State Senator Dan Bishop ran away with the NC-09 Republican special primary. He garnered almost half the votes in a ten-candidate field and almost doubled the votes of the second place candidate, Stony Rushing of Union County. That puts Bishop and his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, in a September 10 race for the Congressional seat. Whoever wins launches his 2020 re-election campaign the next day.
From the looks of the field, McCready is probably pretty happy running against Bishop. Rushing would have probably been his first pick among the top tier candidates, but a woman like Leigh Brown or veteran like Matthew Ridenhour offer too many positives contrasts. Bishop may appeal to the Republican base but he’s got plenty of baggage that could hurt him with more moderate voters. He could also motivate the progressive base.
McCready will face essentially the same challenges that he faced in the 2018 general election. He’s running in Republican leaning district and the rural areas are trending more Republican every election. He’ll need to push out a lot of Democrats in the low turnout election to win in September.
He’s also facing a similar type of opponent as he did against Mark Harris. Bishop is a hardcore social conservative who probably appeals to rural conservatives in the eastern part of the district. And like Harris, Bishop has positions that might turn off the urban voters in the Charlotte area. Bishop was the primary sponsor of HB2 that did so much economic damage to the state and he also helped fund a white supremacist website. On the flip side, both of those issues might help Bishop motivate the GOP’s racist wing, based mainly in the rural part of the district.
If McCready wins, it will be by a narrow margin. However, he won’t lack for funds. National pundits are already calling it the year’s most competitive special election. Watch for third party money to flock to the state. Both sides will jam the airways and mailboxes.
North Carolina will be back in the news in September to cover the race and may get coverage throughout the summer. The race is also a test of strength for GOP gerrymandering and the Supreme Court will be handing down an opinion in the middle of the campaign. This may be the last time anybody runs in this district.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >