North Carolina’s fifth district, spanning the northwest corner of the state, is currently represented by second term congresswoman Virginia Foxx, who, in addition to being in lockstep with President Bush on nearly every issue, has voted against SCHIP, Hurricane Katrina Relief, and extending the Voting Rights Act. Challenging her is Roy Carter, a longtime high school teacher and football coach whose dedication to public service spans 40 years. This district, until recently a Republican stronghold, is energized for change. Foxx’s approval rating within the district has been dropping steadily for months, and currently is among the lowest of active representatives.
This is a race the Republicans cannot afford to lose, especially on the heels of special election defeats in the historically conservative IL-14, LA-1, and MS-1 districts. The NRCC, already pressed for cash, is being forced to dump prodigious amounts of money ($1.3 million in MS-1) to attempt to hold supposedly ‘safe’ seats. As November nears, there is panic within GOP ranks as the party is faced with serious challenges from unexpected areas.
In recent fundraising letters that hit the mailboxes in the 5th district, the National Republican Congressional Committee warns that the dangers of losing the fifth are quite real, reminding that a Roy Carter victory would make things in Washington “only get worse” for Republican interests. Republicans are scared, and the reason is clear. Roy Carter represents the Democratic Party’s best chance to retake this district since Steve Neal left office in 1994. Similar demographically and historically to LA-1, NC-5 saw huge turnout in the primary, with over 80,000 votes being cast, more than any Democratic primary in the fifth district history. And with new Democratic registrations triple those before the 2004 primary, Roy Carter’s voting base continues to grow. Of North Carolina’s more than 160,000 voter registrations since January 1st, only 25% are Republican. What’s more, Republicans are switching party identification at a record clip, with 80% of the 31,250 2008 changeovers becoming Democrats or independents.
Foxx has raised over 900,000 dollars for the general election, a large portion of which comes from donations from large oil, insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Carter, who has pledged not to accept donations from these specific groups either during his campaign or his tenure in office, is fresh off the heels of a hard-fought primary and needs funds if he hopes to compete with Foxx’s moneyed interests.