GOP hopefuls face off in House District 67 primary debate

(Photo courtesy of the Montgomery County GOP)

TROY — Two Stanly County residents competing in the Republican primary for the NC House District 67 seat squared off last week in a candidate debate forum in Troy.

Albemarle resident Brandon King and Oakboro resident Cody Huneycutt are running to compete for retiring Rep. Wayne Sasser’s seat representing Stanly and Montgomery County in the General Assembly. The candidates fielded questions from a moderator on Feb. 6, inside the Montgomery County administrative building.

With the district leaning strongly Republican, the winner of the Republican primary is favored to defeat Democratic nominee Daniel Quick in the Nov. 5 general election.

King, a sitting Stanly County Commissioner and the current owner of Albemarle Outdoor Supply, selected the Education and Agricultural Committees as his top picks when asked on which committees he would prefer to sit if he were elected.

“As public education goes, school choice has been a great thing that legislature has passed but Montgomery and Stanly County both fail in the area of having a choice,” King said. “We depend heavily on the public school system, and that’s where we’re failing as a state and as a public education system.”

Huneycutt, who has worked as a policy advisor to Rep. Sasser for the past four years, preferred the Finance and Appropriations Committees.

“I’m blessed to have nine years of working experience in the NC House of Representatives already,” said Huneycutt, who was endorsed by Sasser in his retirement announcement last year.

“Six years of that experience was on the Finance Committee, working on cutting taxes on personal income tax, corporate income tax, franchise tax, and unemployment insurance tax,” Huneycutt went on, promising to return more tax dollars to his constituents.

A question on combating the effects of the opioid epidemic showed some of the philosophical differences between the candidates, with Huneycutt leaning on his experiences under Sasser for his pitch to GOP primary voters.

“The thing that I’d like to see changed or be a little more aggressive in is faith-based rehab facilities,” King said. “Somebody didn’t get strung out on drugs overnight, and we’re not going to get them off them in 28 days. Giving them more drugs is not always the answer. We have to provide them a way of life and an opportunity to learn a new lifestyle to get them off the pattern on their own. That’s going to take time, and most of your faith-based facilities are going to be 12-to-24 month programs.”

While an initial opioid settlement case already provided funding to the state, another opioid settlement package is coming through Raleigh that will result in more money for facilities.

“I have worked with both faith-based and non-faith-based groups over the last three years and I will continue to do so,” Huneycutt said. “I will also advocate for our law enforcement to allow them to be able to catch and prosecute drug dealers because that is what’s hurting our community the most.”

Moving to abortion, with the moderator noting the state’s 12-week abortion ban that went into effect on July 1, 2023, both candidates spoke in favor of a stricter “heartbeat bill” that would make abortion illegal as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Huneycutt stated that he would support a heartbeat bill, but also supported “taking small bites of the apple until we accomplish the ultimate goal of a heartbeat bill” due to concerns that a more aggressive six-week bill could hurt Republican majorities in the state’s General Assembly, risking “turning us into the state of California on the abortion issue within two years.”

King said his personal faith wouldn’t allow him to budge on his support of the bill regardless of the political consequences in Raleigh.

“If the Republicans can’t get on board with that, then maybe they’re not real Republicans and it’s time to start acting like it,” King said. “We’ve had Republican control and there is no reason why we shouldn’t already have this heartbeat bill. It’s very frustrating for some of them to sit up there and call themselves Republicans and not support it.”

In-person early voting period for the 2024 primary election begins Thursday Feb. 15 at 8 a.m. and ends on March 2 at 3 p.m.

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