Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No Free Rides in North Carolina This Year!

The Raleigh News and Observer is reporting that after the closing of the candidate filing period at noon today, every single NC House and Senate seat is contested, all 170 of them, with many seats on both sides requiring primaries to sort out the willing candidates.

Quite a change from last year.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Daughter of Governor Jim Hunt Running in House District 103

Rachel Hunt, running for the North Carolina House District 103

We wrote about District 103 on the east side of Charlotte after a Democrat named Wesley Harris announced he would run for that seat, but the special master's redistricting threw Harris into District 105, and he has filed there now, forcing a primary with Democrat Ayoub Ouederni, about whom we wrote in this space back on January 15. (Too many Democrats for some seats; too few for others.)

Republican incumbent: William "Bill" Brawley is a real estate broker. He was first elected to this seat in the Tea Party tide of 2010. In 2012 he ran unopposed in both the primary and in November. Ditto 2014. In 2016 he had a Democratic woman against him, and she made a respectable showing, getting almost 44% of the vote. In 2016 he refused to respond to a Charlotte Observer written candidate profile. He's a senior chair of the Finance Committee. In one of the special sessions of 2017, Brawley introduced HB 514 to allow the towns of Mint Hill and Matthews to apply for their own charter schools. The bill passed the House but died in the Senate. In 2007, before he joined the GA, he was managing properties in Charlotte including a hotel that he learned was one of the top three hotspots for organized crime. Men were buying women there for sex. When
Rachel Hunt
Brawley barged into the establishment, he learned that some of the women were "trafficked," were there against their will, and he arranged to have one woman rescued by a SWAT team. Commendably, Brawley introduced last year the "Human Trafficking: Resistance and Rescue Act" in the NC House, which didn't go anywhere yet.
Democrat Rachel Hunt is one of former Governor Jim Hunt's daughters, so she is already networked in a helpful way. Like her father, Rachel has been and will continue to be a champion for public education. She is a board member of the NC Foundation for Public School Children, and she started two companies that help parents and students, including those with disabilities, find a good school and quality education. “I’ve spent my life helping North Carolina grow into a beautiful, inspiring state that looked out for the little guy and put strong public education above everything else, but lately, that shared vision has been threatened. I am running because I can no longer stand back and watch this great state that my family and so many other families like ours worked so hard to build be undermined by politicians in Raleigh.” She has served as the chair of Generation Nation and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Youth Lead and Youth Councils. She trained as a lawyer. Governor Roy Cooper recently appointed her to the Education and Workforce Innovative Council.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Republican Big Wig Nelson Dollar Gets a Democratic Opponent

Julie von Haefen, running for the NC House District 36
District 36 is a Wake County seat and is currently the subject of a new lawsuit filed just a few days ago alleging that Republicans redrew this and three other Wake County districts just for the pure hell of it. District 36 had been one of the special master redraws that got thrown out. At any rate, it is perhaps more favorable to Republicans right now, but gawd only knows what tomorrow brings. If you want to unravel this history, try this source.
Republican incumbent: Nelson Dollar, than whom there would be no greater pelt for the Democrats to hang outside their wigwam. Dollar is the chief budget writer in the House, so we have plenty of bones to pick with him. He was first elected to the House in 2004, so he's got lots of seniority and lots of power. He won his last reelection in 2016 against Jen Ferrell by a margin of 1,400 votes, and Ferrell was planning another run against Dollar in 2018 under the special master's maps (along with Democratic Wake Commissioner Matt Calabria), but when those maps were thrown out, so were Ferrell's
Julie von Haefen
and Calabria's plans, since they were no longer residents of District 36. For what it's worth, Tea Party conservatives hate Dollar.
Democrat Julie von Haefen (which my computer wants to auto-correct to "von Heaven") is president of the Wake County PTA Council and has three school-age children in the Wake County public schools. She scorched Dollar in her filing announcement for what his state budgets have done to public education: "From the expansion of school vouchers and charter schools to the failure to pay our teachers and principals what they deserve, Representative Dollar and his legislature have harmed our students and our schools. Most recently, their reckless and unfunded K-3 class size mandate caused unnecessary stress for school districts across the state. It is time to put our teachers and our children ahead of partisan politics. North Carolina's students deserve better than they are getting from our legislature. They deserve increased funding for school counselors and nurses. And they deserve a public school system with the funding and resources it needs to prepare them for the future. We owe it to our students, and to the economy, and to the state." Von Haefen is married to an NC State professor, and they have lived in Apex for the last 13 years. She trained as a lawyer and practiced law for 10 years.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Ex-Navy Man Becomes Democratic Insurgent in Impregnable Mountain Republican Senate District

Bobby Kuppers, running in the NC Senate District 50
Senate District 50 encompasses seven counties in far southwestern North Carolina -- Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain -- which includes the campus of Western Carolina University. Since 2010, it's considered unwinnable for a Democrat.
Republican incumbent: Jim Davis, former Macon County commissioner, a dentist, defeated long-serving Democrat John Snow in the Tea Party election of 2010, and Davis has continued to live up to his Tea Party heritage in the senate. He's an orthodontist by profession.
Bobby Kuppers, filing for county
commissioner in 2015
Democrat Bobby Kuppers spent 25 years as a career Navy man, primarily in the submarine service, and retired as a captain. He now teaches civics and US history at Franklin High School in Macon County. He's also served as an elected Macon County commissioner. His term in office actually overlapped with Jim Davis's, so the two actually know one another well. I'm indebted to Becky Johnson in The Mountaineer for an in-depth profile of Democrat Kuppers. He sounds like a fighter who can withstand a depth-charge. “I wouldn’t be here [running for this Senate seat] if I thought it was hopeless. I am not running as a token resistance,” said Kuppers, who has also been a long-time assistant football coach at Franklin High. “I have never stepped onto the sideline of a football game thinking I was going to lose. I never sold my team short .... As a civics’ teacher, you spend a lot of time teaching your students how it is supposed to be. And it bothers you when it is not happening in Raleigh or Washington the way it should be happening,” Kuppers said. “I think we need to get to the type of governing our framers envisioned and do what’s right for everybody.” Incumbent Davis likes to brag about the tax cuts made in Raleigh, but Kuppers complains that those cuts benefit the wealthy and not the middle class. He is also critical of how the General Assembly under Republican control has continued to squeeze public education to death. “The once-proud North Carolina education system has been eroded,” Kuppers said.

Another Strong Democratic Woman Files for NC House, District 64

Cathy von Hassel-Davies, running in the NC House District 64
District 64 is part of Alamance County, including some of its most rural sections in the south and parts of the towns of Elon and Gibsonville along the I-40 corridor.
Republican incumbent: Dennis Riddell. First elected in 2012, he hasn't had a Democratic opponent in any reelection campaign since. In other words, he has every reason to feel fat and sassy in 2018, but he was acting arrogantly even in his first term. When NC Policy Watch attempted to profile him in 2013, he hung up on a reporter who was attempting to interview him. His votes in the General Assembly and public statements paint him as one
Cathy von Hassel-Davies
of the most conservative members. He loved the anti-gay marriage amendment and has voted for every extreme measure passed including the law to stop the expansion of Medicaid. He and his wife have eight children.
Democrat Cathy von Hassel-Davies is a real estate broker for Coldwell Banker in Hillsborough and is making her first run for public office. She has worked as a freelance writer/journalist and photographer and has submitted articles and photographs to the Alamance News in Graham. She's also becoming certified as a genealogist and owns a genealogical research site on-line, Digging Up Your Roots. In politics, she was a super-volunteer for Obama in 2008, organizing volunteers for canvassing and teaching data entry skills, and she's served as secretary and precinct chair in the Alamance Democratic Party. Among causes she has said she cares about, she listed civil rights and social action, disaster and humanitarian relief, economic empowerment, health, and human rights. Like a lot of other new Democratic insurgents in North Carolina, von Hassel-Davies does not yet have an internet campaign presence, but her experience in digital media should soon rectify that lack.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Jen Mangrum, Facing "The Arrogance of Power" in Phil Berger

Jen Mangrum with
NC Gov. Roy Cooper
Jennifer Mangrum, who is running in NC Senate District 30 against Phil Berger, the Darth Sidious of the General Assembly, is one brave woman. She knows very well the reputation of the Bossman of the NC General Assembly, his "arrogance of power," as fellow Republican conservative Luther H. Hodges Jr. described Berger's methods, but she's unafraid, she's determined, she's tough and informed and razor sharp. No one thinks she can win, but what everyone else thinks does not deter her.

"Public education is the core of our democracy," Mangrum says, and Phil Berger has presided over the systematic dismantling of that core in North Carolina. Mangrum has spent her entire life in classrooms, 15 of those years as a public school teacher. She's now teaching at a higher level at UNC-Greensboro, helping to train young people for the classroom. She recently earned the endorsement of the Network for Public Education, which called Phil Berger "the worst enemy of public education in the North Carolina General Assembly .... Berger has used his position as leader of the Senate to promote the privatization of North Carolina’s public schools. His policies have been harmful to the dedicated teachers of the state."

The Network for Public Education is a nationwide organization opposing high-stakes testing, the privatization of public education, the mass school closures to save money or to facilitate privatization, the demonization of teachers, the lowering of standards for the education profession, and the for-profit management of schools. In one way or other, Phil Berger and his minions in the General Assembly have promoted all those goals and have covered up the effects those goals create with gas lighting about how much money they've been throwing at schools.

(I wrote about Jen Mangrum way back in the middle of October, the first new Democratic candidate I featured in my on-going investigation of the 2018 Blue Wave that's building. I had a lot more to say about my beef with Berger.)

Jen Mangrum's campaign announcement video is worth watching for a taste of her intelligence and commitment to the race but also for the presence of Luther H. Hodges Jr., famous in North Carolina because of his famous Democratic father, but also famous for his switch to the Republican Party and his large campaign donations recently to conservative Republicans like Virginia Foxx. As conservative as he is and as dedicated as he's become to the North Carolina Republican Party, he's had his fill of Berger's "arrogance of power" and he wants to see Jen Mangrum win.

As do we all!

You can contribute to Mangrum's campaign (as I have): Her race is more than a local race. She's running for us all, those of us who want to see North Carolina's progressive reputation restored.

In the NC House District 25, It's Preacher v. Preacher

NC House District 25
North Carolina House District 25 is one of those gerrymandered monstrosities meant to keep a Republican in office. It juts and twists around Franklin and Nash counties like a bad case of nerves and takes in a bit of Rocky Mount. It's been represented by Republican Jeffrey Collins since the Tea Party election of 2010, and no Democrat has ever made much of a showing against him. But Collins is vacating the seat, and any time you have an open seat -- especially in a year like 2018 -- anything can happen. It is said that Collins hand-picked his Republican successor (see below).

Democrat James D. Gailliard is the founding pastor of Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount, a genuine megachurch "serving thousands of families from ten North Carolina Counties and six Virginia counties. In 2013, Word Tabernacle was named amongst the 100 fastest growing churches in America."

Gailliard is a native of Philadelphia, a graduate of the Central High School for Boys and Morehouse College, where he was an honors student. He worked in corporate America before feeling called to the ministry. “The necessary work of the faith community, not-for-profits, human, economic and community development entities is often hindered and not helped by state and federal legislation,” Gaillaird said. “This is particularly the case in Nash County. I am running for public office because I believe in legislation that advances the interest of our entire community.”
James Gailliard

Gailliard said Nash County and the state needs pragmatic, common-sense legislation regarding education, economics, health care, housing, and social policy that can only be authored by a group of legislators capable of considering various opinions, ideologies, and perspectives. “I am interested in finding common ground for the common good so that each resident has an opportunity to advance and become civically engaged and contributors to our tax base.”

Gailliard ran for this seat in 2016 against Collins and got 31.90% of the vote.
Republican John Check is a semi-retired Methodist minister who serves as a senior advisor to the president of NC Weslesyan College (where, incidentally, Democrat Gailliard also sits on the Board of Visitors). Check said he would let God guide him in his legislative choices. Maybe God can also help him get some campaign apparatus up and running, since I could not find him anywhere -- no website, not on Facebook, Twitter ... forget about it! On the NC Wesleyan College site, he's mentioned in press releases for giving sermons on special occasions.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jonathan Jordan Made a Modest Investment in the NRA

According to an article in today's News and Observer, in 2014 Rep. Jonathan Jordan spent $125 of his campaign funds to buy a membership in the National Rifle Association, and I'm sure by total coincidence Jordan reaped some $3,300 in contributions from the same group. That's a pretty good return on his investment.

You lie down with dogs ... well, you know the rest of Benjamin Franklin's pithy saying.

On the North Carolina Coast. Another Democratic Insurgent v. An Angry Trumpist

Insurgent Tess Judge, running in the NC House District 6
The 6th District has been redrawn for 2018 to encompass Dare, Currituck, Hyde, and Pamlico counties on the North Carolina coast.
Incumbent Republican Beverly Boswell is serving her first term in the chamber. She was
Beverly Boswell
elected in 2016 with 51.83% of the vote against Democrat Warren Judge, the husband of the Democrat, Tess Judge, who is running for the seat this year (and thereby hangs a tale: see below). In 2016, incumbent Boswell also barely won her three-way Republican primary with just 39% of the vote. She's a Trumpist, through and through, and she even accuses her Republican primary opponent this year, a Currituck County commissioner, of being an anti-Trump liberal. “But these anti-Trump liberals have a surprise coming,” Boswell said, “because the American people support our President, and reject those who want to water down our conservative message and sell out to the Democrats as they have done for so many years,” she said. Boswell is particularly pissed at environmentalists who want to protect the coastline from stuff like off-shore drilling, and she throws around the label "radical left" at anyone who doesn't agree with her and bow down to Dear Leader Trump. She's a peach, this one!
Democrat Tess Judge helped her husband Warren run against Boswell in 2016 and was
Tess Judge
shaken by tragedy when Warren died in the last week of that campaign, practically on the eve of the election. Democratic leaders wanted Tess to replace her husband on the ballot, but it was too late for making that change, and even deceased, Warren Judge got 48.17% of the vote. If he had won, the Democratic leadership in the 6th District would have appointed Tess to his seat in the event of his death, so she's back this year as the logical (and the emotional) best opponent for Boswell. Tess Judge has worked in hospitality management her entire career and is well known in the coastal community for serving on the Board of Directors of the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce. She and her late husband Warren were named Co-Citizens of the Year by the Chamber in 2011. “As someone who has operated small businesses in our community for years, through good times and bad, I know how to manage a budget while also creating jobs .... Our people are our greatest resource – it’s time to listen and invest in them. We need to make public education a priority again. For years we have been asking our great teachers to do more with less and our schools and community colleges are underfunded. I’m running to ensure that our investments in public education result in more opportunities for our students and a workforce trained for the jobs of the future,” she said. She also currently serves on the Board of the Outer Banks Hospital and is Chair of the Outer Banks Hospital Development Council. One of her greatest contrasts to the incumbent is her concern over environmental protections for a fragile coast. I don't think she'd applaud off-shore drilling.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Take a Look at Democrat Joe Cunningham in South Carolina

One of the best introductory campaign videos I've seen in months! Joe Cunningham is running in the 1st South Carolina Congressional District against Mark Sanford (yes, that Mark Sanford of "Appalachian Trail" fame). Joe Cunningham is very much in the 2018 Blue Wave frame of reference, a quality Democratic candidate who has every opportunity to flip that district.

Crazy-Acting Michael Speciale in the NC House Gets a Democratic Opponent

Michael Speciale
Republican Michael Speciale was first elected to the NC House in 2012, representing Beaufort, Craven, and Pamlico counties (House District 3). He has often teamed up with that other crazy-acting House member Larry Pittman to propose embarrassing legislation. In February 2017, Speciale and Pittman teamed up on an amendment to the NC Constitution to allow the state to secede from the Union, and in April of 2017 he and Pittman proposed a law declaring gay marriages in North Carolina, whether they were performed in-state or anywhere else in the known universe, illegal and illegitimate, the US Supreme Court be damned!

NC House Speaker Tim Moore, a house-broke Republican who knows not to pee on the furniture, decided the law against gay marriage was a bridge too far, and he killed it (by referring it to the Death Chamber, a.k.a., the Rules Committee) before it reached the floor of the House.

Speciale made vicious fun of the people taking part in the massive Women's March on the day after Trump's inauguration, and when the Raleigh News and Observer reported his Facebook posts, Speciale made vicious comments about fake news and the "snowflakes" infesting his sunny world.

But nothing captured the Speciale personality like his comments in his first year in Raleigh about First Lady Ann McCrory's favorite anti-puppy-mill law requiring commercial breeders with 10 or more female breeding dogs to provide the dogs with the American Kennel Club's basic standards of care, like food and water, clean bedding, daily exercise, and veterinary care, and humane euthanasia when needed.

In the House floor debate, Speciale couldn't contain his nastiness: " 'Exercise on a daily basis?' " Speciale sneered at the language of the bill. "If I kick him across the floor, is that considered daily exercise?" Speciale continued: " 'Euthanasia performed humanely' – so should I choose the ax or the baseball bat?" Ann McCrory was sitting in the gallery of the House at the time. Later Speciale declared on Facebook that he "will not succumb to political correctness."

He won't succumb to basic humanity either, apparently.

Speciale has a Republican primary opponent this May, Eric Queen, a retired career Marine who explicitly
Charles Dudley, outside the New Bern
denounces extremist views on his website. We'll see if that gets him anywhere in the contemporary North Carolina Republican Party, won't we?

Democrat Rev. Charles Dudley of the New Beginnings Ministry of Faith in Havelock filed for the seat on February 16. New Beginnings, a non-denominational church, is located practically at the gates of the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station: "Our mission is to reach the lost, give every person a New Beginning in life, teach the saved by the Word of God, equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and reach the world through the mission field."

After filing to run in New Bern, Charles Dudley spoke to supporters outside the Board of Elections office. He described himself as “strong, fair, and compassionate.” He said he considers taxes as investments, and more investment should be made in education, especially in teacher salaries. He said more of the tax dollars paid by Craven County residents should be invested in Craven County. He also promised to represent all people in his district equally. “Every one of our 83,000 residents [in this district] is worth investing in,” he said.

House District 3 is almost 20% black and over 90% decent human beings (I bet!) who might in a Blue Wave year want a compassionate Christian representing it in Raleigh.

Path Opens a Little Wider for Sydney Batch in House District 37

Sydney Batch with husband J. Patrick Williams
and their two boys
Surprise retirement of an incumbent Republican from the NC House yesterday. Linda Hunt Williams, who was only first elected to the chamber in 2016 with 52.29% of the vote, has decided that one term was enough for her, and she's not running for reelection. She's going to be spending more time with her family. A Republican rival, attorney John Adcock, had already filed for the seat, setting up a potential primary for her. She also already had a Democratic opponent, attorney and child advocate Sydney Batch, who is a quality candidate for the seat.

House District 37 is southern Wake County, taking in the towns of Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs.

We wrote about Sydney here on January 2nd, when she was among the first wave of new Democrats announcing their plans to run in 2018. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, with both a master's degree in social work and a law degree. She and her husband J. Patrick Williams opened their own law firm in 2005. She has wide and intense experience in child welfare advocacy and family law.

She says on her website, "I fight every day for families across Wake County who are worried about their future. Whether stressed about sending their kids to a good public school, paying back their student loans, or affording quality health care and finding a good, well-paying job, too many people feel the deck is stacked against them. Despite these struggles, I also get to see the many common values that bind us. People want affordable, accessible health care, quality and affordable education, safe air to breathe, clean water to drink, and a fair paycheck. Most of all, they want their children to live a more prosperous life than they have. I’m running because I want to make a difference for those people who feel stressed, and to work with them through our common shared values to make a better Wake county. There’s no doubt that the challenges facing us are great. However, so is our will. I humbly ask for your support.”

Her likely Republican opponent in November, John Adcock, was briefly a candidate for Wake County Commission in 2016 in a district created by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. That redistricting scheme was thrown out by the courts, and Adcock was suddenly a candidate without a race to run in. He attended AppState, and he at least attempts to sound reasonable and sane (though when he ran for county commission, he didn't seem much in favor of mass transit. Republicans who would never ever in a million years use mass transit also never want to spend any money on it). He described himself in 2016 as "a fresh and positive conservative voice," if you can figure out what that means. He says he wants to raise teacher salaries to at least the national average. That's something, but good luck with that project as long as Republicans remain in control of spending.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Democratic Insurgent Sam Searcy v. State Senator Tamara Barringer

Sam Searcy and his family
Last July, Holly Springs business entrepreneur Sam Searcy was hot into running to beat Republican Congressman George Holding in the 2nd Congressional District. By October Searcy had raised a half-million, more than Congressman Holding raised during the same period. But the Democratic field was becoming crowded, with other high profile candidates joining in the Democratic primary race to take on Holding, including high-tech entrepreneur Ken Romley and perennial candidate Linda Coleman, who has impressive name recognition. Searcy dropped out and announced a challenge for the NC Senate District 17 seat instead.

Cool move. If Searcy is able to move that half-mil from the federal race for the US House of Representatives to the state race for a Raleigh senate seat -- not particularly easy to do -- he'll be on a par with the Republican incumbent.

Incumbent Tamara Barringer was first elected to the chamber in 2012. She's a lawyer. She won her last reelection in 2016 with only 48.30% of the vote, against a Democrat who pulled 47.45%. The district looks ripe to flip to blue this year.

Searcy also has a law degree, but he's gotten people's attention through his entrepreneurial activities. In 2016 Searcy teamed up with some of his previous business partners and a new guy with an old-world recipe for long-grain rice distilled vodka, and they formed Graybeard Distillery in Durham, which now touts its success as "the largest grain-to-glass distillery in North Carolina."

Searcy's life story to get to that success was no bed of roses. “I’ve seen first-hand what happens when North Carolina families struggle to make ends meet,” said Searcy. “My family lost our home when I was in 7th Grade, and I began working to help support my family when I was fourteen. Too many families in North Carolina are facing the same challenges we did."

"Sam Searcy grew up in the small town of Hendersonville, NC. His mother was a teacher’s assistant in public schools and his dad worked in the factories. Sam became the first person in his family to graduate from a four-year college. With the help of student loans and on-campus jobs, he put himself through Appalachian State University. Sam worked a few different jobs until the Great Recession hit. He, like many North Carolinians, found himself laid off. He took a job at Lowe's garden center to support his family. Eventually, he helped start two local companies which continue to employ people right here in North Carolina."

One of his campaign issues that should resonate with struggling North Carolinians: "Having worked in the healthcare industry and helped build a successful medical services company, I believe we can and should do more to lower costs. But, Republicans in Raleigh have put the health of thousands of North Carolinians at risk by refusing to expand access to Medicaid. I will work to ensure that every person in North Carolina has access to quality, affordable healthcare."

District 17 is in southwest Wake County.

The Gun Lobby Is Buying!

In descending order (Virginia Foxx is 6th; Jonathan Jordan is 16th), the dollar amount the NRA has contributed to North Carolina politicians, either through direct donations or independent campaign expenditures (thank you, ProgressNC Action):
  • U.S. Sen. Richard Burr: $6,986,620
  • U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis: $4,418,012
  • State Sen. Buck Newton: $88,213
  • U.S. Rep. Walter Jones: $56,655
  • U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry: $43,070
  • U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx: $22,078
  • U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson: $19,525
  • U.S. Rep. George Holding: $12,712
  • State Sen. Phil Berger: $7,200
  • U.S. Rep. David Rouzer: $5,504
  • U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows: $4,150
  • U.S. Rep. Ted Budd: $4,000
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Forest: $3,746
  • State Sen. Wes Meredith: $3,600
  • State Sen. Bill Cook: $3,414
  • State Rep. Jonathan Jordan: $3,359
  • State Sen. Bob Rucho: $3,000
  • U.S. Rep. Mark Walker: $3,000

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Marine and the Holy Men

Dan McCready and his family
Dan McCready is an ex-Marine and is running for Congress in the 9th Congressional District. He's running as a Democrat. He's an attractive candidate, young and level-headed. He was a college freshman at Duke on 9/11, and after finishing his degree and, seemingly already on the fast track to enter and do well in business, he joined the Marine corps. He went to Iraq in the surge of 2007, and as a captain, he led 65 other Marines in that show of force. After four years in the service, McCready got his MBA from Harvard in 2011, worked for McKinsey and Co. as a management consultant, then started his own company with a fellow ex-Marine -- Double Time Capital -- which invests in solar farms in North Carolina. They've helped build 36 so far. He also founded an online operation, This Land, a retail website that sells handmade American goods.

He's a sharp tack, an entrepreneur. He knows combat. He's smart as hell. He's young. He didn't think about running for office until Trump happened, but he's quick to separate himself from the partisan herd: “We’re really not focused on Trump,” McCready said about his campaign. “I am a Marine and an American before I’m a Democrat .... The American dream I fought for overseas is under attack."

His political "strategery" is still young and unshaped, though he's admitted to being a pro-business Democrat: "I understand from being a business owner how to make a payroll, how to balance a budget, and I believe we need regulatory relief, especially for small business.” Whatevs. I've got to believe there's generosity toward humanity in this package, and he'll be better than any Republican candidate (see below for details).

But he's got to do some renovation on his talking points to overcome "the vague platitudes common among first-time candidates" (Simone Pathe). And so far I can't tell if he's got the instincts for campaigning. (When asked by a reporter from Roll Call how he planned to attack Pittenger, McCready brought up Pittenger’s vote to fast-track trade promotion authority. Huh? That's your number one issue with Pittenger's record?) But McCready did think to criticize Pittenger's votes against Obamacare, quoting the incumbent's notorious insult that people could just move their butts out of state if they didn’t like the health care available to them.

McCready has been a phenomenal money-raiser. He announced his campaign way back last May, and as of last November he had already raised about $1 million, considerably more than the incumbent. McCready's raised more by now. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (a.k.a., DCCC) added him to the party’s Red to Blue program, which provides organizational and fundraising support, and McCready's ex-Marine partner in solar farm investment has started his own Super PAC to help more military veterans get to Congress.

(NOTE: Yes, I know there'll be a Democratic primary in May between McCready and Christian
Cano, who ran at 41.82% of the vote against Pittenger in 2016, and a third Democratic candidate, a woman named Maria Collins Warren, who has not so far filed for office.)

The Holy Men
Rob Christensen has a lengthy profile in today's News and Observer of the two leading Republicans who'll be battling for supremacy in May -- incumbent Robert Pittenger and Baptist preacher man Mark Harris. Harris has become a perennial candidate. He finished third in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate in 2014 in a race won by then-state House Speaker Thom Tillis. In 2016, he unsuccessfully challenged Pittenger in the Republican primary, losing by a mere 133 votes. I've always believed Harris would win this primary, because Republican primaries have become extended tent revivals where glib preachers shout down sin, a popular Republican activity, and Pittenger looks tired and limp.

Mark Harris is first and foremost a smooth promoter of the Freedom Caucus Gospel, lambasting
as "the most liberal Republican in Congress" for voting for Trump's tax bill. Pittenger's riposte against Harris: “Mark Harris has opposed President Trump’s agenda and is instead siding with liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi. While I voted to support President Trump, (Defense) Secretary Mattis and our troops, Harris said no. He is standing with Pelosi and House Democratic Leadership against the President’s budget.” Once again: Real men don't eat Pelosi.

Over the holidays, Rob Christensen reports, Pittenger ran a TV commercial in which he stood in front of a Christmas tree and said: “I’ve dedicated my life to sharing God’s love through Jesus Christ. Let’s end political correctness and put the true meaning of Christ back in Christmas.” If that pasted-on piety doesn't make your skin crawl, remember how Mark Harris led the fight in 2012 to take away civil liberties from LBGT citizens with Amendment One.

I think it'll be McCready v. Harris in November, and I'll lay you odds that McCready wins it.

To contribute to Dan McCready's campaign:

Read more here:

Friday, February 16, 2018

Congressman Patrick McHenry: The Soft Underside

Congressman Patrick McHenry, that roller of big cigars, has a Democratic opponent in 2018 -- David Wilson Brown -- who'll be contesting him for the right to represent the 10th Congressional District in Congress. McHenry's district got gerrymandered after 2010 to split liberal Asheville up and move most of it out of Mark Meadows' 11th District into McHenry's otherwise solidly Republican 10th. The map reveals the cynical reach of those Republican calculations to dilute the power of Asheville (see below).

McHenry was first elected in 2004 (in the same freshman class as Madam Virginia Foxx). He was a freshman in every sense, at the time the youngest member of that body (29), and he fashioned himself as a conservative bomb-thrower. He even signed on to "birtherism" and enjoyed bashing the feminine in Nancy Pelosi. (Real men don't eat Pelosi.) He rose fast as a deputy whip and is now acting majority whip. With Paul Ryan seemingly teetering on the edge of premature retirement, McHenry's name has even surfaced as a potential rival for Speaker of the House.

McHenry, who is maybe a little squishy and can be made to blink, has been feeling the heat from his most conservative constituents (because McHenry doesn't come from the same jug of right-wing paint stripper as, say, Virginia Foxx, and he's certainly not as crazy as Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows, who used to represent Asheville):
At an event in Hickory, constituent Robbie Varney asked the congressman if he would resign, given that Congress had yet to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or begin construction on President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico. McHenry deflected – and said he would not resign.
Deflection. He's good at deflection. But that kind of hostility from his base has got to rattle him.

He's a big "get" for the payday-lending industry and promotes their well being. He's grown rich in office and well fed, but has also developed an Achilles heel that comes from getting rich and fat: He feels entitled. He's never had a close election, and he hardly bothers with campaigning, and town
David Wilson Brown
halls like that one in Hickory have maybe made him more of a Virginia Foxx type representative, avoiding public exposure to criticism. This year might not be the year to act entitled.

Democrat David Wilson Brown was a 1990s graduate of AppState, majoring in poly sci (he did a Washington internship with then Republican Congresswoman Sue Myrick). He works now in the information technology industry. He's 43 with a wife and two kids, a boy and girl, 10 and 6, and they live in McAdenville ("Christmas Town, USA"), east of Gastonia on I-85. He grew up in Charlotte.

He's also a realist and knows what a long-shot he is to beat McHenry, but Brown is animated by the same dramatic spirit of resistance that has surged through so much of America in the Age of Trump. "I can’t sit on the sidelines and do nothing,” he told Michael Barrett of the Gaston Gazette.

He's particularly offended by the way the Republican use "the common man" as a mere prop for "making their end goals .... They use the politics of fear to keep people from getting ahead." Brown needs to focus on McHenry's enabling of the payday lenders, who rip off the common man and the little guy and the working class like smash-and-grab burglars. “When I look at the things Republicans are voting on again and again, they are against working class people who are just trying to get by,” he said. 

“I think we’re at a turning point in this next election where people are going to wake up and see that Republicans have used these fringe issues, that don’t affect people’s daily lives, to make voters think they care about what’s best for them.”

NC 10th Congressional District.
Looks like a man in a recliner

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Miss America, Running for Congress (Another Story We're Loving in 2018)

Mallory Hagan
Mallory Hagan, a native of Opelika, Alabama, who was also Miss America 2013, has announced that she's running for Alabama's 3rd Congressional District, which includes her hometown. She spent a year at Auburn University (studying biomedical science) and then moved to New York City to pursue a career in modeling and acting. She was a resident of Brooklyn when she won the Miss America competition on a platform of child sexual abuse awareness and prevention (she's probably not a Roy Moore fan). She also gave a response on the issue of gun control in which she opposed fighting violence with violence.

Late in 2017, Miss America company internal emails surfaced that revealed that top brass at the beauty pageant regularly dissed contestants and especially winners of the crown. Mallory Hagan in particular was both fat-shamed and slut-shamed. Publication of the emails led to several top resignations from the Miss America pageant.

In Hagan's Crowdpac appeal to supporters, she struck a populist note about how people are fairing in her Alabama district:
Today, the citizens of the third Congressional district of Alabama face many challenges. For instance, the once thriving city of Anniston has been transformed by the closure of Fort McClellan. In Talladega—home to the largest racetrack on the NASCAR cup circuit— roughly 31 percent of its residents live below the poverty level. And Alexander City, once the home of Russell Athletic, is now challenged by the loss of 6,500 jobs since 2012.
Even the most prosperous parts of the district face serious challenges. In Auburn—where 28,000 students reside in a town known as the loveliest village on the plains— almost 50 percent of all single mothers struggle financially to care for their children. And although my hometown Opelika has overcome significant economic and social challenges in recent years, today less than 34 percent of its K-12 students are proficient in reading.
The Republican incumbent, Mike Rogers, has won handily in the past 8 elections. He's always had a Democratic opponent, but most of them never come close to beating him. His closest race was his
Congressman Mike Rogers
first in 2002, when he won with just 50.3% of the vote.

Mallory Hagan said of Rogers, “Anyone being in a position of power for 16 straight years just goes against what our democracy is about.” She only launched an exploratory campaign last week on Crowdpac. In just a few hours, her page brought in more than $7,000. Now, that number has more than doubled, and she's in the race to stay.

Rogers has trended more and more conservative, up to and beyond buffoon level. He introduced legislation making it illegal to satirize or in any way parody the Transportation Security Administration (not making that up). In June 2016 he called for the United States' withdrawal from the United Nations in the wake of the Brexit vote by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union. February 2, 2017, Rogers sponsored legislation to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. And so on.

May Mallory make Mike's "safe seat" very precarious!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Locked and Loaded

Phil Berger and his boys have enjoyed an overwhelming majority of Republicans in the NC General Assembly since 2013, after they got chucklehead in as governor in 2012. It was a veto-proof majority, not that McCrory was prone to veto (he rarely crossed Berger without personal humiliation, and even babies know not to touch hot stoves a second time).

The Republicans built their current impregnable fortress by way of unconstitutional gerrymandering, and they expect us to sit down and shut up and just take it. They'll mess with ballot access and throw up hurdles and yell "voter fraud" like parrots in a jungle, and I guess they'll even collude with Russkies to grab and keep power. Why, in North Carolina now, "Judges Say Throw Out the Map. Lawmakers Say Throw Out the Judges" (Pricey Harrison).

Our last resort is the ballot, and by God, we better hang onto our rights. Anybody try to take that ballot from me, they gonna get bit!

Another Special Election, More Voters 'Done With Trump!'

A special election for a Florida state House of Reps yesterday -- in a district with 13,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats -- went to the Democrat. No Democrat has won District 72 since at least 2010 (that's as far back as I looked). The last Republican incumbent won the district in 2016 by 17 points, and Trump beat Hillary here by more than 4 points.

The worm turns. Yesterday, Democrat Margaret Good took District 72 by a healthy 7 points. That's an almost dozen-point swing away from Trump, after only one full year of Colonel Bonespurs.

Margaret Good is a lawyer and first-time candidate. According to Ryan Butler, "Good's edge came from widespread support throughout the district, carrying all but four voting precincts .... Running a campaign prioritizing environmental protections, Good touted plans to combat climate change and
Margaret Good
better prepare the region in case of another storm such as Hurricane Irma. She also stressed commitments to funding public schools, health care and workforce development."

Good went to the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she served as an editor of the Florida Law Review and graduated with honors. And now she's a member of a (growing) minority in a Florida legislature very much dominated by Republicans.

Republican candidate James Buchanan (not making up that name) -- he's the son of Congressman Vern Buchanan, and he's in real estate too -- so ... connected to Republican money. During the campaign he played up his subservience to Trumpism, holding a rally where former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski carried the torch for him, and, according to Dave Weigel, Buchanan encouraged his supporters when they started chanting "lock her up" at that rally.

But look at his website. Buchanan's vanilla, country-club Republican with a questionable core.

The mirrored glasses belong to James Buchanan
Campaign photo

Bill Aceto Is His Name and Voter Suppression Is His Game

Nancy Owen and Bill Aceto
Yesterday the Republicans on the Watauga County Board of Elections, led by Bill Aceto, once again voted against an Early Voting site on the ASU campus for the May 2018 primary. Democrat Stella Anderson was the lone vote in favor.

Bill Aceto was joined by fellow Republican Nancy Owen, who last year for once voted with Democrat Stella Anderson for Early Voting at ASU for the municipal elections. Owen has obviously been disciplined and will not be making a mistake like that again.

So because the vote was split, the final decision will be made -- once again -- in Raleigh, either by a newly constituted State Board of Elections or by the Superior Court of Wake County.

The odd and ironic thing about the Republican Party's hostility to the student vote is that the students fully know it, and the more the Republicans try to shut out the students, the more determined the students are to vote. You'd think those political geniuses would finally get smart and start trying to win votes rather than alienating the voters.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Democratic Insurgents File in Catawba County House and Senate Districts

There's Blue Wave movement in Hickory, North Carolina!

Kim Bost, running in the NC House District 96
District 96 takes in a chunk of Catawba including most of Newton-Conover and most of Hickory and the dense sub-developments of St. Stephens, Long View, and Mountain View.
Incumbent Republican: Jay Adams hasn't yet announced his intentions, but another Republican, Taylor Huffman, filed yesterday. Jay Adams, first elected to the chamber four years ago, is a real estate broker who says he wants to bring back manufacturing to
Kim Bost
Hickory, presumably the furniture industry which is both a worthy goal and probably an impossibility. Adams ran unopposed by any Democrat in 2016. The other RepKiublican, Taylor Huffman, is a blank page.

Democrat Kim Bost is a design consultant who has her own small business. She moved to Catawba County over 20 years ago to work in the hosiery industry. In her work as a designer, she has partnered with entrepreneurs and local hosiery manufacturers to develop new products domestically. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is active in her community as a volunteer for many organizations including the Hickory Soup Kitchen, the Hickory Museum of Art, and the March of Dimes Foundation. She is the founder of the local opioid awareness group, Parents for Prevention and Recovery. Kim and her husband, Walter, have one son, Connor, age 13. She says, “I’m not a politician. I’m a wife, a small business owner, and a community volunteer. But most importantly, I’m a parent. And as a parent, I want all our children to grow up in a North Carolina with great schools that meet the needs of every student from preschool through college. A North Carolina that offers meaningful, fulfilling and good paying jobs."

Ric Vandett, running in the NC Senate District 42
Senate District 42 includes Catawba and Alexander counties, taking in Taylorsville, Hiddenite, Hickory, Newton-Conover, and the up-scale enclave of Bethlehem.
Republican incumbent: Andy Wells, who filed for reelection yesterday alongside the first of what will probably be two Republican primary opponents, is the owner of Prism
Ric Vandett with June Atkinson
Development, a commercial real estate company. He ran unopposed by any Democrat in 2016.

Democrat Ric Vandett is the former superintendent of Hickory Public Schools, 2006-2009. Vandett is a veteran of the Vietnam War and a leader in the Foothills Veterans Stand Down Committee and the Foothills Veterans Helping Veterans organization. He filed his candidacy yesterday and told the Hickory Record, “I’ve decided to run because I just -- I don’t like the tenor, the mood of politics in this country, in this state right now. It’s just too nasty and I don’t think that serves the citizens of our state very well.” In particular, Vandett said he wants to focus on issues like public education, veterans’ health, opioids and state spending. “I would like an opportunity to address those things in a civil manner and maintain the integrity that I think our electoral process needs.”

Monday, February 12, 2018

An Unexpected Republican Retirement from NC House

John Blust
John Blust, Republican member of the NC House (District 57), has just announced that he will not be running for reelection this year. That suddenly opens the door a little wider for Democratic challenger Ashton Clemmons (who was written about here on February 1).

That retirement seems like a pretty big deal and it comes rather late, on the opening day of filing, which means Republicans in Guilford County may be scrambling about now.

While John Blust retires, his brother David Blust intends to take another shot at Watauga County commission. He'll be running against Democrat Larry Turnbow, who beat him in 2016.

Zack Hawkins, Running in NC House District 31

After 20 terms in the NC House, legendary civil rights activist and statesman Henry "Mickey" Michaux is retiring from the General Assembly. Stepping in to run for his District 31 House seat is Zack Hawkins, well known Democratic activist from Durham. Hawkins was one of 13 "superdelegates" from North Carolina at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He's also 2nd
Zack Hawkins with Mickey Michaux
Vice Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party and works for the office of student affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill. He previously was Director of Development at East Carolina University.

In 2008, when Hawkins was chair of the North Carolina Young Democrats, he was featured in a Bob Geary article in the Independent Weekly as one of three up-and-coming African-American men in the state:
Zack Hawkins grew up in the tiny town of Chocowinity, in Beaufort County, where his grandmother and mother were school board members, church was central, and his parents always said, "Doing the right thing is the right thing to do." He caught a break when a high school science teacher plugged him into biology, which helped him land an internship at an environmental institute in RTP. He got another break in 2000 when Democrats reached out to the HBCUs—historically black colleges and universities—while he was the vice president of student government at Elizabeth City State University.
Twice bitten, he landed in Durham where he earned his master's degree in biology at N.C. Central University and a "Ph.D. in politics" by working on campaigns for U.S. Rep. David Price and U.S. Senate candidate Erskine Bowles. Four years ago, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, where he heard Obama's stunning keynote address and felt he was "in the moment" of history.
Michaux last had a Republican opponent in the general election of 2014. He often ran for his 20 terms (first elected to the House in 1982) without Republican opposition. Since it's now an open seat, the Republicans would be crazy lazy not to put up a candidate, but at the moment there's no announced person willing to run under the GOP label.

Zack Hawkins will be hard to beat.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Another Strong Democratic Woman Running for NC Senate

Caroline Walker, running in the NC Senate District 35
District 35 is Union County, including the towns of Monroe, Waxhaw, Wingate, and Marshville.
Incumbent Republican: Open seat. The seat is currently occupied by Republican Tommy Tucker, who announced his retirement last year. Tucker was a 2010 tea partier and held the seat with no Democratic opposition in 2012 and 2014. He faced a Democrat in the election of 2016 but beat him with over 61% of the vote. Republican Todd Johnson, president of Johnson Insurance Management and currently a Union County commissioner, has announced his candidacy as a Christian conservative. Johnson ran
Caroline, Sean, Julianna, and Sean Douglas
against Robert Pittenger in the 9th Congressional District Republican primary in 2016 and made a credible showing with 30% of the vote. Pittenger won that primary with 35%.
Democrat Caroline Walker moved with her family -- husband Sean and their children, Julianna and Sean Douglas -- to Union County in 2002 where she completed her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. During college, she worked for the public school system as an after-school teacher and volunteered her time to numerous nonprofit and community organizations. After working for several years in sales and marketing for a residential home builder, Caroline suffered the economic downturn and struggled to make ends meet before starting her own business, an early childhood education center that has by now provided hundreds of children with a strong early education. In 2014 she joined an international firm as a workforce development consultant, working with large state and local government entities across the east coast. She is currently a State Account Manager and works with agencies to utilize location to improve efficiency and transparency in government. But what most animates her run for office is her concern for the future and for her two biracial children. She writes on Crowdpac: "It feels important to me that I sit and write about why I am running on today of all days. I am writing this on January 15th, 2018, the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ... While I have been increasingly active in politics over the past decade, I had not envisioned until recently that I may one day seek the honor of becoming a public servant myself. However, with recent events, that vision has changed. I feel compelled to take a larger part in creating the type of community and world that I want for my children .... I look into the eyes of my two beautiful biracial children every day and I want to be able to tell them that they have the whole world and every opportunity within their reach. Where we are at today, I cannot honestly do that. That starts with great school systems where every child has equal opportunities and receives a quality education from supported and well-paid teachers. That means community and economic development and improved infrastructure that is responsible, sustainable and protects our natural resources. That means everyone having access to healthcare, addiction services, medications and patient education. That means a living wage, jobs, and growth that allow for upward mobility and for all to prosper rather than just scrape by. That means equality, justice, a voice and a vote for every single citizen regardless of their skin, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, age, economic status, disability, religion or origin. Above all, that means that I can look at my children every day and speak of America’s greatness, about liberty, opportunity, equality, justice, inclusion, dignity and rights while knowing that those words that I speak are the truth."

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Four Strong Women Running Against Four Republican Men for NC Senate

Natasha Marcus, running in the NC Senate District 41

District 41 is in suburban north Mecklenburg County and is considered the "swingy-est" of the four Senate seats covered by this post.

Incumbent Republican: Jeff Tarte won by a 21 percent margin in his last non-presidential election. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in econ and has worked as a top-level exec for a number of multimillion-dollar companies. He has served as the mayor of Cornelius. (Civic office in Cornelius has been a repeat springboard for many prominent Republicans.) Tarte first ran for the senate in 2012, narrowly winning the Republican primary but running unopposed that November. He did have Democratic opponents in 2014 and 2016. In the latter, Tarte's winning percentage (54.48%) looked a little soft compared to 2014. On some topics, Tarte has at least sounded moderate. On the disruption to the state erupting out of HB2 (the bathroom bill), he told the Charlotte Observer: "Transgenders in bathrooms were not a problem." He opposed the transfer of tax
Natasha Marcus
revenues from urban to rural counties, but he is also a cheerleader for shifting the tax burden increasingly onto "consumers." He openly opposed his Republican Gov. McCrory over the I-77 toll lanes.

Democrat Natasha Marcus made an unsuccessful bid for the state House in the Cornelius neighborhood in 2014, when Republican John Bradford III defeated her 55 to 45 percent. “The policies that touch our lives most closely often come from the state level,” Marcus told WUNC. “Federal politics is important, but what happens at the General Assembly in Raleigh – from public school funding, to healthcare, to whether we’re going to have to pay tolls here in the North Mecklenburg area is also important." According to Ballotpedia, Marcus earned her B.A. in public policy from Hamilton College and her J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1994. Her professional experience includes working as a lawyer for Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard; as Judicial Clerk for the Honorable Frank W. Bullock, Jr. of the U.S. District Court in Greensboro; and as a founding member of DavidsonLearns, a non-profit providing senior citizen learning and enrichment. Marcus intends a fight for the seat: “Cuts to public pre-K through higher education, unconstitutional laws, politicians who put polluters over our clean air and water, policies that make healthcare more expensive and less accessible, and expensive toll lanes on I-77 have taken us backwards. Like many people in our community, I am fed up with being ignored by Raleigh Republicans and am ready to take a stand.”

Eleanor Erickson, running in the NC Senate District 8

District 8 is coastal and includes parts of New Hanover, Brunwsick, Pender, and Bladen counties.

Incumbent Republican: Bill Rabon is considered Senate leader Phil Berger’s right-hand man. Rabon first entered the chamber in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and by the 2016 General Election, he was unopposed by any Democrat. He succeeded the retiring Rules Committee dictator Tom Apodaca as the master controller of legislation entering and exiting the senate. He is a Southport veterinarian and a partner in several animal hospitals. He is said to have been mentored by former Senator Bob Rucho, so there's an air of conservative toxicity about Rabon, though some of that may be emanating from capo dei capi Phil Berger. Rabon reportedly cussed Governor McCrory's wife Ann and her goddamn "puppy mill" ban bill in 2014, saying over his dead body would it ever pass the senate. (Remember, he's the owner of animal hospitals.) He publicly criticized Ann McCrory for lobbying the General Assembly for the bill, saying at the time that she was breaking "all kinds of laws." But Rabon himself is not above steering taxpayer money to powerful business interests, particularly those that also
funnel campaign cash his way. Rabon filed the bill that would limit all judges, from the district level on up, to two-year terms in office. That jolly piece of horseshit would turn every judgeship into a partisan circus, with judges having to raise money and run every two years.

Democrat Eleanor Erickson Erickson is a long-time resident of Brunswick who works as the general manager of a local hotel. She is so new at this "candidate thing" that she doesn't yet have web
infrastructure, but it's clear that she's planning to make the pollution of the Cape Fear River an issue along with the deterioration of support for public education in the Republican dominated General Assembly. (Republicans say they love education and have lavished billions at least on the public schools, but their love looks a lot more like involuntary suffocation.) Erickson has some local renown in Brunswick County as "a pillar of the community who took initiative and built a new playground at a local park instead of waiting around for others." She is co-founder of the nonprofit group Where We Live, which raised the money for the playground and which has branched out into organizing music and arts events around Bolivia, NC, and Southport, along with regular weekly activities for working families. Through Where We Live, social media, and the Rotary Club, Erickson has become a leader among younger professionals in the county.

Ginger Garner, running in the NC Senate District 2

District 2 = Carteret, Craven, and Pamlico counties on the coast.

Republican incumbent: Norm Sanderson is a three-term senator, first elected in 2012. In 2014 and 2016, Sanderson won with about 60 percent of the vote. According to Ballotpedia, Sanderson received a B.A. in Christian education from Logos University in 2002. Logos is an on-line, Bible-based, "interdenominational" education-dispensary based in Jacksonville, Florida. Sanderson's professional experience includes working as a sheriff's deputy and a real estate business owner. He currently owns Kids Heaven School Age Care Center. In 2017, Sanderson proposed a poisonous anti-
Ginger Garner
immigrant sanctuary city law to punish the state's cities if they won't participate in rounding up brown people. Sanderson is a conservative true believer in Phil Bergerism. He has said that North Carolina is a much better place now and ever since Republican took over in Raleigh in 2011.

Democrat Ginger Garner is a doctor of physical therapy and a longtime orthopaedic clinician serving the healthcare needs of new mothers and the military (Cherry Point is in her district). She says she was born in Asheboro "to teenage parents," hardworking Republicans who instilled in her the values of hard work and thriftiness which she brings with her into running for office as a Democrat. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Physical Therapy degrees from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She is the founder of the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute (2000), the first interdisciplinary, medical yoga program in the world. Also established the first doctoral level medical yoga curricula, now adopted by medical schools throughout the US and Canada. She says on her website, "My story speaks for itself: for 20 years I have served our coastal community as a physical therapist, as an aid and Christian mission worker, as a volunteer, as a CEO and small business owner, and as a wife and mother of three." She mentions the opioid epidemic as a major concern of hers along with protection of the North Carolina coast from offshore drilling. 

Helen Probst Mills, running in the NC Senate District 25

District 25 takes in a swath of Moore, Richmond, Anson, and Scotland counties and two dozen little towns including Hamlet and Laurinberg.

Republican incumbent: Tom McInnis was first elected to the senate in 2014 by the skin of his teeth (50.4%). In 2016 he did considerably better against Democrat Dannie Montgomery, taking almost 64% of the vote. He makes his living as an auctioneer (Iron Horse Auction Company), real estate
Helen Probst Mills
broker, and used automobile dealer. He previously served eight years on the Richmond County Board of Education. A standard-issue conservative.
Democrat Helen Probst Mills is an attorney from Pinehurst and enters the race, she says, in part to simply provide an option.“The reality is that I walk in on Election Day to the polling booth here in Pinehurst and there are no Democrats for me to check. We need a choice,” Mills said. “There needs to be an opportunity for an individual to stand up and to make him crystalize his position on issues and policies and to defend the votes he has taken.” Mills says she grew up a daughter to a single mother and is herself the mother of three and a cancer survivor who moved to North Carolina with her husband, Stuart, in 2006. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois. Last year, Mills was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees. She also serves on the college’s Foundation Board, where she helped develop a program allowing high school graduates to attend for two years without having to pay tuition. She serves as development chair for the Northern Moore Family Resource Center in Robbins, which has opened a preschool and is developing a community center. She credits the overcoming of breast cancer to having health insurance:  “Everyone, no matter their background or how much money they make, should have access to affordable, quality health care. Yet too many politicians in Raleigh put petty partisan politics over policies that would help thousands. That is wrong for my community and for North Carolina.” (Republican incumbent McInnis has opposed, like most other Republicans in Phil Berger's senate, the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act because he's afraid of catching Obama cooties.)