As the North Carolina primaries approach their end on May 17, one of three Republican candidates for the District 73 seat of the North Carolina House of Representatives in Cabarrus County stands to become a step closer to being a part of a potential red wave in the general midterm elections in November.
The seat is one of 14 crucial seats in Congress that Republicans must win if they are to secure a supermajority this fall, Dr. Andy Jackson told The Epoch Times. Jackson is director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity at the John Locke Foundation (JLF), an independent research institute in North Carolina that examines issues of freedom, personal responsibility, and limited constitutional government.
The JLF set up the Civitas Partisan Index (CPI) to rate partisan leanings in all districts, and Cabarrus County is rated as a D + 3, which means that the district tends to be about 3 percent more Democratic than the state as a whole, with the swing state leaning toward Republican.
Cabarrus County has grown 18 percent since 2010, and it includes the fastest-growing municipalities in the Charlotte region: Concord, Kannapolis, and Harrisburg.
Through previously more Republican-leaning, the court-ordered redistricting and the migration trend of people moving from larger cities and states to less populated, rural areas brought the county’s CPI rating to a classification of “lean Democrat.”
In 2016, former President Donald Trump won the county with 57 percent of the vote, and in 2020, 54 percent.
Growing districts bring growing pains and the issues that come with an expanding tax base, infrastructure, and, as of late, new ideologies emerging in policies and schools through federal and private grants that have been controversial across the country, being criticized for politicizing policies and curricula.
‘Everything About Government is Touching My Life’
One of the candidates for the seat, Brian Echevarria, addressed some of those more high-profile issues during a Cabarrus County Board of Education meeting in February.
His statement was filmed and went viral online.
Echevarria criticized critical race theory (CRT) ideologies and boys who identify as girls playing on female sports teams being accepted in K-12 school systems throughout the United States.
Echevarria first decided to run, he told The Epoch Times, when he had an “eye-opening moment” during which he saw shifts in economic benefits, and the tax burden on his disabled, military veteran parents when they moved from North to South Carolina.
Their disability benefits were taxed in North Carolina, with only a portion of their property taxes reduced for their disability; however, in South Carolina, their disability benefits aren’t taxed and there are no property taxes for their primary residence because of their disability.
“The family dynamic was literally changed by government policy, and I became aware of that,” Echevarria said. “So, being 44, having retired parents and kids, I realized that everything about government is touching my life in some form or fashion, whether it’s education with children or retirement with parents. And those things that are important to my family for my personal household.”
It’s at the level where the laws that are made determine where and how empowerment for success is generated, even those from the local school boards, Echevarria said.
It wasn’t just an epiphany but a spiritual calling, he added.
“I woke up one morning and felt like the Lord had called me to run for office,” he said.
Amid an ongoing culture war, Echevarria said his being bi-racial and white- and blue-collar understanding of economic impacts on families as a financial adviser and business owner make him “uniquely made” as a candidate in these conflicting times.
“Getting North Carolina to a 0 percent personal income tax rate is actually not a pipe dream,” he said. “It’s necessary because 5 percent of a family’s income is destiny-changing for a family.”
Echevarria said he spoke at the school board meeting because he felt his status as a bi-racial person carried more weight among some voters for his message of American being “the land of opportunity.”
“That’s a fact,” he said. “My little pecan-colored kids have every opportunity. They aren’t oppressed. This whole critical race theory teaching saying the color of your skin determines the content of your character is basically the antithesis of the message of Dr. Martin Luther King.”
To look at a white or black neighbor and classify them as an oppressor or the oppressed is to ignore the reality of the shared experience with that individual, he said, and it’s a lie.
“Critical race theory doesn’t permit you to have a free thought and judge someone by the content of their character,” he said.
The CRT worldview isn’t the real world, he added.
“Yes, there’s racism in America, but America isn’t racist,” he said.
In day-to-day life across America, Echevarria said, there are people of multiple nationalities who interact without racial division.
It’s not until one watches the news or reviews some of the school curricula being pushed on children that the idea there is a large racial schism presents itself, he said.
“And that’s not reality,” he said. “I’m not negating that there are racist individuals, but there is no national racial crisis. And my children have every opportunity.”
‘I Just Want to Improve People’s Lives’
Catherine Whiteford has been in the race the longest, having announced her decision to run in September 2021.
“We’ve knocked on 14,000 doors at this point,” Whiteford told The Epoch Times.
Whiteford was elected as chairwoman of the North Carolina Federation of Young Republicans in 2019.
She was one of the youngest state chairs in the nation at the time and has since been re-elected to a second term.
Whiteford’s grandparents and mother immigrated from communist China when her mom was 16, making Whiteford “technically first generation.”
“They went from working at McDonald’s and not knowing how to drive to becoming middle-class legal citizens of the United States, so they are very much the epitome of the American dream for me,” Whiteford said.
Whiteford got inspiration to run for office from her father, who told her she “ought to stop complaining and be the person who you want to see out there doing something about it.”
“It was during the 2016 presidential primary when there was Bernie Sanders talking about free college,” she said. “As a Republican, I don’t think free is a solution, but he brought up a point that wasn’t addressed on the Republican side.”
With her peer group beginning college, she said she had friends who were paying 12 to 14 percent interest on student loans.
“If we want people to actually be responsible and pay off their debt, then we need to make it where it’s something they can actually do, and with these predatory interest rates and how much tuition has more than quadrupled even when you adjust it for inflation, it makes it really hard for anyone at all to actually get out of that hole,” she said.
After her father’s nudge, she got involved in her local Republican party and met her state representative at the time in Texas who wrote a bill on an idea Whiteford had shared on solutions for higher education.
“Being someone who had not yet graduated and hadn’t gone to college yet, it was the first time where I felt like you didn’t have to—quote-unquote—be someone to make a change,” she said.
The memory of that stuck with her, and Whiteford said as she completed her education, she began feeling the pull to get involved in public service and to be the same type of representative who listened to her input and seek solutions.
One of the biggest responsibilities of a state representative, Whiteford said, is determining how to allocate the state budget.
“I think that’s arguably the most important part of being a legislator,” she said. “I think the other thing is having very good constituent services and making sure we are accessible to the people we represent and not some far-off figure whom people don’t think they could ever contact.”
Having knocked on the doors and listened to the constituents, Whiteford said the issues most vocalized to her are inflation and the need for infrastructure to meet the county’s growth.
“Those are major issues when it comes to economic development, and though those issues may not necessarily revolve around what a state legislator could do, it’s definitely impacting how we grow as a community,” she said.
Whiteford said she’s also spoken with the Concord chief of police and the local sheriff to discuss policies that would improve community relations with law enforcement.
“There are no ramifications if someone makes a false administrative complaint against a police officer,” she said.
Whiteford gave an example of a woman going on Facebook to say a police officer inappropriately touched her during a traffic stop, though the body camera footage revealed no such violation, she said.
“That’s something that needs to change,” she said.
Whiteford has also taken a stand against the teaching of CRT in schools. She’s pro-life and Second Amendment, and she said she has a plan to help veterans.
“If elected, one of the first bills I would introduce would be what I call the North Carolina Veteran Education in Tech Trades (NCVETT) Act,” she said.
The NCVETT act would allow veterans who have been a resident of North Carolina for no less than one year, regardless of the status of GI Bill benefits, to attend any state-recognized technical or trade certification program at no cost.
Writing law and managing the budget that impacts local taxes are duties of the job that impact the everyday person, which Whiteford said is what had inspired her to run from the very beginning.
While it might not sound exciting for some, Whiteford said it’s about finding solutions.
“They don’t even have to be about hot-button partisan issues. I just want to get out there and do the work to improve people’s lives,” she said.
‘I Want to be Able to Help Steer The Ship’
Parish Moffitt began his life in public service volunteering at his local fire department at 16 years old.
Moffitt is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he served during the post-Gulf War period in the submarine service aboard the USS Oklahoma City and USS Tucson submarines, and he’s currently a pilot for American Airlines, as well as a small business owner.
In 2019, he began working with mentor the late state representative Linda Johnson, for whom he served as a volunteer district liaison for two and a half years.
“I want to be the kind of representative who will listen and help,” Moffitt told The Epoch Times. “If I can’t help, I will get them pointed in the right direction.”
North Carolina faces big changes and issues, Moffitt said, and he wants to help take the state in the right direction.
He compares the problem-solving and solution-finding of the legislature’s mission to flying.
“When we’re flying in the air, there’s no one there to help fix the problem that comes up at that moment in time, so we come up with solutions,” he said. “Though it’s a different set of problems, that’s the mindset I want to bring to this position.”
For Moffitt, transportation is an important issue in the county.
“We recognize here that in our part of the state, we are growing really fast, and businesses want to move here. But if the transportation infrastructure falls apart, then businesses are not going to want to come here anymore, so it would slow down some of that growth,” he said.
On top of that, with the U.S. Supreme Court leak, it’s possible that abortion will become a topic of debate in the legislature.
“I want to be able to help steer the ship,” he said. “As a Republican, I’m pro-life.”
But being a legislator, he said, isn’t always about “the big flashy things that will get you in the newspaper or on a television station.”
“It’s about solving little problems, the minutia of day-to-day life, stuff that many don’t even know is an issue until someone says they’re writing a bill on it,” he said.
Having worked as a district liaison, Moffitt said he learned the “ins and outs” of Raleigh.
“That’s one of my big advantages I share with people is, Yes, I’d be a freshman legislator, but I’d be a freshman legislator probably halfway through the semester instead of the beginning of the year, because I have that vast knowledge of experience and relationships that I built when I was there before,” Moffitt said.
Another issue Moffitt said he has a solution for is how to fill the 1,400 unfilled jobs arising from multiple industries moving into the area.
This would involve setting up technical programs to prepare high school and community college students to work in these positions, so that when they graduate, they graduate with a job, he said.
As a political analyst, Moffitt said talk of a red wave has become a theme of the midterm elections.
“I see a lot of people angry while talking with people out at the polling places,” he said. “They say we need to vote for all of the Republicans and get the Democrats out. So, there is definitely a red wave coming.”
But history repeats itself, Moffitt said.
“Statistically speaking, the party that doesn’t hold the top three—the White House, the U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate—has a four to five percent advantage going into the election,” Moffitt said. “We saw the same thing in 2018 when Republicans held the top three and there was a blue wave.”
However, Moffitt said, it was one of the smallest waves of takeover in modern political history.
The big question for the red wave is not whether it will happen, Moffitt said, but how big it will be.