Flicker Fusion

Moe Davis can win NC-11

The long and short of this post: early in-person voting in North Carolina begins on October 15. There’s a unique opportunity to flip what has been the solid red district that encompasses Western North Carolina, formerly held by Donald Trump’s current Chief of Staff, to blue. If you can, please consider supporting Moe Davis. There are also plenty of other down-ballot races that could use your support as well — I like The Great Slate and Flippable.

In 2010, the North Carolina legislature became overwhelmingly Republican, riding an astroturfed, reactionary wave of right-wing grievance fueled by an onslaught of dark money that presaged our current political calamity. The state GOP promptly set to work carving up new congressional districts to maximize their advantage, using an undemocratic playbook that has become all too familiar to even casual political observers. One of the casualties was NC-11, in the western part of the state, where the obvious gerrymander split the reliably Democratic Bumcombe County in half to ensure the district became an uncontestable ruby red.

Last year, this skewed map was declared invalid and fairer maps were drawn for the 2020 election; NC-11 has a competitive election for first time in years. What’s more, right-wing radical Mark Meadows abandoned his post mid-term to humiliate himself as part of Donald Trump’s ever-rotating staff, leaving NC-11 wide open.

The Democratic primary was settled pretty quickly, however the Republicans tied themselves into a knot that’s been characteristically full of Trumpian drama. The favorite, a businesswoman endorsed by both Meadows and Trump, didn’t win a large enough plurality in a crowded field and was forced into a runoff with a 24-year-old unknown, which she lost.

Voters in NC-11 could not face a more stark choice. The Democrat is Moe Davis, a JAG-trained lawyer and retired Air Force Colonel who served as the chief prosecutor in Guantanamo Bay, a position he resigned in protest of the government’s insistence on using confessions gained via torture. Regardless of how you feel about America’s disastrous foreign policy during the Bush administration, it’s impossible to deny that Moe Davis is a man of deep integrity.

His opponent, Madison Cawthorn, could not be more diametric, in terms of politics, values, or temperament. Cawthorn is a deeply incurious and cynical individual who has no concept of what public service means beyond his own self-fulfillment, making him a perfect avatar of the twisted corruption of the Republican Party under Trump. Cawthorn has attempted to parlay a personally compelling narrative into a story of triumph in the face of adversity, where the reality is little more than transparent lies built on a foundation of deception. Esther Wang has done the citizens of NC-11 a great service by cataloging the myriad ways Cawthorn is unfit to serve them in Congress. Now Cawthorn’s campaign is using hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money in an effort to swift-boat Colonel Davis and his actual service.

I got involved with Moe’s campaign earlier this summer, when it looked like a long shot, primarily because I believed in his integrity and ability to bring leadership to my home district. I grew up in Asheville and know the people of Western North Carolina are decent folks who often feel like they are forced to choose between an increasingly unhinged Republican Party and a Democratic Party that appears to only represent urban centers1. The more I learned about Moe’s opponent, the criminally unqualified Cawthorn, the more I knew I had to do anything I could to keep him from being elected to Congress.

The 11th district wasn’t on anyone’s list of flippable districts and seemed to be set up for another disappointing embarrassment. The year has been nothing if not relentless in its ability to surprise, however, and not always in the worst possible way. In NC-11, Moe Davis has managed to secure a small lead in the polls. As people get to know Moe, and understand how different he is from his opponent, they like what they hear. Like most of the U.S., North Carolina has increasingly sorted itself on partisan lines over the past few decades, but there are still plenty of folks who will split their tickets this election. Moe can win this, and he will serve Western North Carolina honorably.

Mail-in voting has already begun in North Carolina, and early voting is about to get underway. These last few weeks are critical — if you’re looking for a down-ballot candidate to support, please consider Moe Davis.


  1. As a proud progressive who’s spent his entire life in big cities, I reflexively disagree with this dichotomy, but I also understand why the perception exists and is flamed by right-wing media. ↩︎