Thursday, March 05, 2020

The Most Interesting Congressional Race in North Carolina

Following Tuesday's primary in North Carolina, two Democratic women in CD 2 and 6 look poised to take seats in the US House that have been held by Republicans. Deborah Ross in CD2 absolutely buried her Democratic primary contenders, taking right at 70% of the total vote against three rivals. In CD6, Democrat Kathy Manning took over 48% of the vote against four rivals, beating her nearest competitor,  Rhonda Foxx, by 33,361 votes. The Cook Partisan Index rates both districts as "Likely Democratic" for 2020.

But I'm looking also to CD11 for my 2020 excitement, even though Cook still considers it "Solid Republican" even with all of Asheville restored to the district after being previously gerrymandered out. I'm looking that way because of the Democrat who won Tuesday's primary against four rival candidates, Moe Davis, who doubled the votes of his nearest second-place contender.

I've been following Davis since he burst out into the public soon after his (admittedly late) filing for the office. Morris "Moe" Davis retired from the US Air Force at the rank of colonel and already had a high pre-candidacy national profile. He served two years as Chief Prosecutor of the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay and resigned in protest because his superiors in the Air Force Judiciary and the General Counsel of the Department of Defense overruled his decision to disallow evidence obtained via CIA torture. In resigning his position, Davis declared that he wasn't going to take orders from people who think "waterboarding is A-Okay."

In other words, he's a commendable hard-nose. He's got a clear pattern of courting controversy, or at least not skirting around it when it blocks his path of moral certitude (he said the Supreme Court was "meddling" when it chose to review the Military Commissions Act). He's not afraid to defy authority when he thinks he's right, and you've got to admire his fortitude. He's been on all the broadcast and cable news programs as a recognized expert in national security, especially security from terrorists who he thinks should be prosecuted the fair way and not via the CIA torture wheel, but he's also defended Guantanamo as a "humane" detention center (which makes him suspicious to some liberals).

He's a "risk" candidate at a time when too many Democrats want "safe." He endorses universal health care ("whether it is called Medicare For All or any other name"), access to abortion, legalizing marijuana, and confronting income equality. His website is no-nonsense and straight to the kisser, sort of like his military career. He says this:
He stood up to the Bush Administration on torture. He stood up to the Obama Administration to defend the right to free speech. Moe Davis risked his career to do the right thing for our country. That’s the kind of character he will bring to Washington as Congressman in North Carolina’s 11th District.
He was born and grew up in Shelby, NC, studied criminal justice at AppState, graduated in 1980 and earned his Juris Doctor from NC Central in 1983. He immediately joined the Air Force as a JAG officer where he served with distinction.

(Full disclosure. I contributed a little to Davis during the primary and will likely do so again.)

The Republican Moe Davis Will Be Running Against

Madison Cawthorn
There will be a hot run-off on May 12th between front-running (and Mark Meadows endorsed) Lynda Bennett and the very young Madison Cawthorn (born in 1995). There were a dozen Republicans running in the primary (listed and described here), and most of them are mightily pissed off at how Meadows kept his decision not to run for reelection a secret until the day before the filing period ended and then advantaged his wife's best friend Lynda Bennett for the seat.

On Tuesday, Bennett took 22.72% of the vote to Cawthorn's 20.40%, and Cawthorn has already called for the run-off, drawing endorsements from several other trailing candidates. Cawthorn was quoted in the press:
There’s no doubt in my mind the people of Western North Carolina are sick and tired of watching the politicians [Mark Meadows] trying to force their will upon us and every single vote that was cast against Lynda Bennett was a vote against what Mark Meadows has done. Republicans in the race were furious that Meadows endorsed Bennett, a close friend of him and his wife, after telling other candidates he would not endorse anyone in the primary.
The odds are rarely on the side of second-place finishers in run-offs, but in this case the odds are hard to figure because of anger in the district at Meadows' trying to manipulate the outcome.

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