Four Democrats in North Carolina's second congressional district plan to challenge incumbent Republican candidate U.S. Rep. George Holding, R-N.C. in November 2018 as a part of a larger national trend in response to President Donald Trump's election.
Of the 435 House seats up for election, 240 are currently held by Republicans and 194 by Democrats.
North Carolina's second congressional district may be a location in which Democrats can focus their efforts to flip the congressional majority in their favor.
Holding, a Raleigh native who was elected in 2016, currently represents the second district. The district encompasses many of the counties surrounding Raleigh.
Ken Romley, a Raleigh businessman and one of Holding's challengers, said in a statement he has always been interested in the Democratic Party's policy.
“The recent efforts by the Republicans on issues like undermining our healthcare system and proposing tax breaks for their really, really rich friends has compelled me to run for office and replace our disengaged representative, George Holding, with someone who cares,” he said.
Sam Searcy, a candidate also running against Holding, said in an email Republicans in Congress continuously vote to strip healthcare from North Carolinians.
“I’m running to work for North Carolinians by protecting their access to quality, affordable healthcare and to help create good paying jobs here in our district," he said.
Romley and Searcy, along with candidates Wendy May and Linda Coleman, appear to be part of a larger movement of Democrats vying for historically Republican seats throughout the country.
According to a study by the Brookings Institute, by the end of June 2009, before Republicans took control of the House, there were only 78 GOP challengers who had raised at least $5,000 in campaign funds. As of the end of June 2017, there were 209 Democrats who had raised at least that amount, which could serve as an early prediction of a shift in House control in 2018.
While many of these Democrats have clustered together to challenge one Republican incumbent, such as in North Carolina’s second congressional district and New York’s 19th, they are also spreading out, opposing Republican incumbents in 105 districts throughout the country.
May said what happened at the Democratic National Convention and with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spurred a progressive movement.
"It has stirred the pot to get people interested in running which I think is a great thing," she said. "I believe there should not be anyone who is running unopposed."
Wayne Goodwin, North Carolina Democratic Party chairperson said people are angry and frustrated with many Republicans' divisive actions.
"Representative Holding fits right in with that bunch, spending his time in office protecting his family’s bank rather than meeting with constituents," he said. "People across the state are acting on that frustration by standing up and fighting for a new direction.”
Democrats in North Carolina’s second congressional district and throughout the country face several challenges running against an incumbent in a historically red district.
Michael Cobb, political science professor at N.C. State University, said the Democratic party has a small chance of winning the second district if the demographics don’t change.
“The seat is gerrymandered like almost all the seats in the state,” said Cobb. “It’s designed to elect a Republican. It’s got a buffer. The demographics aren’t changing.”
Cobb says it’s too early to tell if there will be a tidal wave of Democratic wins in 2018, but that as of right now, he doesn’t see it happening.
“North Carolina is just as bad as it could possibly be,” he said. “You have a roughly 50/50 state with a 10 to 3 delegation split. That is just absurd.”
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