Eric Cable’s bid to become North Carolina’s first Libertarian legislator pits him against Republican Dan Bishop in a GOP-dominated district.
One will succeed Rep. Ruth Samuelson, who opted not to run for a fifth term representing House District 104 in south Charlotte. Democrats didn’t run a challenger.
Bishop, a lawyer specializing in business litigation, served as a Mecklenburg County commissioner from 2004 to 2008. He says those experiences, and a lifetime in Charlotte, give him a deep understanding of local issues that “utopian” politics can’t match.
“I’m conservative, but I believe you have to temper ideology with practical experience,” he said.
His Libertarian opponent, who lost a run for Charlotte City Council last year, says voters are eager for a new political approach.
“People are pulling away from both sides, but more from the Republicans,” Cable said. “There are people who are getting fed up with extremism from both sides.”
The district’s profile suggests a steep uphill battle for Cable, who’s counting on Democrats and independent voters to turn out. Nearly 40 percent Republican, the district has only 235 registered Libertarians.
Bishop, 50, says Republicans in charge of North Carolina’s legislature since 2011 have rightly started rebuilding the state’s economy with limited government, lower tax rates and fewer regulations.
“The big challenge over the coming years will be that the changes that have been made need to be able to play out,” he said. “You have to let that have the effect of drawing businesses in to the state and incentivizing businesses to grow.”
He supports the teacher pay raises legislators granted this year but says the teacher career ladder needs reform. He says legislators were right not to expand Medicaid amid the “Obamacare disaster” and prescribes market competition to improve health care and lower costs.
Bishop blames antagonistic media reports and awkward responses by Republicans for public discontent with the legislature, but he acknowledges that voters are “hungry for someone to lead in a new direction.”
Cable, 42, an analyst in financial services, says he quit the Republican party “10 minutes after John McCain announced Sarah Palin” as his running mate in the 2008 presidential race.
He says he’s still disappointed in how some within the GOP try to force their moral, social and religious beliefs on others. “I like to tell people that I’m pro-choice on everything,” he said.
As a legislator, Cable said, he wouldn’t be bound to a political caucus and could share positions with Democrats or Republicans.
Cable supports rules changes to give minority members more say in the legislature and an end to the gerrymandering that both parties have used to carve out safe districts.
Some of his stands, such as expanding the types of small firearms that individuals can own and eliminating the state income tax, will make many Democrats and independents pause.
“I would hope that (they) look at my positions on other issues, such as marriage equality,” he said. “I would hope that people would look at the overall picture and decide who is going to be the better candidate.”