Moore County. All of our local endorsements had good days on Tuesday. We are blessed with a pretty good team of local officials here. We even had some unsuccessful candidates who SHOULD stick around and search for some other leadership role in the community.
North Carolina General Assembly. This category was a mixed-bag for us. We were heartened by the success of Mattie Lawson in an NC House primary on the Outer Banks, and state Rep. Larry Pittman’s reelection victory in Cabarrus County. The grassroots in Davidson County scored a victory when county commissioner Sam Watford defeated Roger Younts — the recipient of a controversial appointment to an unexpired term in 2013. Davidson activists had been angry over efforts by NCGOP insiders to hand the appointment to Younts despite local objections.
In a disappointment, current unofficial results in House District 95 show C. Robert Brawley trailing challenger John Fraley by 105 votes. Brawley earned our respect, as well as that of many across the state, for taking a public stand against some questionable decisions by Speaker Thom Tillis and other House leaders. There is still hope that canvassing — absentee ballot counts, etc. — can reverse this or force a recount.
As we said before, Mark Meadows and Walter Jones are the only two in the House delegation who deserved another term. Jones won by the hair-of-his-chinny-chin-chin.
Renee Ellmers reelection was absolutely astounding to me — and many other observers here in the Second District. This nasty-tempered woman has embraced increased government spending, more federal debt, and amnesty for illegal aliens, while verbally trashing constituents who dare to disagree with her. She made a fool of herself on a national radio show, and doubled-down by being recorded cursing at constituents visiting her office. Ellmers has been scarce in the district — limiting her appearances to trendy locales in the northern-most Triangle section of the district. There are stories galore about poor customer service and rude treatment from her staff. Things looked like a recipe for sure defeat.
Her opponent, Frank Roche, was a flawed candidate. He had burned a lot of bridges in prior election years. His fundraising and volunteer recruitment suffered as a result. Many tried to recruit a more suitable opponent to Ellmers, but an awful lot of the prime candidates in the district simply did not want to endure a campaign or a tenure on Capitol Hill. It didn’t have anything to do with being intimidated by Ellmers. It was a matter of not wanting the job.
Roche was the horse Ellmers opponents had to bet on. Frank made a good effort to apologize and make amends for past transgressions. Yet, his paltry campaign treasury was no match for Ellmers’ PAC-fortified campaign treasury. He didn’t have the resources or organization to tell his story or dispute the disinformation being put out by Ellmers.
David Rouzer’s Cantor-abetted victory in the Seventh district was absolutely frustrating. Rouzer had been a state senator who drew the lines for the new district to benefit himself. Despite that fact, he still lost his first run for the seat to incumbent Mike McIntyre. Things got really dirty in his fight with county commissioner Woody White. White revived charges from the 2012 race with McIntyre that Rouzer had lobbied FOR amnesty for illegal aliens. Rouzer attacked White over his work as a private attorney. Never mind that most of Rouzer’s adult life has been spent in the employ of government agencies or lobbying firms.
White was also hurt by some eleventh-hour robo-calls purportedly from a controversial local political figure endorsing White. No one has claimed responsibility for the robo-calls.
This race, plus Ellmers in 2012 and 2014, and Richard Hudson in 2012, makes House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) quite an influential figure in picking North Carolina’s Republican nominees for Congress.
As we thought, it looks like Republicans Phil Berger and Mark Walker are headed for a July runoff. Walker has had the support of the influential Tea party-affiliated Conservatives for Guilford County (C4GC). Berger has been helped tremendously by his father, the state senate president pro tem.
Our initial take on Mark Harris’ campaign was that it was a ruse to divide conservative voters and aid the Tillis campaign. That theory was buttressed by the presence of long-time Tillis ally and former NCGOP chairman Robin Hayes on the Harris campaign team. (The latest unoficial vote totals show Tillis with 222,408 votes, Brannon with 132,122 votes, and Harris with 85,420. Harris and Brannon together totaled 217, 542 — very close to Tillis’ total. ) It was also peculiar how the Harris campaign — trying to claim the Tea Party mantle — and its supporters spent an extraordinary amount of time ignoring the more moderate Tillis and attacking fellow Tea Partier Brannon.
Whether or not the Harris campaign truly was part of a divide-and-conquer effort, the preacher’s presence in the race truly benefited the more moderate Tillis.
As far as Brannon goes, we truly believe he will go down in history as a poorly-marketed product. Kay Hagan’s weakness is her exuberant support of ObamaCare. It would have been interesting to have a doctor – a victim of ObamaCare — pounding on her for supporting this travesty. But his campaign team never really got around to pushing that angle.
Brannon is a remarkable figure. He is self-made — born to a single mother and working himself through medical school from a background of poverty. He built a successful medical practice from scratch, and has devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy to charitable works domestically and internationally. He and his wife have also successfully raised seven children — three of whom were orphans adopted from China. Brannon has also been a leader in his church and the state’s pro-life movement. Brannon’s background as an OB-GYN could have negated any war-on-women spin from the Hagan campaign.
Brannon was also poorly-advised — not just in terms of campaign strategy, but also with the handling of his civil court case. That jury decision will likely be overturned on appeal. But Team Brannon allowed their opponents to define that case AND their candidate on their own terms. One of the primary rules in political campaigns is defining yourself before your opponents do it for you.
Tillis is a beneficiary of the same phenomenon — the same spin — that helped John McCain and Mitt Romney. He can win. The problem? We got a preview in the primary of the Democrat spin for the general. Sex with Lobbyists. Pay-to-play. The mean ol’ elderly-and-kid hating legislature. That spin will be aided by Tillis continuing to preside over the House while campaigning against Hagan.
And all of those legislators who went out shaking down people for campaign money for Tillis? You guys will be running for reelection during a time when your past sessions will be getting pounded by the national Democrats and Bill Barber’s rabble.