RALEIGH — Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina are ramping up their efforts in preparation for what both sides see as a crucial 2022 election cycle, with major events and initiatives, aimed at gaining the upper hand in the perennial battleground state, already underway.
Over the weekend, on Sept. 25, big-name conservatives like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, N.C. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, all three major Republican primary candidates for N.C.’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, state Senate Leader Phil Berger and Speaker of the N.C. House Tim Moore, among many others, gathered for the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Salt and Light Conference. The conference was held in Mt. Airy, a town sometimes called Mayberry because of its reputation as the inspiration for the picturesque small town in the “Andy Griffith Show.”
The event drew crowds of Christian conservatives to Temple Baptist Church, where they heard from prominent Republican speakers from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In a video at the beginning of the event, national figures, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), spoke about the importance of the political moment.
“It’s horrific; it’s worse than we’ve ever seen,” Cruz said. “We are seeing absolutely disastrous policies.”
“What we’re dealing with is a really quick push to socialism, and we are pushing back on that,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) added on the overall work of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
The conference highlighted their coalition’s racial diversity and focused on the need for people of faith to become more politically active in order to protect their values, like the right to life for the unborn.
“You know, there’s never been a more critical time in America than right now,” Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) told the audience. “Our values are attacked day after day, our freedoms often becoming an afterthought. We are on a dangerous path. Politicians and governments will never be the complete answer to our problems. The answer is found in our shared faith, and it’s the job of the faith community to share that message with our citizens.”
The Republican National Committee is also focusing on North Carolina, kicking off its National Week of Training in Wilmington on Sept. 24. The RNC’s event and week-long training coinciding with National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 28.
“What we’re trying to do right now is start building that infrastructure that we’re going to need in terms of volunteers and training them for ‘Get Out The Vote’ activities that we’re going to be doing later in the year,” NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley said in a press release.
Whatley and other GOP officials discussed with volunteers how they could take part in the RNC’s efforts to register new voters. After the discussion, trainings for this task began at the event and some new voters were registered.
Democrats, not to be outdone, announced their own initiatives in the state. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which represents national Senate Democrats, created a “Defend the Majority” fund across the country.
The DSCC plans on spending $30 million in nine states, including North Carolina. The other states are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The details of this plan were shared with NBC News, who quote DSCC’s chair, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, as saying, “The stakes in this election have never been higher: If Republicans take the Senate they’ll take our country backwards, and hard-working Americans will pay the price.”
The Democratic Party’s state leadership is also taking an early focus on voter registration, with N.C. Democratic Party Chair Bobbie Richardson releasing a statement on Sept. 28 to mark National Voter Registration Day.
“In North Carolina and across the country, so much is at stake in the upcoming elections — from defeating the pandemic once and for all to rebuilding the economy back better to protecting the sacred right to vote to combating climate change,” Richardson said. “That’s why North Carolina Democrats are working nonstop to register voters today — National Voter Registration Day — and every day. Across the country, activists and organizers are joining our fight to ensure every American can exercise their fundamental right to vote.”
Richardson said President Biden and other Democrats were working to protect the right to vote and called for Democrats to “connect with friends and family, make sure they’re registered to vote, and do everything we can to make sure North Carolina Democrats win in the upcoming elections in 2021, 2022, and beyond.”