Kudos to ThinkProgress for highlighting this:
Voters in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District will vote Tuesday in their latest attempt to elect a U.S. Representative. The 2018 midterm election result was thrown out due to election fraud by the then-Republican nominee’s campaign and the seat has been vacant since January. Experts say the race is a toss-up, despite the district being one Trump carried by 11 points in 2016.
On Thursday, Bishop went on Fox News and was asked about a new bipartisan poll that showed him trailing Democratic nominee Dan McCready by a 46 to 42 margin.
“My opponent has been running for 27, 28 months,” he answered, “and he has been funded by $12 million, tons of money from outside the district. A lot from California, New York and New Jersey. A lot of it from hard-left sources.”
But most of the money in support of Bishop in the race has also come from outside of the Ninth District and the Tar Heel state.
Last month, the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics reported that while McCready has outraised Bishop in the race, outside spending by super PACs, party committees, and dark money groups has significantly favored the Republican nominee.
The report noted that the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House Republicans’ campaign arm, had already spent $1.1 million on the race and had reportedly reserved a total of $2.6 million in air time for commercials. “Two conservative super PACs — the Congressional Leadership Fund and Club for Growth Action — have also thrown their support behind Bishop, spending a combined $1.3 million on the race.”
And a ThinkProgress review of Bishop’s own campaign finance filings found that he had taken tens of thousands of dollars from out of state Republican politicians including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (both of California) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (of New York).
If McCready wins the race, his path to victory will have run through suburban neighborhoods like South Charlotte. On a rainy Saturday morning in late August, driving to a South Charlotte precinct where McCready was going to knock on doors, I passed upscale shopping malls—brick-faced Brooks Brothers and the like—and leafy boulevards lined with McMansions, though the houses here are more upper-middle class than chichi.
McCready remembers playing sports on the field at nearby Carmel Middle School. Back then, it was solid Republican territory. In every election between 2008 and 2012, the Republican congressional candidate won at least 54 percent of the vote in this precinct. Mitt Romney won 63 percent. Pittenger won the precinct 57–43 in 2016. But in 2018, McCready inverted that, winning 56 percent of the vote to Harris’s 43. Now, it’s dotted with McCready’s Carolina-blue yard signs.
This precinct and the other South Charlotte neighborhoods around it are like a lot of the other moderate, Republican suburbs that flipped to oppose Trump in 2018. The GOP hopes that was a onetime aberration. After all, the president’s party often loses the midterm elections. But Democrats believe their success might signal a bigger realignment. The poll released August 30 shows Trump’s approval slightly underwater in the Ninth District, which he won in 2016 by 12 points.
“I think my takeaway from this is the impact that this campaign has had on the rest of the Democrats,” says Dan McCorkle, a Democratic operative in Charlotte. With help from McCready’s well-funded campaign, Democrats down the ballot cleaned up in 2018, sweeping up offices on the city council and school board. After the midterms, Bishop was the last Republican in the state legislature from Mecklenburg County—home to Charlotte, which will host the GOP’s 2020 convention. “You could literally say he has transformed the last Republican Party stronghold of Mecklenburg County. It used to be the red wedge. It would solidly vote Republican.”
If McCready is to join those Democrats in office, he’ll have to run up his margins in the Charlotte suburbs. It’s a truism that elections come down to turnout, but it’s especially important in this race: Special elections usually draw fewer voters, there are few other battles on the ballot for September 10, and since voting takes place early in the fall, many voters haven’t been paying much attention until the past couple of weeks.
As a result, McCready has been plowing his war chest into field operations, trying to contact as many voters as possible. He’s hired 24 organizers, which he believes is the largest number ever hired in a North Carolina race, deploying them to offices in all eight counties in the district.
“This is a real, old-school, grassroots campaign. We're talking with everyone, Democrats, Republicans, independents. We’re going places that politicians normally don't go, especially in the rural areas,” he said. “We want people to know that I want to fight for them. It's the right thing to do. I also think it's great politics.”
Good politics is essential for Democrats to win in Trump-leaning districts, but good timing may be even more important. On September 10, McCready will learn whether his three-year campaign ended too late to take advantage of a favorable national political climate, too early to reap the rewards of a changing district, or at just the right time.