While many readers are headed to the beach, the 9th NC Congressional District candidates are in a full sprint toward the midterm election. Over the past year, there’s been much discussion about the “Democrat playbook.” The party has recruited candidates such as Jon Ossoff, Conor Lamb and Dan McCready to run in red congressional districts. They are young and strive to appear moderate by not taking positions on hot issues. It worked for Lamb in Pennsylvania; it did not work for Ossoff in Georgia. Will it work in the 9th? It might, unless Republican candidate Mark Harris takes these three steps.
The first: Pin McCready down on immigration. The second: Make McCready describe his tax policy. The third: Force him to take a position on impeachment. Politics 101 is to define your opponent and yourself first. A group supporting McCready has fired the opening salvo by releasing a 2013 video in which Harris, then a Baptist pastor, asked in a sermon whether a career was the “healthiest pursuit” for women. Now, it’s time for Harris to define McCready. He should move quickly to squash the moderate “country before party” persona put forth by the McCready campaign. He must get McCready on record, so he can demonstrate to voters the clear policy differences between the candidates. It will be tough; McCready has shown incredible discipline to date.
The McCready campaign is vague about immigration on his website. It receives scant attention under the heading “Protecting All Americans.” A major push is coming for Mecklenburg County to opt out of the 287(g) partnership between the sheriff and federal immigration officials, which would have tremendous implications on removing illegal immigrant gang members from our streets. Nationally, Democrats have pushed hard for amnesty, and some prominent members of the party want to abolish ICE. Without clear statements distancing himself from his party’s leadership and platform, voters might conclude he’s out of step with the 9th district. Harris should ask: Where does Dan stand?
On tax policy, McCready’s web site states, “He will work to simplify the tax code, streamline duplicative regulations, and cut taxes for middle-class families, not just the ultra-wealthy.” The Trump tax bill achieved much of McCready’s stated goal. Not one Democrat in Nancy Pelosi’s House caucus voted to support the bill, and she has said they would work to repeal the tax cuts next year. Will McCready buck leadership or vote with the other Democrats? Will Harris align him with Pelosi’s position that the law should be repealed, raising taxes on millions of America’s working families? Where does Dan stand?
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The 9th district may very well help decide the next speaker of the House and whether Democrats might attempt to impeach President Trump. When asked about impeachment, team McCready said it wasn’t interested in discussing hypotheticals. The question isn’t hypothetical; it’s a relevant question that deserves an answer. The measure has already been voted on, twice. If the Democrats regain control of the House, many Republicans feel the momentum for impeachment will grow. Where does Dan stand?
The district favors the Republican, but the year likely favors the Democrat. Winning will depend on campaign execution and creating distinct choices. Will McCready make it through the summer avoiding positions, or will Harris soon define McCready as a traditional liberal? The fate of Congress may very well hinge on McCready’s deafening silence.