Voters on Nov. 8 will decide if two U.S. House members from Charlotte return to Washington representing districts redrawn under court orders striking down illegal gerrymandering.
Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger is fighting to win in a new 9th District that stretches from southern Mecklenburg eastward past Fayetteville. Democratic Rep. Alma Adams wants to hold onto the 12th District, a formerly Charlotte-to-Greensboro district that now includes just Mecklenburg County.
Here are our thoughts on the two races.
Voters face a dispiriting choice between a challenger with too little leadership experience and an incumbent facing an FBI probe into his former land company and potentially improper contributions to his 2012 campaign.
Pittenger barely beat Charlotte pastor Mark Harris in the primary, eking out a 133-vote victory. Pittenger says he has done nothing illegal, but that razor-thin win in the GOP primary suggests many voters are rightfully unsatisfied with him.
He has defended the discriminatory House Bill 2, fought sensible, limited admissions of Syrian refugees, and unwisely continues to stand by Donald Trump. He also showed an appalling lack of understanding and empathy when he said demonstrators protesting the police shooting of Keith Scott “hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”
He has had good moments. Recently, for instance, he won plaudits for helping lead efforts to heighten scrutiny of Chinese firms attempting takeovers of key American companies.
Still, voters seeking change should give his Democratic challenger, Christian Cano, a close look. The 49-year-old hotel consultant decided to make his first run for office after attending a couple of Pittenger town hall meetings, where he says Pittenger seemed focused on hating President Obama and fighting terrorism, to the exclusion of everything else.
He says he would focus on kitchen-table issues such as building infrastructure and helping boost manufacturing jobs, all while bringing an appreciation of diversity and tolerance that comes from his career opening hotels across the country.
He is very inexperienced politically, and would need to deepen his legislative and policy resume to fully inhabit the role of congressman. Still, he’s a real – if unpolished – option for voters turned off by Pittenger.
A Latino from Texas, Cano is an earnest outsider partial to wearing cowboy hats. Voters considering him should be clear: He’s far from a finished product, but he’s an acceptable alternative to Pittenger.
Two years ago, when Rep. Alma Adams first won election to Congress, she finished a distant third in Mecklenburg County voting, but made up the deficit in her native Greensboro and other parts of the district.
But in the primary for the new Charlotte-centric district, the retired art professor with the stylish hats trounced several well-known Charlotte politicians.
Adams, who moved to Charlotte after getting drawn out of the new 12th, has worked hard to get to know the city. She faces Republican Leon Threatt, a Matthews pastor whose qualifications pale in comparison.
We feel confident Adams will keep deepening her knowledge of the city’s needs. We recommend her for another term in Congress.