Today, North Carolina has its second special Congressional election primary of the year. A few weeks ago, we watched the primary in NC-03. Tonight, it’s NC-09. Dan McCready will be the Democrat but the Republican race is up in the air with 10 candidates to choose from.
A poll a few weeks ago showed state Sen. Dan Bishop, author of HB2, leading the pack. A poll in a race with 10 people and a low turnout is not very reliable but other data shows that it might be accurate. According to an analysis of early voters, Dr. Michael Bitzer found that 47% of the early voters come from Bishop’s senate district. In a field that crowded, Bishop surely has more name recognition in that part of Charlotte than anyone else.
To win the primary outright, a candidate needs to garner more than 30% of the vote. It’s possible, but, as the race in NC-03 showed, difficult. Somebody will need to consolidate the vote out of Mecklenburg and Union counties, where about 80% of the early vote has taken place. Again, Bishop seems the candidate in the best position to do that.
If nobody reaches the 30% threshold, then the race will go to a runoff in September and the general election will be in November. If somebody does cross 30% or the second place candidate doesn’t ask for a runoff, the general election will be held in September.
So far, the national realtors’ PAC has put more than $1 million behind Leigh Brown, a Charlotte realtor. Club for Growth is backing Bishop and apparently spending money against Brown and former Mecklenburg County Commissioner and Marine veteran Matthew Ridenhour. If they can drive Brown’s and Ridenhour’s numbers down, that helps Bishop get closer to that 30% threshold.
Other candidates include Union County commissioner Stony Rushing and former state Representative Fern Shubert also of Union County. Several perennial candidates made the field as well as a few first-time candidates who have not raised significant resources.
McCready would probably prefer to face Bishop to either Brown or Ridenhour. Bishop brings a lot of baggage for supporting HB2 as well as funding the start-up of a white supremacist web site. Among Republicans in the eastern part of the districts, those might be assets, but they’ll also make it easier to get activists in more urban areas fired up to vote against him. Brown is pretty much a blank slate but I doubt McCready wants to face a woman. Ridenhour, for his part, was seen as a moderate as a commissioner and his military background matches up with McCready.
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 >