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Voters In North Carolina To Decide The Final Race From The 2018 Midterms On Tuesday


Voters in North Carolina are deciding the final race from the 2018 midterms tomorrow. That's right - the 2018 midterms. The original returns from last November were very close, but those results were thrown out after an investigation uncovered possible vote tampering by a Republican operative, which brings us to tomorrow's race. That's between Republican Dan Bishop and Democrat Dan McCready. It is neck and neck, and it's being seen as a preview of what is to come in 2020. Tonight President Trump is campaigning there to help Republicans hold on.

Well, NPR political reporter Jessica Taylor is following all this. She's in the studio. Hi, there.


KELLY: All right, so we're talking - this is the ninth district in North Carolina - big district, traditional GOP district. It does not include the city of Charlotte, but it does include a lot of Charlotte suburbs, which is a big deal because it was in the suburbs of big cities where the election was won and lost for Republicans last year. Is that why this district is so competitive again?

TAYLOR: Yes. Now, President Trump won this district by 12 points in 2016, and Republicans have held this district for more than 50 years, but Democrats are zeroing in again on those fast-growing Charlotte suburbs to try to boost turnout. But Republicans, they need to focus on the more rural areas of the district. That's why you see President Trump going there to try to boost his supporters, many of whom stayed home last time, to show how important this is.

And so there's sort of a one-two punch happening today. Vice President Mike Pence campaigned just outside of Charlotte in the district's most conservative area, and then Trump tonight is in Fayetteville on the other side of the district. But it's a very conservative area, a very military-heavy district, and this is really where they need to boost turnout.

KELLY: All right, talk to me about the candidates. We know they're both named Dan. What else should we know about them?

TAYLOR: Democrat Dan McCready, he's a Marine Corps veteran, and he's been running for two years now. He's run a centrist campaign, like a lot of other Democrats successfully did in 2018. He's emphasizing health care and pocketbook issues, and he doesn't want to talk about other liberal issues like Medicare for all and the Green New Deal. He lost by just 905 votes last year, and the Republican whose victory was thrown out decided not to run again in the do-over election.

So you have Dan Bishop running. He's a state senator, and he's perhaps best known for authoring the state's controversial so-called bathroom bill that mandated people to use the restroom of their gender that they were assigned at birth. But Democrats aren't even really hitting him on this. They're going after him over his votes against expanding Medicaid and a vote against cutting prescription drug costs.

Now, he does come from the Charlotte area, and he did actually win in a very tough climate in 2018, but Bishop, he's running in the kind of campaign that House Republicans have already signaled they're going to run in 2020 - tying Democrats as closely to socialism as they can and tying themselves very close to President Trump. You know, his ads have already invoked people like the squad - New York Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

KELLY: And should we gather from the fact that the president is there tonight that this is a very important race for Republicans?

TAYLOR: Yes. Republicans cannot afford a loss in this red of a seat. There are only four Democrats currently in the House who represent a more conservative seat than this one. That's why you've seen Republicans pour more than $6 million in this seat to try to save it.

KELLY: NPR's Jessica Taylor, thank you.

TAYLOR: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.