A day after winning his 9th District primary, Republican Dan Bishop took his campaign to Democrat Dan McCready’s doorstep Wednesday, taunting him with a cardboard cutout outside his south Charlotte headquarters.
It was an afternoon that saw both candidates square off in the same location in what’s expected to be the year’s highest profile special election.
Bishop hammered McCready for being vague on issues. The cutout, he told reporters, “will have as much to say as Dan McCready will today.”
“The voters of the 9th District need to know what they’re getting in their next congressman,” Bishop said, standing outside McCready’s campaign office.
Later McCready, who had no primary opponent, accused Bishop of “trolling” him and called him “an insider career politician.” He also alluded to Bishop’s sponsorship of House Bill 2, the 2016 law that overturned Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance and required people to use the bathrooms of the gender they’re born with in public buildings.
“His agenda is quite possibly the worst that North Carolina has ever seen,” McCready told reporters. “Every single person is this state should be terrified of what’s going to happen if he gets to Washington.”
It was just Day 1 of a four-month campaign to fill the 9th District seat that’s been vacant since January. Voters in the district that runs from Charlotte to Bladen County will vote on Sept. 10. Two third-party candidates, Libertarian Jeff Scott and the Green Party’s Allen Smith, are also running.
State officials called for the special election in February after finding the 2018 contest marred by allegations of election fraud involving the campaign of Republican Mark Harris. Harris, who led McCready by 905 votes on Election Day, cited health reasons for not running again. On Tuesday Bishop easily defeated nine other Republicans. McCready had no primary.
On Wednesday Bishop also started running a new TV ad designed to cast him as “the right Dan.”
“I’m conservative Dan,” he says in the ad. “Pro-life. Pro-gun. And pro-wall. The Dan who stands strong on principle. Wrong Dan? He’ll fall right in line with his friends — socialists, radicals, they hate the values that made America great.” The ad shows the McCready cutout falling onto those of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Bishop also challenged McCready to answer questions, including whether he would support next year’s Democratic presidential nominee if it were “a socialist” such as Sanders or U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“Sounds like he’s afraid to run against a capitalist who’s built a business from scratch and a United States Marine,” McCready told reporters. McCready, a former Marine, started a solar energy investment business.
McCready didn’t say whether he would support either Sanders or Warren.
He attacked Bishop’s support of HB2, which led to boycotts and was blamed for lost jobs, sporting events and tourism dollars. The Associated Press calculated that the law cost the state more than $3.7 billion in lost revenue.
Through reporters, McCready asked Bishop whether he would repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“This is something the Dans agree on: Obamacare has failed and must be fixed,” said Bishop strategist Jim Blaine.
As he has throughout the campaign, Bishop said the media may be interested in HB2 but “voters are tired of it.”
McCready answered reporters’ — and Bishop’s — questions about other issues:
▪ Impeachment: Many Democrats are calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Asked if he agrees, McCready said, “I think he needs to be defeated at the ballot box.”
▪ Green New Deal: Supported by Ocasio-Cortez, it’s a sweeping plan to mitigate climate change by reducing carbon emissions and making renewables the source of 100% of U.S. energy needs. Critics call it expensive and impractical.
McCready said he would work to achieve clean energy by creating jobs in industries like solar. “I believe this is a moral imperative to be protecting the one planet God has given us,” McCready said. “That said, I don’t think the Green New Deal is the way to do it.”
▪ Medicare for all: He said he opposes it. “I think we need to fix Obamacare,“ he said, though without saying how.
▪ A 2020 U.S. Senate race: Bishop had challenged him to say he wouldn’t use the congressional bid as a “launchpad” for a 2020 Senate run. McCready didn’t say no, but said, “My pledge is to stay 100% focused on this district.”
▪ The border: Bishop said McCready should answer another question: Is there a crisis at the border?
“It’s absolutely important that we secure the border, it’s also important that we uphold American values at the border,” said McCready, who argued for comprehensive immigration reform. “We’re not going to fix it until we have people up there who actually willing to sit down, reach across the aisle and compromise.”