(Author’s note: In looking to cover House primaries involving moderate Republican incumbents — particularly those enjoying the approval of current GOP House leadership — now receiving a strong challenge from the right, I was introduced to the candidacy of Frank Roche in North Carolina’s Second District.
It’s a fascinating race. In the past month, Roche’s campaign to unseat Rep. Renee Ellmers has evolved into a case study of Tea Party/conservative gripes with national GOP leadership, a representative example of the current party rift. Each recent development received national attention; some of the developments were broken here.
Please do look back and examine the recent campaign coverage. The key theme I hope you take away from it — and be sure to apply this lens as you absorb similar news regarding national GOP leadership: A curious voter will soon know exactly what policies Roche supports, and how he intends to govern. Objectively, the same cannot be said of Ellmers.
Just this morning, Ellmers — who two weeks ago claimed she had the same immigration stance of Tea Party stalwarts Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and of libertarian Rand Paul — published a half-page op-ed in the left-leaning Sanford Herald, a local paper generally supportive of Democrats.
Her topic? Supporting “public-private partnerships.”)
Steinberg: With Renee Ellmers’ recent appearance with Laura Ingraham, her speech to the Moore County GOP convention, where she claimed to have the same immgration stance as Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul, this video that just surfaced of her berating constituents who actually do hold views similar to Cruz, Lee, and Paul — your primary has become a referendum about immigration policy and the GOP.
Your immigration stance — do you align your policy with those three?
Roche: I think I am probably a little more aggressive in my stance than the three senators, and certainly more so than Representative Ellmers.
I’m looking for something quite different than what we’ve experienced over the last four decades. And I’m not only talking about illegal immigration. We of course have to stop this once and for all by properly securing our borders, getting a handle on our short-term visa program, and, of course, dealing with those who are here illegally — which would not include amnesty, or anything like amnesty, or “path to citizenship,” or any other semantic twist of phrase they want to use.
But where I really want to put emphasis is the legal side of immigration. That’s where we need to make dramatic changes.
We need to sharply reduce our yearly legal immigration. We need to move away from family reunification as a basis for our immigration system, and to go back to a national origins-based system, one based on the economic interests of the United States.
Lastly, the other key metric here is that we must move away from official recognition of multiculturalism, identity politics, and political correctness. These social counterparts to our immigration numbers are what makes immigration so damaging to the United States, so divisive.
We can start by simply applying our current laws. We have strong laws on the books. It’s really not that difficult to come up with effective immigration policy, but it takes the courage to change what’s been in place for 45 years.
Steinberg: Your district, NC-02 — what are the chief industries in your district, and has immigration policy factored into any challenges facing your district’s economy now? And those challenges, do you tie them to Ellmers tenure?
Roche: The challenges facing the Second District are not that different from the challenges facing America, generally speaking, with respect to immigration. The Second District, we have agriculture, we have housing, we have high-tech, and in all those sectors we know that immigration is playing a large role. In my hometown area, it’s becoming known as “little India” as a result of the use of H1-B visa programs to bring in IT workers from India, and also Asia. In housing and agriculture, we see more of the Hispanic worker. In this area, it’s not just the low-skill workers, it’s the high-skill level as well. It’s not just Hispanics, its Asians and Russians and Europeans. Simply, immigration policy in general is impacting the ability of citizens in the Second District to gain employment.
It’s also impacting the ability of these industries to see growth in wages. We know now, the evidence is clear that one of the key damaging aspects to immigration policy in regards to economics is the cap on wages. Real wage growth and real hourly earnings are being impacted by immigration policy.