Senate District 18: State Sen. Chad Barefoot (R) vs. Gil Johnson (D)

Chad Barefoot is one of those North Carolina Senate Republicans that liberals love to hate, and they would love it if this is the year he goes down. Fortunately for those liberals, Barefoot represents a swing district and won’t have an easy reelection. This year, he’s being challenged by Democrat Gil Johnson, a member of the Franklin County School Board.

The district, the 18th, takes in not only Franklin County but Eastern Wake County as well. While Wake County as a whole is trending Democratic, Barefoot’s portion of Wake County gave him 54% of the vote two years ago, while Franklin County gave him just over 50%. The Wake County portion of the district is larger, so cutting down Barefoot’s margins in the small towns and rural areas of Eastern Wake is vital. Since Gil Johnson is from Franklin County, geography could be a problem.

Democrats particularly want to see Barefoot defeated for his attempt to redraw the County Commission and Board of Education lines in Wake County, which they viewed as egregious gerrymandering. The plans have since been struck down by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, but that hasn’t made Barefoot any less of a target.

One of the main challenges for Democrats this year, besides geography, will be money. In the last financial reporting quarter, Johnson had only $39,476 cash on hand, while Barefoot had $91,253, clearly prepared for a competitive election. Most observers feel that their best shot at Barefoot was two years ago when the Democratic nominee was Sarah Crawford, and they were disappointed when she fell short. Democrats may need to provide Johnson with a lot of money in order to prevail in this expensive district.

Education will be a key issue here. Like almost every Democrat seeking office, Johnson will charge that Republicans are shortchanging public education. Barefoot will argue that Republicans have provided for greater school choice. Barefoot will also emphasize jobs and the economy and the “Carolina Comeback” that he’ll say is a result of four years of Republican leadership.

This one gets a ranking of Leans Republican.

District Rating: Leans Republican

2014 Result
52.9% Barefoot (R)
47.1% Crawford (D)

Voter Registration
41.1% Democrat
33.9% Republican
24.7% Unaffiliated

72.0% White
21.6% Black
6.4% Other

Results in Other Elections
2012 President
52.2% Romney
46.7% Obama

2012 Governor
55.9% McCrory
41.7% Dalton

2010 Senate
55.6% Burr
42.3% Marshall

2008 Senate
49.9% Hagan
47.2% Dole


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