Sen. Richard Burr decided that 18 years in the Senate was enough and, unlike a lot of senators and members of Congress in Washington, who serve until they are sent home in a box, Burr is retiring.
Open Senate seats don’t happen very often and this one has attracted 14 Republicans candidates.
The Republican ballot comes down to three marque candidates – 13th District Congressman Ted Budd, former Gov. Pat McCrory and former 6th District Congressman Mark Walker. Marjorie Eastman has been included in some of the debates, but the highest polling numbers for her that I could find have her at 3 percent.
Walker in the polling has been stuck around 10 percent for months and, according to the campaign finance reports, doesn’t have the money on hand for a huge last minute push. Walker was the first major candidate in the race when he announced his candidacy on Dec. 1, 2020, and he has been traveling the state ever since. However, it takes big money to run a successful statewide campaign and Walker so far has not been able to raise it.
In primaries, two major considerations for voters are which candidate they are most in agreement with politically and also which candidate has the best chance to win in November.
McCrory has been able to raise enough money to run a competent statewide campaign, but McCrory, who is a moderate Republican, has a history of losing statewide races to big name Democrats. McCrory lost the governor’s race in 2008 to Bev Perdue and the 2016 race to Gov. Roy Cooper. McCrory did win the governor’s race in 2012, defeating Walter Dalton, and if you could come up with that name without looking it up, then you are a true political aficionado. While governor, McCrory developed the bad habit of vetoing bills passed by the Republican state legislature and then having the legislature override his veto. It almost seemed like McCrory was out to prove that he was out of step with his own fellow elected Republicans from across the state.
Walker and Budd are both conservatives with six years in Congress. Budd has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, which is big, and also has the support of the super PAC the Club for Growth, which is pouring millions of dollars into his campaign.
Budd also has the endorsement of Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, which is more meaningful than most endorsement because Robinson and Walker are both from Greensboro and are friends.
McCrory started the election season with a lead in the polls. The Budd campaign said this was based on name recognition and that once Budd started his advertising campaign the McCrory lead would vanish, and that turned out to be true. The most recent polls show Budd with a double digit lead.
Vote for Ted Budd.
US Congress 6th District
Seven candidates have filed in the 6th District congressional Republican primary. The winner will be facing Democratic 6th District Congresswoman Kathy Manning in the November election in a district that leans heavily Democratic.
Lee Haywood ran against Manning in 2020 and did a credible job in a 6th District that was even more Democratic than the current one, and he deserves the chance to give it another try. It’s going to be a tough race for a Republican to win, but Haywood has proven he is willing to campaign hard. With the new district and the fact that Republicans are projected to win big in 2022, Haywood has a much better chance of winning than he did in 2020.
Christian Castelli has raised more money than any other Republican candidate, enough to send out several direct mail pieces to the Republicans in the 6th District. He is a retired US Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel and is in favor of increased defense spending and against the current effort to subject the military to the woke leftist philosophy. But Castelli doesn’t live in the 6th District. Castelli is registered to vote in Southern Pines and his campaign address is in Asheboro.
Members of Congress aren’t required to live in their districts. The only requirement is that they live in the same state as the district they represent, but the 6th District deserves to have a member of Congress who lives in and knows the 6th District.
Also running in this race are Dr. Maryann Contogiannis, Laura Pichardo, Bill Schuch, Gerry Austin and Marvin Boguslawski. According to campaign finance reports, none has raised enough money for the primary to indicate they could be competitive in the general election.
Lee Haywood in the 6th District.
NC Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 5
In the Republican primary for the North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 5, two candidates – NC Appeals Court Judge April Wood and Trey Allen – are running hard for the nomination.
One candidate, Victoria E. Prince, doesn’t appear to be running at all. Prince has no campaign web presence that we could find, which is extremely unusual for a candidate running in a statewide race.
The Carolina Journal opined that having Prince in the race would hurt Wood by splitting the female vote and help Allen.
Wood touts her experience on the Court of Appeals and as a District Court judge, noting that she is the only candidate in this race for North Carolina’s highest court with any judicial experience and would be the only NC Supreme Court justice with trial court experience.
Allen is a professor at the NC School of Government and general counsel at the state Administrative Office of the Courts appointed by North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby. Allen also clerked for Newby, and on Allen’s Facebook page Newby praises Allen as a “constitutional conservative” and states, “I would be honored to serve with him.”
Two factors weigh in Wood’s favor. One is her experience as a judge and the other is that whoever wins is going to face North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Sam Ervin IV in the general election in November. North Carolina voters have shown a tendency to vote for women judges, which could be why Prince is in the race.
Although both candidates would be a good addition to the NC Supreme Court, Wood is the better choice.
Also, it is worth noting that other than when he is running for office, Justice Ervin is known as Jimmy Ervin, but he is named for his famous grandfather Sen. Sam Ervin, so he has taken that as his nom de politics.
NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 9
Chief Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals Donna Stroud is running for reelection and being challenged in the Republican Primary by District Court Judge Beth Freshwater Smith.
Both candidates have a host of degrees and honors, but Stroud has the experience of being a judge on the Court of Appeals since 2006, and before that served as a District Court judge. As a Court of Appeals judge for 15 years, Stroud has written over 1,000 judicial opinions and is serving her first year as chief judge.
Stroud, because of her experience, is the better choice.
NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 11
Mecklenburg District Court Judge Michael Stading is the better choice in this race.
Stading has served as a District Court judge since 2018 and also served as an assistant district attorney in Mecklenburg County.
Stading is an Air Force veteran who served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG Corps) and is still active in the Air Force Reserve.
Charlton Allen’s relevant experience is as chairman of the NC Industrial Commission.
Both candidates claim to be the true conservative in the race.
Stading has been endorsed by both Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, former Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and Congressman Dan Bishop.
Board of Commissioners At Large
Former District 4 Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson and former Greensboro firefighter Alvin Robinson are running for the at-large seat on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
Branson served on the board from 2012 to 2020, when he lost to Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy. Branson was known for stirring things up while he was a commissioner. And even though he is only a candidate, he is stirring things up already with accusations that Guilford County is illegally using tax dollars to promote the $1.7 billion school bond.
Robinson was a Greensboro firefighter and parttime Guilford County deputy sheriff until he was fired for refusing to follow the COVID-19 mandates.
On his campaign website Robinson states, “The restoration of truth and righteousness in local government is the reason why I want to become your next Guilford County Commissioner – At Large.”
It would be good for Guilford County to have Branson back on the Board of Commissioners.
Board of Commissioners District 3
Three candidates are running in the District 3 Guilford County commissioner primary and two stand out.
Guilford County Board of Education member Pat Tillman has served on the school board since 2016, which has given him experience in dealing with large budgets. The Guilford County Schools budget was over $1 billion in this fiscal year. Tillman has been in the Republican minority on the board and has learned to have influence even when you don’t have the votes.
Oak Ridge Town Councilmember George McClellan is serving his third four-year term on the Town Council. Oak Ridge had revenue of $1.9 million and expenditures of $2.6 million. Although property taxes in Oak Ridge are low compared to Greensboro, they are high compared to their neighbors. Oak Ridge has a tax rate of 0.08 cents compared to Stokesdale, which has no property tax, and Summerfield, which has a property tax rate of 0.0225 cents.
Both candidates are conservatives who espouse similar political philosophies.
However, Tillman’s experience in dealing with big budgets and heavily partisan boards makes Tillman the better candidate.
Dan Suter is also a candidate in this race and says his experience as a project manager will translate into being a successful commissioner.
Board of Commissioners District 2
It’s hard to believe that former Commissioner Steve Arnold, who left the Board of Commissioners in 2010 after serving for 20 years, is running in the Republican primary against District 2 Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue.
Perdue has been a strong conservative on the board since he was first elected in 2014. Perdue retired as the director of the Guilford County Department of Emergency Services, so he knows county government inside and out. During his first six years on the board, he consistently voted with the Republican majority for major construction projects, like building a new emergency services facility, a new animal shelter and the new behavioral health facility, while at the same time lowering taxes.
Arnold served on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners from 1990 to 2010, when he did not run for reelection. During his last term on the board, Arnold had filed for bankruptcy but was denied bankruptcy protection because of “numerous badges of fraud.” Arnold also convinced the Board of Commissioners to buy the Russell Street Building in High Point from a business partner at a highly inflated price, and that building has been a constant source of problems for the county.
Also, during that last term, a Randolph County judge order that Arnold be jailed for civil contempt because of his failure to cooperate in a lawsuit about a subdivision in Archdale that Arnold’s construction company had worked on.
In political circles, not much had been heard from Arnold in the past 12 years until he filed to run for commissioner.
Perdue has done a good job and deserves another term.
Board of Commissioners District 7
Kenny Abbe and Karen Coble Albright are running in the Republican primary for the District 7 Guilford County commissioner seat.
Because of the way the commissioners’ districts are gerrymandered, it doesn’t make much difference who wins the primary because the chances of the Republican candidate winning in November is somewhere between slim and none. This is a Democratic district that was represented by Carolyn Coleman, who died in January, and is currently represented by Commissioner Frankie Jones, who is running for election.
The endorsement goes to Abbe because he has expressed more concern about local issues, such as the schools, and not national issues, which the commissioners have no control over.
Board of Education District 2
Two candidates are running in the Republican primary for Guilford County Board of Education District 2 – Crissy Pratt and Marc Ridgill.
Crissy Pratt is the better choice. Pratt is a member of the New Vision, New Direction team of candidates that are running to bring change to the Guilford County Schools. It’s impressive that four candidates would choose to join forces and run as a team for the school board, and it makes a good point: Electing one or two new school board members is not going to make much difference. However, electing four school board members who have already been working together would.
Pratt has 20 years of experience in education as a teacher and in curriculum development.
Ridgill is a retired Greensboro police officer who served as a school resource officer for eight years. He wants to bring change to the way the schools are run and the school budget is spent. Ridgill ran for the at-large seat on the school board in 2018 and for an at-large seat on the Greensboro City Council in 2015.
Board of Education District 6
Two strong candidates are running in the Guilford County Board of Education District 4 Republican primary – Tim Andrew and Matthew Kuennen
Tim Andrew is a member of the New Vision, New Direction team and the better choice. If the four-member New Vision, New Direction team wins seats on the Guilford County Board of Education, they can together bring about change – something that a single candidate cannot do on a nine-member board.
Andrew is a retired Marine Corps officer with a bachelor’s degree in information systems management and an MBA from East Carolina University. He is currently a logistics program manager for a defense contractor.
Andrew wants to move the focus of Guilford County Schools to the basic fundamentals of reading, writing, math, science and social studies.
Kuennen is an associate professor in the Congdon School of Health Sciences at High Point University. Kuennen also wants more focus on the fundamentals of education as well as more transparency from the school board and school administration.
Andrew and Kuennen seem to be in agreement on many of the issues facing public education in Guilford County, but Andrew, being part of the New Vision, New Direction team, gives him the edge.
Six Republicans filed to run for Guilford County sheriff to replace current Sheriff Danny Rogers, who was elected in 2018.
Three of those candidates stand out – Phil Byrd, Bill Queen and E.L. Melvin.
The best of these three is Phil Byrd because of his experience in the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department. As a captain under former Sheriff BJ Barnes, Byrd had extensive experience in the many different divisions of the Sheriff’s Department, which entails a lot more than simply investigating crimes.
Queen has a colorful and impressive background, with his experience with the US Border Patrol and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). As Queen notes, his ATF experience allowed him to work with law enforcement agencies all across the country and to see what was working and what wasn’t.
Queen, as a bestselling author with a national reputation, would bring some favorable exposure to the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department.
Melvin also has extensive law enforcement experience with the North Carolina Highway Patrol and limited experience being the chief deputy for Rogers. Wisely, Melvin resigned from that position after about two months. At the time he said he was leaving for personal reasons, but later he said one reason for his abrupt departure was that Rogers fired 28 deputies because he thought they were loyal to former Sheriff BJ Barnes. Melvin has said that if elected he will offer all of them their jobs back.
Byrd, Queen and Melvin all appear to have what it will take to be a successful sheriff, but Byrd – largely because of his experience in the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department – appears to be the best choice.
The other Republicans running are Adam Perry Moore, Randy Powers and William White.