Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Elections of March: Democratic Primary in NCH45

Frances Jackson
North Carolina House District 45 in Cumberland County was redistricted and is now rated "Toss-Up" with a Republican incumbent, John Szoka, who was first elected to the seat in 2012. Two African-American Democrats are facing each other in the March 3rd primary, one a serious candidate -- Frances V. Jackson -- and the other apparently not (Keith Byrd, who has no campaign presence and no biography that we can detect).

Frances Jackson could be formidable -- and she'll have to be to take the seat in November -- so I was glad to see on her Facebook page that she's mounted at least one canvass in the district leading up to the primary. She's been endorsed by both the local AFL-CIO and by Planned Parenthood.

She teaches political science at Fayetteville Tech and holds a doctorate from Walden University in Minnesota. She's been active in civic life in Fayetteville. She was appointed to a seat on the Fayetteville City Council after the death of a member but was forced to resign after only a month because of a possible conflict of interest with her other appointed position as a Cumberland County magistrate.

According to Michael Bitzer, the newly drawn District 45 has a population that's 33% African-American, with Democrats out-numbering Republicans some 38% to 27%, and with unaffiliated voters holding the balance of power, accounting for 34% of registered voters. Bitzer classifies 79% of the district as "suburban voters outside a central city but inside an urban county." All of these numbers sound good for Francis Jackson ... except for this: Hillary Clinton took 47.37% of the district in 2016 to Trump's 49.93%.

Ought to be a pretty solid Democratic district. Goes wobbly, though, when the Democrat on the ballot fails to inspire.

Frances Jackson, assuming she easily wins her primary, will need an intense ground game -- especially canvassing those suburban neighborhoods -- to carry the vote come November. This could be an unanticipated Democratic pickup in the NC House is she's got the mojo, the volunteers, and the shoe leather.

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