Phil Haire is a fortress as a state candidate. The seven-time incumbent is head of the General Assembly’s appropriations committee, and he’s been endorsed by every kind of voters group from realtors to the Sierra Club. On Tuesday night, he beat challenger Avram Friedman in a Democratic primary election characterized by a low voter turnout.
Haire took the vote as confirmation that his track record in Raleigh speaks for itself.
“It just tells me that people know my roots are here and I’m a mountain person and the voters feel like I’m representing them to the best of my ability in Raleigh,” Haire said.
In the election four years ago, Avram Friedman challenged Haire with a green platform that shook up the business-as-usual feel of the race. Friedman won 30 percent of the vote then, a total that gave him hope to challenge Haire this time around, but he fell short by a wider margin than last time.
Friedman said the low voter turnout was a sign of a demoralized electorate.
“I think the one thing that is pretty clear is the voter turnout was extremely low and what it shows is people are fed up with business-as-usual politics,” Friedman said.
Friedman challenged Haire’s reputation as an environmentally friendly candidate and offered voters a progressive platform that included reforming the way the state government does business.
Friedman said the media coverage of the election didn’t allow for a real debate on issues, which hurt his chances.
“I felt the issue behind the election were not well discussed in any of the media,” Friedman said. “For me, the race was worthwhile because it did get the message out to some degree.”
Haire said Friedman’s challenge was too one-dimensional.
“I had a tradition of support for environmental causes before Friedman got into it,” Haire said. “Friedman is basically a single-issue candidate and that’s being against Duke Energy and coal power.”
Friedman said the vote confirmed that the district’s voters weren’t ready for a change.
“Business as usual won. Congratulations to Phil Haire. We’ll keep on fighting,” Friedman said.
Haire will now face Republican candidate Dodie Allen in the fall, and he said that race will be about a broader range of issues.
“I think it’ll be jobs, the economy and education,” Haire said. “Those are the three things we need to be concerned about all the time. I’ve got a challenge, and anytime you have a challenge, you never take it for granted. I’ll get out there and work hard.”
N.C. House of Representatives, 119th district
Democrat – one advances
Phil Haire: 5,213
Avram Friedman: 1,894
*Winner will square off against Republican Dotie Allen in the fall. The seat represents Jackson and Swain counties, and portions of Haywood and Macon.