During an hourlong debate Wednesday night, Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop talked about his record of passing legislation in Raleigh. But his opponent, Democrat Dan McCready, did not counter by mentioning the piece of legislation Bishop is most known for nationally: His sponsorship of House Bill 2.
President Trump won the 9th Congressional District by 12 percentage points, and the McCready campaign apparently chose not t steer the discussion to discuss gay, lesbian and transgender rights. Neither candidate was asked about HB2.
McCready instead focused on health care – the issue Democrats nationwide ran on in 2018. McCready attacked Bishop over a 2017 health care bill.
"He took the only vote – from either party – against pharmacists being able to tell people about lower cost drugs, and now big pharma is funding his campaign," McCready said during the debate, sponsored by WBTV and the Charlotte Observer.
Bishop countered by saying McCready was distorting his position, and that he actually supported the bill. He didn’t vote for the final version, he said, because he didn’t have time to make sure necessary changes were made.
"You know that I voted for the companion bill," Bishop said. "So you have reiterated again, after having been called out, and you have just ignored that fact. And you just added another falsehood, in which you said that I’m supported by big pharma. There was a fact check on that very claim, and they said you have received tens of thousands of dollars and I’ve received none."
McCready pivoted to Bishop’s refusal to expand Medicaid in North Carolina.
"His blocking of Medicaid expansion is sending our tax dollars that we’re already paying to other states," McCready said. "We’re already paying for it."
The candidates were asked about immigration. Bishop blasted the decision of some North Carolina sheriffs – including Garry McFadden in Mecklenburg County – to refuse to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He said McCready supports that policy.
As a state senator, Bishop supported legislation to require sheriffs to bring detainer requests to a magistrate or judge.
"Now, the governor vetoed that bill," Bishop said, "because the governor favors sanctuary city policies, and Dan McCready said the governor made the right call. Wrong, Dan."
McCready said he believes violent criminals should be in jail and said Bishop was “playing partisan politics” by attacking law enforcement. He then shifted to talking about his service in the U.S. Marine Corps.
On gun control, McCready said he wants universal background checks but doesn’t support banning assault weapons or high-capacity magazines.
Bishop has said he opposes banning assault weapons, but he left the door open to a some form of gun control.
"I don’t rule out that some form of weapon needs to be prohibited," Bishop said.
Bishop didn’t say what type of weapon could be prohibited, though he said he supported the ban on bump stocks.
Toward the end of the debate, Bishop was able to ask McCready a question. He challenged McCready on the Democratic Party’s funding of the Bladen County Improvement Association, a group that Republicans have accused of ballot fraud in the 2016.
He mentioned that a Bladen Improvement worker – Lola Wooten – had dropped off bundles of absentee ballot mail request forms during the 2016 election.
"She was paid by the Bladen County Improvement Association," Bishop said. "The Bladen County Improvement Association was in turn paid by the federal account of the North Carolina Democratic Party, and the federal account was funded by your campaign. Can you explain what steps you took to ensure that Lola Wooten wasn’t harvesting ballots?”
The question gave McCready a second opportunity during the debate to discuss the scandal.
"Let me answer this question by sharing my horror that after the largest case of election fraud in American history, a fraud that took place in our towns in North Carolina, where people lost their right to vote, and instead of offering one bit of remorse or sympathy - Dan Bishop is now trying to blame Democrats," McCready said.
Early voting has already started in the race. Election day is Sept. 10.