GOP picking candidates in two districts

Apr. 27, 2014 @ 07:49 PM

Republicans in two area General Assembly districts have to decide by May 6 who they want to oppose a pair of incumbent Democrats, state Rep. Graig Meyer and state Sen. Mike Woodard.

In House District 50, minister Rod Chaney and banker Lewis Hannah are vying for the GOP nomination to run against Meyer, who’s seeking his first full term.
The Chaney/Hannah battle is a partial rematch of the 2012 Republican primary, a four-way battle Chaney won with 45 percent of the vote. He went on to lose the November general election to former state Rep. Valerie Foushee.
Chaney in running again thinks the district is ripe for a GOP pickup, being “like running for an open seat again” now that Foushee is in the N.C. Senate.
In 2012, “we had a blast running, we felt like we connected with a lot of people,” he said, noting that he and Foushee split the precincts the district covers in northern Orange and Durham counties.
Hannah finished last in the 2012 primary but is running this time around with the support of that year’s other would-be GOP candidates, Jason Chambers and Thomas Wright.
Chambers was runner-up to Chaney in the 2012 primary by virtue of a strong showing in Durham County.
Hannah thinks his chance lies in convincing the party faithful he’s the more electable of this year’s GOP candidates come November.
“We believe a fiscally conservative Republican moderate would have a better chance to win the whole race,” he said, alluding to the fact that Chaney received only 45 percent of the vote in 2012’s general election.
Chaney disagrees.
“I’m not bashful about speaking out on the social issues,” he said, alluding among other things to his opposition to same-sex marriage. “Rev. [William] Barber [of the North Carolina NAACP] speaks out and I don’t think Republicans should cede that ground. I’m not sure Mr. Hannah is willing to engage that.”
This spring’s other GOP primary will choose a candidate to run against Woodard in Senate District 22, which covers rural and suburban Durham plus Person and Caswell counties.
The Republicans’ 2012 candidate in the district, lawyer Milton Holmes, is seeking a rematch but first has to convince the party faithful to support him instead of Caswell County substitute teacher Herman Joubert.
Holmes, a resident of Durham’s Falconbridge neighborhood, didn’t campaign actively in 2012 but this year has made it a point to make his views known via email.
He says he’s pro-environment, being among other things for keeping the Dorothea Dix property in Raleigh, currently the subject of acquisition talks between that city’s government and the state, “as natural as possible.”
But he’s dismissive of claims the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory have hurt public education by clamping down on teacher pay. “When teachers start working 40-hour weeks and 50 week years, like most taxpayers, then I will consider their pay,” he said in one recent email.
Joubert is campaigning actively.
He favors cutting “oppressive” taxes and regulations that stifle business. But he’s also said state officials should force Duke Energy to shoulder all the cleanup expenses for the recent coal-ash spill that fouled the Dan River, without passing “any of that cost on to the people who get bills from them.”
Early voting in the primaries is underway and available through May 3. They conclude with precinct-level voting on May 6.