by Eric Ginsburg
A breakdown of how High Point may fare in the 2014 primary and general elections.
All voters are looking for candidates that most closely match their views, but after a recent redistricting process that created an election system where more races are decided in the primaries, differences between electable candidates often become more nuanced.
One of those distinguishing factors is location. How many of the candidates running for office up and down the ticket live in High Point? And of those, who stands a reasonable chance of being elected?
A few races are already locked up, securing representation for the Triad’s smallest city, the ninth largest in the state.
Several High Point candidates are on the fence, potential winners who are by no means assured victory. NC Rep. Marcus Brandon and his former campaign manager Cecil Brockman may be the best-positioned candidates in competitive races that could directly represent the city.
Brandon, the youngest candidate in a full field of Democrats vying for former US Rep. Mel Watt’s vacated seat, is considered one of the frontrunners. In a primary stacked with left-leaning candidates who frequently agree with each other, Brandon argues that what sets him apart is his ability to be effective as demonstrated by his time in the NC General Assembly.
The Triad’s two other cities also have hometown candidates in the race, most notably Rep. Alma Adams of Greensboro. The remaining Democratic candidates hail from Charlotte, including former Charlotte City Councilman James Mitchell and NC Sen. Malcolm Graham. Read more about the District 12 US Congressional race on page 6.
Brockman takes on former Rep. Earl Jones, who co-founded the embattled International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro and lost the NC House District 60 seat to Brandon. Former Greensboro City Councilwoman T. Dianne Bellamy-Small’s son, David Small, is the third Democrat hoping to emerge from the primary, thereby winning the position without Republican opposition.
Jones and Small both live in Greensboro. Jordan Green’s thorough coverage of the race appeared in Triad City Beat last week and is available at triad-city-beat.com.
Someone from High Point may end up filling the District 1 seat on the Guilford County Commission. Bruce Davis, a Democrat from High Point, currently serves the district but is running for the Republican-leaning 6th US Congressional District. Even if Davis defeats Laura Fjeld in the Democratic primary, the odds aren’t in his favor for defeating whichever Republican contender prevails in the primary.
Davis’ congressional run opens the way for someone new to take the helm, and Democrats J. Carlvena Foster and Bellamy-Small will duke it out. Foster, of High Point, currently serves the same district on the Guilford County Board of Education while Bellamy-Small recently lost her reelection bid to Greensboro City Council by a hair.
Whoever comes out on top in the Democratic primary is expected to defeat Republican candidate Eugene Lester III of Greensboro due to the voting history and make-up of the district. Even if Foster wins, it would only hold the line for High Point representation on the commission rather than ceding ground to Greensboro.
Bill Bencini, the only current commissioner who lives in High Point besides Davis, is not seeking reelection. Greensboro Republican Alan Purdue, who is uncontested, will replace him to represent District 2.
Of the four candidates who filed to run for an at large Guilford County Commission seat, only one of them a Republican and another who later withdrew, none live in High Point.
Conservative Republicans hoping for High Point representation in Congress will have to put all their hope in longshot Don Webb. Of the three Congressional elections taking place locally this year, Webb is the only High Point Republican running.
While NC Rep. Brandon stands a solid chance of making it through the Democratic primary in May, Webb has an uphill battle in an even more crowded field to fill US Rep. Howard Coble’s District 6 seat.
Webb, the former chairman of the High Point Republican Party, will have to take down Greensboro Councilman Zack Matheny, Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips, Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr., and five other Republicans.
No High Point candidate of any political stripe is seeking to unseat Democrat Kay Hagan of Greensboro in her US Senate re-election bid.
Other races this year guarantee that High Point representation will continue, two of them due to uncontested races. Ed Price, who currently serves on the Guilford County Board of Education, will return to the body representing District 2.
J. Carlvena Foster is the only other High Point resident currently serving on the board, representing District 1. If she prevails in the Democratic primary for the county commission next month and the general election in the fall, her school board seat would open. Otherwise, Foster will continue to serve on the school board until the 2016 election.
The only judicial candidate on the ballot from High Point is NC District 18 Court Judge Tom Jarrell Jr., who is running for re-election unopposed this year.
High Point residents are also assured representation in NC House District 61. Even in the unlikely event that Democrat Ron Weatherford unseats Republican Rep. John Faircloth, both men are from High Point. Faircloth sailed to victory in the match up between the two in 2012, 26,465 to 14,988.
The difference in this contest is strictly ideological — Faircloth and Weatherford live barely five minutes apart, off of Skeet Club Road. Without primaries in this race, the candidates square off in the fall.