Fact Check: It's True - Half Of The 9th District GOP Candidates Don't Live There

May 1, 2019

Early voting has started in the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional seat, and that field is packed. In this week’s fact check of North Carolina politics, we take a look at a claim made by candidate Stony Rushing.

“Ten candidates for the 9th district. Five can’t even vote in this race because they do not live in this district,” Rushing said in a campaign ad. He lives in Union County, one of the eight counties the 9th district includes.

The News & Observer’s Paul Specht joined WFAE’s Lisa Worf to dive into Rushing’s claim.

Lisa Worf: So, Paul, is this indeed the case – that five candidates in the Republican primary do not live in the district? 

Paul Specht: It is true. This came across our radar after a Republican candidate debate in Fayetteville, and Rushing posted about it on his Facebook. Then he made a campaign ad out of it. And we thought it would be interesting to see if it's true and cross-check the addresses of the candidates with the districts they live in. And that can be done by going to the State Board of Elections website and using what they call the "voter lookup" tool.

It turns out he's right. Five of them don't live in the district.

Worf: Did that surprise you?

Specht: No, not necessarily. His ad gives sort of a menacing tone to it that may not necessarily be warranted. That's his own personal sort of spin on the issue. The federal laws allow people to run for Congress in districts that they don't live in. In fact, it's something that's quite common.

Worf: I knew Sue Myrick — who represented the 9th Congressional District for 12 years — she did not live in the district for at least a good part of her time in Congress. She lived in Charlotte's Fourth Ward just a couple doors down from the 12th District Rep. Mel Watt.

Specht: That's right. And even in this case, some of the people running for the seat don't live in the district but live just outside of it — maybe within a few miles. Those include Kathy Day, who lives in Cornelius. That's the 12th district but not far from the Charlotte end of District 9.

Then there's Stevie Rivenbark. She lives in Fayetteville. And if you look at the map that we have online you can see there's a dot that represents her home, and it is right outside the boundary on the Fayetteville end of this district.

And then there's Leigh Thomas Brown and she lives in Harrisburg. Again, the Charlotte side but not far outside the district.

The two that are nowhere close to District 9 are Chris Anglin of Raleigh — he's quite a ways probably, at least an hour's drive to the border of the district near Fayetteville. And then there's Albert Lee Wiley, Jr., who lives in Atlantic Beach. He's the sort of greenish blue dot on our map that's way out on the side on the Outer Banks. Very obvious. The interesting thing about Mr. Wiley is that he's running in District 9 although he lives in District 3, where there's another special election that he could have run for.

Worf: That is odd.

Specht: I'm not quite sure why he made his decision that way but, alas, here we are.

Those who live pretty close to the 9th District — I can't help but think those lines are changing so much these days that, you know, it's kind of a moving target at this point it feels like.

Specht: That's right. You know they're changed every 10 years. You know 2020 is right around the corner here. So, these issues and the lines — don't be surprised if you hear about them again.

Worf: So I take it in this race, Rushing is mentioning the idea that hey you don't know the district if you don't live in it.

Specht: That's exactly right. We reached out to his campaign and a spokesman for him said you know, hey some of these people they don't know the issues. And we're obviously not going to weigh in on whether or not he's right or how capable they are.

But it's a diverse district. You know you have much of the banking industry and Charlotte — you know, very urban and very sort of white collar. And then you have sort of the rural areas in between Charlotte and Fayetteville, which is a big military hub. And so there's certainly a lot of different voices and a lot of different needs that this district has.

Paul Specht will be joining WFAE’s Morning Edition every Wednesday to Fact Check North Carolina news. If you have any claims you want the PolitiFact team to check out, you can email them at factcheck@newsobserver.com.