With the Democratic candidate, Dan McCready, already determined, all eyes are on the Republicans tonight as they attempt to hold a district that appeared to have narrowly stayed red, before election fraud convinced the state election board to hold a new election. The Republican embroiled in that, Mark Harris, opted not to run in the special election, so ten candidates hit the streets and media of Anson, Bladen, Cumberland, Mecklenburg, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland and Union Counties, hoping to earn the right to challenge McCready later this year.
Who are the candidates? The presumed front-runner is State Senator Dan Bishop, who is currently polling at 31% per Public Policy Polling and has the endorsement of Club for Growth, whose own poll has him at 30%. Nipping at his heels are Union County commissioner Stony Rushing (who received Mark Harris’ endorsement), former Mecklenburg County commissioner Matthew Ridenhour (who received former Congressman Robert Pittenger’s endorsement), and Leigh Brown, who has received an incredible $1.3 million in ad spending on her behalf from the Realtors’ Association. Rounding out the list of better-than-zero-chances are businesswoman Stevie Rivenbark and former State Senator Fern Shubert.
Polling, be it internal or public, finds Bishop ahead with Rushing a distant second. This matters going into tonight, because a runoff situation would delay the general election until November, while an outright win tonight- or concession from the second-place finisher- means the general election will be held on September 10th. Rushing is the only candidate to declare publicly he will not insist on a runoff if he comes in second place. Runoffs are not a sure thing- even if the first place finisher fails to clear 30%, the second place finisher needs to request one per state law.