Rep. Sue Myrick (R)
North Carolina 9th District
“An agreeable village but in a damn rebellious country,” recorded Gen. Cornwallis when, before the unpleasantness at Yorktown, he visited Charlotte, North Carolina. Settled by Scots-Irish and German colonists who came down from Pennsylvania along the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlotte is a rapidly growing metropolitan area of some 1.7 million people. Before the California gold rush, Charlotte was the gold-mining capital of the country; in 1837, the U.S. Mint established a branch here. And the city has continued its preoccupation with the financial sector. It is headquarters to one of the nation’s biggest banks: Bank of America, formed from the 1998 merger of Charlotte-based NationsBank and San Francisco’s Bank of America. But it was not immune to the tumult in the financial markets in late 2008. The Charlotte-based Wachovia, which was the area’s second-largest employer, was taken over in early 2009 by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, a move that likely saved Wachovia from failure. Still, for a city its size, Charlotte has a respectable share of Fortune 500 companies. Nine are headquartered in the Charlotte area, including Lowe’s, Family Dollar Store, Duke Energy, Sonic Automotive, and B.F. Goodrich. It is also the center of the nation’s biggest textile manufacturing region. Charlotte’s metro area is projected to equal Atlanta’s by 2030. The city was rated America’s best place to live by the Relocate-America.com website in 2008. The downside of its rapid growth is that the city has the worst sprawl of 15 fast-growing metro areas. In November 2007, a 9.6-mile light-rail system began operations and exceeded ridership expectations, with plans for expansion.
2008 Presidential Vote
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The past two decades have brought cultural development to Charlotte worthy of its increasing business stature. It now boasts a $50 million performing arts center across from the 60-story Bank of America tower, and is home to the Carolina Panthers professional football team and the Charlotte Bobcats basketball franchise owned by Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson. The rebelliousness Cornwallis noted can be seen in this region’s passion for the stock-car circuit. One of the nation’s biggest auto-racing tracks is here, and just up the road is Mooresville, home of the late Dale Earnhardt and the family’s racing business. In 2010, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is scheduled to open in Charlotte. The city has built a boosterish pride in its capacity for accommodation. It is proud that it responded amicably to a busing order approved in a landmark Supreme Court case in 1971; that it twice elected an African-American Democrat as mayor, Harvey Gantt, and then replaced him with conservative Republican Sue Myrick, who now represents the city’s district in Congress. (Charlotte can’t seem to produce a political star, however. Five mayors have run statewide since 1984, and all have lost—most recently, Pat McCrory in the 2008 race for governor. In the 1990s, Gantt lost two challenges to the late Sen. Jesse Helms, a conservative Republican.)
The 9th Congressional District of North Carolina includes about half of Mecklenburg County. It extends west to include most of Gaston County, long a textile center, and south to take in upscale bedroom communities in Union County, the seventh-fastest-growing county in the nation. Mecklenburg County as a whole is politically competitive, with Barack Obama winning it 62%-38%, but the 9th District overall is Republican. President Bush won here with 63% in 2004, but John McCain dropped to 55% in 2008.
Rep. Sue Myrick (R)
Elected: 1994, 8th term.
Born: Aug. 1, 1941, Tiffin, OH .
Education: Heidelberg Col., 1959-60.
Family: Married (Ed); 5 children.
Elected office: Charlotte City Cncl., 1983–85; Charlotte mayor, 1987–91.
Professional Career: Pres. & CEO, Myrick Advertising, 1985–94; Pres. & CEO, Myrick Enterprises, 1992–94.
The congresswoman from the 9th District is Sue Myrick, a Republican first elected in 1994. She was born on a peach farm in Ohio and graduated from college there. She owned an advertising agency and Amway distributorship in Charlotte, where she also raised her family. In 1983, she was elected to the Charlotte City Council. She ran for mayor and lost in 1985, then beat Harvey Gantt in 1987. In her tenure, Myrick made infrastructure improvements in the city and prevented increases in property taxes. She ran for the U.S. Senate in 1992, but was beaten by Republican Lauch Faircloth in the primary 48%-30%. In 1994, after Rep. Alex McMillan retired, she ran for his House seat. In the first round of the primary, against state House Minority Leader David Balmer, Myrick led 34%-28%. Before the runoff three weeks later, it was revealed that he had falsely claimed on his résumé to have graduated in the top 20% of his law school class and to have played varsity soccer. Myrick won 68%-32%, then easily won the general election. A leader of the brash 1994 Republican freshman class, Myrick served on House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s transition team and was the freshman liaison to the leadership. Then in 1997, she joined a group of junior members who had grown disillusioned with Gingrich and wanted to force him to step down as speaker. The plan failed, and with Gingrich still in power, Myrick’s influence waned. That year, she lost by 110-65 the leadership post of Republican Conference secretary to Deborah Pryce of Ohio, whom Gingrich backed.
|Sue Myrick (R)||241,053||(62%)||($1,164,506)|
|Harry Taylor (D)||138,719||(36%)||($252,020)|
|Sue Myrick (R)||51,402||(92%)|
|Jack Stratton (R)||4,370||(8%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (67%), 2004 (70%), 2002 (72%), 2000 (69%), 1998 (69%), 1996 (63%), 1994 (65%)
A reliable conservative, Myrick has taken a lead role on many Republican initiatives. Representing a prosperous and growing district, she once turned down $15 million for Charlotte’s freeways because she felt the transportation bill would bust the budget: “I said when I ran for this job, ‘If you want somebody to bring home the bacon, don’t send me,’” she said. In 2003, she was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of activist conservatives who have urged spending restraint and tax cuts. A vocal opponent of illegal immigration, she won House approval in 2005 of a measure to deport illegal immigrants convicted of drunken driving, and more recently advocated slashing federal aid to colleges that knowingly admit illegal immigrants.
Myrick had surgery and follow-up treatment for breast cancer in 1999, and was later declared cancer-free. But the disease changed her focus. After that, she sponsored the law to provide Medicaid coverage for mammograms and pap smears for low-income women. She also co-sponsored with New York Democrat Nita Lowey a bill to require the National Institutes of Health to explore the connection between environmental pollutants and cancer. On the Energy and Commerce Committee, she has focused on health care, including mental health. On energy issues on the committee, Myrick in 2008 sponsored a bill to give the states authority to permit oil drilling in the ocean within 100 miles of their coasts. Also outspoken on antiterrorism issues, Myrick in April 2008 demanded the revocation of former President Carter’s passport after he met with Hamas, which the U.S. government considers a terrorist group.
Myrick has considered but declined to run for the Senate in recent years, and she also turned down a chance to run for governor in 2008. She has won re-election easily.