When the first votes were released on Tuesday, Nov. 8, it appeared that Republican State Representative for District 59 John Hardister was struggling in his bid for a sixth term.
Hardister held a very narrow lead over Democrat Sherrie Young.
As the ballots for those who voted on Election Day were posted, Hardister steadily increased his lead and won by a comfortable 12-point margin.
However, the fact that Young ended the evening with 15,054 votes for 43.6% comes as a shock.
District 59 is ranked as a Democratic district plus 2, which means that all other things being equal, the Democrat should win by 2 points.
But this race was extremely uneven. Young won the Democratic primary with 75% of the vote, which was a surprise since there was no evidence that Young campaigned. Young didn’t spend any money on the primary and didn’t have a campaign website or even Facebook page.
In the general election, according to campaign finance reports, Young did not raise or spend a dime. According to these reports, Young invested $140 in her campaign and then paid herself $140 for “position retention” fees. Given that Young does not hold elected office, this is a questionable campaign finance expense at best.
But Young does not list any other donations or expenses in his campaign financial report.
Young had campaign signs for the general election, but how those signs were paid for is also a question since she does not list any donations or expenses in her campaign financial report. There is no evidence that the Young campaign bought ads, had pamphlets printed, or otherwise spent money.
Young also has charges pending against her in Guilford County Court for discharging a firearm within city limits and “arming herself to terrorize people.” She allegedly threatened people with a handgun.
Hardister, who was elected to his sixth term in the State House, said that despite his opponent’s lack of campaign activity, “we didn’t take the race lightly.”
Hardister’s campaign finance reports are markedly different from Young’s. Reports show Hardister has raised over $300,000 for his re-election campaign
Hardister said that during his campaign he knocked on about 5,000 doors and did advertising and mailings.
So in this race was a five-term Republican incumbent who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his campaign against a first-time Democratic opponent who officially spent nothing on his campaign.
And when early voting ended, the two were neck and neck.
Politics is a strange game.