“Deborah Ross is to the very far left of her own party. So much so that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was concerned about that and didn’t pick her as the horse,” Woodhouse said during a press conference at the N.C. GOP headquarters building on Hillsborough Street. “I cannot think of a better candidate to help me achieve our goal of recruiting new, swing and Democrat voters to the Republican side than Deborah Ross.”
Woodhouse seized on Ross’ record as a state House member. From 2003 to 2013, Ross represented a Wake County district in the General Assembly. He said her record showed she voted to extend “temporary” sales tax increases multiple times and that she had “a very anti-law enforcement record” due to her support to “get cop killers off death row.”
Woodhouse referred specifically to the killers of Sgt. Ed Lowry and Cpl. David Hathcock. The two law enforcement officers who were gunned down during a traffic stop near Fayetteville in 1997. Although two brothers were sentenced to die for the murders, a Cumberland County judge commuted their sentences to life in prison in 2012 under North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act, saying that prosecutors had conspired to keep blacks off the jury.
Ross was one of the legislators who shepherded the Racial Justice Act through the House and fought against amending it when Republicans took control of the chamber.
Woodhouse appeared confident about Burr’s chances against Ross, who must first win the Democratic primary to face the two-term Senator. Burr has proven hard to beat, winning two statewide elections by moderate but comfortable margins against candidates as well-known and well-funded as former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
“Sen. Burr is in an excellent position. He’s well regarded, and with our heavy military presence in North Carolina, having him lead the [Senate] Intelligence Committee is an incredible gift we have here in North Carolina,” Woodhouse said. “I think the fact that they have not been able to get top-tier candidates to join this race speaks for itself.”
The list of possible candidates to challenge Burr included former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, U.S. transportation secretary Anthony Foxx, former Congressman Mike McIntyre, state Treasurer Janet Cowell, state Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, state Rep. Duane Hall, state Rep. Grier Martin, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham, Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane, and former Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker, among others.
Asked about Ross’ unusual, late-night announcement and how it contrasted with Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Monday afternoon press conference to announce his run, Woodhouse had some fun with the odd choice by the Ross campaign.
“I broke out my campaign manual last night — the newest version — and I was looking for the section about announcing your U.S. Senate candidacy at midnight,” Woodhouse said. “I couldn’t quite find that.”