Some of you may be aware that, in ten days (on Tuesday, September 10), a competitive Congressional special election will take place. (Technically, it’s already taking place with early voting underway.) In North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district (anchored by southeastern Charlotte suburbs and the Fayetteville area), a do-over election is happening due to Republican election fraud.
The district is fairly red territory: Trump won the district in 2016 by 11 points, and it’s rated a Cook PVI R+8. Nevertheless, due to a combination of factors including Republican corruption, Trump’s unpopularity, and the candidates involved, the race is competitive. In fact, a bipartisan poll released yesterday gave the Democrat a narrow edge, made all the more meaningful by early voting numbers that show Democratic turnout outpacing Republican turnout.
Also, the candidates involved allow for stark contrasts. The new Republican nominee (new because the 2018 nominee whose campaign committed election fraud opted against running again, go figure), state senator Dan Bishop, is the author of North Carolina’s since-repealed “bathroom bill” that was done away with after folks learned just how expensive hate is. One of his claims to, um, fame is likening his anti-LGBTQ efforts to Oskar Schindler saving Jews during the Holocaust. His messaging is focused squarely on the Trumpian tentpoles of scary immigrants and creeping socialism, with ample boogeymanning of AOC. The Democratic nominee, Dan McCready, is a decorated Iraq War veteran and clean energy entrepreneur who has worked to expand solar energy in North Carolina. Democrats’ messaging has focused squarely on healthcare, which proved a winner in the 2018 blue wave, and shows no signs of abating here given Bishop’s record.
So why is this one race important? What can we learn and what impact might it have? After all, Democrats already have the House majority. And why should Democrats in Massachusetts, or anywhere else across the country outside of this district, care about what happens here?
This race will have outsize impact setting the tone for 2020.
1] Bishop’s/the GOP’s message here is, as noted, Trump’s message nationally. McCready’s/the Democrats’ message here is, as noted, much the same healthcare message delivered successfully in 2018. If the GOP message isn’t a comfortably winning, effectively resonant message in this district, it bodes poorly for the effectiveness of an identical message from Trump in those swing suburban districts that we’re told will decided the 2020 Presidency.
2] If Republicans can’t win this R+8 district comfortably, it will indicate that the GOP has virtually no chance to reclaim the House majority this cycle, as they’ll have to win numerous seats in much bluer territory than NC-09. As a result, big dollar GOP donors may slow the flow of cash to the NRCC and GOP House candidates, further crippling GOP efforts to defend current GOP-held seats and to flip blue seats red.
3] The House GOP has endured a seemingly high number of announced retirements for this relatively early point in the cycle. Certainty that the GOP will not reclaim the House majority will prompt even more members who aren’t about that House minority status life to retire, including members from flippable seats (looking your way, Fred Upton MI-06, Jim Sensenbrenner WI-05, Mike Kelly PA-16, et. al.). These additional retirements, coupled with slowed House GOP fundraising, will further cement a guaranteed Democratic House majority for next cycle.
If this race is even close (and all indications are that it will be), it is a really bad sign for Republicans. If the Democrat wins, pundits will use the “panic button” metaphor liberally in the days following this election.
So, how can you help Democrat Dan McCready defeat Republican Dan Bishop and send the GOP into a panic (and send the rest of us to monitor the House GOP Retirement Watch)?
1] Help support McCready’s GOTV efforts (again, with early voting already underway) with a contribution.
In ten days, we may learn a lot about, and have a much clearer view of, the (in)effectiveness of Trump’s expected 2020 message, the likelihood of Republicans having any real chance at reclaiming the House majority, and the rate at which House Republican retirement dominoes might fall.