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ICYMI: Republicans Already Spinning A Loss For Gubernatorial Nominee Dan Forest’s Spiraling Campaign
Republicans Say “Forest’s Path to Victory Will Be Difficult”
Yesterday, National Journal featured an article on North Carolina Republicans distancing themselves from Dan Forest’s sinking gubernatorial campaign. It’s no surprise Republicans are jumping ship as Forest has made it his mission to undermine the state’s public health response to the COVID-19 crisis. Forest has openly encouraged ReOpen NC as they verbally assault frontline workers and law enforcement. He has spread misinformation, claiming falsely that the flu had killed more people than COVID-19.
But Forest’s own party was rooting against him from the beginning – the day after Forest’s launch, the Republican Governor’s Association told POLITICO that those jumping in to challenge Gov. Cooper were “obviously not ready to take that step.”
And months after a bitter primary fight, Forest’s Republican opponent Holly Grange has yet to endorse him. Grange made it clear during the primary she believes Forest is unelectable.
Add all of this to Gov. Cooper’s sky-high approval ratings and Forest’s ties to extremist groups, it’s no wonder Republicans are trying to distance themselves from Forest.
For more on how North Carolina Republicans doubt Forest, read the article below:
National Journal: In-state Republicans express concern about Forest’s gubernatorial prospects
Voters of all political stripes are turning to their governors for leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, giving incumbents running for re-election a built-in advantage.
Before the pandemic broke out, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest was campaigning against a Democratic incumbent, Roy Cooper, who already eclipsed him in both fundraising and name recognition, in one of the most competitive gubernatorial races of the cycle. Since the start of the pandemic, Cooper’s footing has only improved, according to a slate of recent polling. Privately, Republicans in the state admit that Forest’s already-uphill battle has only gotten steeper.
Forest’s issues didn’t begin with the coronavirus, however. In the first quarter, Cooper reported $9.5 million cash on hand, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. Forest reported $754,000 on hand.
Cooper has also maintained a lead in public polling throughout the cycle. According to a poll from the conservative Civitas Institute that was the first public survey conducted after the March 3 primary, Cooper led Forest in a general-election race 50 to 33 percent. That trend remained consistent in several polls released throughout April and into May, with the incumbent’s lead ranging from 9 to 27 points. In the most recent survey, a Civiqs poll commissioned by Daily Kos, Cooper led Forest 53 to 44 percent. The recent slate of polls shows Cooper overperforming his 2016 race against Pat McCrory, which he won 49 to 48.8 percent.
Republican operatives in North Carolina also believe that the party is more focused on reelecting the president and maintaining the state legislature than flipping the governor’s mansion because North Carolina’s governorship is one the weakest constitutionally in the country.
While they expect the race to tighten in the fall when it’s possible that some campaigning could resume, the contest will likely be a referendum on the federal and statewide coronavirus response—a tough reality when polling shows that most voters approve of the job that Cooper is doing. In the most recent Washington Post/Ipsos survey, 74 percent of adults approved of Cooper’s handling of the pandemic, compared to 25 percent who disapproved.
“There’s been this leadership void in D.C. with Trump and others … and voters are going to their governors … for the truth,” said John Anzalone, Cooper’s chief pollster.
“It’s really hard for an opponent who’s not really well-known to then come in and fill that void, and say, ‘I’m going to be a better leader, or bigger leader,’” he continued.
Cooper’s campaign, however, believes that highlighting Cooper’s and Forest’s roles during the pandemic will ultimately boost the incumbent.
“Governor Cooper’s coronavirus response has been measured, decisive, and puts the health and safety of North Carolinians first,” said Liz Doherty, communications director for the Cooper campaign. “Dan Forest has been focused on injecting confusion and sowing division—he has stood with some of the most extreme protesters in the country.”