The race for the Congressional seat representing the NC 2nd District features three candidates looking for their first time on the national stage.
This cycle, voters in the redrawn NC 2nd District will choose from Jeff Matemu (Libertarian), Deborah Ross (Democrat) and Alan Swain (Republican).
Congressman George Holding, the current 2nd District representative, is not seeking re-election. More on that later.
This is the second in North Carolina News Daily’s series on U.S. House of Representatives candidates. The first can be found here.
For now, let’s take a look at Matemu, Ross and Swain:
Candidate: Jeff Matemu (L)
Background: Matemu is an immigration lawyer from Kenya. He received degrees from American University and Washington School of Law, according to BallotPedia, and has been a federal case attorney since 2008.
On his website, Matemu says he is “living proof that America keeps its promises.” The promise, he says, will be fulfilled as long as immigrants come to the United States legally and work hard.
WRAL reported in 2018 that Matemu was arrested in summer 2018 on stalking charges. The News & Observer reported in summer 2019 that Matemu filed a lawsuit against his ex-wife and two police officers in Holly Springs stemming from the arrest.
Platform: Matemu’s campaign focuses on three main points: immigration reform, criminal justice reform and student loan program reform.
Criminal justice reform means legalizing cannabis as part of the fight against racial inequality. He says on his website police officers can arrest minorities on possession charges and then investigate them for additional crimes. This has led to mass incarceration of Black and brown men and women in this country.
“Children grow up without proper care and supervision because of missing parents,” he says on his website. “They drop out of school and become delinquent themselves. The cycle of incarceration and poverty continues.”
Candidate: Deborah Ross (D)
Public offices held: N.C. House of Representatives (D-34)
Background: While in the N.C. House of Representatives from 2003-13, Ross served the Democrats in the state House as the majority whip and the deputy minority whip. She resigned from the General Assembly in 2013 to take a position with the Triangle Transit bus service.
In 2016, Ross challenged Richard Burr for his Senate seat. Burr won the election with 51.1% of the vote.
Ross worked with the American Civil Liberties Union before being elected to the General Assembly, according to a CNN report from 2016. While with the ACLU in the mid-1990s, Ross argued that a 13-year-old boy convicted in 1994 of sexually assaulting his 23-year-old neighbor in front of her 20-month-old son should receive leniency from North Carolina courts.
Key endorsements: Black Economic Alliance, Coalition To Stop Gun Violence, N.C. Association of Educators, N.C. State AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Platform: Ross’ platform is comprehensive. She supports the creation of a public option and getting better access to affordable health care, making college more affordable, raising the maximum amount awarded through Pell Grants, and pushing for immediate action to combat climate change.
Candidate: Alan Swain (R)
Background: Swain retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel after a 26-year career in the armed services.
According to Swain’s campaign website, he flew Cobra and Apache helicopters and served in a support role for operations in Iraq during Desert Storm, in Bosnia during the peacekeeping efforts, and air campaigns in Kosovo.
Swain later served as the executive officer to the White House Drug Czar under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Platform: Swain’s platform is pretty simple. He wants to get additional funding for law enforcement agencies to combat crime and drug problems, protect Medicare and Medicaid programs and reduce prescription drug prices. He is a pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.
So, who wins?
With the new electoral map in place for the 2020 election, BallotPedia says the 2nd District is poised to be flipped for the Democrats.
It’s part of the reason Cong. George Holding is not seeking reelection. The district’s new borders created a stronger Democratic base, according to a RollCall story from December 2019.
Republican Renee Elmers represented the 2nd District from 2011-17.