Candidate filing closed Friday for North Carolina’s March 3 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders here. A runoff will be held May 12 in races where no one takes at least 30% of the vote, but a second round of voting only takes place if the runner-up officially requests it.
North Carolina recently redrew its congressional districts due to litigation challenging the prior map. To help make sense of the new state of play, Daily Kos Elections has put together a cheat-sheet that includes each new seat’s 2016 and 2012 presidential results as well as the 2016 gubernatorial results; a geographic description of each district; a list of the notable candidates running there; and the proportion of each old seat that makes up each new district.
We’ve also calculated a giant pile of new data for the new districts:
Below we’ll also review the field that’s assembled in the state’s contests for Senate and governor, as well as all of its key House races.
NC-Sen: GOP Sen. Thom Tillis will be a top Democratic target in this competitive state, but he no longer needs to worry about winning renomination. Tillis’ main intra-party foe, wealthy businessman Garland Tucker, dropped out in early December, and none of the people who ended up filing look capable of giving the incumbent a serious fight.
On the Democratic side, the DSCC and other national groups have consolidated behind former state Sen. Cal Cunningham, who served with the Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan and lost the 2010 primary for the state’s other Senate seat. Also in the race are two current elected officials, state Sen. Erica Smith and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller.
A Braun Research poll for Fox News conducted in November found Smith leading Cunningham 18-13, while Fuller took 10%. However, Cunningham may have much more room to grow because he ended September with a huge $1.1 million to $56,000 cash-on-hand lead over Smith, while Fuller had less than $500 to spend.
NC-Gov: Two Republicans are competing to take on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has been raising money for years for this race, while state Rep. Holly Grange entered the contest in July without much cash. However, some GOP leaders reportedly believe that Grange could be a more electable nominee than Forest, who was an ardent supporter of the anti-LGBTQ "bathroom bill" HB2 and warned about the “diversity and multiculturalism that America faces today” in a hate-filled sermon in June.
NC-02: GOP Rep. George Holding decided to retire after redistricting transformed his gerrymandered 53-44 Trump seat into a compact Raleigh-based district that Hillary Clinton carried 60-36 and that Democrats are all but assured to flip.
The most prominent Democratic contender at this point in the race is 2016 Senate nominee Deborah Ross, a former state representative who lost an expensive contest to GOP Rep. Richard Burr 51-45 but easily carried this seat.
Another candidate who entered the race after redistricting is former Obama administration official Andrew Terrell, who would be North Carolina’s first gay member of Congress. Wake County School Board member Monika Johnson-Hostler was running against Holding before the seat was redrawn, but she had just $28,000 on-hand at the end of September.
NC-05: While GOP Rep. Virginia Foxx only represents 28% of this new seat, no one filed to challenge her in the primary. Gaston County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tracy Philbeck had expressed interest earlier this month, but he announced just before filing closed that he’d stay out. This district, which includes the Western Piedmont and Appalachia, is safely red at 67-30 Trump.
NC-06: GOP Rep. Mark Walker decided not to run for anything in 2020 after redistricting replaced his gerrymandered 56-41 Trump district with a seat in the Greensboro and Winston-Salem area that backed Hillary Clinton 59-38.
Five Democrats are competing for another district that’s almost certainly going to flip in November. The candidate who is likely most familiar to readers is Kathy Manning, a prominent Greensboro philanthropist and former lawyer who was the 2018 Democratic nominee in the previous 13th District. Manning lost the expensive contest to GOP Rep. Ted Budd 52-46, but since the old 13th District makes up 44% of the new 6th, she may benefit from residual name recognition.
The only current elected official in the contest is state Rep. Derwin Montgomery, who served almost a decade on the Winston-Salem City Council before getting appointed to the legislature in the middle of last year.
Former state Rep. Ed Hanes, the man who unexpectedly resigned from the seat Montgomery now holds, also is running here. During his time in the state House, Hanes was one of the few Democrats to support a GOP school voucher program. Hanes was also fined $1,000 by the state in 2018 after auditors found he’d used campaign money to pay for personal things like a “gym consultation fee.”
Also in the race is Rhonda Foxx, a former chief of staff to Rep. Alma Adams. Finally there’s former Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis, who lost to Budd 56-44 in the old 13th District while Trump was carrying the seat 53-44. Davis was last on the ballot in 2017 when he lost a race for mayor of High Point by just 41 votes.
NC-08: Redistricting moved GOP Rep. Richard Hudson’s seat a bit to the left from 56-41 Trump to 53-44 Trump, and he faces a challenge this year from former state Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who was the only Democrat to file.
Timmons-Goodson’s 2006 appointment made her the first black woman to ever serve on the state’s highest court, and she served until her 2012 retirement. Barack Obama appointed Timmons-Goodson to the United States Commission on Civil Rights in 2014 and nominated her for a federal judgeship two years later, but GOP Sen. Richard Burr successfully blocked her.
This seat, which includes Fayetteville and the Charlotte suburbs, is conservative turf, but it could be winnable under the right circumstances: In 2016, Republican Pat McCrory carried the district by a modest 52-45 as he was narrowly losing statewide. However, Hudson will start out with a big financial head start. The four-term incumbent ended September with nearly $1.1 million in the bank, while Timmons-Goodson only entered the race in mid-December.
NC-09: GOP Rep. Dan Bishop narrowly won a very expensive special election here in September, and he still holds a 54-43 Trump seat after redistricting.
A few Democrats are running for this district, which includes the Sandhills and Charlotte suburbs, and the only current elected official is Hoke County Commissioner Harry Southerland. However, Hoke County makes up just 6% of this seat, so Southerland won’t start with much of a geographic base of support. Southerland also was disbarred in 2004 after the State Bar ruled he’d misused money he’d been holding in trust for clients, though he was allowed to apply for reinstatement after five years.
Also in the race is financial services vice president Cynthia Wallace, who serves as 9th District Democratic chair.
NC-11: GOP Rep. Mark Meadows announced his retirement on Thursday, one day before filing closed, and 12 Republicans filed to succeed him in this 57-40 Trump seat in Appalachian North Carolina.
The only elected official in the bunch is state Sen. Jim Davis (no, not the Garfield guy. And no, not the former Florida Democratic congressman). Also in the race is businesswoman Lynda Bennett, who is a longtime GOP activist and vice party chair in Haywood County, and Meadows’ Deputy Chief of Staff Wayne King. We also have businessman Vance Patterson, who lost the 2012 runoff to Meadows 76-24. It’s also always possible that one of the other candidates in this crowded contest will catch fire ahead of the primary.
On the Democratic side, the field includes Air Force veteran Morris Davis, music producer Michael O’Shea, and a few contenders who raised almost no money through September. Republican Pat McCrory carried the seat by a modest 52-45 margin as he was very narrowly losing the 2016 gubernatorial race, so a strong Democratic nominee may be able to make things interesting.
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