Van Braxton probably isn’t a candidate you’ve heard much about, but he’s one of our strongest State House pick-up opportunities. This seat was targeted in 2004, with incumbent Stephen Laroque (R) beating a Democratic political newcomer. This year, the Democrats have nominated Braxton, a 3 term Kinston City Councilman with deep family and business ties throughout the district. With a strong candidate like Braxton (Kinston is by far largest city in the district), the race was competitive from the beginning. But get this – Laroque, the incumbent Republican, was moderate enough to have a primary challenger funded by our good friend Art Pope. And Laroque lost. By 9 votes.
Court challenges have of course been filed, and the case won’t be decided for a few more weeks, but this is an incredible opportunity. The likely Republican nominee, Willie Ray Starling, has never held political office and ran a classic “also ran” throw away campaign in 2004 from the back of his car. On his website (www.willieray.com) he quotes Jerry Falwell and says he wants to be the Jesse Helms of the State Legislature.