Moore County has had its own judicial district for the longest time. Now, we’re paired with Hoke County to the south of us. Maureen Krueger, Moore County’s incumbent prosecutor, is not seeking reelection. She’s hand-picked a potential successor and brought him onto her staff within the last few months. But the other choice in the race, Mike Hardin, has decades of experience prosecuting criminal cases in HALF of the new district.
“I’m not doing this because someone reached out to me and said ‘Hey, I think you ought to take a crack at this,” Hardin told us in an interview late last week. “I’m doing it because it’s what I’ve been doing. I know the area we’re talking about here. This job is what I know, and what I do best.”
Hardin is a Cumberland County native who got his undergraduate degree from UNC-Charlotte (where be became acquainted with now-congressman Richard Hudson) and his law degree from The University of Akron. He’s currently a senior assistant to Hoke & Scotland Counties’ current district attorney, while his wife Victoria has a private law practice. The Hardins are currently Southern Pines residents.
Mr. Hardin’s community involvement includes: Ducks Unlimited, Kiwanis of the Sandhills ( and Hope Mills prior to that), the board of Liberty Hospice, and the child advocacy board (covering Hoke, Cumberland, and Scotland Counties).
Hardin said he got his first job out of law school working in district court for then -Cumberland County prosecutor Ed Grannis. During that time, he met Jean Powell — then the first elected female district attorney in North Carolina — who recruited him to her operation in Hoke County. This new role allowed him more time in Superior Court — trying more complex and serious cases.
Jean Powell eventually retired and Kristy Newton, the current DA for Hoke and Scotland took her place. Hardin said Newton elevated him to a senior assistant role for Hoke County, and eventually a senior assistant role for the entire district.
“I’ve tried people for just about every serious crime out there — rape, robbery, murder, drugs,” said Hardin. “I’ve seen a lot more — and I’ve done a lot more — than anybody possibly could have during a few months long stint in the Moore County DA’s office. ”
Hardin says prosecutorial experience is more important than just plain ol’ courtroom experience when evaluating prosecutor candidates. “There’s a world of difference between building a case, like a prosecutor does,” he said. ” And tearing one down like a defense attorney does.”
Hardin’s name has hit the political gossip network pretty hard. I asked him to respond to, and possibly clarify, some of the things that are out there.
PARTY REGISTRATION: Hardin said that much of his time in Cumberland County was spent as a registered Democrat. “It’s a Democrat county,” he explained. “Registered Republicans have no say in local primary races, I wanted to have my say in those races. I never voted for any of the state or national candidates offered by the Democrats. I never gave a dime or a vote to Obama or Adam Schiff.”
Hardin said the party’s left turn forced him rightward in his registration. “I’m a Christian,” he said. “Many of the things the party was standing for were highly bothersome to me. ”
Hardin said he went unaffiliated and then all the way over to Republican. (The only other political race he’s run was a losing effort for a judgeship in Cumberland County — as a Republican.)
Hardin noted that a lot of prominent Republican leaders in the state were once Democrats. He also said he hoped voters will understand his predicament as a conservative living in a predominantly Democrat county.
LEGAL ISSUES. Hardin’s wife found herself in a predicament a few years back when she was representing a party in a divorce case. The opposing party took out a charge of cyber-stalking against Mrs. Hardin — alleging that she had placed a tracking device on the opposing party’s car. Hardin said his wife fought the charge and won. (The device had actually been placed by a private eye whose services had been secured by Mrs. Hardin’s client.)
Hardin found himself in a legal predicament while trying to secure his concealed carry permit. The background check came back noting someone also named “Michael Hardin” with drug charges from a county in western North Carolina. Hardin knew that was not him, and secured an attorney to help correct the matter. The matter was corrected and he got his permit.
It’s also being whispered that Hardin has had legal and ethical issues with the state bar and other regulatory agencies.
“As an attorney, you get people complaining about you,” Hardin said. ” I am in good standing to practice law in North Carolina and I possess a valid concealed carry permit. That ought to tell you right there how baseless those rumors and reports are.”