Ray Russell officially launches campaign for reelection in North Carolina General Assembly

Tucker Wulff, Reporter

Ray Russell, App State computer science professor and current member of the North Carolina General Assembly, held a launch party for his reelection campaign for the North Carolina State House District 93 seat Tuesday. 

Members of the campaign and supporters took refuge from the falling snow and harsh wind for the event in Ransom Pub on King Street. After a brief introduction, Russell spoke about focus points for his campaign including transparency with North Carolina citizens. 

“We will be the state that is transparent and decent and honest with our citizens and can make government actually operate and work in a way that our citizens can be proud of,” Russell said. 

Russell discussed enacting laws that make government actions more transparent to citizens and his goal to “end the reign of secrecy” in North Carolina’s government. 

Russell ran as a Democrat for the seat in 2018 against Jonathan Jordan and won, breaking the super-majority in the N.C. House. For the 2020 election and beyond, Russell said he hopes to not only hold the seat, but take the majority. 

Democratic candiate for North Carolina House of Representatives District 93, poses in front of Boone’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Furthermore, Russell said he does not simply want Democrats to be the majority in the House but to be the “better majority.” Russell said the current group of Democratic senators has more women and racial diversity. 

“This is not your old democratic party. This is a new group, ready to get things done,” Russell said. “This is a group of people you want leading North Carolina for the next 20 or 30 years.”  

During his speech, Russell spoke of his success in the House. During his term, Russell has sponsored or cosponsored 125 bills.

Russell also discussed the UNC Board of Governors. Russell said partisanship on the Board of Governors is “appalling.” 

“I will make it my life’s mission to fix the Board of Governors,” Russell said.

Applause overwhelmed Ransom as Russell’s speech concluded. After the speech, Russell spoke with members of his campaign team, supporters and other guests.  

Russell said he is grateful for the community that has supported him. 

“It’s not so much about me. It’s about the people around me,” Russell said. 

Matthew Robinson, a supporter of Russell and professor of criminal justice at App State, said he supports Russell because of his desire to serve and “meet as many people around the district as possible.” 

One aspect of Russell’s campaign that Robinson said he finds compelling is that Russell is not interested in the money, but in “serving people.” 

Andy Mason, another Russell supporter, said political campaigns can quickly become an “all-consuming” search for funding which he said is a stark contrast to how Russell runs his campaign. 

Tom Fisher, Russell’s outgoing treasurer, said Russell’s supporters are a major part of the campaign’s success. 

“All of these people are voices for what we can do,” Fisher said, in reference to the audience at the launch party. 

Fisher said Russell is the “most communicative of any local or national politician” he has ever worked with. 

Russell is currently the only announced candidate for the seat. Though he said he is hopeful for the 2020 election, he is aware that the seat will not come easily. 

Russell said at the launch party he and his team will need to put in an “as big or bigger effort” than the previous election to win the 2020 election. 

The North Carolina primary is scheduled for March 3 and the General Election is Nov. 3.