Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pantano may be finished with politics -- but he'll always be fighting for his America.





  Verne Strickland / March 13, 2013

It is a sad day for me and throngs of Ilario Pantano supporters. The likeable but intense Christian conservative from Wilmington is leaving the political arena and announced that he will not be back. 
A charismatic and inspiring person, he put a Marine's guts and "storm the beaches" charge into his campaigns for the U.S. Congress in the Seventh Congressional District. He almost won -- twice. I am certain that, had he carried the day, he would not have been only a fresh face in Washington, but a bold advocate for American exceptionalism, conservative principles, fair play, honest and transparent government. He would have made a difference. A major and enduring difference.
While I closely covered both his primary and general elections campaigns, somehow I did not pick up on the story about his decision when it first ran. Maybe I'm just getting old. But I'm not losing my admiration and enthusiasm for this extraordinary American. Anyway, this is why I'm only now acknowledging this news.

Here's the story that WECT-TV6 ran in late February on Ilario's announcement:
Posted: Feb 28, 2013 6:02 PM EST Updated: Mar 04, 2013 6:02 PM EST
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -- Former Congressional candidate and marine's deputy, Illario Pantano says he will not run for Congress in 2014.
For almost four years, Pantano has been focused on writing his new book entitled, Revolutionary South: The Liberal War on God, Guns, Guts, and American History.
Pantano says he's putting down politics in place of the written word.
Earlier this week, County Commissioner Johnathon Barfield announced he will be running for office in the 7th Congressional District against incumbent Mike McIntyre. 
When asked about Barfield's chances in the upcoming election, Pantano says Barfield has a chance.  "Congressman Mike McIntyre has gotten a lot of support from NRA type groups," said Pantano.  "The only opportunity for Barfield to raise the money he will need to compete is to potentially attract some of the millions from anti-gun groups."
Pantano also said that he thinks Barfield would have a tough time in the general election if he makes it that far.  But, he also said that Barfield could have some success in the primaries, "if he can rally certain elements of his base."

VS: Following this announcement, two or three caustic and cruel replies were posted. They don't bear repeating. But I could not pass up the opportunity to respond to their poor taste and discourtesy. This is what I wrote early this evening in response:

Why all this bitterness? Ilario Pantano has always been his own man -- except for the parts that are God's -- his heart and soul. He won't respond to your caustic comments. He'll forgive instead. I know the man well, love and respect him. He told me one time -- you don't need to please anyone but the Lord. That was this wonderful patriot's bottom line in life. He would have made a wonderful congressman, but that was not God's will. God has a plan for him and that plan will be fulfilled. He is a tireless worker for America and conservative causes. I miss him. God bless you richly, my dear friend. Verne Strickland.

This is not the last I will write about my friend. His contributions, even in defeat, were too valuable and inspiring to be forgotten. I am the richer for his passing this way, and so are many others. Chided by geographic bigots who mocked him for his New York roots, Ilario Pantano survived the cheap shots to become a proud citizen of Wilmington, the Seventh Congressional District, and his adopted State of North Carolina. He has much more to offer.

We'll always be proud of him and his wonderful family.