The race that North Carolina’s political world has expected for months is finally here. It just doesn’t look quite like how we expected it to.
This special election was called after the State Board of Elections ruled that allegations of absentee by mail election fraud tainted the results of last November’s election, where Republican Mark Harris appeared to squeak out a 900-vote win over Democrat Dan McCready.
McCready has been campaigning non-stop since then as the investigation gobbled up national attention.
This district almost made more news for who opted NOT to run. Harris was eligible to run again but decided against it — citing his health. Former Gov. Pat McCrory stoked speculation that he would throw his hat in the ring, but ultimately decided against it.
Others who reportedly considered a bid but opted out are former Union County GOP leader Dan Barry, former Sen. Tommy Tucker of Union County, and former Charlotte mayoral candidate Kenny Smith.
Dan Bishop (R) The state senator was the lone General Assembly member from Mecklenburg County to survive the blue wave of 2018. He has a reputation as a social conservative, which will play well in neighboring Union County. Bishop is also a tough campaigner and will likely fight back hard against attacks against his authorship of the infamous “bathroom bill,” House Bill 2.
Matthew Ridenhour (R). The former Mecklenburg County commissioner has earned a reputation as a thoughtful and pragmatic leader. A former Marine who served in Iraq, Ridenhour has already started levying attacks on McCready, saying “it takes a Marine to beat a Marine.” Can he ramp up a Congressional campaign fast enough to avoid splitting votes with Bishop?
Stony Rushing (R). The Union County commissioner was the top vote-getter in that body He’s a plain-speaker and probably the most Trump-y of the bunch. Rushing also got the endorsement from Mark Harris — but will that help him or hurt him?
Dan McCready (D). McCready is the only Democrat to file for the race, but don’t expect him to breathe easy in this short campaign season. He’s a well-funded candidate who continues to bring in a lot of national support. Will he be able to continue to distance himself from the national Democratic Party now that they’ve taken the House?
The long shots
Stevie Rivenbark Hull (R). The Fayetteville sales manager has a super compelling story. She was nearly killed in a 2012 car accident while pregnant but elected to put off some medical care to carry her baby to term. However, it’s tough to win in this district without racking up votes in Mecklenburg and Union counties. Can Rivenbark get her message out in the Charlotte area?
Fern Shubert (R). She’s formerly Republican whip of the North Carolina state Senate, but hasn’t been elected to anything since 2002. Not for lack of trying. Shubert finished fifth in the 2004 gubernatorial primary, failed in a primary challenge to Sen. Tommy Tucker in 2010, and then finished third in the GOP primary for state auditor in 2012.
Jeff Scott (L). The Libertarian candidate is back in the race and will appear on the general election ballot. He came in with 1.8% of the vote in 2018. That could make a difference in a close race.
Leigh Thomas Brown (R). Brown is a Charlotte realtor, motivational speaker, and a newcomer to politics.
Allen Smith. Smith is a Green Party candidate and as the only one in the race, will appear on the general election ballot.
Gary Dunn (R)
Chris Anglin. Yes, this is the same Chris Anglin who changed his party affiliation to run as a Republican in the state Supreme Court race. He lives in Raleigh but for some reason wants to run here. Will he turn into a gadfly candidate?
Albert Lee Wiley, Jr. (R)
Kathie C. Day (R)