The 113th Congress will have more than 160 members with fewer than three years in the House, making it the least experienced body since 1996. So if experience is a hot commodity next year, newly-elected representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina may be a rising star in the Republican conference.
Hudson may be a rookie lawmaker, but he’s had more than 10 working for congressmen. He spent six years as the district director for former Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C., and five years serving as chief of staff for Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. He has already been selected for the steering committee, which decides what committee members will serve on.
Hudson sat down with the Alley between freshman orientation events.
Alley: There was a lot made about what your primary victory over Scott Keadle, a dentist with tea party support meant. Do you think the tea party is still strong?
Richard Hudson: Absolutely they are still strong. And they supported me. My opponents tried to portray themselves as the tea party darlings and to portray me as the establishment guy from Washington. But the reality was I’ve lived in the 8th district most of my life, my family roots go back in the district since the 1700s, I worked for 6 years as the district director… so I had really deep ties and connections.
A: What do you think about the Club for Growth coming out against you?
RH: I think they make bad decisions. I think their money would have been a lot better spent going after someone they disagree with most of the time instead of someone they disagree with 4 or 5 percent of the time. Seems to me if their goal is to have conservative policy, they ought to spend their money differently. They ought to try and win some races where you can beat a liberal with a conservative instead of trying to beat a conservative with someone who’s more conservative. I just think it’s a difference of strategy. I think the organization does a great job with information and some of the things they do, I just think they should be smarter with how they spend their money.
A: You’ve been in politics awhile now, what lessons do you bring with you to the next Congress?
RH: Jesse Helms was one of my heroes. My first political volunteer job was putting up signs for him. Jesse Helms, a lot of people on the left can’t stand him. But the Senators on the left worked with him and trusted him and voted him most liked senator every year. The guy never compromised his principles, but he worked with Ted Kennedy. The guy showed that you could work across the aisle without compromising your principles, and to me that’s the model.
A: What are your thoughts on the 2010 freshman class?
RH: The lesson for me from 2010 was that you had a lot of conservatives come in, but they weren’t really sure how to define victory. I think we as conservatives need to decide on spending levels and tax rates we’ll tolerate. We need to figure out our lines in the sand and then force the Republican leadership to come to us. If the conservatives can’t define a win, we’ll never win.
A: What do you think the mandate is for the 2012 class?
RH: In the 8th district of North Carolina the people are fed up with the spending, and they want jobs, and they’re desperate. So that’s all I’m concerned with. I don’t know what the wave means or what the election meant, but I can tell you clearly that the people where I’m from are fed up and they want to stop the spending. So that’s my charge.