RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Conservative Republican Dan Bishop is the winner of a special election Tuesday in North Carolina for an open House seat. Stopping a Democratic capture of a GOP-leaning district. It was a narrow win making some wonder about whether President Donald Trump and Republican congressional candidates might face a tougher battle than they are hoping in 2020.
Bishop who was a North Carolina state senator is known as the writer of a law in NC stipulating which public bathrooms transgender people can use. Bishop defeated centrist Democrat Dan McCready. President Trump was showed up the night before the election so stump for Bishop. Trump got a slam into the establishment when he told the crowd a victory would be
“the first steps to firing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and winning back the House in 2020.”Donald Trump North Carolina
Dan McCready is a former Marine that became a financier of solar energy, was hoping the suburban moderates in the district to bring him over the top for a victory. He was common name in the area. He narrowly trailed in an election for the seat last election that was later invalidated after evidence surfaced of vote tampering and fraud.
Tuesday’s election had been seen as too close to call, in itself an ominous sign for Republicans. Trump won the district by 11 percentage points in 2016, and a loss would have been a worrisome preface to the party’s campaigns next year. Republicans have held the seat since 1963.
Special elections generally attract such low turnout that their results aren’t predictive of future general elections. Even so, a McCready victory, or even a narrow defeat, would have signaled that the Democrats’ 2018 string of victories in suburban districts in red states including Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas could persist.
There is almost no pathway to Republicans regaining House control next year unless they avoid losing more suburban districts and win back some they lost last year.
The district stretches from Charlotte, one of the nation’s financial nerve centers, through its flourishing eastern suburbs and into less prosperous rural counties along the South Carolina line. More than half its voters were expected to come from the suburbs.
Since Trump became president, voters in such communities — particularly women and college-educated voters — have abandoned Trump in droves over his conservative social policies and vitriolic rhetoric on immigration and race.
Along with a GOP victory in a second vacant House district in North Carolina, Republicans pared the Democratic majority in the House to 235-199, plus one independent. That means to win control of the chamber in 2020, Republicans will need to gain 19 seats, which a slew of GOP retirements, anti-Trump sentiment among moderate voters and demographic changes suggest will be difficult.
Suburban defections would also jeopardize the reelection prospects of Trump, who’s already facing slipping poll numbers. Limiting the erosion of those voters will be crucial for him to retain swing states like North Carolina, which he won by less than 4 percentage points in 2016.
“I am a registered Republican, but I am fed up with the agenda of the Republican Party,” said Bob Southern, 75, of Mint Hill, a Charlotte suburb. “I am so disappointed in this president, and he frightens me very much.”
“Bishop, his policies follow my convictions — after hearing Bishop, knowing that he’s for the Second Amendment and he’s against illegal immigration,” said Susie Sisk, 73, another retiree from Mint Hill. The registered Democrat said she voted for Bishop.
A McCready win would also have let Democrats brag that they controlled a congressional district that covers a piece of Charlotte, where next summer’s Republican National Convention will be held to renominate Trump.
Underscoring the GOP’s all-out effort to avoid a demoralizing defeat, Vice President Mike Pence also campaigned in the district on Monday. And while McCready outspent Bishop by nearly $3 million, top outside GOP groups poured in $6.4 million, outpacing Democrats’ $2.9 million and nearly evening out the expenditures.
The bathroom law that Bishop sponsored was repealed after it prompted a national outcry and boycotts that The Associated Press estimated cost North Carolina $3.7 billion.
Bishop bound himself tightly to Trump, backing his proposed border wall with Mexico and accusing Trump critics of being intent on “destroying him.” In a TV spot airing Election Day, he said his opponent is “backed by radicals” as the screen flashed the faces of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders and outspoken liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
McCready used his creation of a company that’s financed solar energy projects to cast himself as a job creator and environmental champion. He also focused on containing health care costs and ran a spot featuring his trademark promise to prioritize “country over party.”
The district had some issues with voter tampering this year when state officials voided its 2018 election, which McCready lost by 900 votes to then-GOP candidate Mark Harris. That decision followed allegations of ballot tampering by a Republican political consultant, and Harris opted to not run again.
Many people remember a very memorable moment last July when the president held a rally for Bishop in Greenville, NC. Trump said four Democratic women of color should “go back” to their home countries, though all but one was born in the U.S. The crowd began chanting “Send her back.” This was in retaliation of comments the women made about the president a few days prior. It was a long going battle of words and Twitter posts for a few weeks.