Redistricting in North Carolina has given several currently Republican Congressional seats new Democratic majorities. The new 11th District, currently represented by retiring Republican, Mark Meadows, isn’t one of them.
NC11 is losing a bit of its Republican lean, moving from an R+29 down to R+14 in Cook’s partisan lean ranking, meaning Republicans and Republican-leaning voters hold about a 62-33% numeric advantage over Democrats in the district. Democrats won a lot of majority Republican districts in 2018, but none with this steep a Republican margin.
There is no path to victory for a Democrat in NC11 without winning a significant minority of Republican and Unaffiliated conservative voters. A Democratic dream candidate would be someone who has already done this. WNC Democrats are lucky enough to have a dream candidate in Gina Collias. Question is, will they recognize the opportunity she’s offering?
Collias is a former #NeverTrump Republican who left the GOP. Before switching parties, she ran in the previously configured NC10 which included a portion of the current NC11. In that Republican primary she won 13-20% of Republican and Unaffiliated conservative votes in the various counties on essentially the same campaign platform she’s running on today:
- Expanding ACA coverage
- Protection of abortion rights
- Electoral reform
- Protecting voting rights
- Environmental protection
- Combating climate change
- Protecting Social Security and Medicare
- Immigration reform with a path to citizenship
- Getting money out of politics
- Protecting the Rule of Law
- Opposing Trump
Her platform is consistent with the national Democratic platform down the line. What most Americans fail to realize is that Democratic policies are far more popular with voters than Republican policies, even in many cases among Republicans. It’s only on issues of identity politics that Republicans have managed to pry away just enough support to survive.
The four men challenging Gina for the nomination have found nothing substantive to fault her on, attempting instead to gain an edge by criticizing Collias’ history as a Republican. It’s the eternal dilemma facing rational, problem-solving public servants in our system. Back in 2018, Tea Party Republicans looked at Collias’ agenda and called her a “pro-choice feminist” and “a progressive.” Now she’s taking that same agenda to the Democratic Party and being attacked for her GOP past. Ironically, it’s that experience in the Republican Party and her record of winning Republican votes on a progressive platform that makes Collias the Democrats’ best hope to win this seat. And the compromise Democrats are being asked to make in policy terms? It’s basically zero.
Gina Collias gives Democrats in Western North Carolina their only credible chance to gain a Congressional seat in this solidly Republican region. Will they seize this opportunity?