The race for the Fifth District congressional seat is heating up again, as Democrats Gardenia Henley and Josh Brannon prepare for a July 15 run-off.
Brannon, a Watuaga County resident, came out on top in May’s primary for the district, which includes all or portions of Forsyth, Davie, Iredell, Ashe, Catawba, Rowan, Wilkes, Alexander, Alleghany, Watauga, Yadkin and Davidson counties.
He received 7,972 votes, or 33 percent, while Henley received 6,386 votes (26.5 percent). Challengers Michael Holleman and Will Stinson finished third and fourth, respectively. Since Brannon did not receive at least 40 percent of the vote, as stipulated by state election rules, Henley, as the second-place finisher, had the right to call for a run-off, which she did soon after the primary.
“Of course, I wanted to win but I see this as an opportunity to actually communicate and touch bases with more constituents,” Henley said. “I am going to continue working very hard and try to reach more voters.”
Brannon said he is also working hard to get his message to as many voters as possible.
“I have found that wherever I go, people just love my message,” he said. “We essentially have a two-tiered society in our country. We have a different set of rules for the one percent, both economically and judicially, than everyone else.”
Henley is an Air Force veteran and former auditor for the U.S. Office of Inspector General. In recent years, she has launched unsuccessful bids for several public offices, including governor.
“My qualifications speak for themselves. I am the only candidate, between (Brannon) and I, that can hit the ground running when I get to D.C. I used to audit and investigate legislation and legislators,” Henley said.
Brannon, a software developer, said that he is running to take money out of politics, citing that it is not okay for the so-called “one percent” – the nation’s richest – to donate as much money as they want to bolster certain campaigns.
“I really think that we are about to lose our democracy when so few people can spend so much money to control elections,” Brannon said. “I’m going to do my best to fix this.”
The candidates admit that it is difficult competing with summer for the attention of voter, but they say the challenge is well worth the opportunity to try to unseat longtime Republican incumbent Rep. Virginia Foxx in November.
“I am a professional debater, and I also have more experience than Virginia Foxx,” Henley contends. “I plan to beat her, and I am not concerned about how much money she has because dollars don’t vote, people do.”
Brannon and Henley agree that the best way to beat Foxx is through a grassroots movement. He also acknowledges that it is impossible to outspend her.
“A lot of people, on both sides of the table, are getting fed up with Foxx and her policies that benefit the one percent at the expense of the rest of us,” Brannon said. “Each person should have representation in this county regardless of how much money they have.”
Only Fifth District Democrats and independents (who voted in the Democratic primary in May) can vote in the July 15 runoff. Residents with questions about where to vote, may visit the Forsyth Board of Elections web site at www.forsyth.cc/elections/ or call 336-703-2800.