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, NY, which is about as far away from here that you can get,” Pantano said. “I enlisted in the Marines at 17. I fought in the first Gulf War. I was based here at Camp Lejeune. After the Berlin Wall came down and it was clear that this was a very different time and place than when I had gone into the Marines, I made a decision to get out and go work on Wall Street. I did what the son of an immigrant does: you go out and try to make some money.”

Rouzer looks to his political experience as a strength.

“Obviously you have coastal issues here, beach renourishment, sea level rise. All those issues are very important to this area, and that’s one of the advantages I have,” Rouzer said. “Having worked for Sen. Helms and Sen. Elizabeth Dole I have dealt with the issues form the coast to the western part of the state.”

Pantano says his political platform is about three things.

“It’s about a pro-growth agenda making sure the private sector can bring jobs back to the area. It’s about lowering taxes and reducing regulation. It’s about protecting the homeland, and I have the scars to prove I am serious about that,” Pantano.

Both men know they have a fight on their hands to win the nomination, and it doesn’t end there. The winner takes on incumbent Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre in November. McIntyre beat Pantano for the 7th District seat in 2010.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest34

    I for one can’t wait for their first debate! Then we will really see the contrast between the lobbyist and the patriot servant. For those of you still sticking with the totally debunked ‘killer’ line, obviously no amount of factual information will change your closed minds. I’m glad to see all the articles being published now about Pantano’s vindication (Washington Post, New York Post etc.). Jesse Helms means nothing to me and just because Rouser has some inlaw with a farm in a county that’s supposed to mean he’s from a farming background? Weak. I’ll take an intelligent, hardworking patriot who’s served his country more than once over any special-interest power-broker.

  • Mike T

    During the mass migration of the past two decade you have have made quite a change in our political climate. It appears your body is here but your priorities are not. A trigger happy, hedge fund manager is not what we need. North Carolina values are entrenched in the agriculture community. If no one told you this let me be the first since you came here to live for some reason. You had many choices all around the south and west. I just can’t believe Southeast North Carolina got all the stupid ones!

  • Guest99x

    Mr. Rouzer, thanks for being here to run as a real candidate for Congress! The neighborhood in Manhattan that your opponent refers to as “Hell’s Kitchen” has been part of what we native Nyawkers have called Midtown West, Clinton or the “YUPPER West Side” since the mid 80’s. Pantano’s bio claims he was born in 1971. Aside from some remnants of the Westies, that part of Manhattan was well along the path to gentrification by the time young Ilario would have come of age.

    I’m waiting to hear from Mr. Pantano that he walked a five mile round trip to school and each way was up-hill.

  • David Harris

    Just to comment on Guest99x’s post; Not being from NYC, I must allow you and Ilario to discuss the finer points of Hell’s Kitchen.
    I feel more comfortable speaking about my fellow Carolinian, David Rouzer’s claim of being a conservative.
    A true political conservative “thinks” like a conservative. David Rouzer lobbied for amnesty for illegal immigrants. This was better known as Ted Kennedy’s Amnesty Bill. My friend, a true conservative would never do that, despite the thousands of dollars that Mr. Rouzer made doing it.
    Senator Rouzer is nothing more than a career politician. He’s been involved in politics his entire adult life. When Ilario was a young Marine, Mr. Rouzer was a politician. When Ilario was working on Wall Street, Mr. Rouzer was a politician. When Ilario was leading young Marines through the streets of Fallujah – heck, Rouzer was probably lobbying for amnesty for illegal aliens.

    Ilario Pantano is a true conservative, because he “thinks” like a conservative. Mr. Rouzer, thinks like whoever pays the most money wants him to think.

    Hope you Nyawkers work it all out.

  • guest 710

    I have met both Ilario Pantano and David Rouzer. David Rouzer exudes an attitude of entitlement to this Congressional Seat. He drops the name of the NC icon Jesse Helms frequently, as if somehow knowing Helms makes him impossible to resist! I haven’t heard one plan of action for the ailing North Carolina from him. The district appears to have been drawn for him by his Republican cronies in Raleigh–again as if he is entitled to the job. He is everything I have come to dislike about politicians…he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. One year he is a lobbyist, the next he is decrying the very thing he was previously promoting. If you want more of the same disconnect in DC, where only the politicians prosper–vote for David Rouzer.
    Ilario Pantano is a patriot and a hard worker with ethics and decency. He may not have been born in NC–but he is one of us! I would be proud to call him my Representative in DC, and I have faith he will listen to us and choose service over self.
    No question here–Pantano is the only responsible choice for the 7th District!

  • GuestGrace

    Whoa! A hater.

  • Guest Ron Taylor

    I have watched David Rouzer for some time and I believe he is one that will put his brain in gear before he puts his mouth in motion. I may not like everything he says but he has ALWAYS been honest with me.

  • Guest90

    and that school was Horace Mann. An Ivy Prep League school. Hardly the rough upbringing he speaks of.

  • Guest9919

    I had rather have someone who has fought.for their country, enlisting not once but twice, has great ideas about the economy, wants to secure our.borders and.has strong family and Christian values representing me than some son of a farmer that has been in politics his entire career including working as a lobbyist! We don’t need any more career politicians!

  • Das Weibstück

    But, but…. Hells Kitchen sounds so much cooler for the killer Marine doesn’t it?

  • Erlkoenig

    I’m not sure what a “real candidate” is, but I think more than ever we need a fighter. We are not at a beach re-nourishment crossroad. We are at a future of America crossroad. And that will take someone wiling to get in the game and battle it out with liberals heck-bent on destroying this nation.

  • Guest189

    Rouzer has spent his entire career as a politician and lobbyist. He IS the establishment and will tell you that his accomplishments are working for Helms, Dole, and GWB at least 45 times in every conversation. The only thing he knows about the coast is his parents beach house. He doesn’t believe in term limits and lobbied for amnesty for illegal farm workers and their families. “Real” candidate my hiney.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    You had better come up with something more than “McIntyre has a D behind his name” if you want to avoid yet another embarrassing defeat. He is one of the last of the conservative Democrats, he votes AGAINST Pelosi and Obama on all key issues, and he has served NC 7 very well.

    So you two duke it out and good luck to both of you, but once the primary is done you had better start looking for something to use against McIntyre.

    So far we haven’t heard a single reason to vote against him.

  • Guest2020

    I like that he worked with Jesse Helms, but the fact that Mr. Rouzer is in favor of amnesty will keep me from voting for him.

  • Das Weibstück

    “Ilario Pantano is a patriot”. BwaHA HA HA HA HA You must be him or his wife.

  • ProtectOurCoast

    ANother great example of people who have unabashed ideas but no substance to back them up. What has Pantano done to be denied his stance as a patriot?

  • GuestJean Bystry

    Whoa! A hater!

  • ProtectOurCoast

    If Rouzer has a real grasp on the coastal issues, why did he cosponsor on S. Bill 747, the Offshore Wind Jobs and Economic Development bill? Guess who else from the coastal areas of NC cosponsored the bill. NO ONE! Sponsors and co-sponsors are from Raleigh, Greensboro, Denton, and Raleigh NC. These are the areas that Rouzer considers cohorts, not those of us in the coastal area.

    We need someone who is going to represent the more populace coastal region of our district. The agricultural center has received enough support with all of the subsidies and advocacy for illegal immigrant work programs.

  • Guest7777

    That is Ilario (Killer) Pantano, the brave man that shoots unarmed civilians.

  • Mike T

    I am one Democrat that will consider voting for your candidate if you can see fit to nominate Rouzer. I feel like there are a lot of us who have had about all we can take from Mike McIntyre. If we can get rid of him maybe a real Democrat will step forward.

  • Guest21

    What a choice..and “Bang-Bang” Pantano is one of them. I think it is time for all of us to get on our knees and pray for a Democrat victory where these two are concerned.

  • Runner323

    Guess you missed the Times piece from Wednesday.

    For Marine, a rush to judgment and a belated vindication
    Forensics debunked Iraq murder charge


    I’m no right winger, but criticizing someone for their service is way over the line for me. The man literally put his life on the line for his country.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    It’s Nooyawkuhs.

  • Guest99x

    Sorry, Commonsense… your pronunciation is regional. Noowawkuh is how it is said on Lawn Gyland.

  • Guest99x

    My dear GuestGrace,

    I have come to highly regard this forum, blog or whatever you want to call it. It is a real “noisy public square” where anything goes. I have been entertained and educated by many of the regulars here.

    I have also called more than one a less than cordial name and have been called a few un-cordial names myself…

    I can think of many things that I can be called, but I am at a loss to be contemplated as a “hater”. I’d appreciate sharing some depth of thought on how you conclude that I am a hater.

    All I think is that a North Carolina native would be a better choice than a recent transplant to represent this district in the House.

  • Guest461

    …that have never even fired a rifle, much less been shot at by an enemy insurgent. They accuse him of murdering the same ones that killed our soldiers, burned their bodies, drug them through the streets and hung them on a bridge for display to all, including us. The same ones that videoed the beheading of our journalist and proudly sent it to us. The same ones that killed over 3000 innocent civilians on 9/11, using OUR aircraft and wiping out OUR towers.
    These cowards support the enemy but rear-end our own for trying to preserve the rights of our great country. I’m not a Pantano supporter, but I’ll never do the man wrong word for fighting for our country. It’s a easy cheap-shot for those that know no better, love the enemy and care less about the country we live in.

    I often wonder if these cowardly Americans walk with their head down and ashamed as they should. It’s just a good thing they are simple, faceless cyber-chatters without a name…or they would be no longer.


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