Tags: north carolina | walter jones | mark harris | house | gop | seats | democrats

Dems Could Pick Up 2 House Seats in NC Special Elections

north carolina governor roy cooper cracks a slight smirk while delivering remarks to reporters
North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper (Gerry Broome/AP)

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Monday, 18 March 2019 09:24 AM Current | Bio | Archive

North Carolina's Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper recently set the rules and timetable for special elections to fill open U.S. House seats in his state's 9th and 3rd Districts.

Although both districts were firmly in Republican hands for decades, Democrats are expected to make all-out efforts to win both the 3rd District long held by the late Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and the 9th — recently declared vacant after Republican nominee Mark Harris was found to have hired a political consultant who engaged in the practice of "ballot harvesting" (a way of collecting absentee ballots that is illegal in the Tar heel State).

"Given the controversy over the ballots cast in the November race that cast clouds over the Republican nominee, it has to be said that the Democrat will be the favorite in the special election," former Republican consultant Marc Rotterman told Newsmax.

Democrat Dan McCready, a small business owner and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who saw action in Iraq, lost to Republican Harris by 905 votes last fall. He is a virtual certainty to carry the Democratic banner again in the special election Sept. 10 and is sure to be targeted for support by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.

In contrast, 10 Republicans are vying for nomination in the primary May 14.  The early favorites are two-term state Sen. Dan Bishop, considered a strong conservative, and Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing, who has the endorsement of Harris and many of his fellow evangelical conservatives.

If no candidate wins at least 30 percent of the vote in the primary, a run-off between the top two vote-getters will be held Sept. 10 and thus push the general election to Nov. 5.

A Democrat pickup of the seat would mean one of the most durably Republican seats in the South had flipped hands. The 9th has had five U.S. Representatives since 1952, all of them Republican.

The 3rd District (Eastern North Carolina), long a bastion of support for the late conservative hero and Sen. Jesse Helms, R.-N.C., was held by Walter Jones from 1994, when he unseated Rep. Martin Lancaster, D-N.C. Since then, Jones faced challenges in primaries from Republicans who did not like some of his controversial stands (such as opposing President George W. Bush on U.S. involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq).

But general elections were always cakewalks for Jones. Now, 17 Republicans are competing for nomination in the primary April 30. Among them are three state representatives, three county commissioners, and Michele Nix, who resigned as vice chairman of the state Republican Party to make the race.

Among Democrats, three of the six contenders are considered political heavyweights: New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw, former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas, and Richard Bew, a retired U.S. Marine and former legislative director for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. All three are considered centrist Democrats in the mold of Gov. Cooper.

The general election to fill Jones' seat is scheduled for July 9. But if the top vote-getter in either primary fails to attain 30 percent of the vote April 30, a run-off will be held July 9 and the special election bumped to Sept. 10.

One other factor makes Republicans a bit more uneasy about the 9th and 3rd District contests: in both, there will be an active Libertarian nominee and that usually works against Republicans in close races.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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The rules and timetable for special elections to fill open U.S. House seats in North Carolina's 9th and 3rd Districts has been recently set by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
north carolina, walter jones, mark harris, house, gop, seats, democrats
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2019-24-18
Monday, 18 March 2019 09:24 AM
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