Viewpoint

Hold the confetti over Pittenger's loss

Mark Harris knocked off Robert Pittenger in the Republican primary on May 8.
Mark Harris knocked off Robert Pittenger in the Republican primary on May 8. Observer photo

Democrats were downright giddy when the Preacher beat the Politician in the 9th District Republican primary. Pundits immediately upped the odds for the Marine, Democrat Dan McCready. The Politician’s campaign consultant said the outcome showed November could be “brutal” for Republicans.

Hold the confetti.

Remember how giddy Democrats were two summers ago when Republicans nominated Trump? “Easy to beat,” they said.

If you’re running the Marine’s campaign, would you rather run against: (a) a Politician (Robert Pittenger), an incumbent Congressman with a ripe target of a voting record and a sketchy financial history, or (b) a Preacher (Mark Harris), a political outsider with no voting record, who led the campaign against gay marriage (which got 60 percent of the vote statewide), wants to debate who goes in whose bathroom and has a built-in field organization of preachers and churches in every nook and cranny of the district?

We’ve seen preachers in politics. Take Jim Hunt’s [U.S. Senate] race against Jesse Helms in 1984. Hunt was a lifelong teetotaling, choir-singing church-goer. But Helms had Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority and a lot of preachers with him. Hunt long recalled an encounter he had with a young mother, children in tow, at a polling place on Election Day. Hunt asked for her vote, and she said, “I’m sorry, Governor. We like you, but we’re voting for the Christian.”

The Christian? Hold my communion wine.

And hold the celebrations. This is a strange time in politics.

Republicans are split between the country-club Congressional Republicans and high-school-educated, white working-class Republicans.

Democrats are split every which way, by race, gender and ideology.

Then there’s the Trump volcano, spewing lava everywhere and apt to blow in any direction any day.

This is no time to be giddy.

Gary Pearce, a Democrat, is a long-time political adviser in North Carolina. This first ran on his blog, talkingaboutpolitics.com
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