6th District Democrat Fjeld waits in runoff wings
As the two Republicans running in the 6th Congressional District criticize each other in the political limelight heading into Tuesday’s runoff, Democratic nominee Laura Fjeld has spread her message and raised money off stage from the theatrics.
Fjeld, a former vice president with the University of North Carolina system who lives in Orange County, said she doesn’t have a preference as to whom she’d rather face between Republican hopefuls Mark Walker and Phil Berger Jr. But Fjeld told The High Point Enterprise during a recent interview that she believes the acerbic runoff campaign between the two Republicans will help her chances in the Nov. 4 general election.
Walker and Berger have traded pointed accusations and questioned each other’s personal integrity since the May 6 primary.
“So many people I meet are fed up with the dysfunction in Washington,” she said. “When you engage people, they immediately say we’ve gotten too focused on extreme rhetoric. And we’ve got to get away from it. We need people who understand the need for bipartisanship, the need to reach across the aisle — that’s effective.”
Fjeld, who’s making her first bid for elected office, is running in a 10-county district that includes parts of the city of High Point.
The 6th Congressional District has an equivalent number of registered Democratic and Republican voters, though political analysts say the district leans conservative in its orientation. For example, two years ago the district went 55 percent for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney compared to 45 percent for Democratic President Barack Obama, according to figures through the John Davis Political Report based out of Raleigh.
Fjeld also is running in a national political landscape in which the president is posting meager approval ratings, averaging in the lower 40 percent range. But Fjeld said the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is posting even worse approval numbers in the low teens.
“Washington is polling badly — let’s face it,” said Fjeld, who earlier this month pledged to serve no more than 12 years if elected to Congress. “My focus is on presenting an alternative to the politics as usual.”
Fjeld deflected a question from the Enterprise about whether she would campaign with Obama if the president were to visit North Carolina before the general election.
“I really haven’t considered who I might campaign with. I have been running, since last August, really my own race,” Fjeld said. “I want to deliver my message, not anyone else’s message.”
Fjeld is remaining more than competitive from a fundraising standpoint. Through June 30, she raised approximately $584,000, according to her campaign.
The winner of the general election will succeed longtime Rep. Howard Coble, R-6th, who is retiring at the end of this year at the age of 83 for health reasons.
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Meet Laura Fjeld
Personal: Native of Pennsylvania who has lived in North Carolina for more than 30 years; now resides in northern Orange County with her husband Jon Fjeld, who serves as the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. The couple has five children.
Professional: Served as vice president and general counsel for the 17-campus University of North Carolina system before leaving the post to run for the 6th Congressional District. Previously worked as attorney for North Carolina law firms.
Civic: Has volunteered with N.C. Legal Assistance Program, Special Olympics North Carolina, Global Fund for Children and the N.C. Center for International Understanding through UNC.
Fundraising so far
Here’s what the three candidates for the 6th Congressional District have raised:
Democrat Laura Fjeld - $584,000, more than $120,000 cash on hand
Republican Mark Walker - $316,511, $40,758 cash on hand
Republican Phil Berger Jr. - $461,756, $27,833 cash on hand
Sources: Campaigns, Federal Election Commission