Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published by “Kalley Huang”

Analysis: Kathy Manning should thank mapmakers for her Greensboro win

In the race for North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, the question was not whether Kathy Manning would win, but by how much. 

Manning had money. By the final Federal Election Commission filing on Oct. 14, she had raised about $1.9 million, over 30 times more than her opponent Lee Haywood, who had raised about $60,000.

Manning had name recognition. A local philanthropist with ties to big community projects, she was known from her unsuccessful campaign against Rep. Ted Budd in 2018 for the 13th Congressional District. Haywood had neither held public office nor even run before.

Manning had the boost of a presidential election. President-elect Joe Biden improved on Hillary Clinton’s already wide margins from 2016, winning Guilford County by over 20 points and Forsyth County by almost 15 points, according to the state election board’s unofficial results.

But most of all, Manning had a favorable map.

Manning’s most significant campaign asset was court-mandated redistricting. When district borders shifted from eight counties to Guilford County and southeastern Forsyth County, her victory was preordained — so much that Rep. Mark Walker, the Republican incumbent, declined to run for reelection.

The new district includes the Democratic stronghold known as the Triad — Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point — so it comes as little surprise that Manning won by almost 25 points last week.

But maps are fickle. What the mapmakers and courts give, they can take away.

“Manning can definitely breathe a little easier now that she’s won, but we don’t know what the new map is going to look like,” said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan election prediction website.

Kathy Manning, who won the precincts in blue, benefited from the new 6th Congressional District, which includes Guilford and Forsyth counties. Map from North Carolina State Board of Elections.

A likely additional congressional seat due to the 2020 census would redraw North Carolina’s map again. Republicans control the General Assembly and are predicted to add a new Republican district, shifting the congressional delegation to a 9-5 split in their favor. Alternatively, they could make a bid for a 10-4 split by removing a Democratic seat, inviting litigation and risking more court-mandated redistricting.

“One district is worth a lot, especially given the Republicans’ success in holding onto state legislature across the country in the 2020 election. You gain a seat in North Carolina, you gain a couple of seats here and there,” said David Holian, a political scientist at UNC Greensboro. “And all of a sudden, the Democratic majority is in peril just from the natural forces of redistricting.”

Coleman and Holian do not expect major changes to the map and believe that Republican legislators will maintain a Democratic district centered around Guilford County. When gerrymandering, Coleman said, it is in both parties’ interests to have minimally competitive districts; consolidating voters means securing seats.

Either way, the future is uncertain for Manning. 

The potential for a tougher map and reelection campaign led Manning to run a cookie-cutter campaign, where she took stances in lockstep with the Democratic Party. She is likely to play her first term safe as well, hoping to discourage serious challengers in the primary and general elections.

“When redistricting comes around, the number one goal of a politician is always self-preservation,” Coleman said. “If I were Manning, for these next eight months or so, I would just wait and then I would proceed based on what those maps are.”

Biden visits Durham, pushes voter turnout at drive-in rally

The Biden campaign passed through Durham on wheels.

Spinning down Rose of Sharon Road Sunday afternoon, the Democratic presidential candidate’s motorcade glided by expectant Durhamites, many of whom had learned about the Joe Biden-fronted drive-in rally through social media and local news. Unable to enter the actual rally, they had parked bumper-to-bumper and half on the grass outside Riverside High School, hoping to catch a glimpse of the former vice president. 

“I’m hoping we can hear something, but we definitely at least want to see him go in,” Celeste Sloop said from the road outside of the rally. She awaited Biden’s arrival out of sight from the stage where he would speak. “You wouldn’t particularly know that things are going on.”

Her best view was a sharp left turn up the road, but even with her disappointment, the limitations of the event were evidence for Sloop, who has not voted yet, of how serious a Biden presidency would be about the coronavirus pandemic, which she said would be a motivating issue at the polls this year.

As Biden rolled into Durham, he sought to build the momentum of record-breaking voter turnout in the battleground state, all while guarding against coronavirus. Invited guests, including Reps. G. K. Butterfield (NC-1) and David Price (NC-4), attended the drive-in rally, while an estimated 200 people who could not enter the event listened from the parking lot — a sharp contrast against Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, which remain in-person and inundated even after his coronavirus diagnosis. 

The campaign stopped by on the fourth day of early voting in North Carolina, with just over two weeks until Election Day.

Over 1.5 million ballots have already been cast early in North Carolina, as of Sunday night — 905,245 in person and 608,381 by mail. In Durham, over 40,000 ballots — representing 16.6% of the city’s registered voters — have been cast via in-person early voting .

Some of those voters spectated from the overflow parking lot, even without an event for them in particular. There, they stood socially distanced, small neon orange cones marking how far they could go, all wearing masks — one with “vote” scrawled in black marker over top, another with Durham’s “No bull, I voted” sticker fixed on and flapping in the breeze.

“We were voting against what we see as far as the police and the division related to racism, versus for what we think would be at least more open-minded and more willing to bring us together than divide us,” said Kathy Greene, who voted early with her family. “We were voting against something even more so than we are for Joe Biden.”

Kathy Greene, who stood outside Riverside High School to catch a glimpse of Biden, said she has already voted for the Democratic candidate.

Unable to hear Biden from the overflow parking lot, some watched a livestream of the event, sharing earbuds, peering over shoulders, his remarks echoing as they played from phone speakers and rang softly from the actual event. 

“Filling out my ballot, I felt the most proud of this vote as I have in many years,” Thomas Whitmire said. “This goes beyond policy, deeply into the tone of our leadership, and that’s really the main issue at this point. If he’s in, I’m sure I’ll be a little more selective with policies.”

Speaking for 19 minutes, Biden touched on healthcare, employment, criminal justice, and how systemic racism seeps into each issue. He encouraged attendees to turn out and support down-ballot Democratic candidates as well.

“It’s time to restore America’s soul,” Biden said. “We got to keep the momentum going.”

When event goers from the drive-in rally honked in support, those in the overflow parking lot responded with applause and whoops, pulling signs from underneath their elbows to wave in the air.

Most spectators remained in the parking lot for the duration of Biden’s remarks, waiting afterwards with the hopes that Biden would exit near them. A procession of cars drove through, Biden-Harris signs hoisted through sunroofs, but the former vice president did not appear among them.

Spectators watch as a Biden campaign bus leaves Riverside High School after a drive-in rally on Sunday.

After the event, Betsy Albright lingered in the parking lot. “It’s good to see people out in support of our democracy,” she said. “I voted for the protection of our democratic institutions, climate change, health, education, all of it.”

After the drive-in rally, the Biden campaign parted ways: the campaign hosted a separate car parade called “Todos con Biden,” driving from Compare Foods, a supermarket in south Durham, to South Regional Library, an early voting site.

Biden, on the other hand, continued onto Cook Out, ordering vanilla and chocolate milkshakes for himself and his granddaughter Finnegan before leaving Durham.

At top: Bearing phones and masks, Durhamites stand along the street outside a drive-in rally for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday at Riverside High School. All photos taken by Henry Haggart. 

Who are NC’s presidential electors? How are they chosen? What happens after Election Day?

Almost four years ago, North Carolina’s 15 presidential electors convened in Raleigh. Gathered with dozens of state officials, local honorees, and other attendees, the electors cast their ballots for Donald Trump.

“Our ceremonies today reflect the snapshot in time that is North Carolina, 2016,” Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said at the start of the meeting.

This slice of pre-pandemic life seems foreign — friendly handshakes, microphones passed around, electors standing shoulder-to-shoulder as they shared pens and signed to certify their votes.

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the looming threat of legal chaos, has brought into focus the once peripheral mechanics of electing a president, including the Electoral College. North Carolina’s electoral votes promise to play a deciding role in electing the next president. But with a Democratic governor, Republican control in both state General Assembly chambers, a massive rise in by-mail voting, and thin polling margins all in play, normalcy in the process of designating those electoral votes is no longer a safe bet.

How the Electoral College usually works

In North Carolina, the secretary of state — still Marshall, a Democrat — supervises the Electoral College process, as outlined in North Carolina General Statute 163, but they do not appoint the electors. Instead, each recognized political party selects its own slate of electors, one for each of the state’s 13 congressional districts and two at-large electors.

Recent rule changes made by the Democratic and Republican parties have empowered their state leadership to approve each elector, ensuring electors vote for the party’s nominee and guarding against faithless electors. This year, both parties also used electronic forms to identify interested electors, who then campaigned for the position at precinct, district, and state conventions before their selection. 

“There’s a vetting process that there wasn’t even four years ago,” said Gerry Cohen, former General Assembly special counsel. “For someone who isn’t a pretty strong party loyalist, it would be really impossible for them to get chosen.”

The North Carolina Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee is responsible for selecting electors. It does so with the intention of reflecting the people of color, young people, LGBTQ people, and veterans that make up the state’s population.

“What they were looking for was to make sure that all of the electors in North Carolina actually represented what the demographics of North Carolina actually are,” said Rebekah Whilden, a first-time at-large Democratic elector.

Along with Whilden, the Democratic Party’s selected electors are Lori Oxendine, Linda Gunter, Christopher Hardee, Fatimah Hickman, Emily Hogan, Mary Fox, Linda Baker, Thierry Wernaers, Karen Nance, Donna Luckey, Thomas Thomson, Antoinette Mingo, Valeria Levy, and Anthony Foxx.

The North Carolina GOP’s State Executive Committee is also responsible for selecting electors. The party did not respond to a request for comment about its presidential elector selection criteria or process.

The Republican Party’s selected electors are Thomas Hill, Edwin Gavin, David Wickersham, Angie Cutlip, Jonathan Fletcher, Tina Forsberg, Chauncey Lambeth, Susan Mills, Daniel Barry, Danny Overcash, Mark Delk, Melissa Taylor, Blake Williams, Michele Nix, and Michael Whatley.

None of the selected electors’ names show up on ballots. Instead, the names of the presidential and vice presidential candidates appear. But a vote for either major presidential candidate is really a vote for the electors of that candidate’s party. Whichever party garners the most votes sends its slate of electors to the Electoral College.

North Carolina election law sets the certification of election results for Nov. 24, three weeks after Election Day. That day, the state elections board meets at 11 a.m. and completes its canvass of the ballots, verifying that each ballot has been counted correctly. Afterwards, the board notifies the secretary of state, who notifies the governor, who issues a proclamation of the names of the electors and instructs electors to be present for the Electoral College.

“Uncharted territory

Normally, the Electoral College process moves forward without a hitch. But there are fault lines in state and federal election law in danger of exposure.

“You can come up with all kinds of scenarios, and every contingency is not covered,” said Theodore Shaw, a professor at the UNC School of Law and a member of the National Task Force on Election Crises.

One fault line is a provision in the general statute that “the General Assembly and the Governor shall designate Electors in accord with their best judgment of the will of the electorate.”

According to the general statute, if Gov. Roy Cooper does not proclaim the names of the electors by Dec. 8 — due to legal challenges delaying election certification, for example — the General Assembly may appoint electors. If electors are not appointed by Dec. 13, Cooper appoints them.

Should Joe Biden win in North Carolina and his victory is contested long enough, the Republican-controlled General Assembly could appoint electors in subversion of the popular vote if, say, legislators take baseless accusations of wide-scale voter fraud made by the president to heart and use “their best judgment” to decide that “the will of the electorate” is not actually for Joe Biden.

Shaw says that such a scenario is improbable — not necessarily because of the clarity of election law or strength of the electoral system, but because of the inevitable political fallout.

“Can I tell you that there’s no chance that somebody might try to proceed in that manner in this extraordinary year? I can’t tell you that, but it’s unlikely,” Shaw said. “It would be a political mistake for the state legislature to do that because of the probable reaction. What you’re doing is invalidating the role of voters in choosing the president of the United States.”

However electors are selected, they will meet on Dec. 14 at noon at the old Hall of the House of Representatives in the State Capitol — like every state’s electors, but also unlike any other meeting of the Electoral College.

“Normally, there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance, and the room is full of people,” said Tim Crowley, a spokesperson for Marshall, whose office plans the logistics of the convening. “We’re planning to practice more safety protocols related to COVID. There’s a lot that could change between now or December, one way or another. We’re trying to be flexible and plan accordingly.”

In addition to the pandemic, the secretary of state’s office is planning in anticipation of a post-election climate so fraught that armed militia appear in Raleigh in December. The office is consulting with the State Capitol Police on security measures. 

The prospect of violence lingers in the minds of some electors, though.

“Now that I am elected, I feel a lot of pressure,” Whilden said. “When [Trump] told the Proud Boys to be on standby, I was just like, ‘oh gosh.’”

As abound with vagaries as this election is, the U.S. Constitution is clear about one thing: when Congress meets in a joint session to count electoral votes on Jan. 6, the country must have election results. Until then, uncertainty awaits.

“It’s likely to get even more abnormal,” Shaw said. “This election, with everything that’s been going on, we could end up in some kind of uncharted territory.”

At top: the Electoral College presidential teller and secretary count votes for president at the convening of the Electoral College in 2016. Photo from UNC TV.

‘I feel like nothing’s changed’: Black voters seek change through Triad congressional race

The Woolworth’s store on South Elm Street marks the start of downtown Greensboro. Its lunch counters, the catalyst of a national wave of sit-ins in 1960, are part of civil rights history that pulses through the city.

Sixty years later, there are new signs in downtown Greensboro that the movement for racial justice is still underway — and unfinished. The words “Black Lives Matter” are everywhere, including South Elm Street, painted onto the asphalt between February One Place and Washington Street.

In North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, which includes Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point, some voters will be carrying those words to the polls this year. The recently redrawn district is predicted to vote overwhelmingly blue — Kathy Manning, the Democratic candidate, is highly favored — but for some of its Black residents, whose desires are neither monolithic nor zeroed on police, words are not enough. Wary of sweeping campaign commitments, they are seeking material improvements for their communities.

“I feel like nothing’s changed. I feel like it’s just more in the spotlight,” V. R. Baker, who has lived in Greensboro for 23 years, said. But national protests following the police killing of George Floyd have shifted her perspective. “Demonstrating was beautiful because it woke people up. It was like an earthquake that woke people up.” 

“When the George Floyd situation came through, it just opened up old wounds,” said Jaye Webb, chair of the Greensboro Criminal Justice Advisory Commission. 

For the Triad area, the wounds are deep and many: the 1979 killings of five residents by the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party during a march supporting Black textile workers where police failed to intervene, the 2018 police killing of Marcus Deon Smith, the 2019 killing of John Neville in Forsyth County Detention Center in Winston-Salem, long-unmet needs for basic community care and investment.

“Politicians, they say a lot of things, but they don’t necessarily act on them,” Ryan Upton, a junior at North Carolina A&T State University, said. “You can say it in front of us, but then when we’re going back to work and living our everyday busy lives, it’s like, okay, who really is doing it?”

The candidates have staked out distinct positions on the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a statement after Floyd’s killing, Manning wrote: “Too often, too many act as if black lives don’t matter. They do.”

Her campaign has neither discussed race further on its website, nor run Facebook or Google ads about race, according to online databases. 

During an interview with The 9th Street Journal, Lee Haywood, the Republican candidate, said: “I’m for ‘all lives matter.’ Yes, Black lives are included in there as well, but all lives matter.”

His campaign has not discussed race further on its website, though his first “issue” is public safety. His campaign has run one Facebook ad about the Black Lives Matter movement, which reads: “I belong to the oldest Black Lives Matter group in the nation: the Republican Party!” 

The candidates have not made clear what actions they plan to take in office against structural racism and police brutality.

Manning supports a ban on hogtying, the police practice that killed Smith and Neville, and she endorses the Justice in Policing Act, the House Democrats’ police reform bill, which she called “an important first step” in a statement without enumerating subsequent steps.

Haywood does not have a public plan. “The Republican Party, we’re not promising the Black people anything,” he said. “We’re not promising any checks. We’re not promising any freebies. We’re going to leave you alone as much as possible.”

In this moment of racial reckoning, though, Black voters say that they are not asking for “checks” or “freebies,” but for the government to repair systemic problems and tangibly serve communities in need.

“The problem is so deep-rooted. I would say, focus on mental health, expanding public education and the resources that it has, and also trying to secure these families that may not even have a place to live,” said Demetri Banks, a senior at A&T, referencing the low-income neighborhoods surrounding the university. “If we focus on that, everything will trickle down.”

Black voters interviewed by The 9th Street Journal said that when defunding the police is mentioned, it is about a need to realign budget priorities and redistribute funding to properly address social gaps.

“‘Defund the police,’ I feel like, is a stretch because they’re still needed, but I feel like if you’re going to give the money and resources to one emergency field, you should give it to the other,” said Christopher Slade, who has lived in Greensboro for 19 years. “If you have the resources to invest in police, tear gas, rubber bullets, then I feel like you should be able to invest in hospitals and help COVID research.”

Joy Kirk, who has lived near High Point for three years, has worried as much about her children’s interactions with the police as she has about her children’s safety after a recent rash of shootings in Greensboro and High Point.

“If the system wasn’t set up the way it was and designed for us to fail to begin with, there would be less Black-on-Black crime. But that justifies someone else, that’s held to a higher stature, to shoot and kill us?” she said.

In Webb’s work with the advisory commission, community members have urged broader investment in employment opportunities, healthcare, and crime prevention programs such as midnight basketball. 

“I don’t think we can allow police to police the police. I think if we don’t make moves on that, we could see the next Minneapolis,” he said.

For Webb and the commission, those moves involve increased transparency: repealing laws that could conceal police misconduct, establishing nationwide police decertification records, and making records about police personnel and correctional facilities widely accessible.

“It’s not in the matter of defunding the police from existence. I think it is reappropriating funds into other opportunities that would allow for communities to have resources,” he said. “Hopefully, our elected officials will understand not only that this is the right time, and that it’s not going away no time soon.”

Trump, GOP slow to support Republican for Greensboro House seat

The Trump rally in Winston-Salem on Sept. 8 was as much a campaign stop for the president as it was a reward for political allies.

“Representatives Greg Murphy, Virginia Foxx, Mark Walker, Dan Bishop, and Ted Budd, what a group. What a group. What a group, thank you fellas. They’re warriors. Boy, I’ll tell you, those House guys, they were in there, they were fighting for us,” Trump said halfway through his hour-long remarks, peering over an elevated podium at the recipients of his praise.

On cue, rallygoers cheered, waving red, white, and blue signs from the tarmac at Smith Reynolds Airport.

A few minutes later, the president directed his supporters to Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Republican candidate for governor, and Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill, Republican candidate for attorney general.  Applause erupted once more for both candidates, familiar faces from speeches preceding Trump’s.

Lee Haywood, Republican candidate for North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, which includes Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point, sat three rows in front of the president. He went unmentioned. 

“Loved it, loved it, loved it,” Haywood said of the rally. “I like to hear Donald Trump get up there and tell the truth the way he sees it.”

The rally was a continuation of the candidate’s unreciprocated adulation of president and party, even as the GOP seems to be giving up and cutting its losses in the former Republican stronghold. Kathy Manning, the Democratic candidate, is heavily favored to win. Haywood has troubles with visibility and money, and the Republican establishment has balked at backing his campaign. The president not mentioning Haywood during a visit to the candidate’s district is only the latest example.

Last year, the General Assembly redrew the 6th’s lines from eight predominantly rural counties to Guilford County and part of Forsyth County. In the new district, Hillary Clinton won by over 20 points in 2016. No House Republican elected in 2018 represents a district that voted for Clinton by more than four points.

“It’s not just a major long shot. It’s an impossibility,” said David Wasserman, House editor at The Cook Political Report. “Republicans have abandoned [the district] for good reason, because it’s unwinnable.”

The new borders signal underlying social and political change in North Carolina’s Triad. If the district were on the ballot in the late twentieth century, it would have been very competitive, Wasserman said. But the urbanization of the Triad has driven a major blue shift.

“That’s probably not an area that [Republicans] would be too wise to invest their resources,” said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

One of those resources is the president’s political capital, which has not yet been spent on Haywood. 

“There’s no reason for Trump to mention Haywood. It would not have any kind of beneficial effect for the president or Haywood,” Wasserman said.

Haywood remains loyal to the president. One of his campaign Facebook’s first posts since the rally announces plans to attend a “Trump convoy and ride” in nearby Alamance County on Saturday, an event unlikely to provide much-needed local name recognition.

The campaign has also struggled with fundraising. Up to the most recent campaign finance filing on June 30, the Haywood campaign raised $15,365, while the Manning campaign raised $1.4 million. As of Sept. 13, Haywood estimated that his campaign has now raised a total of about $60,000.

“I’m going up against a very wealthy person over here. She can self-fund her campaign, and I’m just a regular guy,” Haywood said. Campaign finance filings show that Kathy Manning has made one $67.06 contribution to her own campaign.

Closing the gap has been impeded by the coronavirus pandemic, which has already shuttered six months of opportunities to woo voters face-to-face. What Haywood calls “a narrow path to victory” is now even narrower. He said he is focused on social media and grassroots outreach, so in an effort to materialize his campaign, in-person doorknocking is slated through the next month.

“The heavy hitters that usually give money, they’re reluctant to do so,” Haywood said. “Everybody knows this is a tough race. They’re starting to come through. They’re starting to realize that this is a winnable race.”

While the Forsyth County and Guilford County GOPs have supported the campaign since its start, Haywood declined to comment on state and national support. However, he said that the Trump campaign was aware of his own and that he hoped for a shoutout if the president returns to North Carolina — Haywood’s best bet against a difficult pandemic and a difficult map.

“About the only thing my campaign is missing is a swarm of locusts,” Haywood said.

Update: This story has been corrected to indicate that Kathy Manning has made one $67.06 contribution to her own campaign. An earlier version incorrectly said she had not made any.

Redrawn Greensboro congressional seat predicted to flip to Democrats

In a post on his campaign Facebook page, Lee Haywood smiles, posing neither masked nor socially distanced from Madison Cawthorn, a fellow Republican congressional candidate.

On Twitter, the Kathy Manning campaign shares a photo of Manning in a pink and green mask, standing distanced from North Carolina State Council of Machinists President Theodore McNeal.

This familiar dynamic, in which face masks have been politicized, is playing out in North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, where Haywood and Manning face each other and a transformed electorate in the midst of a global pandemic.

The redrawn district seems to be Kathy Manning’s to lose. Republican incumbent Mark Walker declined to run for reelection after court-mandated redistricting converted the district from an amalgamation of eight counties to just Guilford County and the southeastern portion of Forsyth County. Its borders encompass Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point, which make up North Carolina’s more urban, more Democratic-leaning Triad region. 

In 2018, Manning lost by 6 points in her bid to unseat Ted Budd in the 13th Congressional District. This year, she emerged from a crowded primary in the 6th with nearly half of the vote — a race perhaps more competitive than the general election will be.

Candidates focus on healthcare, economy

Manning, a former immigration lawyer, has never held public office but has emphasized her community and nonprofit work in her campaign, citing public service such as Greensboro’s Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts as work she will continue if she wins.

Haywood, a small business owner, also has never held public office, though he has emphasized his conservative ties instead. A self-described “constitutional conservative,” he served for the past two years as chairman of the congressional district’s Republican Party before making a leap into the election.

“I only became active in politics 10 years ago with the emergence of Barrack [sic] Obama and his vision for a radically changed America,” Haywood writes on his campaign website.

In an election cycle dominated by racial, healthcare, and economic fault lines laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic, this race has been no exception, even as both candidates largely follow party platforms.

“I’m a pragmatic person,” Manning said during a July 28 event with the Forsyth County Democratic Party. She does not support Medicare for All, the universal single-payer healthcare system advocated by progressives. Instead, she has backed a public option, in which the federal government would provide its own health insurance plan, as well as the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina. “The most pragmatic way to get good, affordable healthcare to everybody is by building on the ACA, rather than dismantling it.”

Haywood is aligned with his party on healthcare. He has proposed overhauling the ACA for a private, free market-driven system.

Both candidates tout their small business experience as good preparation for charting the district through the pandemic and toward economic recovery. While both favor extending programs such as low-interest loans to mitigate the effects of the pandemic recession, their approaches sharply diverge for the post-pandemic future. 

Haywood has stressed the need to eliminate the ballooning national debt, while Manning has leaned on past work in the Triad as evidence of her ability to guide long-term economic development.

Haywood confronts ungiving new district

The new district lines are unkind to Haywood and Republicans at large. Barring a major gaffe by Manning or a statewide red wave, he is considered a long shot in the now blue district. In Guilford County, Hillary Clinton won by almost 20 points in 2016; she won Forsyth by more than 10 points. In both counties, about three-times as many Democrats as Republicans turned out in this year’s primary.

The redrawn 6th Congressional District includes all of Guilford County and part of Forsyth County. Map from NC General Assembly.

“It’s nice to have a district that reflects the electorate finally,” State Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro) said. “Guilford’s pretty blue, and we haven’t had a Democratic representative in a long time. I think it’s going to be good to have somebody that reflects more of our values.”

The newly drawn political landscape has led pundits to forecast a Manning win. The Cook Political Report rates the district as “likely Democratic,” and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates it as “safe Democratic.”

Beyond the new map, Haywood faces a name recognition problem — compounded by his lack of incumbency, Manning’s 2018 race, and a pandemic that has stifled traditional avenues of voter outreach — which his campaign is trying to solve by positioning Haywood alongside Donald Trump.

On Facebook, the Haywood campaign’s chief social media platform, the president has made several appearances, including in an ad from early June, where his face accompanies “Keep NC-06 Red” and an invitation to donate to and get involved with the Haywood campaign. But the president has neither endorsed nor boosted Haywood.

“To embrace the president, given the president’s relatively low approval rating, is certainly a strategy if you want to maximize turnout amongst people who like the president. But there’s just not enough of those folks [in the district],” David Holian, a political scientist at UNC Greensboro, said, adding that the association might also turn out voters against the president and, in turn, Haywood.

Manning outpaces Haywood in fundraising

Without his own voter base, Haywood has struggled to amass funds. 

From the start of the campaign up to the most recent Federal Election Commission filing on June 30, the Haywood campaign has raised just over $15,000, with about $7,000 cash on hand. Almost all contributions to the campaign have been made by individuals, save a $1,000 one by the Greater Greensboro Republican Women’s Club and $200 from a committee for B.J. Barnes, Summerfield mayor.

The Manning campaign has raised almost 100 times more — $1.4 million, with about $300,000 cash on hand. More than 85% of the total fundraising amount is from individual contributions. 

“My opponent is a very rich limousine liberal, and I have a very profound monetary disadvantage,” Haywood said during a June 11 event with the Forsyth County Republican Party, sandwiched between asks for donations.

Mac McCorkle, a public policy professor at Duke, said that the disparity reflected the likely outcome. 

“This is seen as a Democratic victory. The Republican forces are probably not encouraging people to waste money on this race,” he said. 

The lack of institutional and party backing, coupled with a redrawing that has compacted the district around a strong Democratic base, will be difficult for Haywood to overcome. 

“It’s like trying to reverse political gravity,” McCorkle said. “Subject to some major change, all the vectors are pointing in one direction — that it’s a blowout.”

At top, candidates Kathy Manning and Lee Haywood. (Photos from their campaigns)