GOP Candidates Say They'll Skip League of Women Voters Forums

Sep 19, 2018

Updated: 11 a.m.

Some local Republican candidates will skip upcoming forums co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, saying the organization is biased against the GOP.

"I think everyone is out," said Republican political consultant Larry Shaheen.

Republican House member Scott Stone, who is running for re-election in District 105 in south Charlotte against Democrat Wesley Harris, said he won't attend his forum next week.

"They have become a partisan group," Stone said.

Stone has participated in televised debates in the past that were sponsored in part by the League of Women Voters, including debates for a mayoral run in Charlotte and two years ago for his house race.

He said the questions two years ago were biased and that he no longer considers the League of Women Voters as nonpartisan.

The forum is called "A Women's Perspective on Issues." The first forum is Thursday night and is for Mecklenburg Commission and North Carolina State Senate candidates. Candidates for the North Carolina House are scheduled for Sept. 25, and other races — including judicial races — are scheduled for Oct. 4.

The forums will be held at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte.

The league is one of 14 sponsors for the forums. Others include the Charlotte Women's March, National Coalition of 100 Black Women and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.

The League of Women Voters of North Carolina said on its website that it's a "nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy."

It says it "neither supports nor opposes candidates or parties."

"I decry the fact that we do have so many Republican candidates as well as incumbents who fail to show up at these forums," said Delores Hurt, the president of the League of Women Voters. "(We) are an organization that is non-partisan, although we are political in that we take a position on issues and our goal is to educate the public and to get them involved in voting in the democratic process that we have in this country."

But in North Carolina's bitter political fights, the league has been on the opposing side of some issues for the Republican Party.

The League of Women Voters, along with Common Cause North Carolina, were plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the GOP leadership of the General Assembly over its congressional map. A three-judge panel recently ruled that the map was an unconstitutional gerrymander.

The league and Common Cause said that the maps should be used for this fall's election because there isn't enough time to draw new maps before Nov. 6. Republicans hold 10 of the state's 13 congressional seats.

Republican House member Andy Dulin, who is running for reelection against Democrat Brandon Lofton for District 104, also said he won't attend.

“There is no real reason for me to go participate in something with a group that’s suing me and suing the state and doing damage," Dulin said. "We’re making positive strides for the state. And the League of Women Voters are an active participant is suing us, and that’s no reason for me to go and participate."