Tomorrow, North Carolina will hold their primary followed by a runoff on July 15th, if needed, in any race. This is an important state for the GOP as concerns the Senate. Incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan is vulnerable given her previous support for Obamacare which she is now trying to run from. Her approval rating has dropped dramatically over the course of its failed roll-out. Prior to October, 2013 this race was an outside shot for the GOP but has since taken on a new dynamic.
The problem for the Republicans is that there are nine candidates in the primary which all but ensures there will be a runoff. That runoff is two months away; two months lost attacking Hagan and attacking each other. In my opinion, although there are certainly some qualified people in the mix, this race will come down to two individuals- former state house speaker Thom Tillis and physician and Tea Party activist Greg Brannon.
This will most likely be an expensive race so fundraising ability is important. Hagan has a huge war chest approaching $10 million. The highest raising Republican is Tillis with close to $2 million, which is respectable. The problem is that a good portion will be eaten up in the primaries and perhaps a runoff. Using this metric alone, one would tend towards support of Tillis. However, he would enter the general election campaign with some ethical baggage left over from his time in the state legislature- baggage that will likely be a distraction from the central campaign theme and Hagan’s political Achille’s heel- Obamacare.
Brannon has been the choice of the brain trust here at Redstate. One needs to think as this race as pre-October, 2013 where the GOP had little to realistically lose. In this writer’s opinion, Greg Brannon would represent a more stark challenge to Hagan and more in-line with the North Carolina GOP electorate and their general electorate, provided they stick to the issues and not the extraneous ethical charges which would accompany Tillis. Therefore, this writer supports the candidacy of Greg Brannon to run against Kay Hagan in November.
2nd District- The 2nd District is represented by Renee Elmers who was first elected in 2010 and has been a fairly conservative voice in the House since. Apparently to some, including some here at Redstate, she is not conservative enough. This district takes in a good portion of the Raleigh suburbs. Facing her in the primary is radio talk show host and a previous failed candidate for state treasurer, Frank Roche. This race is interesting since some conservatives have soured on Elmers while on the Democratic side, former American Idol loser Clay Aiken has entered the race. This is a changing district and one that is not as conservative as many believe due to changing demographics. Changing representatives now may prove too much a risk. Therefore, this writer supports the reelection of Renee Elmers in North Carolina’s 2nd District.
3rd District- This coastal district is certainly more conservative/Republican than the aforementioned 2nd. Walter Jones has represented it since 1995 breaking a non-Republican hold dating back to 1871. Although facing three others in the primary, former political consultant Taylor Griffin is his toughest challenger. Jones is actually slightly less conservative than Elmers while representing a more conservative district. Confounding the situation is the fact that Jones’ fundraising totals leave something to be desired. Griffin, on the other hand, has exceeded expectations. Is it time for a change in the 3rd District? This writer does believe that doing so would not represent too much of a risk to retaining GOP control of the House. Therefore, I would support Taylor Griffin in the 3rd Congressional District.
6th District- Howard Coble, the Republican incumbent, is retiring creating an open race to replace him. There are 11 Republicans running to replace him with probably three of note: Bradley Walker, a Baptist minister, Phil Berger, and Bruce Voncannon. Berger and possibly Voncannon would likely be decent additions to the House given their resumes. But from a personal standpoint, my choice would be Bradley Walker given his positions on the issues. Therefore, he receives my endorsement. It should also be noted that this is a very conservative/Republican district.
7th District- The 7th District was last held by a Republican in 1871. In 2014, that may change. Democrat Mike McIntyre is retiring after representing this district since 1997. Since then, he has been a perennial target of the GOP, but has prevailed. The two Republicans in the field are David Rouzer and Woody White. In 2012, Rouzer lost to McIntyre by less than 700 votes. Given Rouzer’s previous performance against an incumbent and his fundraising ability, this writer gives the nod to David Rouzer. Some may disagree, especially since Eric Cantor, who many believe exemplifies the establishment GOP, recently endorsed Rouzer. Given the importance of winning this race to mitigate possible GOP losses elsewhere or to pad the GOP lead in the House, the ends justifies the means in a Democratic-controlled, but GOP-leaning district.
10th District- The 10th District is located in the western part of the state from the Tennessee to the South Carolina borders. Represented by incumbent Republican Patrick McHenry, he is opposed in the primary by Richard Lynch whose previous political experience was a 1993 run for the governor of New Jersey and a congressional candidate in his adopted North Carolina is 2012. Given McHenry’s resume versus that of Lynch coupled with McHenry’s superior fundraising ability and the fact that the Democrats will field a fairly decent opponent in Asheville mayor Terry Bellamy and therefore considering the risk factor, this writer endorses Patrick McHenry in this primary.