From my perch in the Triangle, I’ve barely been aware of the Democratic primary playing out in North Carolina’s 3rdCongressional District. If my twitter feed is any indication, and that’s certainly a dubious indicator, retired Marine flyer Richard Bew is the most active candidate. He’s featured prominently in a Washington Post profile of the race today. My understanding of eastern North Carolina politics, though, tells me that Allen Thomas should be the front runner. There are four other candidates including New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw in the race, but I haven’t heard from any of  them on social media.

Both Bew and Thomas bring interesting histories to the race. If the district could be flipped, these two candidates are likely the ones who could do it. Bew brings a military background in a district that has two bases and a lot of veterans. Thomas brings a long family history of political and civic activity in the district. They could certainly at least give Republicans a run in the general election if they have the resources.

Bew has been the most active on social media. He pops up in my twitter and facebook feed regularly. I’ve seen him canvassing and he brought fellow retired Marine Scott Cooper who’s running in NC-02, to help him out last week. In a general election, if Bew could get veterans and military folks to back him, he could cut into the GOP somewhat in what will almost certainly be a very low turnout election.

Thomas grew up in Craven County  where his family was heavily involved in Democratic politics. His father served as a state senator for years. His brother, Scott, also served in the state senate and now is the District Attorney serving three counties within the NC-03. Thomas served as mayor Greenville, the largest city in the district and has been executive director of the Global Transpark in Kinston. He’s got deep ties to the business and political community in the district that could serve him well in a general election.

The numbers show a district that should be safe Republican, but with 17 candidates on the GOP side, they could end up with a deeply flawed nominee. Both Thomas and Bew have profiles that would resonate with large swaths of the district. If lightning strikes, they might be able steal a seat for the Democrats, even if only temporarily. 


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