GOP lead­ers worry about los­ing North Carolina district in spe­cial elec­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

The Repub­li­can Party is hit­ting the panic but­ton and pour­ing money into a spe­cial elec­tion in North Carolina’s 9th Con­gres­sional District.

Repub­li­cans have held the seat since 1963, but this year’s race is a dead heat, ac­cord­ing to GOP in­sid­ers who fear Pres­i­dent Trump’s party will suf­fer a ma­jor em­bar­rass­ment if they lose the first test of the 2020 cy­cle.

Repub­li­can state Sen. Dan Bishop faces Demo­crat Dan Mc­Cready in the 9th District, which stretches across south­cen­tral North Carolina from Char­lotte to Fayet­teville.

The spe­cial elec­tion is a do-over of last year’s midterm con­test in which Repub­li­can Mark Har­ris beat Mr. Mc­Cready by 905 votes but the re­sults were scratched be­cause of ab­sen­tee bal­lot fraud linked to the Har­ris cam­paign.

Fol­low­ing the high drama of the elec­tion scan­dal, both sides say vot­ers have tuned out the sum­mer cam­paigns and ex­tremely low turnout ex­pected for the Sept. 10 spe­cial elec­tion make the out­come a crap­shoot.

Democrats are lick­ing their chops about win­ning a district Mr. Trump car­ried by 11 points in 2016.

“If Dan Mc­Cready wins that elec­tion, Repub­li­cans will be run­ning scared across the coun­try,” said Thomas Mills, a Demo­cratic strate­gist and com­men­ta­tor in North Carolina.

North Carolina GOP Chair­man Michael What­ley de­scribed Mr. Bishop as play­ing catch-up in the race but voiced op­ti­mism he would win.

“De­spite the fact that Dan Mc­Cready has been cam­paign­ing for al­most three years, the polls are tied and Dan Bishop has all the mo­men­tum in this race,” he said. “With dozens of events and a solid ground game in place over the next four weeks, we see the district staying Repub­li­can.”

Mr. Bishop gained na­tional promi­nence as the au­thor of the state’s “bath­room bill” that re­quired peo­ple to use the pub­lic re­strooms cor­re­spond­ing with their bi­o­log­i­cal sex. The 2016 law touched off protests and boy­cotts of North Carolina be­fore it was re­pealed a year later as part of a bi­par­ti­san deal.

Mr. Bishop beat nine other Repub­li­cans in the May 14 primary. Mr. Har­ris did not run.

The prospect of ex­tremely low turnout has shaped the race. A vet­eran state GOP op­er­a­tive said the turnout likely will look like a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

“Low turnout elec­tions are always unique and a lot of it is fought out on the ground. So it is a real slugfest,” the GOP op­er­a­tive said.

Eye­ing turnout, Mr. Bishop is play­ing strictly to the GOP base with a pro-Trump mes­sage. He is promis­ing to fight “crazy lib­eral clowns” in Wash­ing­ton.

Mr. Mc­Cready, a Marine vet­eran, is run­ning a re­play of the midterm race with a fo­cus on health care re­form, the same mes­sage that helped get enough mod­er­ate Democrats elected last year to take con­trol of the House.

He is also avoid­ing at­tacks on Mr. Trump that could en­er­gize his op­po­nent’s sup­port­ers.

“This cam­paign is for the peo­ple who bring us to­gether and put coun­try be­fore po­lit­i­cal party and fight for peo­ple again in­stead of this broken par­ti­san pol­i­tics,” Mr. Mc­Cready said at a can­di­date fo­rum hosted by the NAACP branch in Fayet­teville, ac­cord­ing to The Char­lotte Ob­server.

Mr. Bishop did not at­tend the fo­rum. Mr. Mc­Cready was joined on stage at the fo­rum by Lib­er­tar­ian Jeff Scott and Green Party can­di­date Allen Smith, who will be on the bal­lot next month.

In re­cent weeks, two GOP groups poured $4 mil­lion into TV ads to boost Mr. Bishop. The Na­tional Repub­li­can Con­gres­sional Com­mit­tee bought $2.6 mil­lion our air time.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.