Elections

Could 3 GOP-held congressional seats flip in NC? Democrats add resources, tout poll

Linda Coleman, left, and George Holding
Linda Coleman, left, and George Holding N&O file photos

Democratic congressional candidate Linda Coleman’s bid to oust three-term incumbent Republican Rep. George Holding in a Raleigh-area seat is getting a boost from national Democrats.

Coleman, who recent polls have shown in a statistical dead heat with Holding, has been added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program, which gives candidates guidance, additional resources and candidate training. The program requires them to meet goals for fundraising and support.

In another encouraging sign for Democrats in North Carolina, the DCCC released a poll showing challenger Kathy Manning narrowly leading first-term incumbent Republican Rep. Ted Budd in the 13th district, which includes parts or all of Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Iredell and Rowan counties.

Coleman was on Capitol Hill recently with Rep. G.K. Butterfield. Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat, introduced Coleman to other Democratic members of Congress, some of whom offered to help Coleman’s campaign.

Coleman is a former Wake County commissioner and two-time Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

“From working on a farm during summers as a young woman to serving in the North Carolina General Assembly, Linda Coleman knows the value of hard work and the importance of creating opportunity for others,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement. “Now Linda is running to make sure the people of North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District have access to better healthcare, better education, and better jobs.”

The 2nd district, which includes parts or all of Franklin, Harnett, Johnston, Nash, Wake and Wilson counties, is rated as a “lean Republican” race by The Cook Political Report. Coleman and Holding are in a virtual tie, according to an internal Coleman poll and a poll by Civitas. A Holding campaign poll had him trailing his challenger by three points.

Though President Donald Trump won the district in the 2016 election, Holding campaign chairman Carter Wrenn said the challenge for Holding was to persuade independent voters who are not enthusiastic about Trump to vote for him.

“We’re going to have to get the votes from some undecided voters who don’t approve of Trump. That’s what gets difficult. We’ve got to present them a choice between Holding and Coleman,” Wrenn said in August. “I’m not wild about Trump, but I’m going to vote for Holding.”

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Paul Ryan-affiliated Super PAC, has purchased more than $1 million in television advertising in the fall in the 2nd district to help Holding, the group announced Thursday.

Manning leads Budd 46 to 42 in the DCCC poll, which has a margin of error of 4.2 points. The survey was conducted Sept. 13 with 537 likely voters in the district on cellphones and automated calls. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is rated as a C+ pollster by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com, an opinion poll and politics website.

Kathy Manning Photo 1.jpg
Kathy Manning

Budd led Manning 40-35 in a July poll released by the conservative, Raleigh-based Civitas Institute. That poll included Libertarian Party candidate Tom Bailey and Green Party candidate Robert Corriher.

Manning has been on television since August with five different ads, most of them promising to be an independent voice in Washington and focusing on health care.

Budd is also running two ads, one that touts his accomplishments in Congress and another on the opioid crisis. Jim Jordan, co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and an announced candidate for House Speaker if Republicans hold the chamber, sent a fund-raising appeal Thursday that included Budd among “five conservatives in close elections.”

“These conservative lawmakers are proven leaders who haven’t just talked the talk; they have walked the walk,” the email said.

Budd is a member of the House Fredom Caucus. In August, Budd stopped short of saying he would back Jordan for speaker. Jordan has denied allegations made by former wrestlers that he was aware of sexual abuse and did nothing when he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State.

“I love Jim Jordan. There is going to be a complex speaker’s race coming up. I love the policies of Jim Jordan. We don’t have a speaker’s race yet. Yet. I’m going to make that decision when it comes. I absolutely love the policies of Jim Jordan and consider him a friend,” Budd said.

In the 9th district, which stretches from the eastern suburbs of Charlotte to Fayetteville along the South Carolina border, Democrat Dan McCready led Republican Mark Harris by 7 points in a May poll by Civitas. Harris defeated incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger in May’s primary.

The Cook Political Report, which produces ratings of all House races, has the McCready-Harris race as a toss-up. It rates the Coleman-Holding race and the Manning-Budd race as “lean Republican.”

FiveThirtyEight.com projects McCready-Harris as “lean Democrat,” Manning-Budd as a toss-up, and Coleman-Holding as “lean Republican.” Silver’s projections give the Democrats a 79.5 percent chance of winning the House.

Brian Murphy: 202-383-6089; Twitter: @MurphinDC
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