Welcome to my diary series titled Majority Savers! I will run a new article every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday starting next week. The goal of this series is to highlight races that may make or break our current slender majorities in Congress. That means I will start more with incumbent Senators and House members until some primary elections are settled. If I have time, I will expand it to governors as well in critical swing states.
If you want to find my previous entries in this series, I recommend following me or searching for #MajoritySavers as a tag!
I have six ground rules behind the philosophy of this series. I’d ask you all to respect them as best you can, because these are taking me quite a long time to write. Here are my ground rules.
This State Senator from North Carolina is from a seat that hasn’t gone for a Republican since the days of Reconstruction. To boot, this seat was once near majority black, but as black people have moved away over the years, it has grown steadily more perilous a seat to hold. Majority Savers highlights State Sen. Don Davis, who is running for North Carolina’s 1st district!
As with many candidates that are more obscure, I had trouble finding information on the background of State Sen. Don Davis. I used his campaign site primarily for this information.
- Davis graduated from the Air Force Academy and was posted eventually to eastern North Carolina, where he became a professor at Eastern Carolina University. His courses ranged from national security issues to leadership, where he mentored countless students.
- Before winning election to the State Senate, Davis was the mayor of Snow Hill, which is where he is originally from and spent most of his childhood. At age 29, he became one of the youngest mayors in eastern North Carolina. He was able to get his hands dirty in local politics before heading to the bigger races.
- When first elected to the State Senate, Davis was located in a swing seat. He narrowly won his first election and then lost in 2010 like so many other Democratic incumbents did. He won the revamped district in 2012 and has held it easily since.
State Sen. Don Davis has a reputation as a more moderate voice in the NC State Senate, and it is likely that will continue in the House of Representatives should he be elected. Many black southern Democratic members of Congress are a lot more moderate because the voters found in their districts are that way. They are Democratic voters, not necessarily liberal voters.
Rural Agriculture: One of the still dominant industries in eastern North Carolina is tobacco farming. Davis supports rural broadband initiatives to connect farmers with their potential customers more easily. He also supports climate change legislation as the climate becomes more brutal for farmers in the area and rising sea levels impact the area significantly.
Health Care: Although known for being personally against abortion and even supporting some restrictions, Davis on his campaign site says that Roe vs. Wade needs to be codified into law. He also is concerned with the high black maternal and infant mortality rate in eastern North Carolina. Many parts of eastern North Carolina are found in health care deserts. Davis will work to expand Medicaid so that health outcomes in his district improve.
Equity and Justice: Davis importantly will push for criminal justice reform when he reaches Congress. In North Carolina, he pushed to raise the age at which a child can be tried as an adult as this often is used against black youth disproportionately. Davis will work for a fairer criminal justice system for all. He also supports background checks and red flag laws to curb the epidemic of gun violence.
Recent Elections —
2020 President: Joe Biden (D) 53.1%, TFG (R-inc) 45.8%
2020 House: GK Butterfield (D-inc) 54.2%, Sandy Adams (R) 45.8%
2022 Race Rating: Leans Democratic
2022 PVI: D+3
This district hasn’t gone for a Republican since the days of Reconstruction, which is a notable achievement. However, for most of the history of the district, white supremacy was the rule of the day as the majority black population was largely disenfranchised. In fact, it wasn’t until 1992 that this district first won black representation with Rep. Eva Clayton.
For a while, there were enough black people in eastern North Carolina to make the district majority black (or very nearly so). However, increasing population elsewhere combined with a decreasing population in the rural portions of this district led to a dilemma in 2010 redistricting. The VRA was still not gutted by the Roberts Court, meaning this district could not be retrogressed. To make it majority black, the district reached out to the Research Triangle and packed in as many voters there as possible.
Needless to say, this was one of many unconstitutional districts that was fixed late in the decade by the NC Supreme Court. However, there was the side effect that this district became much less safe as the percentage of black people dropped when the Research Triangle was removed and the lines cleaned up. The previous incumbent, Rep. GK Butterfield, had his first close race in 2020 and retired promptly afterwards. This district (after once again being struck down by the NC Supreme Court) is now a light blue hue, but it could still fall if we are not prepared!
Political Tour of the District
This district is now majority white, as the snaky lines to capture all of the major cities in eastern North Carolina have been removed in favor of a much more clean looking map. The district still includes some of the cities — such as Rocky Mount, Wilson, and Greenville. What is different about this district is that it contains a lot of the white majority rural turf surrounding these cities now, which makes it a swing seat.
Here’s where this race will be won in the 1st district.
- Rocky Mount, Wilson, Greenville: These small cities are heavily majority black, and are the Democratic anchors of the district. It is very important that Davis get extremely high turnout from these three cities in order to win. Lackadaisical turnout will doom him.
- Rural Black Counties: Vance, Warren, Northampton, Hertford, Washington, and Bertie Counties are still majority black counties in this primarily rural district. Rural black turnout can be difficult to get, but Davis will have to find a way to do so in this critical swing seat in order to hold the district.
Here’s where we need to keep the margins down, or we lose.
- Research Triangle Exurbs: The western portion of the district encroaches upon the Research Triangle but does not actually reach it. Many of the precincts in the western portion are becoming white flight exurbs of the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area, and are extremely conservative. Davis better hope turnout in this area is lower than in the rest of the district.
- Inner Banks: The eastern portion of the district approaches the Outer Banks but does not include them. This area is also very conservative and GQP in nature. Davis better hope that turnout in this area by Elizabeth City is lesser than the rest of the district.
Activism — Help How You Can!
State Sen. Don Davis raised a paltry $283k for the 1st quarter of 2022, which is frankly not good enough in what will likely be a hotly contested election. Dark money came to his rescue in the primary, and it will likely attack and defend him once the general election rolls around. His saving graces are these: he had significant primary opposition that took some funds that might’ve gone to him and none of the Republicans raised much either.
Davis also has a weak $324k cash on hand, which again is a sign that he was drained by the competitive primary election that just concluded last month. His GQP opponent, Sandy Davis, also has a drained coffers with only $232k cash on hand. This is likely a race where dark money will be prominent, meaning Davis needs contributions ASAP.
DONATE TO DON DAVIS HERE
If you live in the vicinity of eastern North Carolina, this would be an excellent chance to volunteer for the Davis campaign. You can sign up at https://votedondavis.com/ in order to help his campaign. Do know that you will be helping Senate candidate Cheri Beasley at the very same time. It’s a 2 for 1 deal!
State Sen. Don Davis has a paltry 2,219 followers on Twitter, which shows that his campaign needs to grow significantly in its social media presence. You can help with that by following him on Twitter and helping get his message out.
Davis is also on Facebook at DonDavisNC, just in case you peruse Facebook instead of Twitter.
Thank you for continuing to read the Majority Savers articles. I enjoy writing them, but without people reading them frequently, there would be no point in me writing them! State Sen. Don Davis is definitely the right choice in trying to make sure this historically black district continues to have black representation!
Raphael Warnock Dr. Yadira Caraveo Frank Mrvan, Jr. Cheri Beasley
Emilia Sykes Catherine Cortez Masto Dr. Kim Schrier Cindy Axne
Jared Golden Dan Kildee Elaine Luria Greg Stanton
Lauren Underwood Susie Lee Matt Cartwright Maggie Hassan
Greg Landsman Tom O’Halleran