Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Un-Trumping North Carolina: J D Wooten in SD24


We're grateful to the Long Leaf Pine Slate for supplying a clutch of new candidate videos for Democrats running in flippable NC General Assembly districts. We've also been writing about these folks for months. The Long Leaf Pine Slate has been successfully raising money for these races all year. Some of the results can be seen in the professional introductory videos -- quick hits of personality and vital biography highlighted by snazzy graphics, so that although the candidate talks directly to the camera, they never lapse into static "talking-head" mode. I'll be highlighting these videos one at a time over coming days/weeks.

J D Wooten in Senate District 24 (Alamance and Guilford). An open seat because of the decision not to run again by Republican Sen. Rick Gunn, an alumnus of the 2010 Tea Party wave. The Republicans recruited Amy Galey, chair of the Alamance County Commission. District is rated "Lean Republican." Trump took almost fifty-five percent of the vote in 2016.

I enthusiastically followed Wooten's attempt to gain the seat in the blue wave of 2018. He 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, and Wooten seemed willing to do the work when he announced he would try again in 2020.

The trend with partisan shifts in 2018 -- the higher the income and/or the education, the more likely the flip from Republican to Democratic -- that trend is expected to hold in 2020, and the burgeoning suburban sprawl along the I-40 and I-85 corridors which slice through the district would appear to fit the bill. 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 Gunn had easily won reelection in 2016 and didn't even have a Democratic opponent in 2014. Is it not telling that he dropped out at the last minute rather than run again in 2020?

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