North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore announced his intent to run for US Congress in 2024, immediately incurring criticism from his opponent, Pat Harrigan, for his role in casino legalization efforts.
Moore has an impressive political resume. When his term ends in 2024, he’ll have served 11 two-year terms and been the House Speaker since 2015, the longest-tenured Speaker in NC history.
Moore has been a staunch proponent of North Carolina gambling expansion. Upon announcing his run for Congress, his primary opponent, Republican Pat Harrigan, quickly attacked him for his pro-gambling stance.
Harrigan opposes North Carolina casinos and will negatively portray Moore’s stance as we embark on a cutthroat race. In the words of Michael Buffer, “Let’s get ready to rumble!”
In the red corners, we have…
Moore and Harrigan will battle one another to represent North Carolina’s 14th Congressional District. As Republicans, they will square off in the primary election on March 5, 2024, less than four months from now.
The 14th District’s boundaries recently changed due to statewide redistricting efforts that gave GOP legislators a leg up on controlling both houses. Before the redistricting, US Rep. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat, held the position.
Jackson defeated Harrigan the last time around but won’t be running for re-election in a district drawn for GOP victory. Instead, he plans to run for North Carolina attorney general and fight corruption at a higher level.
In the process, Jackson leaves an open race between Harrigan and Moore.
The primary will determine the winner
Because the 14th Congressional District was redrawn to favor Republicans, whoever wins the primary will almost certainly win the House seat uncontested. Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer told The Charlotte Observer that these conditions will intensify the primary race, especially with no need to defeat an incumbent.
Harrigan immediately jumped right into the fire, too. Just 23 minutes after Moore announced his Congressional bid, Harrigan published a statement attacking Moore’s questionable involvement in North Carolina gambling expansion and sex-related scandals.
“Let’s be clear: Tim Moore carries a legacy of corruption, from being bought and paid for by the casino and gambling bosses, to taxpayer-funded sexual escapades. Such a man does not represent NC14’s values, nor does he deserve its trust.“
Moore’s campaign adviser, Paul Shumaker, responded:
“My experience, which is a little bit more extensive in this than most people in politics, is that those who are behind and those that are desperate tend to be the ones who lash out first.”
More attacks expected, but history says Moore will rise above
Moore’s record is far from clean over his 22 years in NC politics. Harrigan’s attacks at Moore supporting the expansion of North Carolina gambling do more than highlight their differences in beliefs: they also call into question Moore’s past.
Earlier this year, Moore faced sexual misconduct allegations from another state employee who sued him for ruining her marriage through their affair. Moore also has ties to Wallace Cheves, owner of Sky Boat Partners, LLC, the future developer of Catawba Two Kings Casino.
Recent disputes between Sky Boat and the Catawba Tribe have left future relations in question. Meanwhile, the Tribe was already delayed once after receiving a federal notice of violation for agreeing to give Sky Boat too much power.
Despite the bad publicity, Moore has always pushed forward. His attempts to expand retail gambling fell short when he failed to get enough support on a budget bill allowing new casinos in North Carolina. Still, Republican lawmakers pivoted once more with a new standalone bill.
Even with Moore’s past dealings, his influence likely makes him the frontrunner to win the 14th Congressional District race (and would prove Shumaker’s comments correct). He’s always found a way to rise above the noise, and history has a way of repeating itself.