To no one’s surprise, Rep. David Rouzer of the 7th district is going to run for a second term. But he might have opposition in the primary from his old nemesis, New Hanover County Commissioner and trial lawyer Woody White. White tweeted about news coming about his plans for next year, noting that he’s had many people urge him to challenge Rouzer. More than likely, this is the real deal and White isn’t about to announce he’s forming a Super PAC.
For those who haven’t kept track, the following Republican incumbents are going to receive primary challenges: Renee Ellmers, Walter Jones, Virginia Foxx, Mark Walker, and Robert Pittenger. Add Rouzer to the list and that’s 6 out of the 10 Republicans in the delegation, a testament to anti-Washington sentiment from the grassroots. More than ever in the past, candidates think primary-ing a GOP incumbent will pay dividends.
That said, I don’t see White putting up a strong challenge against Rouzer. Sure, their last race was decently close: 53-40. White is also from the Wilmington area, which is a good base for a challenger against a candidate from Johnston County. But incumbency still counts for something and Rouzer has it. Moreover, White will probably try to paint Rouzer as someone who has “gone Washington” but it takes time for that sentiment to sink in. Rouzer was sworn into office just ten months ago. Usually, one-term congressmen aren’t successfully primaried unless they’re mired in scandal.
For that reason, I think it will be difficult for White to tap into anti-Rouzer sentiment in order to propel his campaign to victory, simply because there isn’t a lot of it. But who knows, maybe White will be able to create it. In this environment, anything is possible. I don’t think a rematch will work out for Mr. White but this race should be on one’s radar screen. The result will indicate just how much of a drag incumbency is with Republican voters.