A Democratic primary challenger in a Wake County state House district is taking on the incumbent over sexual harassment allegations while he is starting to exercise his financial advantage.
Allison Dahle, who is running for her first elected office, has tweeted three times in the last week about sexual harassment. Incumbent Democrat Duane Hall, who Dahle is trying to unseat, has denied harassment allegations raised by multiple women, most of them unnamed, in reports by N.C. Policy Watch. Hall has rejected calls to resign from Gov. Roy Cooper, state Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin and House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson.
Hall has not returned repeated telephone calls in the last two weeks.
In a message to WUNC last month, Hall said he would leave it up to voters to decide whether he should stay in office.
"I can't resign from my reputation which I will defend and I won't resign from my seat because of anonymous false accusations," he told the radio station.
In an interview last month, Dahle said she would not use the sexual harassment allegations in her campaign.
"I don’t see any reason to. That’s his business," she said on March 14. "Due process is important. Women need to be treated fairly, but I can’t make a judgment on that."
In a Wednesday morning tweet, Dahle called Hall a harasser.
Dahle said in an interview that she's done more research in the last month.
"I’ve talked to people who know other folks who are victims of this," she said. "I feel confident that women didn’t step forward unless this was true."
Hall hasn't attended some traditional political gatherings. He did not go to the Wake County Democratic Convention or a smaller gathering of Wake County Democrats last month, meetings that serve to energize volunteers and where candidates give brief speeches. Dahle attended both meetings.
Once active on Facebook and Twitter, Hall has not posted new entries on either social media platform since the end of February.
Dahle is active on social media, but has far fewer followers.
Hall has considerable money advantages. He ended last year with more than $162,000 in his campaign account, which included $100,000 he'd loaned himself. Dahle started the race with about $6,200.
Hall has sent at least one piece of campaign mail and planted signs along roadways. One constituent said she'd received a robocall from Hall.
Dahle said she's been knocking on doors and plans to put up signs.
"The pink wave is coming," she said.
Gary Pearce, a former consultant for Democratic campaigns, said it will be difficult for Dahle to defeat a better-known candidate who has more money.
Most people don't know much about legislative candidates, he said, and reports on Hall probably haven't broken through with President Donald Trump dominating political conversations.
"There have been a couple of stories about Duane," he said. "That's not enough for a lot of the voters in that district to know much about what's going on. Something will have to change. Unless she raises more money, it's a tough challenge for her."