Republican Robert Pittenger and Democrat Jennifer Roberts – running for Congress in the 9th District – crisscrossed the area Saturday as part of their final appeals to voters ahead of Tuesday’s election.
The candidates stopped at polling sites in Iredell, Mecklenburg and Union counties, shaking hands and talking with residents waiting to cast ballots.
“It’s a great day to be voting today,” Pittenger, a former state senator, said often as he passed through a line of voters snaked across the parking lot of the Stallings Volunteer Fire Department.
Donning a “Pittenger for Congress” baseball cap, the Republican hopeful made small talk to voters in line while also handing out cards about his campaign. He planned to stop by three voting sites in Union, and also spent part of the morning at the South Regional Library in Charlotte.
Meanwhile, Roberts, a Mecklenburg county commissioner, visited polling sites in Mooresville early Saturday before heading to Union County in the afternoon. She estimated she shook 500 to 600 hands in four hours during her stops in Iredell County.
Roberts and Pittenger are competing to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, a Charlotte Republican who is stepping down after 18 years in the House of Representatives. Libertarian Curtis Campbell also is running for the seat.
The district leans Republican, and includes most of Mecklenburg along with portions of Iredell and Union counties. Many of the county’s African-American voters, who are traditionally loyal Democrats, are in the 12th Congressional District served by U.S. Rep. Mel Watt.
On the trail, Pittenger and Roberts have split on several issues.
Pittenger says he supports extending the Bush-era tax cuts, citing analysis that the country could lose 710,000 jobs without it. Roberts has said she backs tax cuts for the middle class and would support extending the Bush tax cuts except for people who earn more than $500,000 a year.
Roberts said she would support significant changes to the new federal health care plan but opposes an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Pittenger says the health plan should be repealed, saying it is unaffordable.
On Saturday, Roberts said she’s talked of a need for “common sense (and) practical solutions,” to problems and touted her experience in working across the aisle with Republicans as a county commissioner to get things done.
Roberts also talked of helping to bring jobs to Mecklenburg County when businesses like Chiquita and Siemens moved into the area, as well as her support of public education. “We have to work together,” Roberts said. “I have a record of doing that (and) I have a record of bringing jobs here and that is very different than my opponent’s record.”
Pittenger, a real estate investor, said that as a business executive, he knows how to create jobs.
“I understand the tremendous burden that the government puts on small businesses,” he said Saturday. He has previously said the country should “return to a balanced approach based on free markets.”
Pittenger also said a major part of his job as a congressman will be to serve constituents and urged people to reach out to him. “I’m here to serve them,” he said, “and if they need me, call me.”
The candidates both said they plan to continue reaching out to would-be supporters leading to Election Day, including making calls to voters and visiting precincts Tuesday.