Sunday, March 25, 2018

Terri LeGrand Could Surprise an "Invulnerable" Republican Incumbent

NC House District 74 takes in northern Forsyth County and includes suburbs north of Winston-Salem and the small towns of Belews Creek, Walkertown, Bethania, Pfafftown, Tobaccoville, Rural Hall. It's been considered safely suburban Republican, but it's exactly the kind of voting district that has been turning suddenly bluish in the Age of Trump, and in unlikely places, from deepest Alabama to the rusted hills of Pennsylvania. House District 74 contains a higher than average number of well educated voters, which has become in 2018 an index to Republican nervousness.

Democratic insurgent Terri LeGrand --
Terri LeGrand
I initially heard about LeGrand on the first day of this new year and mentioned her here among the first crop of really exciting new candidates running for the NC General Assembly. LeGrand has a well developed website and looks like she's built a campaign infrastructure that can generate enthusiastic volunteers.
LeGrand grew up in Galax, Virginia, in the "make-do" culture of small-town America and has translated those values to her current job at Wake Forest University, which is helping poorer students get financial aid to attend and succeed at an expensive private university. She tells her advisees, "Only borrow what you absolutely have to borrow. Work hard to finish so that you do not accumulate debt without a degree to show for it."
She trained as a lawyer and is a 1993 graduate of the Wake Forest School of Law. (She also studied Russian because she wanted to be a spy. "Then the Cold War ended.") "I became a community activist…and a mom, two roles I am passionate about. I have also been a lawyer and an advocate for children and feel fortunate to have landed in a career I love at Wake Forest University. Currently, I work hard every day so that poor kids can go to a great college and so that families that have worked hard, saved and sacrificed to send their kids to Wake Forest can keep them there even in the face of job loss, catastrophic illness or divorce. As a lawyer and through social work, I advocated for children and at-risk youth and their families, helping them navigate complex education, judicial, and social services systems."
She was a founder of the Piedmont Environmental Alliance, serves on the Women's Leadership Council of the United Way, and served on the public utilities commission for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

Debra Conrad
Republican incumbent Debra Conrad was first elected to the chamber in 2012, first beating the incumbent Republican male in a primary. She faced female Democratic opponents in both 2014 and 2016 and easily won reelection with over 60% of the vote both times. Prior to her election to the NC House, she served for 18 years as a Forsyth County commissioner. She looks politically invulnerable.
She earned a BS in medical technology at Wake Forest in 1974 and owns Conrad Marketing Strategies. She's a doctrinaire conservative Republican ... opposes the expansion of Medicaid, opposes increasing the minimum wage, attacks "liberal activist judges" for overturning Amendment One, hedges about increased support for public education. According to, Conrad voted against funding for schools, libraries, and health care during her 18 years as a Forsyth County Commissioner, and during the Tea Party uprising of 2010 she self-defined as "a Tea Party person before there was a Tea Party.” She's virulently anti-abortion and has voted for every limitation to abortion rights that has come before the General Assembly.
In other words, she's exactly the sort of Republican incumbent who's ripe for getting surprised.

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