I don’t usually write about legislative races but one has caught my attention. I’m a sucker for long shots where good candidates compete against long odds. To me, these are the races that make politics exciting.
The race is in N. C. House District 67 in Stanly and Montgomery Counties. Incumbent Republican Justin Burr faces Democrat Carson Snyder. Both candidates are young and come from political families. Burr won election in 2008 at the age of 23. Snyder’s about the same age now.
Burr’s family are bail bondsmen who have been heavily involved in local politics. Snyder’s family owned one the largest textile mills in the area and his grandfather served as mayor of Albemarle, the county seat of Stanly County. Both candidates are Eagle Scouts who have spent their lives in the area.
By most accounts, Burr should win handily. He’s an incumbent who has won easily in the past. The district leans Republican and he’ll surely have money from Raleigh. But Burr can’t stay away from controversy. He’s meddled in local politics, redistricting local seats and supporting and opposing local candidates.
He’s also tangled with the Republican leadership in Raleigh. Burr saw himself as House Speaker after Thom Tillis went to the US Senate. His House colleagues saw it differently. After losing the Speaker’s race, Burr criticized the new Speaker, Tim Moore. Moore responded with a cutting rebuke, saying, “Unfortunately, Rep. Burr has chosen to be ineffective and irrelevant this session, and frankly – his district deserves better. The people of Stanly County deserve a representative who is ready and willing to work in their best interests, not one that engages in petty political antics.” Ouch!
In March, Burr faced a primary from Lane Burris, who tapped into the dissatisfaction with Burr. While Burris lost by a narrow 242 votes, Burr lost his home county of Stanly by more than 600 votes. After the primary, Burris endorsed Democrat Snyder.
Snyder has picked up steam, fueled more by anger at Burr than ideological leanings. If he can keep the election localized, Snyder might be able to knock off an incumbent in a seat thought to be safe. Democrats are fired up about Snyder’s chances and the Democrat is reaching out to unaffiliated voters who are frustrated with the politics-as-usual of both parties in Raleigh.
To add another twist, the race has a third-party candidate named Billy Mills (no relation). How Mills impacts the race could determine the outcome. He could suck votes away from Burr or he could prove to be a spoiler for Snyder’s upstart bid. Regardless, November will be interesting in Montgomery and Stanly Counties.