By: Jonathan Lee ’20
Before this fall’s highly anticipated midterm elections season, candidates from both parties must first compete in the primary elections to make it on the ballot in November. Students registered to vote in Davidson will be able to vote for the US Congressional District 12, North Carolina Senate District 41, and North Carolina House of Representatives District 98, as well as local races.
In Congressional District 12, incumbent Democrat Alma Adams faces three primary challengers who mainly criticize her for residing, until recently, in Greensboro even though her district lies entirely in Charlotte. Candidates do not have to live in their districts, but Adams’ opponents argue that a representative should live among their constituents.
College Democrats President Kate Bock ‘19 explained that although “Adams does have primary challengers… we’re not sure how serious the challengers are yet.” Even in a contested primary, there is little doubt that the well-liked Congresswoman, known partly for her extensive hat collection, will be on the ballot in November. Bock added, “Charlotte is a pretty blue district, so it looks like she’s going to have that secured [in November].” Three Republicans are currently vying for the chance to unseat Adams in November.
State politics are very consequential during this election cycle as the Democrats look to topple the Republican supermajority in both chambers of the legislature. Bock remarked, “It’s a really big race for statewide elections, and that’s why we’re really working on getting students to vote in the primaries and vote in the general election and get them excited about it.”
The primary for North Carolina Senate District 41 will not be contested. Incumbent Republican Jeff Tarte will face Democrat Natasha Marcus in November. In the North Carolina House of Representatives District 98, two Democrats will face off for a chance to unseat incumbent Republican John Bradford III. Bock commented that Democrats are hopeful about their chances in each race come November. “Both [are] contentious races. So we definitely have the ability to flip both of those,” she explained.
Though the general election decides who gets elected, the primaries are intriguing partly because they showcase the ideological divisions within parties. For example, Republican candidates, especially in suburban Charlotte, must juggle whether to support President Donald Trump or not. Democratic candidates must decide where they lie on the centrist to progressive spectrum.
Student-run political organizations are preparing for the primaries in different ways. Though these organizations are not allowed to support candidates in the primaries, they can encourage students to go out and vote.
The College Democrats plan to provide transportation to Cornelius Town Hall for students to vote early. “We’re going organize car rides for students who want to go register or early vote,” Bock informed. She added that since “there is same day registration for early voting,” the club will offer rides to Cornelius so “students who aren’t registered yet in North Carolina and would like to be” can vote.
The Center for Political Engagement, which serves as “an umbrella organization over the College Democrats, Libertarians, and Republicans,” plans to engage students in the primaries by hosting a “walk to the polls with us” event on primary day for those students who are registered to vote, Chair Matthew LeBar ‘19 explained.
College Republicans President Andrew Coyner ‘20, remarked that because of the “low profile nature of this year’s primaries, we’re instead focusing on big picture policy discussion on campus.”
He emphasized that “the club has shifted focus away from the immediate primary races in favor of a more wide reaching discussion of political issues that will better prepare club members for the state and nationwide races in the fall.”
Bock also acknowledged that “the majority of [College Democrats’] effort is going to take place [in the fall], rallying around our candidates, canvassing, phone banking, and registering voters on campus and off campus.”
The College Libertarians, on the other hand, are focusing exclusively on building their organization. Co-President Andrew Hoyle ‘21 explained that the club’s “goal at the moment is to get people who think like us, and if they don’t think like us we can have a discussion, to be put in a position where they would go out there and be active for things that they believe in.”
Early voting at Cornelius Town Hall begins April 27th and continues through May 5th. Primary voting will take place on Tuesday, May 8th, and students registered to vote in Davidson can vote at Davidson Town Hall on Main Street.