I've continued to study NC House districts in the western end of the state that are rated "Safe Republican," where no matter how tinted your glasses are with rosiness (or blueness), there's little hope that a Democrat will ever win against such great odds. So that the very act of filing to run as a Democrat is signing on for a suicide mission, and such bravery, self-sacrifice, and commitment deserves recognition.
North Carolina House District 118 -- Yancey, Madison, and a majority of Haywood County
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump won the district in 2016 with 64.60% of the vote.
Democrat Alan Jones is a 46-year-old Gen-X-er born in 1973 and a Canton native who is the regional District 9 staff representative for the United Steelworkers, representing union workers in Haywood and Macon counties (Smoky Mountain Local 507). He also owns Alan Jones's Race Ready Motorsports LLC in Canton. He shares nothing personal about his biography and no issue positions on his Facebook page and doesn't have a website.
NCH118 is an open seat. Four-term Republican Michele Presnell decided to retire. Republican Mark Pless, a first-term Haywood County commissioner, filed for the seat.
North Carolina House District 120 -- Graham, Macon, Clay, and Cherokee
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump took the district with 73.79% of the vote.
Democrat Susan Landis is a 65-year-old Baby Boomer born in 1955 and a resident of Murphy in Cherokee County. She is president of the Democratic Women of the Tri-County and last month defended the participation of the recently formed LGBTQ Democrats of Cherokee and Clay counties marching with the Democratic Women in local Christmas parades -- participation which apparently inflamed the righteous indignation of some local Christians. Landis was quoted in Clay County's FetchYourNews.com: “The NC Democratic party includes many affiliate groups and caucuses such as Young Democrats and African American Democrats of NC. Our participation in the Christmas parade was not political and no different than a church group or veteran’s group. Other than the required identification of our group by banners or shirts, we simply handed out candy and bells which fit with our Polar Express theme. Although there may be some discomfort or disagreement with any group participating in a public event, our behavior, purpose, and presentation were entirely appropriate for the occasion.”
Susan Landis's Facebook page doesn't say she's running for office nor share any biographical information or policy positions. She has no website.
NCH120 is an open seat. Prior incumbent Kevin Corbin, only in his first term, has opted to run for an open NC Senate seat, and first-time Republican candidate Karl Gillespie has filed to run.
North Carolina House District 112 -- Rutherford and southern Burke
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump won the district in 2016 with 73.43% of the vote.
Democrat Ed Hallyburton is a 70-year-old Baby Boomer born in 1949 and a resident of Connelly Springs in Burke County. According to the press release he issued on Christmas Eve, he is chair of the Burke County Board of Adjustment and a veteran educator. He was previously chair of the Burke County Planning Board and member of the board of directors of the Burke County Chamber of Commerce and was instrumental in the creation of the Valdese Economic Development and Incentive Corporation (VEDIC).
He said, “Today, the issues are real – we have a health care system that is putting the welfare of tens of thousands at risk, a minimum wage held at $7.25, homelessness, once hidden in our communities is a main street issue. A drug epidemic combined with high pockets of poverty that puts the well-being of our youth in danger. And a correction system that has serious safety issues. It’s time the State Legislature got down to business and stopped playing partisan politics. It’s time politicians went to work for the people they represent!”
Ed Hallyburton has a Facebook page, and he published a link to a website -- www.hallyburton4house.com -- but it doesn't work.
David Rogers is the two-term Republican incumbent running for reelection.
North Carolina House District 86 -- northern Burke
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump took the district in 2016 with 67.09% of the vote.
Democrat Cecelia Surratt is a 67-year-old Baby Boomer born in 1952. She is the African-American chair of the Morganton Human Relations Commission. In March 2018, Governor Cooper appointed her to serve on the North Carolina Commission on Inclusion, created by executive order to develop “policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation in state employment services and contracts under the jurisdiction of the office of the governor.” She previously worked for the state's Department of Health and Human Services at the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center in Morganton.
She has a Facebook page.
The six-term Republican incumbent (first elected in 2008) is Hugh Blackwell, who is running for a seventh term.
North Carolina House District 89 -- most of Catawba County except for Hickory and Conover
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump carried the district with 71.32% of the vote in 2016.
Democrat Greg Cranford is a 61-year-old Baby Boomer born in 1958. He also ran for this seat in 2018, getting under 28% of the vote. He filed for the seat after waiting to see if another Democrat would step forward. “There will be a choice on the ballot,” he said, and proudly embraced the label of "progressive, liberal Democrat."
He is a 1977 graduate of Newton-Conover High School and a 1981 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. He returned home to Newton in 2016 to care for his elderly father after retiring as a social studies teacher in Orangeburg, S.C.
He has a Facebook page.
Michael Setzer, the Republican incumbent since 1998, was once regarded, according to Cranford, as a more moderate Republican who was raised in a very Democratic family but "has sided more often with the extreme right-wing conservative Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly during the last session. He cited Setzer’s vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of what Cranford called a “very conservative” budget bill as one example of his opponent’s partisan voting.