Under the Dome

Deborah Ross endorsement draws fire from opponents, GOP

Deborah Ross
Deborah Ross News & Observer file photo

One day after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced that it’s backing former state Rep. Deborah Ross in the Democratic Senate primary, her primary opponents and national GOP leaders are critiquing the move.

The endorsement was a rare move from the campaign wing of the national Democratic Party, because Ross isn’t the nominee and must first defeat Durham businessman Kevin Griffin and Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey in the March 15 primary.

Rey issued a news release Thursday saying he’s “undaunted and unbowed” by the news from Washington.

“Our focus on income inequality, poverty and justice is resonating with a restless Democratic base that is not in a mood to be talked down to by the Washington, D.C., power elite,” Rey said. “The DSCC trying to put their thumb on the scale with primary voters in North Carolina will have lasting consequences.”

Griffin’s campaign criticized the DSCC’s move, saying the endorsement “undermines the will of North Carolina Democratic primary voters.”

“From the very beginning, this campaign has spoken out on issues that generally make the establishment cringe, such as the need for term limits and an added emphasis on transparency,” Griffin campaign manager Jeff Worcester said. “In the end, the decision remains in the hands of voters.”

Despite Ross’ key endorsements from DSCC, Emily’s List and the AFL-CIO, about 55 percent of likely Democratic voters remain undecided about the U.S. Senate primary, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday.

Of Democrats who have decided, Ross leads with 19 percent of voters backing her. Griffin got 14 percent, Rey had 10 percent and long-shot candidate Ernest Reeves had 3 percent.

By contrast, 55 percent of Democrats in the PPP survey have already lined up behind gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper, with just 10 percent supporting his primary opponent, Ken Spaulding.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee took aim at Ross Thursday after the endorsement from the group’s Democratic Party counterpart, calling it a “desperate embrace.”

“As Ross cozies up to the Washington establishment, it’s worth noting that Ross has already been deemed the most liberal NC Democratic nominee in history,” the NRSC news release said, pointing to an August blog post on the Politics North Carolina website.

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