WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Things got heated outside the New Hanover County Government Center Saturday. An argument between Rep. Rick Catlin (R-20th District), who is running for reelection, and a film worker has folks talking.
On the third day of early voting film crew member Shaun O’Rourke was holding a sign that read, “No one has killed more jobs in New Hanover County than Rick Catlin.”
Catlin says voters and other candidates had mentioned O’Rourke to him.
“They asked me if I could go calm him down, and I tried,” Catlin said.
O’Rourke responded by saying he was not doing anything against the rules.
“I was talking to voters and informing them on their way in, which is allowed,” O’Rourke said. “Rick Catlin helped destroy my industry and destroy my job, and I wanted people to know what I’m going through.”
Witnesses say Catlin approached the film crew member and began talking to him about state constitutional law, telling him why his targeted sign was wrong. Witnesses say things got heated and voices were raised.
Catlin said he left because the conversation was “unsuccessful,” but O’Rourke says differently.
“No one really takes him to task on the decisions that he’s made in the past,” O’Rourke said. “What happens is when someone really calls him out he cowers and gets defensive.”
Catlin said when it comes down to it, he respects O’Rourke’s right to say and believe what he wants, but he maintains he needed to say something.
“It’s a concern of many people when voters walking through the line feel pressured like that,” Catlin said. “I was trying to look after the voters.”
Catlin is challenged by Democrat Betsy Jordan.
Early voting continue through Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 4.
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