• Warren Shoulberg

The textiles connection in politics

Washington– While nobody would ever draw a straight line between the worlds of sheets and towels and that of politics and government, there is currently a rash of ex-textiles industry people involved in political pursuits.

Last week's Republican primary in Georgia saw former Pillowtex president David Perdue – he is better known more recently as the one-time ceo of retailer Dollar General – win the nomination to be the party's candidate for U.S. senator. Perdue's short stint at the bitter end for the textiles giant that filed for bankruptcy and was eventually liquidated in the early 2000s became a campaign issue in the primary and is likely to surface in the general election where he faces Democratic challenger Michelle Nunn.

Some 900 miles north, another president of a former textiles company is again running for office.

Tom Foley, who as a financial investor in the 1990s bought The Bibb Co. and then shut it down years later, is making his second attempt to win the Connecticut governor's race. He narrowly was defeated four years ago, but he too won his Republican primary. Foley's textiles years with Bibb – a smaller mill based in Georgia – are also a campaign issue in this year's race as they were four years ago. He again faces Democrat Tom Malloy, now the serving governor.

On a more local level, one-time mill executive John Fraley won the Republican nomination for the North Carolina state legislature and is running unopposed in the general election in November. Fraley worked for both Fieldcrest Cannon and West Point Stevens and most recently was with independent textiles supplier HomeSource International.

Politics and poly-cotton: strange bedfellows indeed.

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