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Rushing is right: Half of 9th District Republicans don’t live in the district

May 2, 2019

In a field of 10 candidates, Stony Rushing has gone to creative lengths to stand out.

Rushing, a Union County commissioner, must beat out nine other Republicans to be the party’s candidate in a special election for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The state elections board nullified the November election results after finding they were tainted by an operative working for Republican candidate Mark Harris.

Rushing, a Wingate resident who once dressed as the corrupt Boss Hogg character from “The Dukes of Hazzard” show, initially gained attention by earning Harris’ endorsement in the wake of the probe. Rushing has since appeared in a campaign ad with a snake wrapped around his neck, and challenged the sincerity of his opponents.

Some candidates, Rushing said recently, are far apart from voters not only in philosophy — but geography.

“In a crowded field of candidates where 5 out of 10 (candidates) do not live or vote in the 9th District, only Stony Rushing is still fighting for your vote to matter,” the Rushing campaign said in an April 9 Facebook post.

The race includes 13 total candidates: 10 Republicans, a Democrat, a Libertarian and a Green Party candidate. Rushing’s Facebook post linked to a story about a debate between the Republican candidates, so it’s clear Rushing was referring to GOP candidates.

To run for U.S. House, the law doesn’t require candidates to live in a specific district, as PolitiFact has previously reported. (The Constitution says House members must live in the state they represent.)

Rushing raised the issue because he thinks candidates who live in the district have a better understanding of its needs than those who don’t.

The 9th district covers more ground than some of North Carolina’s 12 other congressional districts, stretching across eight counties from Charlotte to Fayetteville and encompassing about 770,000 people.

Conrad Pogorzelski, Rushing’s spokesman, said the district includes a large swath of NC’s banking industry in Charlotte, military personnel near Fayetteville and agriculture in between.

So we wondered about Rushing’s claim. As it turns out, he’s right.

When reached by PolitiFact, Rushing spokesman Pogorzelski cited the addresses candidates filed with the NC elections board. To find out which congressional district each candidate lives in, we plugged each address into the elections board’s “voter lookup” tool.

Matthew Ridenhour and Dan Bishop of Charlotte, as well as Gary Dunn of Matthews and Fern Shubert of Marshville, all live in the district with Rushing. (So do Democrat Dan McCready, Green Party candidate Allen Smith and Libertarian candidate Jeff Scott.)

The following candidates live outside the district:

Stevie Rivenbark Hull of Fayetteville lives in the 8th Congressional District.

Albert Lee Wiley Jr. of Atlantic Beach lives in the 3rd District.

Chris Anglin of Raleigh lives in the 4th District.

Leigh Thomas Brown of Harrisburg lives in the 8th District.

Kathie Day of Cornelius lives in the 12th District.

Brown, Day and Hull live near the district, while Anglin and Wiley are the farthest away.

Wiley lives in the 3rd District, which sprawls down North Carolina’s coast, where there’s a separate special election.

The primary is set for May 14 and the general election is scheduled for Sept. 10. If no candidate wins more than 30 percent of the vote in the primary, a runoff election will be held Sept. 10 and the general election will follow on Nov. 5.

Rushing said five of the 10 Republican candidates in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District live outside the district boundaries. North Carolinians by law aren’t prohibited from running in a congressional district that’s not their own. And some of the candidates who reside outside the district live nearby. But, Rushing is right. We rate this claim True.

Staff reporter Carli Brosseau contributed.

The NC Fact-Checking Project is a partnership of McClatchy Carolinas, the Duke Reporters’ Lab and PolitiFact. The NC Local News Lab Fund and the International Center for Journalists provide support for the project, which shares free fact checks with newsrooms statewide.