After Tuesday's primary, the conditions are ripe for Dan McCready to win North Carolina's 9th Congressional District.
Two months after Marine veteran Conor Lamb stunned the political world by flipping Pennsylvania’s deeply conservative 18th Congressional District blue, a similar situation is unfolding in North Carolina. Democrat Dan McCready is suddenly in a competitive race for North Carolina’s 9th District.
McCready is in many ways a dream candidate. He is another Marine vet and the founder of a solar power investment company. And he is running on a platform of abolishing both Citizens United and gerrymandering, expanding access to health care, and protecting teachers and veterans.
As the Charlotte Observer notes, McCready “motivated voters to get to the polls in unusual numbers. Far more Democratic voters than Republicans turned out in Congressional District 9, even though it’s a Republican-leaning district and had a more competitive Republican primary than Democratic one.”
But McCready’s chances were boosted even more on Tuesday night when incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger lost his primary — the first sitting Republican this cycle to do so.
Pittenger, who recently proclaimed it would have been “socialism” to put relief for the poor and middle class in the GOP tax scam, was always vulnerable, having only won his 2016 primary by 134 votes. But this a gross humiliation for the GOP, who sent Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to help Pittenger win.
The new GOP nominee who dethroned him, Baptist preacher Mark Harris, is a far-right firebrand whose anti-LGBT activism was a driving force behind the passage of North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill.”
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, McCready enters the general election with a massive fundraising advantage, having raised a war chest of $1.2 million. Harris’ cash on hand? Just $70,000.
McCready still has challenges. North Carolina’s 9th District voted for Trump by 12 points. However, this makes the district considerably less conservative than Pennsylvania’s 18th District, which Democrats flipped despite Trump having won it by 20 points. And with Pittenger gone, the Center for Politics has changed the race’s rating from Lean R to Toss-up.
Little by little, Democrats like McCready are expanding the map — and putting the GOP on notice.