Republicans Jim Pendergraph and Robert Pittenger agreed on issues but tangled over questions of ethics and flip-flops during the first and last televised debate of their 9th District runoff campaign for Congress.
Pendergraph accused Pittenger of acting illegally in voting for a bill as a state senator in 2003 that affected property he owned.
“You broke the law,” Pendergraph told him. “And our party cannot afford to have a black cloud hanging over it.”
“I’m sorry that Mr. Pendergraph has gone to this level,” Pittenger replied.
The exchange involved Pittenger’s vote to annex land in Union County into the town of Waxhaw. The annexation increased the value of the land by allowing denser development through Waxhaw’s more liberal zoning laws.
Pittenger said the Senate Ethics Committee, which received a complaint about the vote, never acted on it. “There was no wrong-doing,” he said.
While Pendergraph cast the issue as a matter of trust, Pittenger sought to portray Pendergraph as somebody who has changed positions on taxes, immigration and other issues.
The dispute came during a debate where they generally agreed on issues.
Both said they would get the federal government out of education, repeal the Dodd-Frank law and cut other regulations and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The winner faces Democrat Jennifer Roberts in November. Longtime U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, a Republican, currently holds the seat.
--Jim Morrill, Observer staff writer