With New Maps, NC Democrats Seek To Flip 8th District
Last year, a three-judge panel ordered the North Carolina General Assembly to draw new congressional maps.
One of those redrawn districts is the 8th. The city of Fayetteville, a Democratic stronghold, is no longer split in two, which had diluted the strength of African American voters.
President Trump won the old 8th District by 15 percentage points in 2016, but the new district is much better for Democrats.
“Trump won it,” said Democratic political consultant Thomas Mills, who is working for the Democratic candidate Patricia Timmons-Goodson. “I think (Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper) lost it by 4. Attorney General Josh Stein lost it by 3. It’s kind of the epitome of a swing district.”
Timmons-Goodson was the first African American woman on the North Carolina Supreme Court, where she served from 2006 to 2012.
She said she looked at the makeup of the new district late last year when deciding whether to run.
“I looked at the fact that Cumberland County (home to Fayetteville) represents 40% to 42% of the population,” she said. “I looked at the fact that a quarter of the district is brand new to the incumbent. And he would be introducing himself just as I’m having to introduce myself.”
The incumbent is Republican Richard Hudson, who was first elected to the 8th in 2012 after Republicans redrew the district to remove Democratic-leaning parts of Charlotte.
Hudson’s campaign did not respond to requests for an interview.
The race is tight enough that the Congressional Leadership Fund, which works to elect Republican candidates, recently announced it’s spending $2 million on ads attacking Timmons-Goodson. The group has now spent $3.6 million to bolster Hudson.
One ad accused Timmons-Goodwin of being “soft on crime.” It says she is “backed by those working to defund the police.”
Her campaign says the ad is a “desperate smear” and that she has always been supportive of law enforcement.
Timmons-Goodson is running on health care — as many Democratic candidates are.
“I am talking about him standing with those that are seeking through the lawsuit to do away with the Affordable Care Act in the face of a pandemic,” she said.
Outside groups have spent roughly $2 million to boost Timmons-Goodwin’s campaign, including money from the House Majority PAC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Mills says national Democratic groups have been cautious about spending money in North Carolina, after disappointments like losing the 9th District congressional race twice in a year.
“There’s been a little bit of skepticism about congressional races,” he said. “So before we really got a lot of attention from some of these outside groups, we needed to show that Pat was the candidate that we all believed she was.”
But even though national groups are spending money, it’s not clear if their message is breaking through. In an election dominated by the presidential and Senate races — plus the pandemic — congressional races may depend almost entirely on coattails.
At an early voting site at the Embassy Suites hotel near Charlotte Motor Speedway, a dozen voters were up-to-date on the Senate race between incumbent Republican Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham.
But are they following the 8th District race?
“You know I haven’t,” said John Rutledge of Harrisburg. “I don’t know as much about that. And again, being so pro-Republican, that was a non-issue to me.”
Part of that is because most of the TV advertising has been in the Raleigh market, to cover Cumberland, Lee and Harnett counties at the eastern end of the district. There has been little advertising on Charlotte TV, which covers Cabarrus County.
And the two candidates didn’t have a debate.
So voters like Patricia and Kal Mian were enthusiastic to vote against President Trump, but didn’t know about their congressional race. They said they “didn’t follow the race much” and weren’t sure of what district they were in.
There are two women in North Carolina’s congressional delegation – Democrat Alma Adams and Republican Virginia Foxx.
Another two — Democrats Kathy Manning and Deborah Ross — are expected to win seats in Greensboro and Raleigh because new maps heavily favor them.
In addition to Timmons-Goodson in the 8th, Democrat Cynthia Wallace is running in the 9th District, which includes south Charlotte.
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