4th Congressional District sees burst of activity

The 4th Congressional District boundaries as of Feb. 1, 2022 are shown in this image via the N.C. General Assembly

RALEIGH — While the fate of the enacted 2021 redistricting maps are yet to be determined, most of the candidates in the 4th Congressional district are racing ahead to win over support in the five-county district. 

The redrawn district takes in all of Cumberland, Harnett, Johnston, and Sampson counties and part of Wayne County.  

Among the candidates in the race are former three-term member of Congress Renee Ellmers, who is seeking a comeback after last competing in the Republican primary for Lt. Gov. in 2020; state Rep. John Szoka and former Fayetteville mayor Nat Robertson from Cumberland County; DeVan Barbour IV and Kelly Daughtry, the daughter of longtime state Rep. Leo Daughtry of Johnston County; and at least six other candidates with active campaign committees. 

On Jan. 29, a candidate debate was held by the Cumberland County Republican Party with most of the candidates in attendance. It was at that event that Barbour, a Johnston County businessman and former district GOP chairman, won a straw poll conducted of attendees both in-person and watching online. Szoka, who represents much of Cumberland County in the General Assembly, placed second behind Barbour. 

The two were also close to one another in year-end campaign finance reports, with Barbour edging Szoka in total campaign contributions.  

Barbour ended his report raising $160,000 and Szoka trailed, raising $140,000. 

The entry of another candidate, Daughtry, appears certain to shake up the race. 

An attorney in Smithfield, Daughtry brings high-level connections to the race and earned a prominent endorsement this past Monday from former U.S. Rep. George Holding. 

“We’re not going to stop out-of-control spending, inflation, and open borders by electing more politicians to Washington. To fix our broken politics we have to elect outsiders who won’t go along to get along. Kelly Daughtry has the backbone to tell Washington politicians from Joe Biden to Nancy Pelosi: No more. The politicians won’t like that. But that’s the leadership we need,” Holding says in a statement. “Kelly Daughtry’s a rock-solid conservative – who’ll fight to do what’s right. That’s what we need in Washington today. And that’s why I support her for Congress.” 

Among the other candidates in the race, a pair of Wake County Republicans are also competing for the nomination. 

Former Wake County Republican Party chairman Alan Swain is running for the seat, and loaned his campaign $250,000. Also running is Christine Villaverde, a former law enforcement officer supported by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former National Security Adviser of 45th President Donald Trump.  

On the Democratic side, a pair of state legislators are running – state Sen. Ben Clark and state Rep. Charles Graham. Clark reported a small number of contributions and a $25,000 loan to his campaign. Even after filing paperwork, Clark has not fully committed to the race, saying he was still exploring a run. Graham, whose initial campaign announcement video went viral for its retelling of a confrontation between Lumbee Tribe members and the KKK, raised nearly $190,000. 

Graham, a Robeson County Democrat, first announced his run in the district of his home county but instead opted to run in the new 4th District. 

As currently scheduled, the primary is set for May 17 in the race, giving candidates a sprint of just over four months to convince voters they are the best choice in their respective races.