After the dust settled on the 2022 midterm primaries, one of the noteworthy victories was of Army Special Forces veteran Pat Harrigan in the 14th Congressional District. And with a better-than-usual year for Republicans, this Democrat-leaning district may be coming into play.
“2022 is shaping up to be a red-wave election, with the generic congressional ballot favoring Republicans by 10%,” said Andy Jackson, who serves as director of the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Center for Public Integrity. “There are three Democratic-leaning districts where Republicans could take advantage: the 1st, the 6th, and the 14th.”
And there are signs that the NCGOP may be starting to see the 14th as a potentially winnable seat. During the annual NC Republican Convention in Greensboro, the party highlighted Harrigan along-side two other key congressional races.
“Ted Budd will soon be there to take back the majority in the Senate, along with Bo Hines and Pat Harrigan who are helping take away Pelosi’s gavel in the US House!” the NCGOP said in a Facebook post during the convention.
Also, directly after his May 17 win, the NCGOP said, “Congratulations Pat Harrigan, winner of North Carolina’s 14th Congressional District Republican Primary! Fighters like Pat are vital to restoring leadership that protects our values and promotes prosperity across NC and the nation!”
Harrigan spoke to Carolina Journal at his victory party about his background, why he decided to run, and his upcoming race against well-known Democrat state Sen. Jeff Jackson. And he is bullish on his chances.
“I’m a business owner; I look at investments in terms of money and in terms of time,” Harrigan said. “I would not be wasting my time and money if I didn’t think this race was absolutely winnable.”
He said that it’s “very clear that while this district had a problem with our former president, it did not have a problem with Republicans down the ticket.” Harrigan added that those saying that “this district isn’t winnable are not doing the hard work that needs to be done to figure out what the real heart and soul of this district actually is and the direction that the folks in this district want to go.”
Harrigan said he and his wife Rocky came to North Carolina in 2013 and live in south Charlotte. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he was stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville upon being selected for the Special Forces of the U.S Army, the Green Berets. He served until 2018.
“I’ve had an interesting life. At 34 years of age, I have experienced more and have had the privilege of having very dynamic experiences from a very young age. At 23 years old I was in charge of a small air access only combat outpost in the middle of Afghanistan. When all my peers were in charge of 40 people, I was running 350 people out there. When I joined the special forces and took a team back to Afghanistan, I was in some horrific fire fights that really forged me and my character and what I believe in.
“After coming back home, my wife and I started a business in our double-wide trailer out west of Fayetteville. And we’ve grown that in six short years to a 120,000 sq. ft. facility on 80 acres with 65 or so employees. I have a set of qualifications that many don’t have, and I can lean against my experience because I know what it means to sign the front of a pay check, I know what it means to go to war, I know what it means to raise two beautiful little daughters, and to be a husband for 12 years and counting. I know the stakes of life and I can discern truth as well as the next guy. Because of these experiences, I know what’s at stake in this election and I can funnel all of them into being a productive representative for the folks of the 14th district.”
Harrigan’s business expertise is in the firearms industry. He owns and operates several companies, such as ZRODelta, UnBrandedAR, and US Optics. The businesses are in Burke County because they involve explosives that need a more rural environment.
When asked why he feels Gaston and south Mecklenburg counties should send a Republican to represent them in D.C., Harrigan said it comes down to a simple question: Are you better off now than you were two years ago?
“I think the resounding answer is no, they’re not. We’ve traded 2-dollar gas for 4-dollar gas, $2.25 milk for $3.85 milk. We’re Google searching how to make baby formula these days. That’s not the America that I know. The America I know doesn’t force Americans to choose between gas and groceries on a Thursday afternoon, and that’s where we’ve gotten to today, let alone the fact that we have an unsecured southern border that poses multiple threats to the safety and security of our homeland.”
But North Carolina state Sen. Jeff Jackson, who will face Harrigan in November, clearly disagrees that a Republican would best serve the district. And in addition to the Democratic leaning of the district, Jackson has a large money and name-identification advantage. He has also garnered a large following on social media over this time. Jackson has served in the North Carolina Senate, representing District 37, since 2014. He was formerly a candidate for the United States Senate in North Carolina in 2021 before dropping out of the race.
“He has voted very far left, and he is tremendously talented at packaging what he does and distilling it down so it doesn’t seem like it’s socialism,” Harrigan said on his opponent’s voting record. “He talks to you like the neighbor next door, saying I’ve got your best interest at heart, but in reality, when you strip away all the simple words, what you find is that his solutions always move toward big government, more government spending, and government is the solution, not the problem. His voting reflects that.”
If elected in November, Harrigan said he will look to place the economy at the top of his legislative priorities.
“We have to stop inflation now,” he said. “This is hurting American families and we are on the precipice of setting an entire generation behind and leaving a ton of folks in debt. This has to stop now. Our economic conditions have to improve and we need to do that by returning to time-tested principles that have made this nation great and successful.”
Jackson has a large advantage in cash-on-hand as of late April, with $857,000 to Harrigan’s $101,000, but Harrigan does not believe this is an obstacle for his own campaign.
“Jeff ran state-wide for a year,” he said. “It’s not an insurmountable amount of money and is nothing our team is afraid of. We truly believe that with the right candidate, the right locomotive behind that candidate, and the right timing, that this district is 100 percent winnable. We believe we have all of those ingredients intersecting at this point in time.”