Democrats in two closely watched North Carolina congressional races outraised their Republican counterparts 2-to-1 in the second quarter of 2018, a sign that the districts could be key battlegrounds in the national fight to control the U.S. House.
Democrats Dan McCready and Kathy Manning held large money advantages over their opponents in the GOP-held 9th and 13th districts, respectively, before the second quarter began April 1. The fund-raising quarter ended June 30 and campaigns are required to file their reports with the Federal Election Commission by July 15. Each outraised their Republican opponents in the first quarter as well.
McCready, an Iraq War veteran who owns a solar company, will report raising more than $833,000 in the second quarter and has $1.8 million cash on hand. Mark Harris, his Republican opponent and a former Baptist pastor, will report raising more than $400,000 with $300,000 cash on hand. Harris defeated incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger in the GOP primary in May in south-central North Carolina’s 9th district, which runs from Charlotte to Fayetteville along the South Carolina border.
A poll released this week by the conservative, Raleigh-based Civitas Institute showed McCready with a 7-point lead in the race. In 2016, Pittenger won the district with 58 percent of the vote, and President Donald Trump carried the district by more than 11 points. The poll came during media coverage of a 2013 sermon Harris delivered which questioned if careers interfered with women’s biblical roles.
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“I’m grateful for the overwhelming support we’ve received all across the district since the start of the campaign,” McCready said in a statement. “After 55 years of single-party leadership, few people thought this race could be competitive...”
Harris ran unsuccessfully for GOP nomination for the Senate in 2014 and House in 2016, but upset Pittenger in May. A Civitas poll in March showed him down by 32 points, but Harris seized on a spending bill vote by Pittenger and won the race despite being out-raised by 2-to-1 by the incumbent.
Spokesmen for Harris were not available.
Manning, an attorney, will report raising more than $725,000 in the second quarter with $1.3 million cash on hand. Ted Budd, a first-term Republican congressman who owns a gun shop, will report raising nearly $350,000 and has about $780,000 cash on hand in the 13th District, which runs from Statesville to Greensboro.
“What it demonstrates is how excited people are about Kathy and this campaign. Voters in the 13th District are going to have a real choice,” said Tori Taylor, Manning’s campaign manager.
Budd emerged from a 17-way GOP primary in 2016 and won the seat with 56 percent of the vote. Trump won the district by more than 9 points over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Budd’s campaign has tried to tie Manning, a long-time donor to state and national Democrats, to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Manning, who has donated to Pelosi in the past, announced in a July 4 blog post that she would not support Pelosi for House speaker if Democrats won the chamber in November.
“While Pelosi-insider Kathy Manning continues to cash-in her national liberal connections, Ted Budd continues to build a strong campaign based on this district’s conservative principles,” Budd campaign manager Elizabeth Oglesby wrote in an email.
Manning has accepted donations from political action committees, but has eschewed what she calls “special interest corporate PAC money,” according to her campaign. She has more than 30,000 individual donors with an average donation of $21, according to her campaign.
“I’m proud to have earned the support of thousands of North Carolinians who are proving that it’s possible to take on a Washington bought and sold politician like Congressman Budd without accepting a dime of special interest corporate PAC money,” Manning said in a statement.
Democrats have targeted the two races as potential pick-ups as they look to regain control of the House. McCready and Manning are members of the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program, which “arms top-tier candidates” with additional resources. The Cook Political Report lists both seats as “lean Republican,” just one step away from “toss up.”
This story has been updated to reflect Budd’s fundraising total for the second quarter.