Welcome to the first edition of our series of articles analyzing the State House races in North Carolina. There are 120 House seats but only a fraction of them are truly competitive, or could possibly become competitive. We’re going to be taking a look at the more interesting races all the way through November.
House District 1 is based in the most northeasterly part of North Carolina, comprising the counties of Chowan, Perquimans, Camden, Currituck, Tyrrell, and part of Pasquotank. By removing the town of Elizabeth City and placing it in the majority-black 5th district, legislators created a district that strongly favors Republicans, and where changing demographics are also on their side. Camden and Currituck counties on the extreme eastern end of the district have become substantially more Republican over the last decade because of conservative transplants from the Virginia Beach area (a recent survey found Currituck County with the highest percentage of transplants in the state). This, and the continued drift of conservative white Democrats away from the party, have forced Democrats to struggle in what was once a very favorable part of the state for them. It is still, however, competitive under the right circumstances.
In 2012, those right circumstances seemed to manifest just weeks before the election, when the Republican candidate, Bob Steinburg, was charged with assaulting the campaign manager of his opponent, Bill Luton, in a heated altercation following a debate between the two candidates. An 87-second video depicting the incident went viral. GOP operatives groaned as it appeared they would lose a seat that should have been theirs for the taking. Luton gleefully made references to his opponent’s “criminal” record. But on Election Day, Steinburg won by almost 13 points, an indication that voters didn’t care about, didn’t know about, or supported his actions.
Steinburg, a retired businessman who lives in Edenton, comes from the Tea Party wing of the state GOP. Perhaps surprisingly, Steinburg has attracted little controversy in his first term as a state legislator, keeping his head down and compiling a solidly conservative record. His Democratic opponent this time around is Garry Meiggs; as a Camden County Commissioner he’s a respectable candidate but is unlikely to give the incumbent a run for his money. Suffice it to say, if an 87-second viral video depicting him in the most unflattering light possible failed to prevent his election two years ago, Steinburg probably has this seat for as long as he wants it. This being a midterm election further reduces Democrats’ ability to compete in this district.
As of the last reporting period, the incumbent Steinburg had $36,487 cash on hand; his opponent Meiggs had just a little under $4,000.
Counties in district: Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Pasquotank (part), Perquimans, Tyrrell
District Rating: Likely Republican
56.3% Steinburg (R)
43.7% Luton (D)
Results in Other Elections
Social Media Support
Rep. Bob Steinburg – 469
Commissioner Garry Meiggs – 0