Endorsements: Our choices in Mecklenburg County’s crowded congressional primaries | Opinion

New congressional maps drawn by North Carolina Republican lawmakers have split Mecklenburg County into three districts this election cycle. Two of those districts — Districts 8 and 14 — group parts of Mecklenburg County with other counties in the state and lean Republican. Both of those districts have Republican primaries, and District 14 also has a Democratic primary.

Here are our recommendations in those races:

District 8

Six candidates are competing to be the GOP nominee in this district that creeps all the way from Matthews and Mint Hill to Robeson County. Rep. Dan Bishop currently represents the district, but he’s running for state attorney general. If no candidate wins more than 30% of the vote in this crowded race, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff.

The most prominent candidates in the race are pastor Mark Harris and N.C. Rep. John Bradford. Harris ran in the 9th Congressional District in 2018, but his victory was overturned due to an absentee ballot fraud scandal. Harris now says that election was stolen from him, despite all evidence to the contrary. We believe that narrative is dangerous and disqualifying.

Bradford has served northern Mecklenburg County in the state House for the better part of a decade. We’ve appreciated his thoughtful and measured leadership in the past, but we’re troubled by his sudden swing to the right in this primary. His campaign ads — in which he smashes a TV screen playing one of President Joe Biden’s speeches with a baseball bat, for example — come across as an inauthentic reach to rural and conservative voters.

Also in the field are realtor and former 9th District candidate Leigh Brown, Navy veteran Chris Maples, farmer and business owner Allan Baucom and attorney Don Brown.

We recommend Maples, a former adviser to U.S. Reps. Richard Hudson and Dan Bishop who has deep roots in the district. While he hasn’t held public office before, his experience as a congressional aide makes him knowledgeable about both his district and Congress. He’s thoughtful on issues like immigration and Ukraine, and his deeply conservative positions will appeal to Republican voters. Most importantly, he understands the realities and limitations of the office he’s seeking to hold.

District 14

This district curls around the northern and southern parts of Mecklenburg County and extends into western North Carolina. It has both Democratic and Republican primaries.

Democratic primary: There are two candidates in this race: Pam Genant and Brendan K. Maginnis. Genant is a nurse and Army veteran who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in the 10th Congressional District in 2022. Maginnis has a background in the finance industry. Both candidates are cognizant of the uphill battle the Democratic nominee will face in this GOP-leaning district, and both would represent Democrats in this district well. We give the nod to Maginnis for his particularly strong grasp of topics such as voting rights and the economy.

Republican primary: The clear frontrunner in this race is House Speaker Tim Moore, but businesswoman Lillian Joseph and Air Force veteran Jeff Gregory are also running. Moore is seeking to ascend to Washington, confirming years of speculation that he had his eye on a congressional seat.

Joseph is a reliable conservative but lacks a sophisticated understanding of policy issues, and Gregory does not appear to be running a viable campaign. While this editorial board has disagreed with Moore on many occasions, we recommend Moore to conservative voters looking for the most knowledgeable and experienced candidate in this field.