Opinion

Check Trump. Vote for Coleman and the Triangle Democrats.

NC House district 20 candidate Lind Bennett, right, talks with Second Congressional candidate Linda Coleman during a campaign stop at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Smithfield, N.C. on Thursday, August 16, 2018.
NC House district 20 candidate Lind Bennett, right, talks with Second Congressional candidate Linda Coleman during a campaign stop at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Smithfield, N.C. on Thursday, August 16, 2018. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Nationally, the struggle to control the House of Representatives is the main drama of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, but in the Triangle only one race appears to have a role.

That’s the contest in the 2nd District, which includes all or parts of Wake, Franklin, Harnett, Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties. The race pits three-term incumbent Republican George Holding against Democrat Linda Coleman, a former Wake County commissioner and state lawmaker who is making a strong challenge.

Holding was an effective U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. But he’s been an often invisible representative for the Raleigh area. His greatest recognition came when C-SPAN caught him dozing in 2013 while he was presiding in the House Speaker’s chair — an image his opponents have delighted in featuring in ads. But Holding’s real problem is that he’s a staunch opponent of government spending outside of defense in a region that benefits greatly from federal funding for research and education. Despite his advocacy of a more frugal government, he voted for unnecessary Republican tax cuts that looted the U.S. treasury and have now increased the federal deficit to its highest level in six years.

Coleman wants to focus on strengthening rural hospitals, providing more vocational training and pre-K education and expanding renewable energy and mass transit. This is an appealing agenda offered by a familiar candidate. In addition to her terms as a Wake commissioner and state legislator, Coleman ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2012 and 2016.

Given Coleman’s agenda and Holding’s record, Coleman is the best choice for the Second District. But her election is especially important this year as Democrats push to take control of the House. Flipping Holding’s seat would help provide a desperately needed check on President Trump. Holding and his fellow members of the Republican House majority have abdicated their constitutional role as they’ve alternately enabled or ignored Trump’s attacks on the FBI, his neglect of government responsibilities and his degradation of the presidency. Even former Republican House Speaker John Boehner concedes that his former colleagues have responded to Trump by “taking a nap.”

In two other congressional districts that include parts of the Triangle, it’s likely the Democratic incumbents will win re-election. That outcome has been all but assured by Republicans in the state legislature who packed Democratic voters into a few districts as they gerrymandered their way to a 10-3 Republican majority in the state’s congressional delegation.

In the 1st District, which covers mostly northeastern North Carolina but swings west to include most of Durham County, Democratic incumbent G.K. Butterfield deserves re-election to the office he has held since 2004. A native of Wilson and a former superior court judge and a former justice on the state Supreme Court, Butterfield is a strong advocate for civil rights and economic justice. His Republican opponent and first-time candidate Roger Allison promises to use his business experience to improve the district’s economy.

In the 4th District, which includes, Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, Democratic incumbent David Price should easily win re-election. His support for affordable health care, education, renewable energy, humane immigration policies and overturning Citizens United fit well with his district. Price was first elected to the House in 1986 and returned after a two-year hiatus following his loss in 1994. His seniority could earn him committee leadership posts should Democrats take the House. He is being challenged by Republican Steve Von Loor and Libertarian Barbara Howe.

In the Triangle’s congressional races, voters should do what’s best for the region and the nation: Elect Democrats who will provide a responsible check on a reckless and feckless president.

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