Source: News & Observer
It took less than 30 minutes from the time North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore announced his run for Congress to when the first attack was made against his campaign – and it came from within his party, according to The News & Observer.
Republican Pat Harrigan, who ran for Congress in NC-14 in 2022 and lost by more than 15 points to now-U.S. Rep. Jeff Jackson (D), declared more than two months ago that he would be running again in 2024. Harrigan’s announcement was made before legislative Republicans gerrymandered the state and congressional voting maps, which resulted in the 14th District turning from blue to red by creating the perfect little district for Moore to run for Congress in and win.
Whether Moore was unaware that Harrigan had already declared his run or he just didn’t care, his announcement seemed to hit a nerve with Harrigan.
Just 23 minutes after Moore’s announcement, Harrigan sent a news release welcoming “Casino Activist Tim Moore to the race.”
“Lets [sic] be clear: Tim Moore carries a legacy of corruption, from being bought and paid for by the casino and gambling bosses, to taxpayer-funded sexual escapades,” Harrigan said in the release. “Such a man does not represent NC14’s values, nor does he deserve its trust.“
Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer told The N&O that the new 14th District is now a safe Republican seat, meaning whoever wins the primary will likely win the election.
“And I think that is probably where all the gloves will come off and we will have a very intensive primary battle,” Bitzer said. “And because it’s an open seat. Nobody has the power of the incumbency.”
While it’s true that neither Harrigan nor Moore will be incumbents, Moore has a lengthy legislative record he can point to while campaigning since he is the state’s longest-serving House speaker. It’s a record that Moore’s campaign adviser, Paul Shumaker, said will allow him to stand in front of any Republican primary audience, grassroots activists, or any major donor and list off the things he considers to be his major accomplishments during his time in the House.
“You know how I’m going to vote,” Shumaker said, of what Moore can tell people. “All these other ones are going to tell you how they’re going to vote when they get there, but the reality is you don’t know how they’re going to vote.”
Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper told The N&O that, although Moore was not a representative in the 14th District, he has provided the Cleveland County district with investments during his time as House speaker and that he will remind voters of that while fending off attacks from his opponents.
Despite those investments, there is still plenty of low-hanging fruit that Harrigan can use against Moore during the primary campaign.
“I think it’s going to be a nasty primary,” Cooper said. “I would be shocked if Harrigan does not continue to hit Moore and hit him hard. What I don’t know is what Moore’s reaction is going to be.”
Moore is known to many lawmakers as “Teflon Tim” for his uncanny ability to be at the center of both ethical and legal problems, yet never getting in any official trouble for any of it.
Those problems include the recent affair he had with a married woman and the subsequent lawsuit he had to settle with the woman’s husband, as well as his push for more casino gambling via the opening of four new casinos despite his legal work connected to a casino already in operation in Kings Mountain.
As for Moore’s opponent, Harrigan is an Army Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and earned two Bronze Stars. He and his wife moved to North Carolina after he returned from Afghanistan and he opened a firearms business.
Even though Harrigan lost his congressional race badly in 2022, the district has been gerrymandered to be more conservative than it was last year. He also has a base of support and some name recognition after winning the Republican primary last year with around 75% of the vote. Harrigan won’t be starting from scratch going up against one of the state’s most well-known and powerful politicians in Moore.
“Usually you have one with greater name ID than the other, but this this could be an equalizer in terms of the intensity of what we would expect in this primary,” Bitzer said.
Name recognition or not, Harrigan is going to take the race to Moore, which will make this perhaps not the easy stroll through the park he likely thought it would be after he drew himself his district to run in.
Harrigan wrote in his release that, “NC14 demands leaders forged in adversity, capable of making tough decisions that put our economy back on track and are unafraid to stand against the establishment for the betterment of our state and nation.”
He then called Moore “another go-along-to-get-along Republican who prioritizes political survival over principled action and the hard-fought interests of North Carolinians.”