Five Democrats and two Republicans have filed to run in the newly drawn 6th Congressional district, which covers all of Guilford County and part of Forsyth County.
With the March primary less than two months away, the battle for the state’s newly drawn 6th Congressional District is in full swing. On the Democratic side, five candidates vie for the seat while two Republicans have also filed to run. Education, affordable health care and economic opportunity are some of the recurring platforms among the Democratic candidates.
After a three-judge panel approved the new congressional map in November, the district, heavily favors Democratic candidates. It is currently represented by Republican Mark Walker. The previous map included parts of Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Guilford, Lee, Person, Randolph and Rockingham counties, but the new district includes all of Guilford County and part of Forsyth County, including Winston-Salem. Given the likelihood that a Democratic candidate will pick up the seat, Walker announced in December that he would not run for public office in 2020, instead holding out for a Senate bid in 2022.
Democratic candidates Kathy Manning, who lost to Ted Budd for the 13th Congressional District seat in 2018; Bruce Davis, a High Point native and former three-term Guilford County commissioner; Derwin Montgomery, who currently represents state House District 72 in Winston-Salem; Rhonda Foxx, former chief of staff for congresswoman Alma Adams; and Ed Hanes, former representative for House District 72, have all filed to run.
Despite her lack of political experience, Manning, a Greensboro attorney, proved to be a prolific fundraiser during her last run, drawing in more than $4.2 million for the 2018 campaign. Despite outraising Budd by almost $2 million, Manning fell short at the polls by about six percentage points and 17,000 votes. For this year’s cycle, Manning’s campaign has raised $51,615 and has $53,076 cash on hand according to the Federal Election Committee.
In an email to Triad City Beat, Manning said that she is focused on a number of issues including affordable healthcare, improved public education, ending gun violence, working against climate change and advocating for women’s rights. She also said that she supports the impeachment process, stating, “No one is above the law, including the president.”
Manning, who is Jewish, also spoke out against the Hanukkah stabbings that took place on Dec. 28 in New York, stating, “It is unthinkable that in this country religious minorities should be unsafe while celebrating their faith. Our country was built by people fleeing religious persecution. We cannot sit idly by while the very foundations of our country are under attack.”
She pointed to an increase in security as well as more educational opportunities to increase awareness to combat discrimination before violent acts occur.
Manning also said that she would work with Republicans across the aisle if they support “legislation that’s good for our district.” Otherwise, she said, she would stand up to them.
Davis, a High Point native and three-term Guilford County commissioner, said that he hopes his experience and name recognition will help him at the polls. He noted voting rights, women’s rights and access to affordable healthcare as the top issues for North Carolina voters. He also mentioned his experience of working across the political aisle to come to agreements with Republicans during his time as county commissioner.
“Working with everybody has been one of my stronger points,” Davis said. “Not worrying about whether they have a D or R in front of their name…. Just because a person is passionate about their party doesn’t make us enemies.”
He noted that despite his numerous other campaign losses, that his tenacity should signify to voters his willingness to keep fighting.
“There’s a whole lot of humility in losing a campaign,” he said. “But if you can lose one and come right back, that should show people that this person is willing to fight over and over, and that’s the kind of person that I want to represent me.”
Two candidates with ties to House District 72 have also filed to run for the 6th Congressional district. One is Derwin Montgomery, the current representative for 72, which covers a span from the northern parts of Winston-Salem to Stanleyville and Bethania. Montgomery replaced incumbent Ed Hanes, who resigned just three months before the election in 2018, to represent House District 72. Prior to becoming a state representative, Montgomery became the youngest member to be elected to Winston-Salem’s city council when he won a seat in 2009.
“We need a voice that will speak to real issues that real people identify with,” said Montgomery in an interview with TCB.
Montgomery noted the importance of economic opportunity for voters within the district, as well as statewide.
“There are areas of poverty and extreme poverty in the district,” he said. “People have long-term questions and concerns about economic opportunity, and whether that opportunity stretches to everyone rather than the select few.”
He framed his candidacy in terms of equity and justice, mentioning issues like education, housing and healthcare. Montgomery is also the youngest candidate in the race but said that he has the experience to lead the district.
“I am the youngest in the race,” Montgomery said, “but I actually have one of the longest and most diverse backgrounds in terms of experience. I am the only candidate to have served on city council and in state government. I engage people right where they are.”
Hanes, who hand-picked Montgomery to take his seat after his retirement from District 72 in 2018, was one of the last candidates to file for the 6th district. In a phone interview with TCB, Hanes noted that his experience working within a Republican-controlled state legislature in Raleigh during his six years in office makes him a strong contender in the race.
“It’s relationships,” Hanes said. “You have to recognize that as a freshman, not all your legislation is gonna get passed, but you have to get to the table, you have to take those pieces incrementally. In the General Assembly, I spent time developing the relationships I needed to pass legislation. It’s not an overnight fix but you have to be at a position to be at the table to have your voice heard.”
Hanes believes that the most important issues facing North Carolina voters are jobs and healthcare. He also voiced concerns about President Trump’s and says he supports impeachment.
“It’s an embarrassment,” Hanes said. “We can do better as a country.”
In the past, Hanes has faced scandal for his campaign finances. In 2018, Hanes paid the state more than $1,000 after an auditor discovered an illegal campaign contribution from drug company Pfizer, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. The newspaper also noted examples of improper spending of campaign funds by Hanes including during a 2016 trip to Singapore, clothing from a UNC athletics gift store and small amounts used for a gym consultation fee and shoe repair.
Hanes told TCB that his campaign worked with the state Board of Elections to clear the discrepancies up and that he’s thankful for the board for their work.
A candidate with almost a decade of working behind the scenes with elected officials, Rhonda Foxx has filed to run against the four other Democrats for the 6th Congressional District this March. Foxx began her career as a staffer during an internship with US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2011. The longest position Foxx held was as chief of staff for US Rep. Alma Adams from 2014 through December 2019. Adams, a former state lawmaker and retired professor at Bennett College, moved to Charlotte to represent the 12th Congressional District after the lines were moved.
Foxx said she was encouraged to run after the district was redrawn — again — in November.
“The highest voting demographic is African Americans,” said Foxx about the new 6th district. “It’s also millennials and women, and there was no one that fit that demographic in this race. I wasn’t going to not let our voices be heard.”
Foxx also urged voters to remember that the new maps are temporary and will be redrawn again in 2021. She said she hopes to make the most of the time she has and work to keep voters engaged.
“This is a two-year map,” Foxx said. We need to turn out voters across the state. We need a candidate who knows how to get things done. I represent the bulk of people in this district. Washington isn’t working for all of us.”
Foxx said she’s also focused on criminal justice reform and fixing the education system.
She said that she hopes that her candidacy encourages other women to run for office.
“I want everyone out there to look at this race and see that I had the courage to try and think, I have the courage to try,” said Foxx. “That’s the ultimate goal for us. Moving the needle for us is encouraging people to get off the sidelines and get involved.”
Two Republicans — Laura Pichardo from Pelham and Lee Haywood from Summerfield — have also filed to run. Haywood has been the GOP chairman of the 6th district for the past two years.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the NC Republican Party 6th Congressional District Chairman for the past two years, but feel compelled to take the leap from GOP activist to candidate and feel my experience can be best utilized by providing a conservative choice in this upcoming race to the good people of the newly redrawn 6th District,” Haywood wrote on Facebook.
“This will not be easy and because of the demographics, I am not expecting much support from the establishment GOP, but I refuse to sit by and let the Democrat Party obtain this seat without any competition,” he continued.
In another post, Haywood highlighted eliminating the national debt, overhauling the immigration system, protecting gun rights and fixing the education system as reasons for his campaign.
Pichardo, who doesn’t reside within the newly drawn district, said on Facebook that her reason for filing was also the $21 trillion national debt.
“We and future generations to come would have to be responsible for paying off this debt,” Pichardo posted. “The creation of a sustainable budget and finding cost savings in operations will be my primary goals.”