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Hullabaloo


Monday, September 09, 2019

 

The first election of 2020

by Tom Sullivan


Unfortunate juxtaposition (top). Republican booth at Mountain State Fair on Sunday, Buncombe County, NC.

The first election of 2020 is the last one of 2018. It's September 10 this year. Tomorrow.

Low-turnout elections leave pollsters scratching their heads. The NC-9 do-over election is no exception. Still-incomplete from 2018, the contest will be final on Tuesday unless a recount or other wrinkle extends the race yet again. Democrats have not held the congressional seat since the 1960s. Donald Trump in 2016 won the district by 12 points.

Nevertheless, state Sen. Dan Bishop (R-"bathroom bill") and Iraq war veteran Dan McCready (D) have been in a neck-and-neck fight in the R+8 district for months. Then Hurricane Dorian came calling. The state Board of Elections extended voting in the coastal NC-3 special election to replace Walter Jones who died in February (R+12, and not considered competitive for Democrats) and in the eastern counties of NC-9 which runs from the Charlotte suburbs to Fayetteville. Results are as unpredictable as the acting president who has scheduled a rally there Monday night. Unless Air Force One lands in Alabama.

"This is a pretty Republican district," former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va told WUNC. If Bishop loses, NC-9 is "not a seat you'll be able to explain away very well," meaning Trump is losing the suburbs. But Republican early voting is down relative to this point in 2018. EQV Analytics reports turnout by registered Democrats is up 50%.

Bishop has tied himself at the hip to Donald Trump and, if elected, pledges to become his faithful attack dog. One Bishop ad quotes Trump branding McCready (a Democratic moderate) an "ultra liberal" who likes open borders and "really admires socialism," claims Politifact North Carolina brands "Pants on Fire!" McCready has worked to distance himself from the party's headliners, Medicare for All and a ban on assault weapons.

Dr. Michael Bitzer, history and politics professor at Catawba College who blogs at Old North State Politics, tells Politifact, "First, it was tying all Democratic candidates to Nancy Pelosi in 2018 to try to lower their favorability. Then, with the president going after AOC and the Squad, guilt by association has become a standard mantra for Republican campaigns."

While McCready has enjoyed a fundraising advantage, Politico reports that national Republicans are stepping in to close the gap:

The toss-up race between Bishop and McCready is already the second-most expensive special election for a House seat in U.S. history. And the GOP is going all-out to keep the seat, which has been held by Republicans since the 1960s, in the party’s hands: Between House Republicans’ official campaign arm and the top pro-GOP super PAC, Republicans have boosted Bishop with more than $5 million in outside spending.
McCready holds his own rally Monday afternoon in Fayetteville hours before the president's scheduled 7 p.m. rally.