Well, yesterday was put up or shut up day. After urging people to run for office to contest every Republican-held seat, I filed to run for Congress in North Carolina’s 8th District. I didn’t plan on running, but I also wasn’t going to watch a Republican incumbent get a pass, especially not in that district. Now, every Republican House member from North Carolina has an opponent.
Gerrymandering in North Carolina has put a damper on democracy. People don’t want to run if they don’t think they can win. But elections are unpredictable and there are a lot of reasons to run besides winning. I’m running for all of them.
First, voters deserve a choice. As my fellow Congressional candidate Josh Brannon said, “The gerrymandering had caused not only voter disenfranchisement, but candidate disenfranchisement as well.” We’re not letting that stand.
Second, elections are usually shaped by forces bigger than either candidate. Four of the last five elections have been waves. 2006 and 2008 were Democratic waves. 2010 and 2014 were GOP waves. In those years, people who had no business getting elected were swept into office. The districts that missed the wave were the ones that left their opponents unchallenged. In 2006 and 2008, the independent voters who make up about 20% of the likely voters in NC-08 broke for Democrats. If Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is the GOP nominee, they might do so again.
Third, some of our elected officials do foolish things. Sometimes they take money they shouldn’t. Other times they wake up in the wrong bed. Other times they make ugly statements that expose an ugly nature. If that happens in the 8th district, I’ll be there to take advantage of it.
Next, it’s not always just about winning. Republican incumbents who have no opponents raise money and give it their colleagues who do. I want to make my opponent spend his money against me.
Finally, Republicans in North Carolina claim they’re carrying out the will of the people. They’re not. They’re carrying out the will of the minority. In 2012, 51% of the votes cast for Congress went to Democrats but Republicans won a 9-4 majority. That’s not democracy. Without a Democratic opponent, the GOP would collect uncontested votes that would skew the real view of North Carolinians.
I won’t run a conventional campaign because I’m not a conventional candidate. I have to make a living and I make mine running campaigns. This year is my busy year and I may be my most difficult client.
I’ll take the fight to the GOP and I invite you to join me. Before that, though, I’m going to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with my family. Then, over the next few weeks, I’ll tell you more about me and my relationship to the Eighth Congressional District. We’ll call it blogging the campaign.
In the meantime, all you GOP opposition researchers, there’s plenty of fodder on PoliticsNC. After two and a half years of writing and almost 800 blog posts, I don’t have a lot to hide. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of ammunition. Have at it and enjoy reading.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >