North Carolina’s 9th District Democratic and Republican Congressional candidates face off in their first debate
More from the series
Observer editorial board endorsements
One of the nation’s most competitive U.S. House races and one of its least competitive are both being waged in Mecklenburg County right now. In one, the candidates are under a magnifying glass. In the other, one candidate has vanished altogether.
Democrats need to flip about 23 seats in November to take back control of the U.S. House. One of those could be North Carolina’s 9th District, where Democrat Dan McCready is in a nail-biter against Republican Mark Harris. A Democrat hasn’t represented the 9th in 56 years, but with Harris’s upset of incumbent Robert Pittenger in the primary, that could change.
In the 12th District, which covers most of Mecklenburg, Democratic incumbent Alma Adams should coast to an easy victory over Republican Paul Wright, who hasn’t been seen or heard from on the campaign trail in months.
Here’s how we see the races.
Voters in the 9th, which stretches from south Charlotte past Fayetteville and Lumberton, have a clear choice: Harris, a conservative former Baptist minister who led the fight against gay marriage; or McCready, a centrist Democrat who led a Marine platoon in Iraq and co-founded a solar energy investment company.
We think McCready is the better choice.
He has been criticized, including by us, for failing to take clear stands on some straightforward policy questions. Whether that’s his inexperience or a deliberate strategy in a Republican-leaning district, it is not a good look.
But that caution is offset by his character, his intelligence and his life-long commitment to others. A Duke and Harvard graduate, McCready frequently mentions his time as a Marine, but does so for good reason. He didn’t just show up; by all accounts he was an effective leader of a 65-person platoon that had been in some disarray before he took charge. He certainly had other options coming out of Duke, but felt a call to serve.
He says he would seek out bipartisanship, and there’s little reason to doubt him, especially given the conservative district he would represent. In a deeply polarized Washington, there’s probably only so much he can do on that front, but it would certainly be more than voters would get from Harris, who has said he would be deeply ensconced in the far right end of the House.
Harris still says being gay is a sin and a choice. He also believes the earth is less than 10,000 years old and thinks women should submit to their husbands. McCready says those views are out of step with this district and with this century. We agree. Our faith incorporates a broader and more holistic interpretation of the Bible, and we worry that Harris’s rejection of science and his views on women would translate into misguided public policy.
We agree with McCready over Harris on many issues. McCready backs sensible gun laws that Harris doesn’t. He opposes the Trump tax cuts that Harris supports and that are fueling the federal deficit. He supports having people who make more than $1 million a year pay Social Security tax on their full income to help secure that program’s future. Harris has said he would shut down the federal government if the budget was not to his liking.
McCready and Harris are both a bit green, but McCready has far more potential to effectively represent the 9th, and to help change the tone in Congress, than Harris. We recommend McCready.
The choice in this heavily Democratic district is obvious. Democrat Alma Adams seeks a third term and is far more qualified than her opponent. Adams has dispelled concerns about her knowledge of and attentiveness to Charlotte following her move from Greensboro. She has dedicated herself to her adopted hometown and advocated on Charlotte-specific issues.
Her opponent, Republican Paul Wright, has been invisible, even to state and local Republican leaders. He lives 235 miles from Charlotte outside Goldsboro and has not campaigned much at all. His website says he is running to fight the “deChristianization” of America. He is not a credible candidate.
You can see all the Observer editorial board’s endorsements in one place here.