Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Four NCHouse Democrats Challenged in 2024 Primaries


Ren Larsen writing for The Assembly ("The Democrats' Shrinking Tent") reminded me of some interesting Democratic primaries about to be decided on March 5th. Early Voting begins a week from Thursday. Four moderate NCHouse Democrats, who've voted for Republican laws maybe more than some voters in their district think healthy, are challenged by rival Democrats who criticize them for being too compliant with the Republican super-majority.

James Adams

HD 60 (Guilford)
-- incumbent Cecil Brockman v. James Adams
Larsen reports that Brockman votes with Republicans 75% of the time. The average is actually 66%, which indicates the number of non-controversial bills that get voted on and passed by a bi-partisan majority. Brockman notoriously voted to override the governor's veto of the Republican budget, which shafted the Leandro plan to improve K-12 public schools, and he's been a consistent supporter of more and more money to charters (ergo less money for public schools). An investigation by Bryan Anderson found that Brockman's absences from the work of the House seemed high: "He was absent on 21 voting days, or 44% of voting sessions."

James Adams is the former head of the High Point NAACP. He's been endorsed by Carolina Forward and by Nicole Quick, a former candidate for House, and he's running with the slogan "James Adams Will Always Show Up."

HD 60 is majority white (40.4%) but has a competitive Black population (37.5%), with some 10% Hispanic. It leans Democratic by 63.2%. Both the incumbent and the challenger are Black. 


HD 27 (Halifax, Northampton, Warren) -- incumbent Michael Wray v. Rodney Pierce

Rodney Pierce

This particular primary pits a 10-term white rep. against an aggressive Black challenger. Michael Wray has voted to override more Roy Cooper vetoes than any other Democrat in the House.

Pierce is another Carolina Forward endorsee and an award-winning public school teacher and a historian. Described by Greg Childress: "Outspoken social studies teacher and historian Rodney Pierce has successfully submitted five applications to the state for historical markers commemorating Black historical figures, events and organizations. Pierce has opposed efforts by the state’s Republican-led General Assembly and others to restrict what he and his colleagues teach students about the nation’s history of racism." He's endorsed by labor (small as it is in this right-to-work state).

HD 27 is a majority minority district with some 51.9% Black voters to 41.4% white and 2.4% Hispanic. It leans Democratic heavily 61.7%. 

HD 23 (Bertie, Edgecombe, Martin) -- incumbent Shelley Willingham v. Abbie Lane
Willingham was groomed by Republican Speaker Tim Moore, who notably gifted Willingham with a committee chairmanship as a reward for his voting Republican a dismaying number of times.

Abbie Lane
Abbie Lane (what a perfect name! aka "Bud") ran before in 2020 under the Green Party label and supplied other details about himself to Ballotpedia:

Abbie Lane was born in Washington, North Carolina. He graduated from North Edgecombe High School in 2002. He earned an associate degree in marketing from Pitt Community College and a certification in leadership from Edgecombe Community College. He worked in entertainment and sports management for a decade [professional wrestling]. He changed careers and spent time working with multiple Fortune 500 companies to implement procedures to enhance customer service experiences as well as remote workspaces.

In 2021, Lane became a Fall Fellow with the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership and in 2022 was added to the E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders. He has also completed training and certifications with Young Americans For Liberty, Win At The Door, MoveOn Progressive Power Summit, the National Democratic Training Committee, and the Victory Institute. In the Spring of 2023, Lane returned to the Democratic Party after spending more than 20 years registered as unaffiliated/independent. As of September 2023, Lane served as the 1st Vice Chair of the Edgecombe County Democratic Party and as a State Executive Committee member of the North Carolina Democratic Party representing Edgecombe.

The training and networking outlined in that 2nd paragraph might be enough to help this white candidate overcome a very seasoned Black incumbent.

HD 23 is another majority minority House district, with 53.4% Black population to 41.7% white and 3.6% Hispanic. It leans Democratic by 59.4%. 

HD 106 (Mecklenburg) -- Carla Cunningham v. Vermanno Bowman
Carla Cunningham was first elected in 2012. She's another pretty consistent vote for Republican laws on the most sensitive subjects. Her district is so safe, she wasn't even opposed in 2020, and she's never won with less than 70% of the vote.

Vermanno Bowman ran a primary against Democratic incumbent Kelly Alexander Jr. in HD 107 in 2022 and got 16.5% of the vote. He looks like a pure sacrificial offering, meant to send a message.

HD 106 is 33% white, 47.2% Black, and 11% Hispanic. Both candidates in this primary are Black. Whoever wins the primary is pretty guaranteed election because the district leans Democratic by 73.4%.

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