In the twilight years of Democratic dominance, NC progressives grew restive. Urbanization had not led to the liberalization of their party. Pro-business rural Democrats ran the party, and this bulwark of centrism left some activists feeling like they were denied the control that the Democratic Party should rightly accord its left wing. Then Republicans decimated rural Democrats district by district, county by county, year by year, and moderate-to-conservative Dems went on life support.
The decline of moderate, non-urban Democrats has been a disaster. Read Darren Janz’s reboot of our NC Political Geography series: Rural counties have fallen like dominoes. Our state’s demographics are not far along enough to where, like in Virginia, Democratic cities can overwhelm Republican rural strength. The party’s decline in the countryside has left Republicans in firm control. Democrats need those moderates back.
Enter Dan McCready. The Democratic nominee in a heavily gerrymandered, half-rural district, McCready brings exactly what a Democratic comeback will require. He fits the district and has the moxie and good sense to rebuff calls for purity. He understands that suburban voters, supportive of business, and rural voters, skeptical of centralized government, want a candidate who knows the limits of government. At the same time, he knows that there are problems government can solve. And he’s committed to doing that as effectively as possible.
McCready balances progressive priorities with reasonable accommodations to his voters. His clean energy background is a perfect counterpoint to the explicitly anti-environment GOP. And like Mike McIntyre–an extremely successful politician–he is committed to local issues. His campaign website promises strong support for the Lumbee Tribe, which sorely needs federal recognition. In McCready, NC-09 will get a thoughtful, attentive moderate.
The Democrats, meanwhile, will get a beachhead in the non-urban regions that have abandoned them. It’s what the people deserve.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.