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Mark Walker (North Carolina politician)

Bradley Mark Walker (born May 20, 1969) is an American politician and pastor from the state of North Carolina. A Republican, Walker has represented North Carolina's 6th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives since 2015. In 2017, Walker was elected to head the Republican Study Committee.[1]

Mark Walker
Walker Official Photo 2017.jpg
Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
LeaderKevin McCarthy
Preceded byDoug Collins
Chair of the Republican Study Committee
In office
January 3, 2017 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byBill Flores
Succeeded byMike Johnson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 6th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded byHoward Coble
Personal details
Born (1969-05-20) May 20, 1969 (age 50)
Dothan, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Kelly Walker
EducationTrinity Baptist College
Piedmont International
University
(BA)

Early life and careerEdit

Walker was born on May 20, 1969, in Dothan, Alabama.[2] His father was an Independent Baptist minister, and was the chaplain of a prison in Alabama.[3]

Walker eventually attended Trinity Baptist College for a time before moving with his family to Houston, Texas. From there, Walker moved to the Piedmont Triad. He worked in business and finance for several years.[4] Walker eventually returned to college to pursue the ministry and attend Piedmont Baptist College, now Piedmont International University, graduating with a B.A. in Biblical Studies. Walker was ordained in the Southern Baptist denomination. His career in ministry began at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. From there he has worked for and led churches in North Carolina and Florida. He has served as a worship pastor, executive pastor and lead pastor.

In 2008, Walker started with Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro as its Pastor of Arts and Worship.[5] The church has a membership of several thousand congregants.[6]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

ElectionsEdit

2014

Republican Howard Coble had represented the 6th district since 1985 when he announced his retirement at age 83. Coble supported Phil Berger Jr. in the May primary election and Walker finished second, though in the runoff election, Walker unexpectedly won 57%–44%.[7] Most of Walker's election funding came from individual contributions, which he noted in his primary victory speech.[8] In the general election, Walker defeated Democratic attorney Laura Fjeld of Hillsborough. "I certainly do align with the Republican Party when it comes to traditional values," Walker said after the election, "but even so, limited government is my heart and my nature and I think that says a lot about North Carolina and maybe we are still more red than purple."[9] He said that in his term he hoped to address poverty, immigration, and education issues.[10]

2016

Walker significantly outspent his opponent, Democrat Pete Glidewell, in the 2016 campaign; Walker's $818,000, about 40% from national political action committees (PACs), was nine times what Glidewell had fundraised.[11] All North Carolina incumbents retained their seats; in the 6th district, Walker received 59% of the vote.[12] Neither Walker nor Glidewell won their home county in the election.[11]

During the 2016 presidential election, Walker called some of Republican nominee Donald Trump's remarks "morally reprehensible"[13] and condemned Trump's lewd remarks about women as "vile."[14] Nevertheless, Walker still backed Trump over his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.[13] After the election, Walker expressed support for incoming president Trump on the issues of taxes and education, but said he could not stand behind Trump's statements about a registry tracking Muslim Americans.[15]

2018

Walker faced no primary challenger in 2018. On April 20, Walker's campaign raised $650,000 during a luncheon attended by Vice President Mike Pence, the largest sum in U.S. House history, effectively doubling what Walker had previously raised.[16] In the general election, he defeated Democrat Ryan Watts of Burlington by about 13 percentage points.[17][18]

2020

In June 2019, Walker decided against challenging Senator Thom Tillis in 2020, reportedly giving relief to Republican leaders who feared a bitter primary would hurt their prospects of retaining a U.S. Senate majority.[19][20][21]

Tenure and political viewsEdit

Walker holds "deeply conservative" beliefs.[22] He is an avowed opponent of the Affordable Care Act, and has led the conservative Republican Study Committee's efforts to repeal the health care reform legislation.[23] He has called for "full repeal" of the legislation, and criticized 2015 Republican-sponsored legislation that would repeal only part of the act.[24]

In December 2016, Walker was one of only 33 Republican U.S. Representatives to vote "no" on a short-term stopgap funding measure that would appropriate millions of dollars in federal disaster relief spending in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Walker said that he opposed such stopgap funding bills.[25]

Walker has led efforts to improve the Republican Party's outreach to African Americans, and organized a February 2017 conference between the presidents and chancellors of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Republican congressional leaders.[26] He also worked with fellow Representative Alma Adams, a Democrat from North Carolina, to start an internship program for students from HBCUs.[27] He is supportive of criminal justice reform initiatives, and has called for a shift in Republican approach to this issue.[27]

In 2017, Walker became co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus.[28] During his 2018 service on a committee searching for the next House chaplain, Walker called for the committee to select a candidate "that has adult children," which would have effectively excluded Catholic priests and nuns from consideration. Fellow House member Rep. Gerry Connolly characterized Walker's suggestion as "anti-Catholic on its face."[29] During the controversy that followed, House Speaker Paul Ryan's spokesperson announced that "Mr. Walker will not serve in a formal capacity" on the screening committee.[30]

Walker has played for the Republicans in the annual Congressional Baseball Game, serving as pitcher in the 2016 game.[31]

Republican Study CommitteeEdit

In 2016, Walker launched a campaign to become chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a faction of highly conservative Republicans. Walker defeated Andy Harris of Maryland in the November 2016 election, becoming the youngest RSC chairman in history.[32]

House Bill 2Edit

Walker is a proponent of North Carolina's Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act ("HB2"), a controversial piece of legislation[33] which was read, amended, passed and signed in a matter of hours on March 23, 2016.[34] On March 28, 2016, as businesses and local governments began registering opposition to HB2, Walker tweeted, "I'm growing weary of the big business and corporate bullying over HB2."[35] At a prayer breakfast on April 2016, Walker asserted that the Democrats had emphasized opposition to HB2 as "part of a calculated strategy to retake control of the Senate, turn the state blue, and establish a base of support for the [2016] presidential election."[36]

Women's IssuesEdit

In 2019, Walker voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act,[37] which passed the House on a bipartisan vote (33 Republicans joining 230 Democrats voting 'aye').[38] He also voted against an amendment to the Act authorizing federal grants "for the purpose of reducing sexual violence on college campuses," which passed by a 258 to 173 margin.[37]

Health CareEdit

Walker's 2014 campaign web site stated "Obamacare should be repealed, and Mark will make doing so one of his top legislative priorities."[39] In 2019, Walker voted against a House resolution that called on the U.S. Dept. of Justice to stop supporting plaintiffs' efforts in Texas v United States seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act.[37]

RemarksEdit

Walker has made controversial statements that have brought him national attention; for example, in 2017 he described women colleagues publicly as "eye candy".[40][41] On May 15, 2017, Walker posted a tweet in which he criticized the construction of specially made ramps allowing ducks to get into and out of the US Capitol Reflecting Pool. In it, he called the move "government waste."[42] The tweet was widely criticized on social media.[43][44]

During his 2014 campaign, at a Tea Party forum in Rockingham County, North Carolina, Walker was asked if military force was appropriate along the U.S.-Mexican border. He stated that the National Guard might be necessary to secure the border.[45] He added, "...if you have foreigners who are sneaking in with drug cartels, to me that is a national threat, and if we got to go laser or blitz somebody [...] I don’t have a problem with that either." The moderator then asked if he had any qualms about starting a war with Mexico. Walker responded, "Well, we did it before, if we need to do it again, I don't have a qualm about it."[46][47] Later, Walker met with the editors of Greensboro's News & Record to tell them, "Being someone who is not a career politician, I’ve learned there are different environments that are a little more heated in context. And when you walk into those by proxy, you have to be very concerned as well as being very upfront about what your positions are because you can be guided very easily."[48]

Hayes indictmentEdit

Following the April 2019 indictment of former Rep. Robin Hayes for allegedly attempting to bribe state insurance officials, Politico identified Walker as the unnamed "Public Official A" in the indictment who called state insurance officials after a political committee under his control received a $150,000 donation. Walker was not indicted or named in the indictment. He denied any wrongdoing and said he has been fully cooperating with the probe.[49][50][51]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Walker is married to Kelly Sears, a nurse practitioner.[52] They have three children and live in Greensboro.[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C.: Member of the House (2nd term), Roll Call (accessed January 30, 2017).
  3. ^ Wegmann, Philip (April 20, 2016). "A Preacher Turned Lawmaker and His New Campaign to Win the Old War on Poverty". The Daily Signal. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  4. ^ "Mark Walker Bio".
  5. ^ Biography and Resume at the City of Greensboro, North Carolina website
  6. ^ Emily Cahn, Megachurches Prove Mega-Influential in GOP Primaries, Roll Call (July 20, 2014).
  7. ^ Sullivan, Sean (July 15, 2014). "Baptist minister Mark Walker wins Republican runoff in North Carolina's 6th District". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  8. ^ Jarvis, Craig (July 16, 2014). "How did Mark Walker blindside Phil Berger Jr.?". The News & Observer. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  9. ^ Brown, Keri (November 5, 2014). "Walker Wins 6th Congressional District Seat". WFDD. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  10. ^ Brown, Keri (November 18, 2014). "Walker: Getting Things Done In Congress Starts With Local Community". WFDD. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Newsom, John (November 8, 2016). "Rep. Mark Walker wins second term in 6th District". News & Record. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  12. ^ Douglas, Anna (November 8, 2016). "All North Carolina incumbents keep seats in Congress". The News & Observer. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Douglas, Anna (June 9, 2016). "NC Republicans offer varying levels of support for Trump". The News & Observer. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  14. ^ Jarvis, Craig (October 8, 2016). "McCrory, Burr, others join condemnation of Trump". The News & Observer. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  15. ^ Douglas, Anna (December 27, 2016). "Meet the knuckleball pitcher in Congress who has redefined conservatives' strike zone". The News & Observer. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  16. ^ Specht, Paul A. (April 27, 2018). "An NC Republican says he just made campaign history". The News & Observer. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  17. ^ "North Carolina Primary Election Results: Sixth House District". The New York Times. May 8, 2018. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  18. ^ "North Carolina Election Results: Sixth House District". The New York Times. November 6, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  19. ^ Arkin, James; Zanona, Melanie (June 13, 2019). "Republicans dodge nasty Senate primary in North Carolina". Politico. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  20. ^ Pathé, Simone (June 13, 2019). "Rep. Mark Walker won't challenge him, but Sen. Thom Tillis still faces a primary". Roll Call. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  21. ^ "Rep. Walker won't challenge Sen. Tillis in NC GOP primary". WTOP-FM. Associated Press. June 13, 2019. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  22. ^ Sherly Gay Stolberg, As Power in Congress Shifts to G.O.P., Lives of Freshmen in Transition, New York Times (January 6, 2015).
  23. ^ MJ Lee & Deirdre Walsh, Conservative House Republicans unveil repeal and replace Obamacare bill, CNN (January 4, 2017).
  24. ^ Alexander Bolton, ObamaCare repeal teeters in Senate, The Hill (November 16, 2015).
  25. ^ Anna Douglas, Why a congressman voted against a bill with money for disaster relief in his district, News & Observer (December 9, 2016).
  26. ^ William Douglas, Will GOP’s latest effort to reach out to black community last?, News & Observer (January 30, 2017).
  27. ^ a b Lindsey McPherson, Walker Wants GOP to Lead on Criminal Justice, Immigration: Head of Republican Study Committee says new approach warranted, Roll Call (January 23, 2017).
  28. ^ Walker co-chairs prayer caucus, Asheboro Courier-Tribune (January 11, 2017).
  29. ^ Weaver, Dustin (April 26, 2018). "Conservative leader: Next House chaplain should have a family". TheHill. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  30. ^ Garcia, Eric; Garcia, Eric (April 30, 2018). "Walker Removes Himself From Chaplain Search". Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  31. ^ Alex Gangitano & Bridget Bowman, Republicans Turn Back Democrats in Thriller, 8-7, Roll Call (June 23, 2016).
  32. ^ .
  33. ^ Gordon, Michael; Price, Mark S.; Peralta, Katie (March 26, 2015). "Understanding HB2: North Carolina's newest law solidifies state's role in defining discrimination". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  34. ^ North Carolina General Assembly. "House Bill 2 / S.L. 2016-3 Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act. 2016 Second Extra Session". Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  35. ^ @RepMarkWalker (March 28, 2016). "I'm growing weary of the big business and corporate bullying over HB2" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  36. ^ Wegmann, Philip (April 12, 2016). "Rep. Mark Walker: Liberals Exploiting Bathroom Bill Controversy for Political Gain". The Daily Signal. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  37. ^ a b c "How the local N.C. delegation to Congress voted recently". Greensboro News and Record. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  38. ^ "H.R. 1585: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 -- House Vote #156 -- Apr 4, 2019". GovTrack.us. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  39. ^ "Issues | Walker4NC". web.archive.org. October 10, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  40. ^ Kenny, Caroline (September 26, 2017). "RSC chair calls female colleagues 'eye candy' during remarks". CNN. Retrieved September 27, 2017. The accomplished men and women of the RSC. And women. If it wasn't sexist, I would say the RSC eye candy, but we'll leave that out of the record
  41. ^ Murphy, Brian; Clark, Lesley (September 26, 2017). "NC lawmaker calls Republican women 'eye candy' during press event". The Herald-Sun. Durham, North Carolina. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  42. ^ @RepMarkWalker (May 15, 2017). "If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it must be government waste" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  43. ^ Rozsa, Matthew (May 17, 2017). "So the GOP is anti-duckling now?". Salon. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  44. ^ Greenwood, Max (May 16, 2017). "GOP rep decries Capitol duck ramp as 'government waste'". The Hill. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  45. ^ Ladd, Susan (September 19, 2014). "War With Mexico? Of Course Not". News & Record. Greensboro, North Carolina. Retrieved September 19, 2014. if we’ve got to go laser or blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while to make our point, I don’t have a problem with that either. [...] Well, we did it before. If we need to do it again, I don’t have a qualm about it.
  46. ^ Jarvis, Craig (September 19, 2014). "Thom Tillis ventures into potentially risky territory". Under the Dome. The News & Observer. Raleigh, North Carolina. Retrieved October 2, 2019. If we’ve got to go laser or blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while to make our point, I don’t have a problem with that. [...] Well, we did it before, if we need to do it again, I don’t have a qualm about it.
  47. ^ Binker, Mark (September 19, 2014). "Walker doesn't 'have a qualm' about war with Mexico". WRAL.com. WRAL-TV. Retrieved April 10, 2016. But I would tell you, if you have foreigners who are sneaking in with drug cartels, to me that is a national threat, and if we got to go laser or blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while to make our point, I don’t have a problem with that either [...] Well, we did it before. If we need to do it again, I don’t have a qualm about it
  48. ^ Killian, Joe (September 27, 2014). "Will the real Mark Walker step up?". News & Record. Greensboro, North Carolina. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  49. ^ Zanona, Melanie; Bresnahan, John (April 2, 2019). "GOP Rep. Mark Walker entangled in federal corruption probe in North Carolina". Politico. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  50. ^ Rodrigo, Chris Mills (April 2, 2019). "GOP lawmaker Mark Walker ensnared in federal corruption probe". The Hill. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  51. ^ Halaschak, Zachary (April 2, 2019). "North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker mixed up in federal corruption investigation". Washington Examiner. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  52. ^ Kathy Chaffin, Congressman Walker tours Elkin, Elkin Tribune (August 28, 2015).

External linksEdit