Senate District 16: Josh Stein (D) vs. Molotov Mitchell (R)

Molotov Mitchell is a business owner, filmmaker, and combat instructor. Next year, he wants to add State Senator to his resume. And if he happens to win, he’ll earn himself yet another title in the process – that of Giantslayer.

That’s because Mitchell, who first achieved notoriety by starring in a number of provocative YouTube videos, is running in a strongly Democratic district, and his opponent is none other than Josh Stein, the Democratic Senate Minority Whip. Stein has been in office for almost six years now and appears to have a secure hold on this seat. In his last election, he ran unopposed. He’s a strong fundraiser who has been a valuable asset for his party as they adapt to being in the minority for the first time in over 100 years. And he’s made it clear he’s interested in running for the Attorney General position in 2016 if his former boss, Roy Cooper, runs for governor.

In part, Mitchell says he’s running because District 16 deserves a State Senator who can get things done. And by his own admission, Stein hasn’t gotten much of anything accomplished now that he’s in the minority. Why, then, asks Mitchell, should voters give Stein another term just so he can abandon his district to run for the Attorney General job in two years?

Mitchell says he would be a more effective representative for the people of District 16. A solid conservative, he’s campaigning on a pro-liberty platform which includes reducing burdensome regulations for business, cutting spending, and opposition to Obamacare. A concealed-carry handgun instructor, he’s particularly passionate about Second Amendment rights. He supports the agenda of the “conservative revolution” in the General Assembly and says he wants to keep the ball rolling. And he has the support of several high-profile state Republicans, receiving endorsements from State Senators Thom Goolsby and Neal Hunt, Representative Jim Fulghum, and the Wake County Republican Party.

The Democratic nominee, State Senator Josh Stein

The Democratic nominee, State Senator Josh Stein

The Republican nominee, Molotov Mitchell

The Republican nominee, Molotov Mitchell

A major hurdle for Mitchell is the district’s strong Democratic tilt. It was, in fact, drawn precisely to be a Democratic “pack” and make surrounding districts 15 and 17 more Republican. It is a beetle-shaped district that extends from Morrisville and Brier Creek in western Wake County and down Glenwood Avenue to some liberal white parts of Raleigh, collecting about half of the town of Cary along the way. Voters here tend to be moderate to progressive, and Obama won here by 26 points in 2012. Walter Dalton carried it by 12. And even in 2010, a disastrous year for Democrats nationwide, Senate candidate Elaine Marshall won it by 13.

The Mitchell campaign has no illusions about the nature of the district they’re running in and maintain that they’re in it to win. They’re hoping for a GOP tidal wave in November, and while they’re going to work to bring out conservatives in the district, they’re also planning to go after Democratic-leaning unaffiliated voters who might be swayed by a pro-liberty message. To that end, they’re heavily targeting college students and young people, particularly in the part of the district that contains the NC State campus and surrounding areas. They hope they can be swayed by Mitchell’s opposition to the NSA, an issue which particularly resonates with young voters. The NSA has recently established a facility on the NCSU campus, and their operations are shrouded in secrecy. Few voters are aware of its existence.

If nothing else, Mitchell could prove to divert Stein’s vast cash reserves closer to home and away from competitive Senate races elsewhere, while also roughing him up politically as he attempts to run for Attorney General two years from now. And in the best-case scenario that Mitchell and his supporters envision, Josh Stein will be out of a job next January, while this rhetorical bombthrower will be lobbing bombs in the chambers of the General Assembly. Such a scenario would be the result of one of the most stunning upsets in North Carolina political history, an upset on the level of David and Goliath. As a zealous Christian, it’s a story with which the man named Molotov is no doubt familiar.

So despite the district demographics and the likelihood of being vastly outspent, Mitchell and his team are undaunted by the challenge of facing one of the top Democrats in the Senate. As Mitchell’s campaign insists, “The Liberation of District 16 is under way!” Conservatives who hope to hobble a Democratic rising star as he prepares to run for Attorney General hope the liberation begins November 4th.

Counties in district: Wake (part)

District Rating: Solid Democratic

2012 Result
100% Stein (Unopposed)

Voter Registration
39.8% Democrat
35.4% Unaffiliated
24.2% Republican

69.9% White
15.2% Black
14.9% Other

Results in Other Elections
2012 President
61.8% Obama
36.4% Romney

2012 Governor
54.2% Dalton
41.9% McCrory

2010 Senate
55.0% Marshall
42.0% Burr

2008 Senate
61.7% Hagan
34.8% Dole

Social Media Support
Sen. Josh Stein – 3,459
Molotov Mitchell – 5,464