RALEIGH – Transportation lawyer and former House Rep. Deborah Ross will run for the Democratic primary nod for the United States Senate, joining Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey for the opportunity to face Richard Burr in the 2016 election.
Ross said she is running for Senate to fight for policies that put North Carolinians first by creating a business environment that enhances economic security, ensuring all children have access to quality education, and protecting the equal opportunity upon which America was built.
Democrats have struggled to find a big-name candidate to challenge Burr, the two-term Senator who likes to keep a low profile but 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. Burr also served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and has not lost an election since his first, in 1992.
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.
Like McFarlane and Meeker, Ross is known in Raleigh political circles but will be a new face outside the Triangle. From 2003 to 2013, Ross represented a Wake County district in the state House. Most recently, she worked for Triangle Transit Authority, a nonprofit regional bus service in the Triangle.
“I’ve fought for equal opportunity, to get government out of people’s personal lives and I’ve held those in positions of public trust accountable with sweeping ethics reforms,” said Ross, “And, I worked with members of both political parties to improve our transportation network and make our state the most attractive and livable place for families and business to thrive.”
The timing (very late Tuesday) and manner (the release of an unlisted YouTube video) of the announcement stood in contrast to Attorney General Roy Cooper’s announcement of his bid for governor Monday, which Cooper played up with a press conference at Nash County Community College near his hometown. That contrast was not lost on the N.C. Republican Party, which issued a statement on what it called Ross’ “middle-of-the-night campaign announcement.”
“Not long after her idol Hillary Clinton wrapped up the Democrat debate and said she was proud to call half the country her enemy, Deborah Ross announced her campaign for U.S. Senate under the cover of darkness when she thought no one would notice,” N.C. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said. “I can’t think of a better candidate to help Republicans reach out to Independent and Democrat voters than Deborah Ross, who has one of the most far-left voting records in the General Assembly and is far to the left of even her own Party.”