In 2014, upon his decision not to seek re-election to the Lee County Board of Commissioners, we wrote that it was the end of the Jim Womack era in Lee County (for now).
Womack’s time as a public figure in Lee County had been relatively short — just four years long, plus a brief time prior as an activist and candidate — but his influence on both public policy and public discourse locally had been both unmistakable and controversial.
From using email to threaten to run over county officials with a tank to writing in the comments section of the local newspaper’s website that his critics were “libtards,” Jim Womack had been a polarizing figure in Lee County politics, to say the least.
From our 2014 piece:
His decision puts an end to one of the most interesting political tenures Lee County has ever seen. A relative unknown when he announced his run in spring 2010, Womack was part of the Republican wave that dominated the election that year in North Carolina and nationwide.
As the new leaders in Raleigh began gutting the social infrastructure of the state, Womack and Co. focused on county property taxes and the school system. After getting off on the wrong foot — the new conservative board’s first big vote was approving a $10,000 pay bonus to the county manager, a move that confused local Tea Party loyalists — the new majority focused on budget cuts.
In 2013, the commissioners lowered Lee County’s property tax from 75 cents per $100 valuation to 72 cents.
Our piece wasn’t a political obituary. Womack had said publicly at the time that he expected to remain politically active, and he has. He stayed on as a member of the state’s Mining and Energy Commission, and was eventually appointed to its successor body, the state Oil and Gas Commission. He became chairman of the Lee County GOP in 2016 and immediately thereafter launched a campaign for the chairmanship of the state party, a bid he lost by double digits.
And with Womack’s continued influence, additional controversies have followed: He’s had to abort two meetings of the Oil and Gas Commission amidst various disputes (subscription required), and he attempted to bully a cop into ignoring a warrant for his wife’s arrest according to an unflattering police report from 2011 that surfaced in April. Who could forget the time he barged into the kitchen of a local restaurant and ordered staff to take down a sign he found offensive? He’s been similarly heavy handed with local media.
So, more of the same, public office or not.
But in addition to Jim Womack being Jim Womack, it seems that now he’s gone back to his roots. The thing he’s probably most infamous for — arguably the vehicle by which he became politically known in Lee County — was a blog that ran from 2010 to 2013 in which Womack and other authors wrote about primarily local political issues from behind pseudonymous accounts bearing the names of various American Revolution figures.
About a month after then-Indy Week reporter Billy Ball reported on Womack as the site’s chief operator — something of an open secret in Lee County at the time — the blog went silent. From Ball’s 2013 exposé:
In a brief—and angry—interview with INDY Week Monday afternoon, Womack refused to confirm or deny that he is Madison or that he writes on the site under pseudonyms. Yet he defended the practice by arguing that Founding Fathers—the historical kind—sometimes would write under other names.
“This is a free country,” Womack said. “People are entitled to assert their own opinions whether they use their own name or a surname. To be honest with you, I don’t care whether some folks like it or others don’t. It doesn’t bother me. It is a form of expression. We have freedom of expression in this country.”
Womack softened his refusal when confronted with a September 2011 comment on the blog in which he—writing under his own name—acknowledged he will “occasionally construct a post” for the blog. Womack’s online admission came after one commenter urged him to reveal his identity.
However, Womack says no one can be sure of his online handle because a name on the site can be shared by multiple authors. He also asserted multiple times that his involvement with the blog is not newsworthy, before abruptly hanging up.
For those of you in Lee County who miss those heady days when grown men wrote from behind the names of people who wore hats with belt buckles on them, or just really like the Hollywood reboot craze, you’re in luck.
On Oct. 7, “James Madison” — widely accepted as Womack’s handle on the site — posted that the “conservative authors of the Founding Fathers’ blog believe it is time to revive the forum,” even giving ye olde Rant a little shout out in the process (thanks for reading!):
In years passed (sic), this blog served a useful conservative purpose — exposing liberal and progressive behaviors in Lee County, North Carolina, and our country. There still exists a need for locally generated conservative content, especially given the rapid decline in quality of local blogs (like the Rant) and the recent departure of the only conservative editor our local paper managed to employ over the last two decades.
We are encouraged by the strong interest being shown by the growing number of local conservatives who wish to publish original content, including opinion pieces and newsworthy reports the local paper seems incapable of sharing with the public. As always, authors are required to use the surname of their chosen Founding Father when posting content. However, comments can be made using one’s actual name or a surname, whichever is preferred.
Since, there have been four posts focusing on hyper-local topics such as Satan’s influence on the national Democratic Party, stop sign etiquette, Hillary Clinton, and how “much of our cultural deterioration is attributable to our pursuit of unnatural diversity as a means of regulating our society.“
Here’s a doozy from that most recent post:
Our laws and regulations placing quotas and thresholds for race, ethnicity, gender, language, sexual, and religious preferences have caused us to diminish our nation’s greatness in the pursuit of diversity. Our insistence on maintaining open borders and allowing a massive influx of non-native, non-English speaking people to take up illegal residence here and act in the capacity of slaves has weakened our school system, challenged our social services institutions, and perpetuated a servant class in America. Our assimilation of Sharia law-believing Muslims has made our society vulnerable to a constant threat of terror and mass murder. Our military has watered down its fighting effectiveness and readiness by thrusting women into unnatural combatant roles requiring strength and stamina that would challenge most men. Worse still, in recent years, the military has allowed gay and transgender recruits to intersperse among predominantly (and fervently) heterosexual fighting units, causing dissension and a general lack of trust and camaraderie within the ranks.
Of course, it’s unknown whether Womack authored all (or any) of the posts. Womack’s vague acknowledgments of his involvement with the site indicate that multiple authors may use a single handle, or that that single authors may use multiple handles, and the “we’re back!” post is the only one written by the Madison profile.
But given the blog’s place in local history, the posts are likely to be associated with Womack, regardless of whether he published the individual pieces or not.
And hey, with the 2018 election just a year away, it couldn’t come at a more interesting time.
Welcome back, Jim. We can’t wait to respond with gifs.