A lot of attention has been focused on Kansas and Oklahoma lately, and the toll that unfettered Republican leadership has taken on the state both economically and psychologically. Regressive social legislation, draconian budget cuts used to offset tax breaks that didn't live up to their promise, and a raft of legislation feeding the NRA's vision of "guns anywhere, for any reason" have roiled local politics in these once slam-dunk conservative states.
But before Kansas and Oklahoma, there was my old home of North Carolina, where Republicans under former Gov. Pat McCrory, backed by a veto-proof legislative majority, went through the party's bucket list and passed legislation that cost taxpayers billions of dollars, cost the state its once-progressive reputation, and cost McCrory his job.
With a Democrat now in the governor's mansion (full disclosure - I once did work for Gov. Roy Cooper's campaign for Attorney General), Democrats have their sights set on breaking the Republican stranglehold on the state House. The GOP currently holds 74 seats - just two more than the veto-proof 72 seat supermajority. One of the Democrats looking to help break that supermajority is former Moms Demand Action chapter leader and LEAP Forward endorsed candidate Christy Clark.
Clark is contesting North Carolina's 98th district, centered in northern Mecklenburg County around the communities of Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson. Her opponent is deputy Republican whip John Bradford, who won his seat in 2014 by less than 3,000 votes. Despite not facing a Democratic opponent in 2016, he only managed 56% of the vote against an independent. This is the exact type of incumbent in the exact sort of district Democrats can do well in this fall, and Clark is running a professional, issues-driven campaign that can win. Her impressive showing in last week's primary (she took more than 90% in a contested race) is an exciting first step.
Clark is running on a platform focused on improving public education through teacher recruitment and retention, additional protections for the LGBTQ community and people of color, and expanded access to Medicaid. But it is her advocacy for gun safety, including testifying against one of the most expansive and regressive pieces of legislation I've tracked in any state (HB 746), that drew my attention to her campaign. LEAP Forward is thrilled to support her, and I look forward to following her campaign.