Sunday, June 21, 2020

Un-Trumping North Carolina: Six Who Could Put the NC House in Democratic Hands

The number six is operable here only if all Democratic first-termers elected in the wave of 2018 hang onto their seats in 2020, a shaky assumption that I wouldn't bet my morning cereal on. But you have to start somewhere. Therefore noted: It will take a net gain of six Democrats to take control of the NC House. The bench of political talent is deeper than six this year, but below are listed the six most promising potential flips in 2020 (numerically arrived at based on how badly Trump did in the district in 2016). Caveat: Some of these six are currently running lackluster campaigns (IMHO).

I'll get to other promising candidates by-and-by, who could also flip their districts because Trump took less than 60% there, sometimes way less.

I've already written about two other NC House candidates who are working hard and who intend to flip their districts -- Gail Young (Dist. 83) and Sam Edney (Dist. 113). That's why they're not included here.

Assessments/endorsements and material contained within quotation marks come from the following sources, unless otherwise noted:

The Long Leaf Pine Slate

District demographic and voting stats come from Dr. Michael Bitzer

The Six

Ricky Hurtado (Dist. 63)

Michael Bitzer says the district is "competitive" but still "leans Republican." Long Leaf Pine Slate says it now leans Democratic after the most recent redrawing. Trump took the district with 50.01% of the vote.

WataugaWatch covered Hurtado twice before, when Erica McAdoo dropped out and he stepped forward to replace her on the ballot (here and here).

"Hurtado is the son of working-class immigrants and a first-generation graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and Princeton. He is a tireless advocate for educational and racial equity, economic security for working-class families, and child well-being." "Hurtado was a Morehead-Cain Scholar who is now a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill."

He's matched up against incumbent Steve Ross, a former Wells-Fargo exec. The potential implications of this race seem manifest for a Hurtado win, considering the cultural and political tides.


Virginia Cox-Daugherty (Dist. 12)

"Lean Republican." Trump took 51.94% of the vote.

"A retired educator and eastern North Carolina native, Dr. Cox-Daugherty’s past volunteer service includes the United Way, Greene Lamp, Banneker Literary Club, Lenoir County Board of Elections, and the Board of Directors of the Greater Kinston Credit Union. The daughter of a sharecropper, Cox-Daugherty wants to prioritize the agricultural concerns of the county."

It's disturbing to me that I can't find a website nor even a Facebook page for her. Her campaign is invisible on-line.

Cox-Daugherty is matched up against a Republican first-termer, Chris Humphrey.

Frances Vinell Jackson (Dist. 45)

"Toss-Up." says it now leans "slightly Democratic." Trump took only 49.93% of the vote there.

"A Fayetteville native, long-time public servant, and local magistrate." "A longtime Hope Mills resident, government planner, and professor at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Her key priorities include increasing teacher pay, assuring water safety in the Gray’s Creek area, and protecting women’s reproductive rights."

She's matched up against incumbent Republican John Szoka.

Emily Bunch Nicholson (Dist. 1)

"Lean Republican." Trump took the district with 52.09% of the vote.

"A native of Edenton and a mother of three young children. Nicholson is a former high school and community college educator who has served 10 counties of northeastern North Carolina for the past five years as the assistant director for the Northeastern Workforce Development Board. She is committed to growing the economy, ensuring that rural residents have access to the health care they need, and improving public schools."

"Black voters make up the vast majority of left-leaning voters in NC-H1, in eastern North Carolina, and the pool of untapped voters – registered voters who did not vote in 2018 – leans Democratic by almost 30 points. In recent elections, Democrats have lost this district, and underperformed in others like it across the state, as rural Black voters stayed home. Winning this district will depend on whether candidates – both locally and at the top of the ticket – can connect with and turn out the majority-Black Democratic base."

Nicholson has a Twitter account, a Facebook group, and a website. 

Incumbent Ed Goodwin, former state ferry director and Chowan County Commissioner, "will have an uphill climb to hold onto his seat in 2020" (REALFACTSNC).

Brian Farkas (Dist. 9)

"Toss Up." Trump actually lost this same real estate in 2016, 48.24% to Clinton's 48.77%.

"A Pitt County native who works at a local architecture firm." "He’s also worked for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, where he specialized in emergency management measures." "He has a long record of public service and is a vocal proponent for independent redistricting reform."

"With the elimination of the extreme Republican gerrymander in Pitt County, a strong Democratic candidate is favored to win NC-H9 in Greenville. The district leans about 10 points further left than it did in 2018."

Farkas has a slim resume, is quite young-looking, but he's been making a real campaign of it.

His Republican opponent, Dr. Perrin Jones, was only appointed to the seat just last September, has virtually no political experience, and looks pretty young himself.

Kimberly Hardy (Dist. 43)

"Toss Up." Trump squeaked by with only 49.82% of the vote here.

WataugaWatch discovered Hardy back before the primary, when she was the only candidate in North Carolina to knock off a long-time Democratic incumbent.

She's endorsed by Lillian's List, and she has the full panoply of campaign tools including a Twitter account, Facebook, and a website.

"A 48-year-old Gen-X-er born in 1972. She trained as a social worker -- holds a doctorate in it from Morgan State University in Baltimore -- and is currently an assistant professor of social work at Fayetteville State University .... Hardy has written and presented extensively in the area of religion, spirituality, and social work and currently serves as the Board Secretary for the North American Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW)." (WataugaWatch)

Hardy is up against Republican Diane Wheatley, a former (and long-time) Board of Education member and member of the Cumberland County Commission (including serving as its chair).

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