By Jim McNally | Mooresville Tribune
Barbara Orr doesn’t seem to have a big beef with Robert Brawley — or with Republicans in general, for that matter. But, as she told a group of fellow Democrats recently, she does have a problem with free rides.
After returning from a trip to Israel, Orr said she discovered that no one from her party had filed to run for the District 95 seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
“I saw that and I said, ‘Why are we just giving it?’” she recalled at the Iredell County Democratic Party meeting in Statesville earlier this week. “And I just decided I wasn’t going to let him walk right in.”
Brawley was the winner of a three-person GOP primary. He took nearly 57.6 percent of the vote, easily outpolling former Iredell County Republican Party Chairman Charlton Allen and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer Marc Fasano.
And while there were three Republican hopefuls for the seat, as Orr noted, there were no Democrats. That was also true of the 2010 election, when Grey Mills faced only a challenger from the Libertarian Party. And in 2008, Mills’ name was alone on the 95th District ballot.
Indeed, it has been true of every race for the seat in this century.
Of the 37 North Carolina General Assembly races involving Iredell County since 2000, including the current year, Democrats have fielded a candidate in only four of them.
And only one of these candidates – Victor Crosby, who was beaten by a more than 2-to-1 margin in the N.C. Senate District 41 seat by former Iredell County Commissioner R.B. Sloan in the 2002 elections – hailed from Iredell.
But Orr said enough was enough.
“This just isn’t the way elections are supposed to go,” she said to the Democrats.
Orr said that when she ran into Brawley recently and he asked why she was throwing her hat in the ring, her answer was simple.
“‘Democracy,’ is what I told him,” she said. “I told him that he might win this race but he was going to have to do a little work for it and that’s the way the system was meant to be.”
Orr said politics, particularly at the state level, has lost its sense of comity and has turned too sharply into an us-against-them affair.
“We need folks in the General Assembly who are willing to reach across the aisle,” she said. “We need to stop all this bickering.”
On that count, Brawley is in agreement.
“I have always been known as a person who works well with Democrats,” Brawley said in alluding to his 18 years in the state House beginning in 1980. “And I think there is too much negative campaigning.”
Regarding Orr’s run, Brawley’s initial reaction was one of dismissiveness.
When asked what he thought of her effort, Brawley said, “Not much.”
He said those feelings do not extend to Orr, however.
“I know her pretty well and I like her,” he said. “I’d say we were friends. She’s a very nice lady. And I would like to talk with her about the issues. I love talking about the issues.”
But he chuckled a few times in talking about Orr’s campaign.
“I think it’s going to be hard for voters to figure it out,” he said. “I’ve had a few people asking me why I’m running against Sara.”
Brawley was referring to the write-in campaign of Iredell County Commissioner Sara Haire Tice, who was sworn in last month to replace former Commissioner Renee Griffith.
“This can get confusing and I think both those ladies have their hands full,” Brawley said. “It’s a good example of why voters need to know what they’re doing when they go to vote.”
District 95 is made up of 11 southern Iredell County precincts and includes parts of Statesville and Troutman and all of Mooresville, where both candidates live.