(Full disclosure: I’m working with the McNeill campaign.)

The Congressional battlefield is expanding in North Carolina. The DCCC has added two races to its Majority Makers list. These races are in Republican held districts that Democrats need to reach a majority in Congress. Both NC-02 and NC-08 made the list.

In NC-08, Frank McNeill is putting together a solid campaign to challenge incumbent Republican Richard Hudson. They’ve attracted the attention of a group called WinDem that supports Congressional races that work with down ballot campaigns to put together strong coordinated efforts that use modern technology to drive their campaign. In a district like NC-08, it’s a smart bet.

NC-08 is a diverse district that stretches from Concord to Fayetteville, with a bunch of small towns in between. There’s very little coherency in this gerrymandered district. Cabarrus and Rowan Counties in the west are tied economically to Charlotte and the I-85 corridor. Fayetteville and Hoke are dependent on Fort Bragg. Moore County is the land of northern retirees and transplants. And Montgomery and Stanly Counties are still trying to recover from bad trade deals. The communities don’t share many economic or cultural similarities.

The McNeill campaign is facing the challenge by working closely with local candidates to build a presence in each area. It’s a smart move. The district falls in three media markets, including Charlotte and Raleigh, the two most expensive in the state. He can’t compete with Hudson for television dollars but in this Blue Moon election, local races will do as much to drive turnout and interest as Congressional campaigns.

If McNeill’s campaign sounds like an old fashioned operation, that’s because in a lot of ways it is. They are using the tools available in the digital age to build communities among voters where they live. They’re adapting to their political environment. Instead of trying to reach the entire diverse district with a single message, they’re localizing the race. If you’re looking for a cutting edge race that combines technology and grassroots campaigning, this is the one.

The other race on the radar is Linda Coleman’s battle with Republican incumbent George Holding in NC-02. The race was the second closest Congressional race in 2016 and it’s caught the attention of third party groups, too. An independent expenditure group, North Carolinians for a Fair Economy, is already attacking Holding, who is also on the air with television ads attacking Coleman. The ads reflect the efficiency of the district which all falls within the Raleigh television market.

The road to a Democratic majority runs through North Carolina. Dan McCready in NC-09 and Kathy Manning in NC-13 have been on the radar screen. Now, add Frank McNeill and Linda Coleman to the list. Just follow Tobacco Road.

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 >

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