Democrats launch campaign tour in Eastern NC, targeting rural and Black voters

As Republicans gather in Greensboro this week and former President Donald Trump makes an appearance near Charlotte, Democrats are turning their focus to Eastern North Carolina.

Beginning Thursday, Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is holding a two-day, six-city tour visiting Elizabeth City, Williamston, Rocky Mount, Greenville, Kinston and Smithfield.

“The path to the White House runs through North Carolina, and I’m excited to join folks in Eastern North Carolina to talk about what’s at stake in this election — especially for rural voters,” Harrison said in a written statement.

Over the past year, North Carolina has been a large part of the Biden campaign’s strategy to defeat Trump and retain the presidency. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and many other surrogates have made numerous stops throughout the state campaigning for Biden’s reelection.

Eastern North Carolina

Eastern North Carolina, a rural area with large pockets of poverty, is often overlooked.

But the region could have major impacts in the 2024 election. It is home to North Carolina’s only competitive race for Congress.

Rep. Don Davis, a moderate Democrat from Snow Hill, is trying to retain his seat against Army veteran Laurie Buckhout, a conservative who has aligned herself with Trump. They’re both vying to represent 22 of the state’s far northeastern counties.

For 18 years, the area had been represented by former Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, but he retired on Dec. 30, 2022, saying Black voters in his district had their votes diluted by racial gerrymandering.

Harrison’s tour

Harrison’s two-day tour will focus on what Biden and Democrats have done for rural and Black voters and the threat Democrats say Trump would pose to the local communities.

Simultaneously, the North Carolina Republican Party will kick off its state convention in Greensboro. On Sunday, Trump plans to attend the Coca-Cola 600, a NASCAR race, near Charlotte.

Harrison plans to hone in, in his discussion with voters, on programs that Trump has threatened to end, like the Affordable Care Act The Obama-era law allowed for expansion of Medicaid, which North Carolina implemented last year after more than a decade of resistance.

Harrison will also talk about ways Eastern North Carolina benefited from changes during the Biden administration.

“While President Biden and Vice President Harris have lowered costs, expanded access to health care, and created good-paying jobs all through the Tar Heel state, Donald Trump is pushing an agenda that hurts our rural communities, rips away affordable health care, and puts our farmers at risk,” Harrison said.

Harrison will also join the Biden-Harris campaign and the state Democratic Party in opening campaign offices in Rocky Mount and Smithfield, focused on reelecting Democrats up and down the ballot.

These are the 11th and 12th offices opened by the Biden campaign in North Carolina, while the Trump campaign, as of last month, remains without, according to WSOC-TV.

Mitch Landrieu, the Biden campaign co-chair and former mayor of New Orleans, will travel with Harrison on Thursday.

“Together we’re building a winning coalition including in North Carolina — that will defeat Trump in the ballot box in November,” Harrison said.

Harrison’s schedule

Thursday, March 23

9:30 a.m in Elizabeth City: breakfast with local leaders.

Noon in Williamston: tour of Providence Omnistructure.

2 p.m. in Rocky Mount: meeting with religious leaders and other residents after opening of a campaign field office.

Friday, May 24

9 a.m. in Greenville: visiting an unnamed Black-owned business with local elected officials.

10:45 a.m. in Kinston: holding a community roundtable with Mayor Don Hardy.

2 p.m. in Smithfield: opening a campaign office.