By Staff Writer Hinton Carter
North Carolina’s 9th Senate District constitutes all of New Hanover County. Current republican incumbent, Michael Lee, is facing a tough challenge this election cycle in democratic challenger Andrew Barnhill. While Senator Lee is running on a platform of his successful record and the inexperience of his opponent, Barnhill seems to be taking advantage of a politically charged climate, with promises to make significant changes to policies across North Carolina that were seen as controversial.
Senator Lee earned his bachelor’s degree from UNC – Chapel Hill in 1991, his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest University in 1997, and has now been practicing law for 11 years. He has been a North Carolina Senator since his appointment in 2014 following Thom Goolsby’s retirement. After defeating democratic challenger Elizabeth Redenbaugh in the 2014 election, Senator Lee has seen a successful two years in the chamber, currently serving on nine standing committees, as well as successfully passing bills on job creation, education, and incentives to strengthen North Carolina’s economy.
Andrew Barnhill, the democratic party’s candidate in the race, is only 28 years old, raising questions about his experience to be able to credibly serve in one of the state’s highest elected positions. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Furman University and a divinity degree from Duke University in 2013, Barnhill has been employed by the Eleison Group, a faith-based non-profit, the North Carolina Democratic Party, and the New Leaders Council, a progressive leadership training firm.
Large questions came into consideration after Barnhill announced his candidacy; local Wilmington news organizations first reported that Barnhill had been caught partying on a charitable, faith-based mission trip to South Africa during his college time. While on the trip with Cargo of Dreams, the nonprofit, sources reported that Barnhill was on the worksite for approximately an hour on the entire trip, spending the rest of the time at a high-end resort and casino. The director of the nonprofit, as originally stated in an interview by WNCN, stated that Barnhill was an “extreme manipulator” and stayed at the resort Sun City for most of the trip.
Time will come to show on November 8th whether voters will be able to sift through the political rhetoric and make a conscious decision who the right candidate is for office. While this race will not affect those voting on ballots in Chapel Hill or in the greater Orange County area, it is important to realize the need to be a conscientious voter and understand the track record and experience of a candidate, as well as their morals and values towards others.
**Editor’s Note: The Carolina Review Editorial Board has not endorsed any candidates in this race.