Mark Walker Wins GOP Primary Runoff for Rep. Howard Coble’s Seat in the U.S. House July 16, 2014 Vol. VII, No. 18 12:13 am Walker fanned the flames of resentment of super PAC attack ads run against him and two other Guilford County candidates during April and May, and tied Berger to Washington
Mark Walker Wins GOP Primary Runoff for Rep. Howard Coble’s Seat in the U.S. House
July 16, 2014 Vol. VII, No. 18 12:13 am
Walker fanned the flames of resentment of super PAC attack ads run against him and two other Guilford County candidates during April and May, and tied Berger to Washington and Raleigh political insiders wielding outside money.
On Wednesday, July 9, 2014, Mark Walker called a press conference at the Guilford County GOP Headquarters to accuse Phil Berger, Jr’s father, Phil Berger, Sr., of using his influence as President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate, “to steer political contributions to the super PAC supporting his son,” and of collusion between that super PAC, Keep Conservatives United, and the Berger campaign.
There was no evidence to support the claim. That did not matter to the crowd of angry Guilford County Republicans there to show their support for Walker. They were certain that Phil Berger, Jr. had led the May primary election due to “unnecessarily vicious and unfair campaign attack ad mailers,” attack ads in mailboxes paid for by outside sources of money, specifically, an independent expenditure fund named Keep Conservatives United.
The mailers were run against Guilford County candidates Mark Walker, Zach Matheny and Bruce VonCannon in April and May. Although the Walker, Matheny and VonCannon voters were offended by the mailings, they were not certain at first who was behind the attacks until positive mailers from Keep Conservatives United began showing up in support of Phil Berger, Jr.
During the six weeks leading up to the May primary election, Keep Conservatives United spent $49,414 in support of Phil Berger, Jr. They spent $29,600 against VonCannon, $18,451 against Matheny, and $9,186 against Walker … all from Guilford County. As of July 15, 2014, Keep Conservatives United had spent $98,319 against Walker, and $102,215 for Phil Berger, Jr.
Guilford County is the political epicenter of the district. Remapping in 2011 gave Guilford County 43% of the district, with Rockingham County, Phil Berger, Jr.’s home county, only 12%. There are nearly five times as many Republicans in Guilford County as in Rockingham County.
The Guilford County candidates who lost on May 6 were popular local GOP leaders and strong fundraisers. A total of $1,374,080 was reported by the nine May primary candidates on the April 16 FEC reports.Over $1 million of that total was raised by the Guilford County candidates.
They lost to Phil Berger, Jr., from Rockingham County, with only 12% of the district’s voters, because of “unnecessarily vicious and unfair campaign attack ad mailers” paid for by outside sources.
Walker fanned the flames of resentment of the super PAC attack ads run against him and the two other Guilford County candidates, and fueled those flames by tying Berger to Washington and Raleigh political insiders wielding outside money.
Ultimately, the resentment of unfair ads funded from outsiders turned into a political firestorm that drove turnout up to twice the number anticipated based on historic precedent. The final tally, with 241 of 241 precincts reporting, was 18,871 votes for Mark Walker; 12,550 votes for Phil Berger, Jr.
Mark Walker, who began his quest to serve in the United States Congress in March, 2013, is favored to win the race this November against Democrat Laura Fjeld, former general counsel for the University of North Carolina System. This is a Republican-friendly district where Romney beat Obama in 2012 by 54% to 45%, and McCrory won by 58% to 40%.
NCFEF has the 6th Congressional District rated “Strong Republican” on the group’s Conventional Voting Behavior Ratings. Stu Rothenberg, Rothenberg Political Report, has North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District categorized “Currently Safe Republican.” Charlie Cook, Cook Political Report, rates this district “Solid Republican” on his Partisan Voter Index.
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