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Political Note #289   Cynthia Wallace NC CD 09

2020                             General Election

Could Cynthia Wallace emulate Lucy McBath?

Do you remember the special election for GA 06?  A district in the suburbs of Atlanta.  It was the most expensive Congressional special election.  The Democratic candidate lost.  Jon Ossoff.  He’s back now.  Running for the US Senate.  And the Republican winner?  Karen Handler.  She lost in 2018.  She’s back, too.  Running against the incumbent, Lucy McBath, an African-American gun safety activist.

The second most expensive Congressional special election?  NC 09. A district based in Charlotte that includes suburbs and rural areas.   Dan McCready was the Democratic candidate. In this case, the general election came first.  We don’t know who won.  We know that operatives for the Republican candidate cheated.  The election board refused to certify a winner.  Dan McCready lost the special election.  He is not back for another try.  Cynthia Wallace is the Democratic candidate.  An African-American well ensconced in Charlotte’s banking industry.

I should not write this Note.  Cynthia Wallace has so little money it is hard to imagine her making a race of this.  But I think about Lucy McBath.  Outspent 4 to 1 — $8 million to $2 million, she won in a prosperous suburban district outside of Atlanta with a  $92,000 median income and a population that was 60% white, 15% black.  The Republicans had been softened up and Lucy McBath flipped the district.

Could Cynthia Wallace emulate Lucy McBath?  NC 09 is a less prosperous district.  Its median income is a moderate $62,000.  Its population is 65% white. 20% black.  She will be outspent by a lot.  So far, the incumbent has raised $3 million.  Cynthia Wallace has raised $100,000.  That’s not 3-1.  That’s 30-1.  The incumbent only has $300,000 on hand now.  Cynthia Wallace has one sixth of that.

I should not write this Note.

Still.  What happened in NC 09 was crazy, chaotic.  You just don’t know what might happen next.  Cynthia Wallace is not glamorous. There is nothing exotic about her. She has been Chair of the District 09 Democratic Committee for the past three years.  For those three years and a little longer, NC 09 had the most chaotic elections of any Congressional District in the country.  It was not the Democrats creating the chaos.

2016.  The District was redrawn for this election as a result of court battles about gerrymandering. The change in the district brought new candidates.Businessman and incumbent Robert Pettinger won the Republican primary by 134 votes in a three-way race.  He got 35% of the vote, Baptist Minister Mark Harris got 34.4%, and Todd Johnson 30.6%. Pettinger defeated Democrat Christian Cano 58-42 in the general election.

2016. On the Democratic side, there was a new hope. Dan McCready, a former registered independent, Iraq war veteran, UNC BA,  Harvard MBA, and entrepreneur. He won the Democratic primary overwhelmingly.  Democrats expected him to make a big splash.

2018.  On the Republican side, Mark Harris had resigned his ministry to devote himself to getting those 134 votes. He did that and slightly more.   Mark Harris defeated the incumbent, Robert Pittenger, by 822 votes.

2018. The general election was epic.  Harris, a representative of the religious right v McCready, a representative of the new south (The new south keeps renewing).  Mark Harris appeared to have been elected by 905 votes.  That was not a landslide.  It was not even a victory, it turns out.

Leslie McRae Dowless, a convicted felon and political operative on behalf of Mark Harris had arranged for absentee ballots to be collected illegally and signatures to be forged.  He and four others were charged with crimes.   The board of elections, which had refused to certify the election and required an investigation, voted to schedule a new election.  NC 09 was without representation in Congress.

2019.  The Special Election. Dan McCready tried again. Mark Harris did not. Dan Bishop got the Republican nomination, winning the primary with 48% to 19% for the second place candidate.  Bishop was a politician, not a pastor.  He was a cultural conservative.  He was the author of North Carolina’s bill that required people in public settings to use the bathroom of the sex they were born as.  The controversy about that law cost North Carolina business.  The Charlotte of the New South is all about business.

In the September special  election, Bishop defeated McCready by 3,788 votes.  Not a landslide, but enough.  Dan Bishop became the Member of Congress from NC 09.  Will he keep it?

2020.  Redistricting. Democrats have been suing Republicans for gerrymandering congressional districts in North Carolina for years. They sued in the state courts where Democrats are a majority in the State Supreme Court.  The Republican legislature redrew the map, not to the satisfaction of the Democrats.  Knowing that there would be more to fight over after the 2020 census including, probably, one additional Congressional seat,  the Democrats acquiesced and accepted the Republican map.  The Republican map gave Democrats two additional seats.

NC 09 was not changed much in the redrawn maps.  It is still based in Metropolitan Charlotte.  The politics have changed.  There is no Dan McCready.   McCready had raised more than $7 million for his race, had a 2-1 advantage in money, and still lost.  Cynthia Wallace is at a 30-1 disadvantage.  For cash in hand, on March 31, she was at a 5-1 disadvantage — $350,000 to $70,000.  Can she compete over the last few months?  Is there an angel out there to help?  Would our small donations make a difference?

Perhaps I should be writing this Note.

Cynthia Wallace is a good fit for the district.  She is a graduate of the Historically Black single sex Spelman College and has a Master’s Degree from the University of North Florida in statistics.  For twenty years, she has been working for what is now called Synchrony Capital (formerly GE Capital).   She  is a senior risk manager with an incomprehensible title.  She is not running to be a member of the Squad.  There are no cultural issues in her visible portfolio.  Jobs, Education, Health Care.  Infrastructure.  That’s what she is running on.

This is a business- oriented district, just as Charlotte is a business-oriented city.  The Charlotte suburbs are not immune to the suburban shift toward Democrats.  However,  many of Charlotte’s suburbs are across the state line in South Carolina.

Still.  With 20% of the district African American and 15% evenly divided between Hispanic and Native American, Democrats and Cynthia Wallace have a base in NC 09.  Cynthia Wallace needs money to reach that base and reach beyond that base.

Cynthia Wallace is running to follow in her father’s footsteps.  Co-founder of his local NAACP in the 1960s, he was the first African-American County Commissioner of Effington County, Georgia.   Active as she has been in Democratic politics, her focus has been her work and the Spelman alumnae association.

If Cynthia Wallace is going to be something more than an active member of the Democratic Party, if she is going to be a Member of Congress, she has to raise real money.  Give her a push.  Donate something. Let her know there are people out there rooting for her.


Below are Congressional seats Democrats are trying to flip from incumbent Republicans.  The ones with asterisks ran in 2018*  In 2018, Democrats flipped 40 Republican seats in the House.  Let’s flip 20 more. 

Arizona 06                        Hiral Tipirneni* to beat incumbent David Schweikert

Arkansas 02.                    Joyce Elliott to beat incumbent French Hill

California 50                     Ammar Campa-Hajjar* to win this now open Rep seat

Florida 16                         Margaret Good to beat incumbent Vern Buchanan

Illinois 13                          Betsy Dirksen Londrigen* to beat incumbent Rodney Davis

Indiana 05                        Christina Hale to win this open Republican seat

Iowa 04                            JD Scholten* to beat incumbent Steve King

Kansas 02                        Michelle De La Isla to beat incumbent Steve Watkins

Michigan 03.                    Hillary Scholten to defeat incumbent Independent Justin Amash and the Republican nominee

Michigan 06                     Jon Hoadley to beat incumbent Fred Upton

Minnesota 01                   Dan Feehan* to beat incumbent Jim Hagedorn

Missouri 02                      Jill Schupp to beat incumbent Ann Wagner

Montana AL                     Kathleen Williams* to win this open Republican seat

New York 02                    Jackie Gordon to win this open Republican seat

New York 21                    Tedra Cobb* to beat incumbent Elise Stefanic

New York 24                    Dana Balter* to beat incumbent John Katko

North Carolina 09.           Cynthia Wallace to beat incumbent Dan Bishop

Ohio 04                            Mike Larsen to beat incumbent Jim Jordan

Pennsylvania 10              Eugene DePasquale to beat incumbent Scott Perry

Texas 02                         Sima Ladjervardian to beat incumbent Dan Crenshaw

Texas 21                         Wendy Davis to beat incumbent Chip Roy

Texas 22                         Sri Preston Kalkuri to win this open Republican seat

Texas 23                          Gina Ortiz Jones* to win this open Republican seat

Washington 03              Carolyn Long* to beat incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler