Rouzer gets primary challenge, former foe changes party to run again


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) –There will be a race for Congress in southeastern North Carolina. Two of them in fact.

Former 2nd Congressional District GOP Mark Otto has filed to run against fellow Republican Rep. David Rouzer for his 7th District US House seat. Like Rouzer, Otto lives in Johnston County outside Raleigh at the north end of the district, which stretches south to Wilmington and Brunswick County.

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Otto said he was motivated to run after Republicans help pass a $1.1 trillion federal omnibus bill recently.

“Conservative voters are finding our stockings stuffed with coal this Christmas, courtesy of Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan and the establishment Republicans in congress,” Otto said in a news release announcing his candidacy. “I feel completely betrayed. Despite my successful efforts to help Renee Ellmers defeat Bob Etheridge in 2010 and then to help elect David Rouzer in 2014, both Rouzer and Ellmers sided with the political establishment and voted to pass the atrocious omnibus spending package that funds Planned Parenthood, quadruples the number of foreign workers taking American jobs, fails to provide much-needed safeguards to vet Muslim refugees coming to our communities from known terrorist nations and adds nearly a trillion dollars to the national debt. I am taking a stand, dammit!”

Meanwhile, a Wilmington attorney and CPA is making another run for Congress against Rouzer, but he has switched parties to do it.

J. Wesley Casteen announced today he had filed to run for the 7th District seat in the US House of Representatives currently held by Rep. David Rouzer. Casteen ran for the seat two years ago getting 3.5 percent of the vote as a Libertarian. This time around, he is running as a Democrat.

“The intense focus on political parties is unfortunate,” Casteen said in a news release. “Few voters support every element of any party platform, and most voters do not want a mouthpiece for a political party. They want a representative of the people, and I look forward to representing all of the residents of the 7th District.”

Rouzer did not address directly his challengers in a statement e-mailed to WWAY from his campaign.

“My priority remains to work to make America prosperous at home and strong abroad,” Rouzer said in the statement. “I will continue to advocate for our coastal communities, our veterans, our farmers, a stronger national defense and foreign policy, and promoting a less intrusive federal government so that small businesses can grow and create jobs.”

In the region’s other Congressional district, long-time Republican incumbent Rep. Walter Jones faces a pair of primary challengers for his 3rd District seat. Taylor Griffin and Phil Law have filed to run against Jones in the March 15 Republican primary. Democrat David Hurst awaits the GOP nominee in November.

Candidate filing ended today at noon.

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