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Gubernatorial candidate mixes barbecue with politics

AHOSKIE – If barbecue is king in North Carolina, then Fred Smith is its prince.

Smith, a Johnston County native, was in the area last week stumping for votes as he hopes to earn the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination for governor next spring and then vie in the November 2008 general election for the state’s highest elected office.

And in true North Carolina fashion, Smith is soliciting votes through a series of meetings he proclaims as his statewide barbecue tour. Smith plans to chow down on one of the state’s most traditional meals (pork barbecue, slaw, beans, potatoes, cornbread and sweet tea) in all 100 counties. To date, he has covered just over 60 counties with stops planned for tomorrow (Thursday) in Greene and Lenoir.

At last week’s gathering at the Ahoskie Inn, Smith was greeted by a room full of supporters from all four Roanoke-Chowan area counties. There, his message was as powerful as the plaque which sits behind his office desk….“The difference between good and great is a little extra effort.”

“I made that wooden plaque in my high school shop class and it has been with me everywhere,” Smith said. “That’s what I think will win me a bid, with your support, to run for governor…a little extra effort.”

Smith made it clear from the outset that he doesn’t consider himself a politician, despite serving as a Johnston County Commissioner and State Senator.

“Some want to run for this seat to be the governor of the government, not the governor of the people,” he said. “I feel that campaigns are about talking to people about the issues, not about limiting that talk to a 30-second sound bite on a TV or radio commercial.”

Smith said he’s seeking the governor’s seat to help shape the future of what he called North Carolina’s greatest resource…its hard-working people.

“Government is how things affect people’s lives,” he said. “I feel that you empower people, not bureaucrats.”

Listing what he said were key talking points in next year’s election were economy growth without raising taxes, safe homes, streets and schools, affordable healthcare, immigration issues and the protection of private property rights.

“But what I’ve been hearing as the number one issue is that the citizens of our great state want honesty and integrity in Raleigh,” Smith noted. “We need leaders that place value on the future and will lead an effort to pass on those values, our diverse cultures, languages and faith to the next generation.”

Keeping true to his high school plaque, Smith said nothing comes easy.

“A plan doesn’t work by itself,” he said. “You must roll-up your sleeves and execute that plan. It takes a bit of extra effort to do so and I will put forth that effort.”

In closing, Smith said no matter the color of one’s skin or their chosen career path or religious beliefs, we are as one in the state.

“We all live together under the same sun, one that rises over the Atlantic and sets over the mountains,” he stated. “By working together, we can make North Carolina a better state today and for the future.”

Born in 1942, Smith was raised by parents who worked at the

Methodist Orphanage in Raleigh. His father was a teacher and coach there and his mom served as a cottage &uot;housemother.&uot;

While attending Raleigh’s Broughton High School, Smith won a football scholarship to attend Wake Forest University. Subsequently, he worked his way through Wake Forest Law School where he graduated with honors in 1966.

Smith served his country as a Captain in the United States Army JAG Corps for four years after law school. In the years that followed, Smith became a successful attorney, entrepreneur, farmer/cattleman and homebuilder. Today, Smith’s family businesses provide over 600 jobs in Wake and Johnston counties.

Married with five children and a half-dozen grandchildren, Smith is active in the First Baptist Church of Clayton where he is a Sunday school teacher.