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Two more seek 11th District GOP nomination

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

Last week, John Armor, a Highlands attorney, became the third candidate to declare his bid for the 11th District Congressional seat.

Armor’s no stranger to Washington. He served as a counsel to many cases heard before the U.S. Supreme Court for 33 years and worked for and with thousands of state legislators across the country. He’s never served in an elected position, however, and that’s something he wants to change.

“Almost all of my adult life, I’ve worked with and for elected officials. If you really want to be effective, then you have to get in there and fight as opposed to get in a room and write articles,” said Armor.

Armor’s touting his years of experience with politicians as an advantage he has over other Republican candidates and current incumbent Heath Shuler.

“Experience has a lot to do with it. The bottom line is that I have substantially more experience than Heath Shuler. He’s still a rookie. With respect to me and the other Republican candidates, I have more experience and more power of the job,” Armor said.

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Here’s what Armor had to say about key issues in the race for the 11th Congressional District.


Charles Taylor

Armor is adamant that the upset of a Republican in traditionally conservative Western North Carolina should never have happened.

“Turnover in the House of Representatives consists primarily of members who die, go to jail, or voluntarily quit. The only way incumbents stick around and get defeated is if they defeat themselves. Charles Taylor defeated himself — Heath Shuler didn’t defeat him,” Armor said.

“No incumbent has spent money over a challenger like Taylor did over Shuler and lost. Not one. That shows phenomenal weakness. That’s Taylor’s weakness; not Shuler’s strength.”


Jobs in WNC

“Perhaps the biggest need of the 11th District is jobs. We’ve been hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs for 40 or 50 years.” Armor also stresses cooperating with local authorities in the tourism and industry sectors to boost the economy of Western North Carolina.


Federal spending

Armor says that government spending is out of control, but that raising taxes isn’t the solution to the problem.

“I’d try to keep taxes down. If the Democrats retain control of the Senate, it’s only going to be in the House where there will be any restraint.”

Armor says the biggest hope of controlling federal spending lies in a line-item veto. Often, congressmen will slip projects into a bill in an attempt to get funding for them when the bill is signed. A line-item veto allows the president to veto those projects without vetoing the whole bill, therefore curtailing excessive spending.


The War in Iraq

Armor is committed to staying in Iraq until the war is considered a victory by the U.S. — no matter how long that might take.

“We should absolutely not have a troop pullout date. That’s a way of telling your enemy go sit in your huts and holes and we’ll be gone. If you read the history of the wars in which we prevailed, we at no point said we’re getting tired of this.”

Armor says the timeline should look something like this: “We win, they lose, we’ll withdraw our troops, but we’ll probably still leave some troops there.”



Armor is in favor of any Hispanic coming to the U.S. that wants to — as long as they do it legally. He says with the current immigration policies, “the federal government has failed magnificently.”

“A nation that cannot control its borders cannot control its destiny,” says Armor.


Health care

Armor thinks the estimated number of Americans without healthcare — roughly 45 million — is exaggerated. Of those, Armor says 12 million are illegal aliens, and another 15 million are only temporarily uninsured. He puts the actual number at close to 12 million uninsured. Beyond that, Armor says it’s not like people in the country are flat-out denied health care.

“The simple truth is in the American system, if you go to a hospital, they will take you in and treat you,” he said.

“The idea that the entire American health system has to be put under the control of the government to deal with the 12 million who are uninsured but are getting care, I think is inappropriate.”

To improve the health care system, Armor suggests asking doctors what they would do to improve the system, then presenting their suggestions to members of Congress.



Education is a top priority to Armor.

“When you look in the long term ... the most important thing is education. A civilization can fall if we don’t pass on to our children and grandchildren that which made us work in the past,” he says.

Armor says the education system in the U.S. needs a major re-evaluation.

“The schools are getting progressively worse. Each year they get more and more money, and each year the product they produce in terms of education is worse.”

He describes the No Child Left Behind act as “better than nothing, but not a lot.”


North Shore Road

Armor says in this case, the decision to uphold a promise to build a 30-mile road through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park should be made at the lowest practical level of government.

“The bottom line in this issue is that it concerns the people of Swain County more than it concerns the people of the United States. Therefore, I view it as appropriate to back the decision that Swain County makes, whatever it is.”

Swain commissioners voted several years ago to accept a cash settlement over construction of a road.

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