Friday, July 05, 2019

Exploiting Cracks in the NC Republican Wall

In the 2018 midterms for NC Senate, two "lean Republican" districts went Democratic, districts 17 (southern Wake County) and 27 (a C-section of Guilford surrounding Greensboro). Those districts were won by Sam Searcy and Michael Garrett, respectively, riders of the 2018 NC blue wave.

J.D. Wooten
Womble Bond Dickinson photo
The only other "lean Republican" district in 2018 where a Democrat came reasonably close to winning ... District 24, where Air Force veteran J.D. Wooten got 46.14% of the vote against Tea Party incumbent Rick Gunn -- a loss by 6,000 votes, a sobering number. But a damn good base to build on if you're willing to do the work.

The trend with partisan shifts in 2018 -- the higher the income and/or the education, the more likely the flip from Republican to Democratic candidates. That trend is expected to hold in 2020. NC Senate District 24 encompasses eastern Guilford and all of Alamance counties and the burgeoning suburban sprawl along the I-40 and I-85 corridors which slice through the district. Wooten himself lives in the I-40 corridor in eastern Guilford, the little suburb of Whitsett. Over in Alamance, Burlington and Graham are the major urban centers.

In terms of income, Alamance's richest township is Coble, south of I-40, followed in wealth by Melville Township (both I-40 and I-85 adjacent), Albright, and Boone Station. Boone Station also shows up in the statistics as the most educated in the county.

In 2018 Wooten evidently ran an active campaign, and an effective one, or he wouldn't have done as well. He had a pretty relentless canvassing program (judging from Facebook posts) and was effective raising money enough to be a threat to an incumbent who had probably grown a little complacent. Republican Rick Gunn had easily won reelection in 2016 and didn't even have a Democratic opponent in 2014.

Wooten apparently sees a way forward for making up that 6,000-vote deficit in 2020 because he announced back in May that he's in for another go at Gunn next year. I'm glad to hear it. But (cue the ominous chords -- dum dum DUM) ... watching Wooten's announcement video, my heart sank -- didn't flutter in a good way -- because it's standard, lifeless candidate-talking-directly-to-the-camera boilerplate. In an age of amazing candidate announcement videos, Wooten's goes splat.

He's got the bio, the list of accomplishments, the North Carolina policy positions to produce an impressive and engaging video biography, and he needs to do that soon.
Partial biography, gleaned from his own website: "J.D." Wooten is actually John David Wooten IV. He traces his family back dozens of generations to the Jamestown settlement of 1607. (I learned that factoid somewhere last year, but see no mention of family history on Wooten's current website). He was nominated to the U.S. Air Force Academy by Jesse Helms and Congressman David Price, received his appointment in 2003 (studied aeronautical engineering), served a decade in the Air Force as an engineer and program manager for the Situation Awareness Data Link, an air-to-ground radio system used extensively in close air support and homeland defense missions. He earned the Gladys Noon Spellman Fellowship Award to attend the University of Maryland School of Public Policy where he earned a Master of Public Policy in International Security and Economic Policy. Following his service in the Air Force, Wooten got his law degree at Wake Forest and now specializes in intellectual property law for Womble Bond Dickinson.
Who the hell am I to tell the candidate to do anything? Just a far-from-innocent bystander who'd like to see the guy win. Coming across as an effective personality in social media is just part of the even bigger push Wooten's going to need in 2020, because the suburbs are still ground zero for flipping political loyalties. Some 85.2% of Alamance households have a computer, and 73.5% are broadband subscribers.

1 comment:

Brother Doc said...

Who has taken Jesse Presnell's slot in Raleigh? Does s/he have the word and could s/he help? Must be someone at the NCDP HQ who can coach this man a bit.