RALEIGH, NC (The Charlotte Observer) - Two well-known Mecklenburg County Republicans are formally joining the 9th District fray, adding to the primary field one day before filing closes Friday.
State Sen. Dan Bishop, who represents a southeast Charlotte district, and former Mecklenburg County commissioner Matthew Ridenhour filled out paperwork to declare their candidacy. Bishop filed his in Raleigh on Thursday afternoon, while Ridenhour was sending his filing Thursday by overnight mail to the N.C. State Board of Elections.
A third Republican from Mecklenburg, Kathie Day of Cornelius, also filed to run Thursday. Day said she was traveling back from Raleigh late Thursday and couldn’t immediately talk.
Until now, the only officially declared candidates have been from Union County: Stony Rushing, a county commissioner, and Fern Shubert, one-time gubernatorial candidate and former state legislator.
Stevie Rivenbark, a businesswoman from Fayetteville, also filed Thursday, bringing the total number of Republicans in the race to six.
The 9th District stretches from south Charlotte to Fayetteville, but the district’s voters are most concentrated in Union and Mecklenburg counties.
Bishop, an attorney, is expected to bring deep pockets and statewide fundraising prowess to the race. He’s best known for being one of the authors of House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill.
The law attracted national attention and boycotts before it was partially repealed.
Bishop said at a news conference Thursday after filing to run that he did not expect his support for HB2 to be a factor in the election.
“The people of North Carolina have put that controversy behind them and they’re ready to move on,” Bishop said. “It’s an exhausted issue. We’re on to a new campaign and new issues.”
Bishop said in a prepared statement that Democrat Dan McCready "is the wrong Dan in this race.”
Ridenhour is a Marine veteran and former Mecklenburg commissioner, who lost his seat to a Democratic challenger last year. He was an early organizer of Charlotte’s tea party rallies.
Ridenhour said he’s spending most of his time now trying to meet voters and raise funds, including hours of daily fundraising calls. With the primary looming on May 14, candidates have only a short amount of time to raise money and campaign.
“It’s a sprint, that’s for sure,” said Ridenhour." We’ve got to be able to have the funds to get the message out.”
The State Board of Elections unanimously voted to order a new election in the 9th District last month, after evidence of widespread absentee ballot fraud by a political operative working for Republican Mark Harris.
Harris, who appeared to be the winner on election night by 905 votes, said he wouldn’t run in the new race. Five people have been charged with felonies in connection with the case, and state and federal investigations are ongoing.
Prospective candidates in the new election must file by 5 p.m. Friday with the State Board of Elections in Raleigh.
Candidates need 30 percent of the vote to win the primary, or there would be a second GOP runoff. The winner is expected to face McCready, a Charlotte businessman and Marine veteran, in the general election.