House District 41: Rep. Tom Murry (R) vs. Cary Town Councilwoman Gale Adcock (D)

Independents are always key to winning elections in North Carolina, but that’s particularly true for House District 41, a strip of suburban Wake County on the Chatham County border which includes parts of the towns of Cary, Apex, Morrisville, and rural New Hill. The booming economy, thanks to its proximity to Research Triangle Park, has resulted in these towns consistently topping “Best Places to Live” lists in numerous publications. Voters here tend to be highly educated and moderate. And with almost 40% of voters unaffiliated with either party, independent voters exert more influence here than in any other district.

This, combined with a continuing influx of new residents, most of them transplants from outside North Carolina and the South, makes reelection a consistently difficult proposition for the seat’s current occupant, Representative Tom Murry, a Republican from Morrisville and the only pharmacist in the General Assembly. Murry was elected in 2010 in the GOP wave that year. Republican mapmakers tried to shore him up in the 2011 redistricting cycle, but this is still one of the few seats in the General Assembly carried by Obama that is represented by a Republican. The president took just barely over 50% of the vote here when he won reelection in 2012.

Given the relatively even standing of the parties and a large number of moderate voters, Democrats see this as a prime pickup opportunity. They hope that perceived overreach by the GOP legislature will produce enough discontent to dislodge Murry, now in his second term. They’re excited by their candidate, Cary Town Councilwoman Gale Adcock, who they think has the perfect profile to moderate, suburban women.

Map of North Carolina House District 41, currently occupied by Rep. Tom Murry (R-Morrisville).

Map of North Carolina House District 41, currently occupied by Rep. Tom Murry (R-Morrisville).

Murry, 37, has a moderate profile and touts his pro-business credentials. In the past, he’s been named the most pro-business member of the House and also the most effective freshman. Murry feels keeping taxes low and spending down is the right prescription for North Carolina. The son of a schoolteacher, he describes his top priorities as improving the quality of public education and protecting the environment. He’s kept an eye on local issues, including the cleanup of nearby Jordan Lake. And unusual for a Republican, he’s been endorsed by the NC chapter of the Sierra Club. (Note: This was a dual endorsement. The Sierra Club also endorsed Councilwoman Adcock, an indication that the group would be satisfied with either candidate winning this fall.) A recent ad depicts the two-term lawmaker as willing to stand up to his own party, an “independent and unafraid” legislator who has fought for protecting teacher’s assistants, balancing the budget, and cutting taxes on small businesses.

Murry has also raised money – a lot of money. The most recent financial reports showed Murry with $160,272 cash on hand – more than any other GOP legislator facing a competitive reelection. He’ll need every penny to keep his seat fall. His opponent Adcock reported a smaller total, $86,419, but will likely be helped by outside groups. Adcock expects to be outspent but is convinced she’ll have enough resources to convince voters that Murry is too loyal to a legislature she views as too far to the right.

Besides money, Murry will pin his hopes on a midterm electorate that is more friendly to Republicans. While Obama narrowly carried the district in 2012, Richard Burr carried it by 14 in 2010. Once again, it’s all about who shows up to vote – and, perhaps more importantly in a district with such a high proportion of unaffiliated voters – who will win the day with independents. There’s so much uncertainty as to the answer to that question, it’s anyone’s guess who will prevail on November 4th. For that reason, I’m giving this race a rating of pure toss-up.

Counties in district: Wake (part)

District Rating: Pure Toss-Up

2012 Result
51.8% Murry (R)
48.2% Messina (D)

Voter Registration
39.9% Unaffiliated
32.1% Republican
27.5% Democratic

76.4% White
7.2% Black
16.4% Other

Results in Other Elections
2012 President
50.0% Obama
48.6% Romney

2012 Governor
54.8% McCrory
42.3% Dalton

2010 Senate
55.6% Burr
41.6% Marshall

2008 Senate
50.8% Hagan
45.9% Dole

Social Media Support
Rep. Tom Murry – 3,800
Cary Town Councilwoman Gale Adcock – 440

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