LUMBERTON — Voters who live in District 9 will try again starting on Wednesday to elect their congressman — but only those registered Republicans and unaffiliated will be casting a ballot.
That is the first day of early voting in the primary, quite possibly the first of two, of the state-ordered, re-do election for the N.C. District 9 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. This contest began in earnest in early 2018 and already has involved multiple candidates, primaries, an election day, allegations of irregularities involving absentee ballots, an investigation, a four-day evidentiary hearing, a do-over ruling by the State Board of Elections, and criminal charges against political operatives.
When voting starts Wednesday, 10 Republicans will be on the ballot. The candidates in the Democratic, Green and Libertarian races have already advanced to the general election because they are unopposed.
Unaffiliated voters can vote Republican in they prefer.
In order to avoid a runoff, one of the Republican candidates must receive at least 30 percent of the vote.
Voters in Anson, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland, and Union counties and parts of Bladen, Cumberland and Mecklenburg counties will be taking part in the early voting period that will be Wednesday through May 11. In Robeson County, there are two sites being used, the public library in Pembroke, located at 413 S. Blaine St., and the Robeson County Board of Elections Office in Lumberton, located at 800 N. Walnut St. in Lumberton.
Voting will take place only during normal business hours at the county Board of Elections office, 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Voting at the Pembroke site will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week, 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 4, which is a Saturday. Anyone who is handicapped and needs to voter curbside should do that at the Pine Street Activity Center, which is a change from in the past, according to Tina Bledsole, the interim director of the Elections Office.
During early voting, a person can register to vote and cast ballot the same day.
Primary election day is May 14, when voters will cast ballots in their precincts, and the general election is Sept. 10. If a second primary is needed it will take place Sept. 10 and the election will be Nov. 5.
The re-do election is taking place because during the 2018 District 9 contest, between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready, there was evidence of widespread absentee fraud, especially in Bladen County. Harris had appeared to win by 905 votes, but the state board said the results could not be trusted. He did not file again.
As for the candidates whose names will appear on the primary ballot, some don’t live inside the district, which is allowed by state law.
The following is a bit of information on the Republican candidates.
— Stevie Rivenbark, Republican from Fayetteville. Her website says she’s pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. She wants market-based reform in health care and says mental health reform “must be a priority.”
Also from her site, “As a native of Duplin County, I understand how critical agriculture is to North Carolina’s economy, our farmers, and our consumers. Unfortunately, our farmers — especially those in the pork and poultry industries — are under attack and this is absolutely unacceptable. By engaging farmers to fully understand the challenges they face and the resources they need to continue providing sustainable resources, we will make agriculture a top priority in Washington.”
— Matthew Ridenhour, Republican from Charlotte. Ridenhour’s website states the candidate believes in cutting taxes; reducing spending and the national debt; and immigration reform and securing the border with Mexico. Ridenhour is a pro-life candidate who believes in auditing the Federal Reserve and in dealing with foreign threats swiftly and with overwhelming power.
— Stony Rushing, Republican from Wingate. Rushing is supported by Harris. Of the absentee ballots, Rushing said they were not handled properly by both parties. He requested an FBI probe into the state Board of Elections in December.
Rushing, who owns Take Aim Training Range, has several National Rifle Association certifications. He has said he will support President Trump’s agenda and align with the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus.
— Fern Shubert, Republican from Marshville. She’s a former state senator and her party’s whip, and was a candidate for governor against Mike Easley in 2004. Shubert served three terms in the state House. Her time in Raleigh ended in the 2010 election cycle, when Tommy Tucker of Waxhaw defeated her in the May primary. An accountant, she ran for state auditor in 2012.
— Dr. Albert Lee Wiley Jr., Republican from Atlantic Beach. Wiley is a retired physician in Carteret County, practicing part-time as a cancer specialist. He’s run for Congress several times over the past 35 years, including his seventh try in 2016; all have been self-funded. His connection to the district is that he is a Forest City native. He’s said in the past that he agrees with President Dwight Eisenhower’s statement, “Politics should be every U.S. citizen’s avocation.”
— Chris Anglin, Republican from Raleigh. Anglin is known for switching parties this past year and hopping into the N.C. Supreme Court race late. Many believe his decision split votes with incumbent Barbara Jackson, helping Democrats win the seat with Anita Earles. His website reads in part, “I am running as Constitutional Conservative who will stand up for the rule of law, free and fair trade, fiscal responsibility, opportunity for all, science, our environment and for democracy around the world.”
— Dan Bishop, Republican from Charlotte. He’s serving as a state senator for District 39. He’s also most known as author of the controversial House Bill 2, otherwise known as the “Bathroom Bill.” His website doesn’t mention HB2 in the introduction, but it does say, “Dan led the fight to put the Voter ID Constitutional Amendment on the ballot last November and has been A rated by the NRA for protecting our Second Amendment rights.” And, “Dan cut or eliminated state income taxes on 99 percent of North Carolina families, and he voted to punish sanctuary cities that harbor illegal aliens.”
— Leigh Thomas Brown, Republican from Harrisburg. Thomas is a real estate agent and motivational speaker, and she says on her website she is not a career politician. She said, “In Washington, I will be a strong ally for President Trump and his America First agenda that has benefited all Americans.” Her website says she has experience as a CEO with “real-world jobs and experiences — just like you. I’ve signed both sides of the check and I know what it takes to get businesses moving and create job opportunities.”
— Kathie C. Day, Republican from Cornelius. Day is a broker in real estate and owner of Kathie Day & Associates Realty.
— Gary Dunn, Republican from Matthews. Among his campaign platform planks are freeing all prisoners with marijuana-related arrests and re-creating the Works Progress Administration, the elimination of mandatory insurance for health, cars, homes and banks; and removing television ads for big pharmacies, insurance companies and legal work.
He also wants to legalize prostitution, change “the paradigms that cause generational poverty,” and to allow cellphone voting.
The following are candidates who have already advanced to the general election.
Dan McCready, a Democrat from Charlotte. He appeared to lose the race in November by 905 votes to Harris, a Baptist preacher from Charlotte. From his website, “Dan sees politicians who are so concerned with partisan games, they’ve forgotten who they are supposed to serve. They put party before country, special interests before working families, and divisiveness before solutions. North Carolina’s families deserve better.”
—Allen Smith, Green Party, from Charlotte. On his Twitter page, Smith says he’s an “area dad. Running for Congress to help us fix our broken and corrupt systems, reclaim the future, and save the planet while we’re at it. Puns on demand.”
His website reads in part, “This is our country. Join our movement. Help us reclaim the future. It will take all of us working together. But working together is what we do best. We can do this.”
— Jeff Scott, Libertarian Party, from Charlotte. The California transplant says on his website he’s the only candidate in the race that is anti-war, anti-corruption and anti-surveillance.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-815-1974 or via email at [email protected]