The Longleaf Slate
The Longleaf Slate was formed to raise funds for strong Democratic candidates challenging vulnerable incumbents in the North Carolina General Assembly.
Here are the highlights of each candidates and their district. Click through for each candidate's campaign website:
Ricky Hurtado (HD 63: Alamance): Hurtado is the son of working-class immigrants and a first-generation graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and Princeton. He is a tireless advocate for educational and racial equity, economic security for working-class families, and child well-being. His opponent is a former Wells Fargo bank executive and staunch conservative. This district has been slightly redrawn and now leans Democratic.
Nicole Quick (HD 59: Guilford): Quick is a 20-year resident of Guilford County and former manufacturing executive. As a parent of a child with autism, she is passionate about education quality, the environment and voting rights. Her opponent, incumbent Jon Hardister, is the current Republican Majority Whip. This district in the Greensboro suburbs has leaned slightly Republican in the past, but with Democratic turnout likely to increase in 2020, is ripe for a strong challenger like Quick.
Brian Farkas (HD 9: Pitt): Farkas works for an architecture firm in Pitt County that helps build stronger communities across Eastern North Carolina. He has a long record of public service and is a vocal proponent for independent redistricting reform. The previous Republican in this district left office to run for Congress and the recently-appointed incumbent has no history of service other than being a big Republican donor.
Aimy Steele (HD82: Cabarrus): As a former school principal and mother of 5, Steele is passionate about educational quality and equity. Her opponent was one of the chief Republican budget writers in the last legislative cycle, vocally anti-choice and a fierce supporter of the NRA. This seat is extremely competitive and Democrats have an outstanding candidate in Steele.
Dan Besse (HD74: Forsyth): Besse has spent his career as an attorney focusing on environmental issues and serving five terms on the Winston-Salem city council. Like so many districts, this once grossly gerrymandered district has been redrawn, making it more competitive, which prompted the incumbent Republican not to seek another term. As a familiar figure in the area, Besse is a very promising candidate.
Gail Young (HD83: Cabarrus): Gail Young spent almost 30 years working in local government gaining excellent budgeting and financial skills. Having lived in Concord for 28 years, her love for her community propelled her into state politics. Her opponent, Larry Pittman, has been accurately described as a gun fanatic, sponsoring numerous bills that would, in just one example, permit loaded handguns into elementary schools. The district is trending quickly and Young is positioned for a very competitive campaign.
Adam Ericson (HD 20: New Hanover): Adam Ericson is a public high school teacher. He believes that the governed deserve real representation, but do not have it today in North Carolina. He is running a bold campaign to invest in North Carolina's education, fight for worker's rights, make health care affordable and ensure a livable climate for our state's next generation. The Republican incumbent, rather than facing what will be a tough campaign, made a quixotic run for governor. (She did not come close.)
Dr. Frances Jackson (HD 45: Cumberland): Dr. Jackson is a native of Cumberland County and a graduate of North Carolina A&T. She has worked in state and local government in Cumberland for much of her career, during which she also earned a Ph.D. in public policy and administration. This district was redrawn and now faces its first competitive election in many years.
Terri LeGrand (SD 31: Davie & Forsyth): Terri LeGrand originally came to Winston-Salem for law school at Wake Forest, and like many, never left. She has built an unapologetically progressive campaign demanding more ethical behavior in the General Assembly. The incumbent is a replacement-level pro-guns/anti-choice Republican who now finds herself in a newly competitive district.
Donna Lake (SD 7: Wayne & Lenoir): Donna Lake is a retired Air Force Colonel, combat veteran and professor at the ECU College of Nursing. Her opponent, incumbent Jim Perry, was appointed to his seat after his predecessor retired in office. This race will be a tough one, but Lake has shown that she is well-prepared and energized to win.
JD Wooten (SD 24: Alamance & Guilford): North Carolina native J.D. Wooten is a former Air Force officer turned trademark and patent attorney. He is stressing education, access to affordable healthcare, and independent redistricting at the center of his platform. The Republican incumbent, rather than face a newly competitive campaign, decided to retire and not seek re-election.
Allen Wellons (SD 11: Johnston, Nash, Wilson): Democrat Allen Wellons is an experienced, proven public servant and former three-term state senator. The Republican incumbent declined to run in the updated district. Wellons is a powerful local name in a district where bringing out the Democratic base will be key.
Tess Judge (SD 1: Eastern NC): Tess Judge is a successful businesswoman, community leader, grandmother to 10 and resident of Dare County for over 30 years. She is widely known as an advocate for small business and the environment. Judge's deep connections with communities across Eastern NC will prove invaluable in dislodging a widely unloved incumbent who is relying on Raleigh PAC money to fund his campaign.
Woah, did something change?
Nope. The Slate is still the same!
The Long Leaf Pine Slate has become part of Now Or Never NC. This entailed no practical change to the Slate itself - all our candidates remain the same. This will help us bring the Slate to whole new audiences and avoid the redundancies in strategy, messaging and communication that are so common in political campaigns. We're all on the same team and want the same things, so we decided it would just make more sense for us all to work together.
What is the overall goal?
The aim is to boost fundraising for a small group of Democratic challengers running to flip select seats in the NC General Assembly.
In 2018, following court-ordered corrections to an egregiously partisan gerrymander, Democrats in North Carolina succeeded in breaking the Republican supermajority in the state General Assembly. Following more court-ordered map changes in 2019, Democrats now have a real chance of taking control of one or both chambers of the General Assembly in the 2020 elections. To do this, Democrats need to flip 6 House seats and 5 Senate seats.
The good news is that North Carolina Democrats are ready. We have recruited strong candidates to challenge newly vulnerable Republican incumbents in races over the state. The Long Leaf Pine Slate focuses on just the most winnable races where your support will matter most. Check out the Candidate List to learn more about the House and Senate candidates we're supporting!
Here in North Carolina, the average House race costs about $250,000. The average Senate race rises to around $750,000 or more. Now, that's not cheap - but by contrast, Congressional races are multi-million dollar affairs. The race to kick out GOP Senator Thom Tillis alone is expected to raise over $40 million! What this means is that, particularly for small donors like us, your political contribution has much greater impact in races like these.
How did you choose the candidates?
To choose the candidates the Long Leaf Pine Slate would focus on, we turned to FLIP NC, a wonderful all-volunteer group of grassroots progressives who are passionate about maps and data. Their team broke down the most recent legislative maps and compared it with past elections results to determine where the most promising districts for Democrats would be. You can read their full guide to NC's 2020 races here. We've gathered together the strongest of those candidates whose victories could flip control of the General Assembly.
All of the candidates on our Slate had to meet a few basic requirements. All candidates must support:
- Independent redistricting reform
- Affordable access to health care
- Fully fund our public schools
We also wanted to focus on races that could use our help the most. A few races, like the new Senate districts in Wake and Mecklenburg counties (S-18 and S-39, respectively), were considered "safe" enough Democratic seats that we dropped them from this list. That way, we could focus our resources on more competitive races.
Why should I care about North Carolina?
Well, lots of reasons!
North Carolina is the 9th largest state in the nation by population. It has 15 electoral votes, 13 Representatives in Congress, and is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. North Carolina's growth and evolution is steadily making it a more Democratic-friendly state. In 2008, NC went for President Barack Obama. Both 2012 and 2016 cycles were decided by just a sliver of votes, and also saw widespread voter suppression by hostile Republicans in the General Assembly.
The North Carolina Republican Party has seen the same trendlines, and they're terrified. Their response has been breathtakingly cynical: everything from openly racist and undemocratic gerrymanders, voter suppression, election fraud, gutter-grade dirty tricks and outright corruption to push their rotten agenda. They've put on a clinic for Republicans in other "purple states" around the country on how to entrench their power by any means other than winning clean elections.
The party that controls the NC General Assembly in 2021 will draw new Congressional maps based on the 2020 census. When that happened in 2011, North Carolina Republicans drew an outrageous gerrymander that sent 10 Republicans and 3 Democrats to Congress, despite the fact that voter turnout was about 50/50. If we let them, the NC GOP will continue to gerrymander those maps for their own partisan advantage, right up to (and beyond) what the Supreme Court allows. The Republicans will continue to disenfranchise wide swaths of our state and run roughshod over our democracy. We cannot allow that to happen.
Here's a good summary of the timeline of Republican gerrymanders in NC, courtesy of the good folks at NC Policy Watch.
Got something to say? Want to help? Let us know! NowOrNeverNC@gmail.com