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Editorial: Early user’s guide for 2020 elections

Midterm elections traditionally bring a larger number of local races worth watching. With the Rowan County Board of Elections considering an early voting plan today, however, it’s worth remembering that 2020 isn’t devoid of competitive contests.

Local voters may have their eyes and attention focused most closely on races for president, Republican incumbent Donald Trump against Democrat Joe Biden; governor, Democratic incumbent Roy Cooper and Republican Dan Forest; and U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham.

But near the top of the ballot will be races for the U.S. House. All Rowan County voters will cast their ballots in the 13th Congressional District race, where Republican Incumbent Ted Budd faces a challenge from Democrat Scott Huffman.

Huffman is a Navy veteran and small business owner. While he no longer lives in Rowan County, Huffman grew up in Spencer. Budd is from Advance, in Davie County, and owned a gun shop in the town of Rural Hall before being elected to Congress. He’s seeking his third term.

The 13th Congressional District’s new makeup favors Budd, still leaning Republican after being redrawn last year.

Republican Rep. Richard Hudson, whose 8th District has included part of Rowan County for years, was drawn out in the most recent redistricting. He’ll face Patricia Timmons-Goodson — a Democrat who served on the N.C. Supreme Court, the first Black woman to do so. Timmons-Goodson also was nominated for a federal court judgeship by former President Barack Obama. The 8th District race is expected to be the most competitive in the state.

In the legislature, Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican, could face tough competition from Salisbury’s Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, a Democrat. Warren is a well-known incumbent who is seeking his sixth term in the N.C. House. Heggins is serving her second term on the Salisbury City Council and was previously the city’s mayor. The district will also favor the Republican, Warren.

Sen. Carl Ford, a Republican, faces a challenge from political newcomer Tarsha Ellis, a Democrat who beat the county’s party chairman in the March primary. Ford is seeking his second term in the Senate after serving three in the House. He owns a radio broadcasting business in the China Grove area. Ellis works for Ahold-Delhaize. The Senate seat Ford and Ellis seek is the 33rd, which includes Rowan and Stanly counties.

For Rowan County commissioners Craig Pierce and Mike Caskey, the general election is just a formality. They face no official competition on the ballot and will likely cruise to another four-year term.

Not to be forgotten, filing for Rowan-Salisbury School Board is still ongoing and will last until Aug. 14 at noon.

Candidates so far include former East Rowan baseball coach Brian Hightower, whose signs already dot some roadways, and Kathy McDuffie Sanborn, a former school administrator. Hightower and Sanborn are seeking seat No. 3 (the East District) — currently represented by Josh Wagner, who says he won’t run again.

Alisha Byrd-Clark is seeking re-election to seat No. 5, the Salisbury area. She briefly had a declared challenger, but he backed out shortly after filing.

Susan Cox, who fills seat No. 7 (the Southeast District), is also running for re-election. Cox hasn’t attracted any competition yet.

In a year where plenty of attention will be paid to the top of the ticket, voters shouldn’t forget about officials who directly represent our community. Their decisions are most likely to impact daily life in Salisbury and Rowan County.

As usual, the Post will publish a special section profiling candidates and their position on issues in advance of the election. This year, we plan to do so earlier than usual because of the expected demand for mail-in voting.

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