Deborah Ross is the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, but her two main opponents aren’t going away without a fight. Chris Rey and Kevin Griffin are both making arguments from electability: she might be a nice person, but Deborah Ross is too far-left to win against Richard Burr this November. In particular, they’re seizing upon her prior service as state director of the ACLU, which they insist would be a gift-wrapped package for the Burr campaign.

Chris Rey, mayor of the small town of Spring Lake, says: Pick me instead. I’m more of a centrist and I have an inspiring story. I can give Richard Burr a good fight this fall.

Kevin Griffin, businessman from Durham, says: No, pick me. I’m not a career politician. I’m a businessman. What’s Richard Burr going to attack me on? Creating jobs? I’m an outsider, that’s what voters want this year, and with your help I’ll send Richard Burr packing.

The attacks (or rather, ‘raising doubts’) on Ross are a departure from North Carolina Democratic primaries of years past, when the candidates would try to out-progressive each other. Electability always seemed like more of a minor concern. Then again, we’ve never had a frontrunner as liberal as Ross, who also seems to be the establishment horse. And rank-and-file North Carolina Democrats are still a little more conservative than Democrats nationwide. So maybe there’s something there.

There are only two Democratic Senate primaries from recent history to go on: the Hagan/Neal primary of 2008, and the Marshall/Cunningham race of 2010. Right now, the polls show a race that looks more like the former: Ross has a strong lead and if she can get on television, she can put this thing away early. At this point the best-case scenario for Rey and Griffin is to get into a runoff with the former Raleigh legislator, whose chief strengths are her geographic base in the Triangle and appeal with women – valuable assets in a North Carolina Democratic primary.

We have a little over two months to go until the primary, so there’s not much time for her opponents to make a case against Ross. My bet is that concerns of electability alone won’t be nearly enough to sink her, at least in the primary, so they’re going to need a lot more ammunition if they don’t want Deborah Ross on the ticket this fall.


  1. Lee Enfield

    Typical Left….supporting candidates who hate Christmas and children who want to sing Christmas songs. I’m not surprised.

  2. Barbara Coulson

    Voter turnout is at historic lows in many places because too often Democrats aren’t selling a progressive vision for America. It’s more clear than ever that candidates who try to be Republican-lite or campaign on “I’m not as bad as the other guy” just won’t cut it. Deborah Ross has fought for progressive values and So has Bernie Sanders. Look at his campaign.

  3. Nick Gervase

    Ross’ Democratic opponents are traitors. Bad-mouthing her is giving Burr issues to use against her. They sure are not getting a vote from me.

  4. Phillip

    I didn’t know anything at all about Deborah Ross until I read that her opponents had raised concerns about her being too liberal and that she had been director of the ACLU…. based on that information, I’m now an enthusiastic Ross supporter…. that could be changed as I learn more about her, but I like what I know.

  5. Vonna Viglione

    Richard Burr’s desertion of this state’s veterans…in fact, leading that effort, ought to, all by itself, disqualify him for another term….Let’s “discharge him”…..with “thanks for his service”

  6. Tom Hill

    We Democrats in the western part of the state actually know very little about Ross, Rey, and Griffin.

  7. Nortley

    Then there was his whole bank run advocacy a few years back.

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