by Bob Geary
To say it's been a rough week for Heather Losurdo, the Republican Party's candidate in the pivotal District 3 (North Raleigh) school board election, is like saying a drowning woman is a little wet.
First, Losurdo's penchant for crackpot commentary — don't call it humor, because it isn't funny — was exposed by a new political organization of the progressive stripe, Progress NC. "Heather Losurdo: The Queen of Extreme" is itself a bit over the top in blaming her for the extreme right-wing views of a website on which she's been advertising. I'll note that she's also been advertising on the Indy website.
That said, the Facebook exchange in which her husband, Craig Losurdo, cracked that the Eagle's been replaced as the symbol of America by the Skunk, "which is half-black, half-white and everything it does stinks" ... and Heather comes back with "LMAO" ... she was "laughing my ass off" at her husband's racist remark ... is a dirty little window into the mind of the Republican right-wing.
Unfortunately, there's more where that came from on the "Queen of Extreme" website put up by Progress NC Action. But read it yourself. Don't let me pre-judge it for you.
The second source of Losurdo's troubles is the revelation that she and Craig moved to Raleigh three years ago after Craig pleaded guilty to a crime arising from his eight-month stint as assistant manager at a company in upstate New York.
The facts of his guilty plea were known to journalists here — including me — for weeks, thanks to anonymous emails we received from someone purporting to be a "true conservative" who wanted Losurdo exposed. But perhaps that was a masquerade? The emails contained a link to a Department of Justice summary of the case and a second link to a 2007 magazine article about it.
I decided, after consulting with my editor, that Craig Losurdo's role in the case — his "crime" — was minor and was unrelated to Heather's qualifications for the school board. The latter conclusion, I will add, was based on my belief that she has no qualifications for the school board that such a revelation would sully.
I had no illusions, of course, that this crime story would remain secret for long. I simply didn't want to be the one spreading it.
In frustration, Mr. Anonymous posted the email's contents as a comment on the N&O's education blog. Even then, it sat unremarked until — wait for it — the head of the Wake County GOP Men's Club bitched in a newsletter that lefties were attacking Ms. Losurdo.
Steven Nelson, the GOP Men's chair, said (I'm copying this from the N&O blog post about it):
"One of the areas where one of our candidates has been targeted is Heather Losurdo and her husband. Of course, the left will not give the whole story, but it came out this week that her husband has been charged with a felony and is awaiting sentencing. Of course, they would love to leave it at that, as the truth will destroy their ability to use this smear. The truth, so you can tell others, is simple. Her husband worked for a company in the northeast that had been hiring illegals. When Craig learned of this practice and the company's decision not to change this practice, he resigned from the company. After he left the company, the feds came after him and arrested him. However, he turned states evidence and due to his assistance, they were able to prosecute the true perpetrators of this crime. He plead guilty to a misdemeanor. He is awaiting sentencing per the plea arrangement. If he keeps his nose clean for another year, his record will be expunged."
The left? With friends like these —
As it happens, before I decided not to be the one "breaking" the news about Craig Losurdo's scrape with the immigration authorities, I talked to Heather and Craig Losurdo about it following the District 3 candidates debate last week. Nelson's account is the same as what they told me. Craig took a job in a company plant, found that the company routinely hired undocumented immigrants, and got out as soon as he could — considering he was sole breadwinner for a family of four and did not want to quit before finding another job.
More than a year after he left, ICE looked him up and gave a choice. Cooperate with us, and we'll let you plead to a Class B misdemeanor. Or don't cooperate, and take your chances on a felony trial and the $300,000 it'll cost you in legal fees even if you get off. He took the plea and has been a cooperating witness against company officials since.
A long time ago, I worked for a daily newspaper in New Jersey. I absolutely would've written the Craig Losurdo story then, and my paper would've published it. "The public has a right to know," we said of such things.
Today, I still think the public has a right to know and decide for themselves, within the bounds of an ever-expanding universe of available information and the need for journalists to choose what matters and what doesn't on a day-to-day basis.
I don't say that Craig Losurdo's story doesn't matter. That's for readers to decide. I simply say, and my editor said, it wasn't a story the Indy needed to spend our time on.
To me, the most salient fact in the story as far as Losurdo's candidacy is concerned is that she's lived in Raleigh just three years. During that time, her only claim to a place on the school board — if you can call it that — is her rise to leadership in the Northern Wake Republican Club. If you think more Republican politicos are needed on the school board, regardless that they know little or nothing about the school system or its needs, she's your candidate.
It was clear enough to me what Losurdo stands for when she plugged her candidacy at a Tea Party rally on April 15, the hated "Tax Day" to people who think taxes are evil except when used to pay them something.
Tea Party Republicans think the country's in decline (so do I) and they blame it on liberal policies (I blame it on global capitalism and the politicians it buys). Anything that tries to lift up the poor or be fair to immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans or other disadvantaged people is considered money right out of the pockets of more "deserving" folks. (I think if the poor did better, we'd all do better.)
Anyway, this Tea Party view that when times are hard, the better-off should grab all they can and let the poor fend for themselves strikes me as exactly what we don't need on the board of the Wake public school system. (Or a Wake Christian school either, for that matter.)
Why confuse what's important to know about Heather Losurdo with a gratuitous story about her husband's bad luck at a job? By the way, Craig Losurdo is now in the tile business in Raleigh—custom tile installations. He said it's going well.