Rep. David Price (D)
Elected: 1996, 11th term.
Born: Aug. 17, 1940, Erwin, TN .
Home: Chapel Hill.
Education: U. of NC, B.A. 1961, Yale U., B.D. 1964, Ph.D. 1969.
Family: Married (Lisa); 2 children.
Elected office: U.S. House of Reps., 1986–94.
Professional Career: Legis. aide, U.S. Sen. Bartlett, 1963–67; Prof., Yale U., 1969–73, Duke U., 1973–present; Exec. dir., NC Dem. Party, 1979–80, Chmn., 1983–84; Staff dir., DNC Comm. on Pres. Nominations, 1981–82.
The congressman from the 4th District is David Price, a Democrat first elected in 1986. He lost the seat in 1994 and regained it in 1996. Price grew up in east Tennessee, the son of a school principal and an English teacher. He is an interesting blend of political scientist, practical politician, and lay Baptist preacher, and he has quietly become one of the most influential House members. He came to Chapel Hill to go to college, worked as a young aide on Capitol Hill, earned a degree in divinity and a doctorate in political science at Yale University and taught there for four years. In 1973, he took a job as a political science professor at Duke. He was executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party in the 1980 election season and chairman in 1983-84, which were both, in effect, appointments of Gov. Jim Hunt. Price helped develop North Carolina’s robust straight-ticket politics. He worked for Hunt when he headed a commission on revising the Democratic Party’s nominating rules. In 1986, he ran for the House and beat Republican Rep. Bill Cobey, who had won in the 1984 sweep. In 1994, Price lost 50.4%-49.6% to Fred Heineman, a former New York City police officer and Raleigh police chief in the 1970s. In 1996, Heineman was outspent by Price, who regained the seat 54%-44%. Price has written four books, including The Congressional Experience, about his observations on Congress.
|David Price (D)||265,751||(63%)||($940,570)|
|B.J. Lawson (R)||153,947||(37%)||($573,572)|
|David Price (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (65%), 2004 (64%), 2002 (61%), 2000 (62%), 1998 (57%), 1996 (54%), 1992 (65%), 1990 (58%), 1988 (58%), 1986 (56%)
In the House, Price’s voting record typically places him near the center of House Democrats. During his first years, Price helped pass laws increasing the percentage of a home’s value the government can insure, aiding technical education at community colleges, and setting up an Advanced Technological Education program at the National Science Foundation. His Education Affordability Act, “my personal centerpiece,” on which he had been working for a dozen years, was folded into the 1997 Balanced Budget Act and became law. It made interest on student loans tax deductible and allowed penalty-free withdrawals from individual retirement accounts for education expenses.
Price has combined strong opposition to Bush administration policies in Iraq and elsewhere with his work on homeland security issues on the Appropriations Committee. He voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2002 and later called the Bush administration “out of touch and out of control.” In 2005, he and North Carolina Rep. Brad Miller, also a Democrat, sponsored a resolution to require withdrawal of troops from Iraq as soon as possible. In January 2007, they sponsored a bill to curtail the administration’s ability to pursue the military effort after December 2007. In 2006, Price called the Iraq war “a major failure” and “indicative of the diversion” away from the goal of hunting down Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders.
Price was one of the founders of the House Democracy Assistance Commission, which has worked with leaders of emerging democracies, and as part of that effort he was in Lebanon on July 4, 2006, just before the Hamas attack on Israel. He voted for the resolution supporting Israel’s response to the attack. In January 2007, Price became chairman of the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, on which he had served quietly under Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., during the years of GOP control of the House. Price pledged to take a bipartisan approach, as he said Rogers had. But he consistently sought higher levels of spending for homeland security measures, like support for first responders, than requested by the Bush administration. The 2007 homeland security spending bill increased by about 33% Bush’s funding request for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Also that year, the House passed Price’s bill establishing a code of conduct for private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. A target of the bill was North Carolina-based Blackwater, whose activities in Iraq, including the shooting of 17 people in a Baghdad square, have been controversial. The Bush White House cited his provision prohibiting such defense contractors from interrogating detainees as the chief factor for its veto of the 2008 intelligence bill. In the 2008 appropriations debate, Price sought more aid for first responders and demanded higher priority for the deportation of criminal illegal immigrants held in U.S. jails.
In the appropriations process, Price has nurtured local projects, including $272 million for a new Environmental Protection Agency complex in Research Triangle Park. Price has also been active in campaign finance law. He sponsored the “stand by your ad” requirement for candidates to appear in the full frame of television ads reading their disclaimers on the air, so they would more likely be held responsible for negative ads. His proposal became part of the campaign reform law in 2002. He wants a similar requirement for Internet ads. In 2007, he sponsored a bill to double the amount of public financing presidential candidates could receive if an opponent outside the public financing system spends more than 120% of the public financing limit. It would be financed by increasing the check-off on tax returns to $10.
Since his return to the House in 1996, Price has been re-elected by wide margins. In 2008, he won 63%-37% over a well-funded technology-company executive, B.J. Lawson. In Wake County, the fastest-growing part of the district, responsible for 47% of the total vote, he won just 52%. He ran much better in the areas dominated by universities: 77% in Durham County, 72% in Orange County, and 62% in Chatham County.