Collias running from center in Republican US House primary
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by Mark Barrett, firstname.lastname@example.org
KINGS MOUNTAIN – A local real estate broker who calls herself a centrist Republican has filed to run for the 10th Congressional District seat now held by U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-Lincoln.
Gina Collias' candidacy is partly a reaction to more conservative Republicans' increasing power in the GOP.
A press release announcing her candidacy describes her as "fiscally conservative but socially moderate and forward-thinking" and says she "has found inspiring support from traditional Republicans, who would prefer the party of Eisenhower, rather than what it has become as it surrenders to the alt-right."
Collias started a Facebook group last year called Rational Republicans.
"I was very disappointed in how people were being so divisive, and I'm not supporting the hate that's coming out of our government," she said in an interview Tuesday. "I don't feel that I have changed. I think the party has gone farther right."
McHenry, who is chief deputy whip in the House, has not yet announced his plans for this election year but is expected to seek an eighth term. He has won re-election by wide margins in recent years, and his campaign committee began 2018 with $2 million in the bank.
Two other Republicans have indicated they are seeking the Republican nomination in the May 8 primary: Seth Blankenship, a flooring salesman from Swannanoa and former chief of staff for a Christian organization in Washington, and Ira Roberts of Hickory, a facilities operations manager for a distribution center.
David Wilson Brown, an information technology consultant from McAdenville in Gaston County, is the only Democratic candidate so far. Filing runs until Feb. 28.
Collias says she supports fixing the Affordable Care Act, protecting Social Security and Medicare, increasing military pay, restoring net neutrality, addressing climate change and ensuring equal pay and civil rights.
"Governmental policies should be rational, ethical, science-based and economically responsible," she said.
She says she is pro-choice on abortion: "I really think that the true value of Republicans of having less government means you don't need government on my body."
Collias said the 2017 tax reform law is "just another example of congressional Republicans leaving behind traditional Republican values."
The law has less generous provisions for tax deductions for state and local taxes paid by married couples than by unmarried ones, she said, and will dramatically increase the federal budget deficit.
Collias, 51, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and then got a law degree from Mercer University. She runs a commercial and residential real estate brokerage and is a licensed attorney.
She ran unsuccessfully for a seat on Kings Mountain City Council in 2009 and has been involved in a number of civic groups.
She said she is trying to appeal to both Republican and unaffiliated voters, who can cast ballots in either party primary.
The 10th District takes in all or parts of Buncombe, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Polk and Rutherford counties.