Democrats point to string of high-profile visits as sign that Pittenger is in trouble

Democrats point to string of high-profile visits as sign that Pittenger is in trouble
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Congressman Robert Pittenger (R-09) got his second visit from a high-profile Republican in as many weeks Friday when Vice President Mike Pence came to town.

Pittenger participated in an event Friday billed as a forum to discuss the recently-signed tax bill pushed through Congress and signed into law by President Trump earlier this year.

The event concluded with an appearance and remarks by Pence.

After the event, Pence was slated to appear at an RNC fundraising event.

Last week, U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is expected to ascend to Speaker Paul Ryan's role in the Republican caucus after Ryan retires at the end of this term, was in town to raise money and stump for Pittenger.

A third high-profile name, U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, is slated to appear on Pittenger's behalf just days after the Republican primary election on May 8.

In remarks to reporters standing alongside McCarthy last week, Pittenger and his staff pointed to the string of high-profile visits as evidence of the good work he is doing in Congress.

"We have a good position to stand on, we've done the right things for the country and, frankly, the region," Pittenger said.

Democrats have seized on the visits as evidence that Pittenger is worried about his re-election chances heading into a November general election that will feature a formidable Democrat challenger.

Dan McCready, the Marine-turned-solar energy executive, is expected to easily win the Democratic nomination.

Campaign finance records shows McCready has outraised Pittenger so far this campaign, hauling in a total of more than $1.8 million with $1.3 million cash on hand through the end of March.

Pittenger, who is expected to survive a primary win over opponent Mark Harris by double digits, has raised a total of $1.2 million this campaign cycle but had just roughly $281,000 on hand as of March 31.

Pittenger acknowledged McCready in his comments to reporters alongside McCarthy.

"They've recruited someone who's former military and they can package him and make him look good," Pittenger said. "We need to be clear on the person who's really running and what they really stand for."

The Democratic Party and progressive groups are pointing to the string of visits to Pittenger's district as proof that he's calling in big artillery to help raise money and strengthen his re-election chances.

"These trips signal that the national Republican establishment is in outright panic-mode," Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the political action committee American Bridge, said. "No matter how many national politicians or deep-pocketed donors try to bail Robert Pittenger out, he won't be able to hide from his record."

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