This House district has been carved so cattywampus that it's hard to describe. It includes northern Durham (Bahama, Rougemont) some of northern Orange (but skirts downtown Hillsborough), incorporates part of Mebane, skips some towns and then picks up in sections of Greensboro/High Point, plus heads north to the Virginia border, including Eden, home of the Duke Energy coal ash spill.
The seat has long been dominated by a Republican, most recently Howard Coble, who, until he resigned, had been in office since the Earth cooled.
So this is a tough call, because both Laura Fjeld of Hillsborough and Bruce Davis of High Point are attractive candidates with good progressive bona fides. How each candidate fares in more conservative counties will probably tilt the scales.
Since Fjeld, a former UNC vice president and general counsel from Hurdle Mills, lives on the eastern and southern edge of the district, she could have a hard time winning Guilford county precincts. She supports the Dream Act but not amnesty and wants to eliminate tax loopholes for the wealthy (but not raise taxes on them). Although critical of the Affordable Care Act, she does not support repealing it. "Repeal would allow insurance companies to discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions, and kick millions off their plans. We need solutions, not rhetoric."
However, Fjeld has not held political office, which, considering the stakes in this race, gives us pause.
So we endorse Davis, an African-American veteran, who also received the endorsement of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. The longtime Guilford County Commissioner supports equal pay for women and marriage equality and says he will fight any cuts to Social Security and Medicare. It's likely he'll carry the Guilford vote, and could have the strongest chance at turning this district blue.
Nine candidates are running in the primary, making it almost a given that there will be a run-off in this race: Mark Walker, Don Webb, Bruce VonCannon, Charlie Sutherland, Jeff Phillips, Zack Matheny, Kenn Kopf, Mike Causey and Phil Berger, Jr.
So let's separate these candidates into two piles: Definitely not and Passable.
Under Passable, we endorse Zack Matheny, who also received the seal of approval from the Greensboro News & Record. A Greensboro City Councilman since 2007, he graduated from N.C. State University and worked in the textile industry. His primary focus is job creation, and while he's no fan of the Affordable Care Act, Matheny is not a tea partier. According to the N&R, he supported the nonprofit Self Help Venture Fund in helping to redevelop the Renaissance shopping center in northeast Greensboro. His views on the Second Amendment are predictably conservative, but the Sixth District is home to several gun manufacturers.
Under Definitely Not, everybody else:
Walker, a pastor, wants to reduce or bypass EPA regulations, and says "the social programs of the Lyndon Johnson era played a damaging role in stripping away the fabric of the family"
Webb, a financial adviser, promises he will never vote for a tax increase (paging Grover Norquist). He wants to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courtsfrom hearing cases pertaining to certain issues like prayer in schools and gay marriage.
VonCannon, a banker, opposes a woman's right to choose.
Sutherland, wants to abolish the IRS and replace the current crop of Republicans with "true conservatives."
Phillips supports the Keystone pipeline.
Kopf is a constitutional conservative, which is code for tea party. He supports fracking and off-shore drilling, opposes "alternative lifestyles" and approves of militarizing the border to prevent immigrants from entering the U.S.
Causey doesn't think climate change is an urgent issue, opposes labor unions and raising the minimum wage and wants to repeal the ACA. While he says undocumented immigrants should have a path to citizenship, some of the requirements he suggests—paying a fine, for example—are not practical for low-wage workers.
We aren't holding Phil Berger Jr. responsible for the sins of his father, Phil Berger, the legislature's senate president pro tem. However, considering the younger Berger's similar political views, in this case, the fruit didn't fall far from the tree.