Renaming Fort Bragg is personal in NC congressional race

Published 5:36 am Sunday, June 21, 2020

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By Brian Murphy, McClatchy via Associated Press

The fight over removing the names of Confederate generals from U.S. Army bases, like Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, has become a national debate.

But in North Carolina’s new 8th Congressional District, which includes Fort Bragg and all of Cumberland County, the issue is much more personal.

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Democratic nominee Patricia Timmons-Goodson, whose father served at Fort Bragg and who worked her first job on the base, joined the call to rename the base. It is named after Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general usually remembered as one of the South’s worst generals.

Established as Camp Bragg in 1918 to train soldiers for World War I, it became Fort Bragg in 1922.

“The time has come to change the names of military bases named for Confederate generals,” Timmons-Goodson said in a statement. “These men have been recognized for more than 100 years. We have had many more heroes since then who deserve our respect and recognition. The military has often led in moving our country forward on issues of inclusivity. We should allow them to lead now.”

Timmons-Goodson became the first African American woman to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2006.

Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican whose current district includes Fort Bragg, said any naming decisions should be made at a local level.

“The decision to rename or not rename should be made by the Fort Bragg community at large,” Hudson said in a statement to McClatchy. “If there is a determination made to rename the base, standards should be set for who it’s named after including someone who has served there and has received the highest honors from the military.”

The annual defense spending bill passed last week by the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee includes an amendment that gives the Pentagon three years to rename the 10 Army bases named for Confederate generals. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, extends the renaming to anything owned or controlled by the Defense Department.

President Donald Trump tweeted that his administration would never even consider changing the names.

Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, opposed the amendment in committee and is against changing the name of Fort Bragg. The committee vote was a voice vote, so there is no recorded tally.

The defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, must still pass the full GOP-led Senate, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and be signed by Trump — which means there is likely to be many attempts to remove the language and a potential veto.


The race between Hudson and Timmons-Goodson is expected to be the closest U.S. House election in North Carolina after state lawmakers redrew the districts late last year. It is rated as a “likely Republican” seat by the Cook Political Report.

Hudson, 48, is seeking a fifth term in office. He is from Concord in Cabarrus County, which is in the western part of the district. His wife, Renee, is chief of staff to Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump.

Two districts, one in Wake County and one in the Greensboro area, are expected to flip from Republican to Democrat. Incumbent Republicans George Holding and Mark Walker opted not to run in the new-look districts. Both are rated as “likely Democrat.”

North Carolina’s other districts appear solidly Republican or Democrat.

The redrawn 8th District includes all of Cumberland County. It is the first time since 1992 that the entire county is included in one congressional district. Timmons-Goodson, 65, has lived in Fayetteville for most of her life, and national Democrats have included the race in their “Red to Blue” campaign.

“I will never waver in my commitment to those who served or are serving on this base. As we revisit our history and see it through the lens of truth, we must acknowledge the pain that the symbols of white supremacy have caused so many people, including active duty servicemen and women and veterans,” Timmons-Goodson said in her statement.

“. . . I do not consider this decision lightly, nor do I think changing the names of bases is the only step we need to create a more perfect union, but words and symbols matter. It’s time to move forward together.”



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