News: CJ Exclusives

Incumbent Meredith hopes to fend off challenger Morris in Senate District 19

Incumbent Republican touts fiscal conservatism; Democrat Morris champions higher state spending while attacking H.B. 2

The power of incumbency is on display in the Senate District 19 race between Republican state Sen. Wesley Meredith and Democratic challenger Toni Morris.

Meredith has served in the Senate since 2010, and he has the experience of fending off well-financed challengers. Two years ago he spent more than $1 million to retain his seat, though it doesn’t appear this race will be so costly. Nevertheless, as an incumbent Meredith raised more than $235,000 through the June reporting period, compared with about $20,000 for Morris.

Meredith is part of a veto-proof supermajority that Republicans hold in the Senate, where they hold a 34-16 advantage.

Neither Meredith nor Morris were available to talk about their campaign stances, but their respective websites offered some stark contrasts.

Morris has tried to capitalize on the negative economic effects of House Bill 2 while Meredith lauds the security and protections it affords women and children. Morris has put repealing H.B. 2 at the top of her political agenda; Meredith’s website fails to mention the law, which requires people to use bathrooms corresponding to their birth anatomy.

Instead, Meredith focuses on job creation, taxes, education, and what he sees as foolish spending.

As a business owner for more than 20 years, on his website Meredith says he has experienced many of the same struggles as other small businesses, including making payroll and dealing with state regulations. He cites the tax cuts enacted during this past session as a factor in lessening those struggles.

Meredith claims he has voted against every tax increase that has come up while a member of the Senate. He’s also proud of reductions in wasteful spending and debt during his time in office.

When it comes to education, Meredith touts increases in teacher pay and the need to raise student standards as ways to improve classroom results. Better teachers should be rewarded with better pay, according to his website.

Morris is a licensed professional counselor in Fayetteville and past president of the Licensed Professional Counselor Association of North Carolina. She served on the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Human Relations Commission. As a member of the Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Morris is active in several ministries, according to her website.

Morris wants to reinstate the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program and increase classroom funding to reduce class size and bring back teaching assistants.

On the environment, Morris wants businesses to bear the cost of cleanups rather than customers, and she would like to promote investment in renewable energy sources. Regarding health care, Morris would like to see the state expand Medicaid to take full advantage of the federal subsidies offered under the Affordable Care Act.

The popularity of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in and around Fayetteville is a plus for Meredith. Trump has made several trips to Fayetteville and has drawn raucous crowds, which are filled with people seemingly motivated to vote.

Democrats have tried to blunt Trump’s rise by registering more voters and getting them to the polls early.