WASHINGTON – Republican Dan Bishop may have won Tuesday’s special election for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District but Democrats say Bishop’s razor-thin victory is a sign that the GOP may be in trouble next year when President Donald Trump is at the top of the ballot.
“It shows that in a really red pro-Trump Republican district that people are really concerned about where we are, and it was a very close race, when it really should not have been a close race,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.) told TMN.
Rep. Dean Phillips (Minn.) said that he believes it may be too early to “assign meaning” to the outcome of the special election but also said that it likely spells trouble for Republicans.
“Considering this is a district that Donald Trump won by twelve and it was as close as it was, I think it bodes well for districts like mine — frankly suburban districts in which people are changing their perspectives in quite a rapid fashion.”
Dean’s district encompasses Minneapolis’ west, south and northern suburbs.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas) said the outcome of the North Carolina’s special election highlights both strengths and weaknesses for Democrats.
“I think it does show that we’re making significant gains among suburban voters but still have still work to do to reach rural voters. There seems to be a real divide there.”
Doggett added: “I think it is an indication that North Carolina will be very much in play” in 2020.
Republicans expressed tempered optimism over the narrow special-election victory.
“It’s good to be able to see that’s it over and I’m glad he [Bishop] was able to get a win, but I don’t have anything else on it,” Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) said.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) responded with a thumbs-up when asked for a reaction to the outcome of the special election but he did not say anything.
Bishop defeated Democrat Dan McCready by about 2 percentage points in Tuesday’s contest. Bishop, 55, is a member of the North Carolina Senate. McCready, 36, is a Marine Corps veteran and small-business owner.
Bishop won big in rural parts of the district and McCready dominated in metropolitan areas. McCready’s strong showing in the traditionally Republican suburbs surrounding Charlotte made the race competitive.
Trump won the district by double-digits in 2016. It hs not been represented by a Democrat since 1963.
Republican Robert Pittenger represented the district from January 2013-January 2019. The seat has been vacant since his term ended.
The special election came about after the state election board refused to certify Republican Mark Harris’ narrow margin of victory over McCready last November. Harris led by a few hundred votes. The contest was marred by allegations of absentee-ballot fraud and in February the board ordered a new election.
Republicans chose to nominate Bishop as their candidate for the subsequent election.