It usually takes a retirement or death of an incumbent Congressman to make a Republican Congressional primary exciting, but North Carolina's 10th District might make an exception to the rule this May. Incumbent Congressman Patrick McHenry doesn't have just one, but two self financed challengers gunning for his seat in the Republican Primary on May 4.
What makes things even more interesting is that both Scott Keadle (below, middle) of Mooresville and Vance Patterson (below, bottom photo) of Morganton have more cash on hand than McHenry. As of the 4th Quarter reporting date, McHenry had $149,000 on hand, Patterson $250,000, and Scott Keadle had $274,000. This is a far cry from McHenry's 2006 campaign when he was able to bring in $1.4 million for his successful reelection.
McHenry has long been a lightning rod in the district since the bitter 2004 primary to replace Rep. Cass Ballenger. In a bitter primary runoff McHenry edged out Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman by 85 votes out of 30,000 cast. While McHenry has compiled a conservative voting record he is still dogged by questions over his combative style in Congress and the sense that he is a status quo Republican.
This is highlighted by his unwillingness to sponsor legislation to overturn the free trade deals that have devastated the 10th District's manufacturing heavy economy. The average unemployment in the 10th District has shot up to a painful 15% since the 2008 crash on Wall Street. McHenry's campaign must also be wary of the simmering anti-incumbent bias that will be boiling by the time Election Day rolls around.
Despite these obstacles, McHenry remains the likely favorite in the primary. His office has placed a heavy emphasis on constituent service and his conservative record insulates him among the Republican primary electorate. His campaign is already beginning to canvas the 10th, a standard practice of his campaign.
His opponents have pledged not to run a negative campaign which will also cancel any advantages they may have in money. Still the campaign promises to be interesting given the disparity in fundraising and that two challengers have emerged to face McHenry in the strongest Republican district in the state.
EDITOR'S NOTE; Nick Danger grew up in the 10th Congressional District and remains a political activist there. This is not his/her real name. Underlined points are your blogger's and not the author's.