After Two Big Elections And One Scandal, NC's 9th District Is Quieter In 2020
In addition to the 8th U.S. House District race, the Charlotte area has another competitive congressional race. WFAE Morning Edition host Lisa Worf talks with politics reporter Steve Harrison about the 9th District.
Lisa Worf: Steve, this time two years ago, the 9th District race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready was arguably the biggest race in the state. And this time around, not so much.
Steve Harrison: Yes, exactly. For one thing, there is the presidential race, the Senate race, the governor’s race — and Democrats already have the House. But national Democrats are saving their powder for that 8th District race we just heard about.
And that’s interesting because both the 8th and 9th districts were tweaked in that redraw last year, and the 9th is also slightly more favorable for Democrats.
Worf: And that’s because Mecklenburg changed some, right?
Harrison: It did, yes. Some of the most conservative precincts in the county, like in Mint Hill, are now in the 12th District. And the 9th now has more Democratic areas, like some fast-growing precincts by Ardrey Kell High School in south Charlotte that have become more diverse and have gone blue in recent elections.
And there were other changes in the district, like Cumberland County and Bladen County leaving the 9th.
President Trump won the old 9th by nearly 11 percentage points. And the new district is now a Trump plus-10. So not a huge change. But Dan McCready might have won his first race if this were the district two years ago.
Worf: But McCready didn’t run again. Cynthia Wallace is the Democratic candidate. Tell me about her.
Harrison: She’s from Charlotte, and she works in financial services. She had previously been the party’s 9th District chair. Politically she’s running as a moderate, wanting to strengthen the Affordable Care Act rather than Medicare for all.
And she’s aware that among Democrats at all levels there is a bit of 9th District fatigue.
Cynthia Wallace (recording): Look, people put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in 9 for years. And I think I probably underestimated how much people put into this race. And people are tired.
Worf: And she is running against incumbent Republican Dan Bishop, who beat McCready in that special election last year after the mail-ballot scandal.
Harrison: Yes, Bishop is a Charlotte attorney and a social conservative who is a strong supporter of the president. He spoke at Trump’s Robeson County rally on Saturday and credited the president with putting him over the finish line in the special election last year when he held a rally in Fayetteville right before Election Day.
And here’s a sign of how the focus has shifted from the 9th. Wallace has raised about $750,000, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee isn’t putting money in the race. And Bishop has raised $1.3 million. That’s just not a lot of money.
For comparison, McCready raised $6.6 million for the first election in 2018.
Worf: And with the pandemic and everyone focused on the White House and the Senate, have either candidate broken through in terms of messaging?
Harrison: That’s a really good question. There hasn’t been a debate. And in-person campaigning has been limited. Republicans are doing more door-to-door canvassing, and Bishop has had the benefit of the president coming.
Wallace says she’s focusing on the rural counties in the eastern part of the 9th.
Wallace: When I was the district chair, the first place I had my convention when I could have chosen any place, I made sure we went to Richmond County. And that’s in the middle of the district. And that’s with no vision of Cynthia running.
Harrison: Those were the areas where McCready lost votes in the special election compared with the first race.
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