An Army veteran backed by House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s women-candidate-recruiting PAC told Fox News Digital this week that she believes she can make history in North Carolina.

Retired Col. Laurie Buckhout said her district is the poorest in North Carolina, and while the economy and jobs are top-of-mind to voters, the first issue they mention to her is immigration.

It is the combination of poverty, an influx of drugs from south of the border and a general malaise in the Biden era that has her potential constituents clamoring for change, Buckhout said. 

She noted her district, which spans from suburban Rocky Mount across nearly 200 miles of small towns to the Outer Banks tourist communities of Duck and Corolla, has not elected a Republican since Chester Arthur was president. 


Laurie Buckout walking in a field.

GOP candidate Laurie Buckhout walks with a voter in her eastern North Carolina district. (Laurie Buckhout for Congress)

“It has been Democrat-led for 141 years, which tells you a lot about why it is the poorest one in North Carolina,” she told a large audience at a Wednesday event dubbed “E-PAC” and hosted by Stefanik. “This is our real chance to flip this right now … Democrats are scared.”

“My opponent, [Rep.] Don Davis, [D-N.C.] – one of the nicest guys in Congress – is hiding every time Biden comes into the state – they put $850,000 toward him just in the month of May in positive ads.”

Speaking to Fox News Digital after the event, Buckhout said it is heartbreaking to see the poverty and signs of drug abuse in many towns where she lives.

“It is poverty. It is jobs. It’s the economy. They’ve been struggling for years. And then you bring Biden in, and he’s got his crazy spending and these energy policies that are just crushing [eastern North Carolina] and my highly agrarian district.”

However, despite the economic burden, voters tell Buckhout that the border is their top issue.

“I’ve been talking to some of the poorest folks in the district, and they’ll say they’re worried about their children’s futures.”


Sunrise Outer Banks

Sunrise in Duck, NC; part of the Outer Banks (Kevin Ferris/Fox News Digital)

In the eastern part of the district, touristy beachfront towns and inland villages are being hit hard by the Biden economy as tourism dollars from the thousands of northerners who vacation there have dropped, she said.

“People can’t afford to hop in the car and just go for these long trips anymore. So you see businesses closing, you see little hotels closing. It’s a significant impact,” said Buckhout, whose hometown of Edenton is one of those soundfront communities.

In response to her criticism, Davis said his primary focus is the families of eastern North Carolina and laid out why he is a “recognized bipartisan leader in Congress.”

“I have also been vocal in challenging the White House on issues like WOTUS, the menthol ban, Seymour Johnson AFB job cuts, and the border crisis. I have personally made over 200 visits to counties in the East, traveled to Israel and Ukraine and made multiple trips to the southern border,” Davis said.

Pollsters and election analysts in North Carolina also offered their take to Fox News Digital on Buckhout’s confidence in a historic Republican shift in her district:


Elise Stefanik: Biden has created the 'most catastrophic' border crisis in American history Video

One pollster, Prof. Peter Francia of East Carolina University in Greenville, said the district has shifted to the right a bit after the 2020 census redistricting, from its comfortable Democratic position.

“The election in the first congressional district in North Carolina will not only be the most competitive congressional election in the state, it could turn out to be one of the most competitive elections in the nation,” Francia said.

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