NC-09 hints at opportunities, challenges for N.J. Republicans looking ahead

By Matt Rooney
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Dan Bishop (R) is the big winner coming out of Tuesday’s special election contest in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, Save Jerseyans, vanquishing Democrat Dan McCready by a modest but nevertheless decisive 2-point margin. It’s good news, but probably not for everyone. At least not in the short term.

What does that mean? Why does a New Jersey website care?

NC-09 is a mix of suburban voters trending Democrat and rural Obama-Trump voters among whom Donald Trump (and battleground Republicans) need to over-preform in 2020.

Here’s what we saw on Tuesday night as the dust settled:

The realignment continues, Save Jerseyans.

Republicans are still struggling in the suburbs during the Trump era (though Bishop didn’t quite see the floor drop out either, which is good), but they’re also continuing to expand in rural areas where registered Democrats voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 before switching over to Donald Trump in 2016.

Testa (R-1)

So if you’re a Republican trying to make a go of it in well-heeled, Morris-intensive NJ-11? Or densely-suburban and increasingly #woke LD21? You might be a little more concerned than you already were heading out of tonight, and frankly you should be. It’s time to evolve by getting back to basics (click here for some free advice on the subject from yours truly).

But if you’re our friend Mike Testa or his running mates Erik Simonsen and Antwan McClelland running in LD1 this cycle? A sprawling legislative district chock full of rural pockets like most of Cumberland County with more than a passing resemblance to NC-09’s very ethnically-diverse Robeson County? Tonight’s big result several hours south on I-95 is promising. There’s a working class coalition (one that’s not monolithically white) to be further-developed. What they want to see: Testa and Bishop share a willingness to (1) throw punches and (2) reject the GOP impulse to apologize for POTUS (and the country writ-large); New Jersey Republicans hoping to maximize this demo in coming cycles would be well-advised to learn that lesson and fast.

An obsessive Democrat focus on niche social issues like illegal driver’s licenses means there’s no shortage of fodder for the attack. 

There’s a related item worth noting in there, too: New Jersey Republicans fretting over dropping GOP registration in New Jersey (the gap versus the Dems is nearly at 1 million registrants) need to remember that poaching less-than-woke Democrats is another valid option and the beginnings of a path forward.