House District 51: Rep. Mike Stone (R) vs. Brad Salmon (D)

HD-51, which takes in parts of Harnett and Lee counties, is a district where local circumstances could prove decisive. It’s the one area of the state where it looks like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, would be economically viable. Thus, residents of Lee County probably know more about the fracking issue in North Carolina than anyone else. Like the rest of the state, they’re divided on the issue, but opponents are much more energized, fearing that fracking will threaten their property values and pollute the water.

The incumbent here is Rep. Mike Stone, a pretty generic Republican who has voted the conservative party line, including the vote to speed up fracking in NC. Stone was first elected in the Republican wave of 2010, and made news when he protested his 8-year-old daughter’s class being forced to write letters to him urging him to vote against budget cuts. One of the more controversial bills he’s issued included a bill to change Sanford city elections from non-partisan to partisan.

Stone won reelection in 2012 by 4 points in what was a good Republican year at the state level. Now, the political winds have shifted, and Stone looks to be one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents. Republican strategists feel that his seat will be one of the hardest to hold. His challenger this year is Brad Salmon, an attorney who styles himself as a moderate-to-conservative Democrat. Salmon ran for the open seat in Senate District 12 against Ronald Rabin and lost a close one. Instead of seeking a rematch against Rabin, Salmon has decided to challenge Stone, who looks more vulnerable.

The Civitas Institute released a poll on this race two weeks ago. It shows Stone down 12 points on Salmon, 49%-37%. Even though HD-51 residents opt for a “generic Republican” over a generic Democrat, Stone has a poor 25/42 favorable rating, which contributes to his trailing by double-digits. Interesting, more voters in this district say they’ll vote based on North Carolina-based issues (50%) than national issues (46%). This race isn’t exactly a total referendum on fracking, but the GOP legislative agenda combined with the unpopularity of the incumbent has clearly made this a race that favors the Democratic challenger.

Counties in district: Harnett (part), Lee (part)

District Rating: Tilts Democratic

2012 Result
52.0% Stone (R)
48.0% Tatum (D)

Voter Registration
42.1% Democratic
32.6% Republican
24.9% Unaffiliated

77.0% White
17.1% Black
5.9% Other

Results in Other Elections
2012 President
58.5% Romney
40.4% Obama

2012 Governor
60.4% McCrory
37.1% Dalton

2010 Senate
59.7% Burr
38.3% Marshall

2008 Senate
50.2% Dole
46.4% Hagan

Social Media Support
Brad Salmon (D) – 1,324
Rep. Mike Stone (R) – 974


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