Judge vs. Steinburg in hard-fought NC Senate race

By on October 28, 2020

Tess Judge and Bob Steinburg.

To a significant degree, the high-profile contest for the District 1 North Carolina Senate seat between incumbent Republican Bob Steinburg and Democratic challenger Tess Judge has played out as a battle of political ads on television screens and mailboxes in the district. In interviews with the Voice, the candidates lay out their different priorities and rationales for their candidacies.

(Editor’s Note: For this story, Steinburg declined to participate in a live interview, stating that he would only respond to written questions submitted to him. Judge, like all the other candidates interviewed by the Voice for our election stories, participated in a phone interview where questions were asked and answered in real time.)

Steinburg, a former North Carolina House member, was elected to the Senate seat vacated by the retiring Bill Cook in 2018, successfully navigating a primary challenge from Clark Twiddy and a general election contest against D. Cole Phelps.

Judge, the wife of longtime Dare County Commissioner Warren Judge, agreed to serve his term in Raleigh after he died days before losing a 2016 NC House race to Beverly Boswell. In 2018, she was defeated in the general election by Bobby Hanig, who had ousted Boswell from the District 6 House seat in a primary earlier that year.

When asked to identify the top issue for the district’s residents, Judge responded: “Health care…There were over five hundred thousand [people] without coverage before with COVID. Now, with COVID, we have more people who have lost their jobs and their employer-paid health plans…Healthcare and education should not be partisan issues…When you talk to people who are trying to make decisions whether they can buy groceries or whether they can go to the doctor or take their child to the doctor, we can do better than that.”

For his part, Steinburg wrote that “Nothing is more important than restoring our economic growth after this historic pandemic. That’s why I’ve worked to fund personal protective equipment and COVID relief for NC-based small businesses who were particularly hit hard. We can reopen with safety precautions in place because the human toll is too much for another prolonged economic shutdown.”

“Thanks to fiscal discipline in Raleigh, we had emergency funds to cover some of our losses, including incremental teacher pay bonuses,” he added.

Judge, who said she’s in this race “for our children — cradle to career,” pointed to education as another major priority.

“Education fuels the economy, the economy fuels education,” she asserted. “We need to make sure all of our children…have the same access to the same quality of education regardless of where they live.” One way of achieving that, Judge added, is by making sure students everywhere have broadband internet access, which she said, should be a public utility. It should be like electricity, in my opinion.”

Steinburg cites prison reform as an issue close to his heart. Pointing to the murder of corrections officers at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution in 2017, he said, “I’ve completed a tour of all 53 state prisons and met with prison leadership as well as rank-and-file officers. In Raleigh, I fought hard to win support of needed changes: increasing pay and death benefits, new management software, and increased penalty for those who assault our officers.”

On another matter, the two candidates express differences over how well the administration of Governor Roy Cooper handled the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“This has certainly not been easy decisions for anyone,” said Judge. “We still are all learning about COVID…And I think, what Governor Cooper has certainly tried to do is try to make decisions on science and data. It’s a huge responsibility. We all know these decisions have been hard decisions…difficult decisions.”

“Initially, I gave Governor Cooper the benefit of the doubt, because none of us have experienced a health care crisis like this one,” Steinburg stated. “However, as other states responded to the facts of the virus and the medical community’s advancing treatment, Governor Cooper’s insisted on a one-size-fits-all approach…His shifting standards left businesses without direction and families with school-age children in limbo.”

And the two candidates also offer contrasting campaign pitches to the voters that differ in substance and tone.

“I stand strong for this community’s conservative values and work tirelessly for the help we need.’” Steinburg said, citing endorsements from groups such as the NRA, the NC Troopers Association and the NC Right to Life. “My opponent has the support of former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg’s gun control group, radical environmentalists who hate farmers, and extreme liberals from around the country. My support is here in this community.”

“We need to elect leaders to go to Raleigh — leaders and not followers of party line,” Judge stated. “I would tell [voters] the one thing about me that people can count on is that I will show up, I will be there, I will listen…I want to know what you’re talking about at the kitchen table at night…It will be my job to serve the people, to know what their issues are, to be in contact with them and to be their voice.”

Visit the Voice’s Campaign page for more stories on the 2020 election.





  • Manteo

    Please stop using that terrible campaign commercial accusing Bob Steinberg of the death Mrs. Gibbs. That is awful to use her husband in that way. Bob Steinburg is not guilty of that. He is not that powerful a person to shut down a hospital all by himself. It is tasteless. You can do better than that.

    Wednesday, Oct 28 @ 2:26 pm
  • sandflea

    If you’re in the top 1% and have all the health care you want, vote for Steinburg and Hanig. If you are in need good quality health care at an affordable price, vote for Judge and Fulcher.

    Wednesday, Oct 28 @ 3:32 pm
  • Just a mom

    Vote Right! Vote Republican! Always a conservative can handle the not so fair stuff life deals. Why is it that the left can’t?
    It is unattainable for everyone to have “free” or subsidized health care. As it stands the majority of middle America work as my family does only to pay for others to get ‘free’ healthcare, while we have not had it for over a decade. Too busy supporting the liberals la la land ideals or the lazy. Vote Right so you can save some money via tax cuts to pay for your own bills.

    Wednesday, Oct 28 @ 8:33 pm
  • anotherobxman

    One way of achieving that, Judge added, is by making sure students everywhere have broadband internet access, which she said, “should be a public utility. It should be like electricity, in my opinion.”

    This is a very good idea. With regulated prices and allowances for families that simply cannot afford the service. A public SERVICE. not another opportunity for profit.

    Thursday, Oct 29 @ 8:21 am
  • sandflea

    LOL @ Just a mom!!
    It’s good to see that you got “yours” and screw everyone else. I know A LOT of “conservatives” on Obamacare. You obviously make plenty of money; because if you didn’t; you too would be getting some subsidies to help offset the high cost of healthcare. I’m very confident that if you were eligible for subsidies, you’d be the first in line with your hand out demanding your share; probably both hands. In my opinion, your ignorance to everyday life is astounding. Vote Democrat to keep our democracy as we know it.

    Thursday, Oct 29 @ 8:49 am
  • Just a mom

    That you should throw stones or cast judgement without facts, sandflea, is shameful. You know nothing about me or the poverty I came from. Having pride in oneself and personal accountability is a thing seemingly fading into the past. I was shown conservative value and that hard work and measured risk taking are the only ways to get ahead. My 10,000$ Dr. Bill is being paid off slowly as we would never dream of wasting Money on health insurance that would call for at lesst$10,000in premiums annually , let alone the cost of deductibles. We have chosen to conserve our money to take care of us. It’s not my neighbors job to make sure my life is fair or as plush as his. It is only a guarantee that we be given the right to pursue our dreams. The opportunity is ours for the taking. Hand outs are not guarantees or rights. Fairness is nonexistent. I simply don’t believe mandates or laws meddling in such affairs ever work. People need to stop coveting their neighbor and enjoy what they have. If they want more conserve/ work harder. It may take a decade or two.
    You want to talk about not fair…another person who may not manage money well or eat out and go to movies, frivolous spending (all things we don’t do) can go to the dr and pay $0 for same shots I get to pay $10,000 for. Less privileged? Nope. Just a corrupt system. All boils down to personal accountability. That’s all it would take to fix it all. Personal accountability. You don’t know me, sandflea. I think the times are changing. I think we cannot keep allowing corruption. I believe in leaving it to neighbors to give a hand when someone in their community is down. As an aid not a lifestyle. Like the good old days. I don’t need you to save me and one shouldn’t have such expectations of the government. Vote for less regulation, less meddling, less mandates on trying to make it all fair. We are living in the greatest nation on earth! Vote Republican in honor of the Patriots who broke from England who allowed the Loyalists, the first ever liberals, to be part of their new country. Vote for the Right!

    Thursday, Oct 29 @ 12:17 pm
  • Greg Robinson

    I am so sick of the lying garbage I’m receiving every day from the NRA. I thought Obama took away all of your guns. What kind of coward would need an assault weapon to protect himself.

    Thursday, Oct 29 @ 7:25 pm
  • Andrew K

    Just curious, who is the bimbo brunette actress in the NRA-sponsored ads promoting Steinberg?

    I’m also curious … all of you people bashing liberals … do you not want clean air & water? Do you not want to work just a 40 hour week? Do you not want a living wage? Do you not want to be able to afford medical care and medications? Do you not want good schools for your kids and affordable college tuition? Do you not want civil rights for your neighbors and yourself? How about quality mail service? Roads, bridges and other infrastructure? How about sending your kids to the school or the mall without worrying about them being shot? These are ALL “dangerous” Liberal programs! So when did all these things become so terrible?

    Thursday, Oct 29 @ 7:38 pm
  • Mary Harris

    Says it all. Steinburg refused live questions.

    Thursday, Oct 29 @ 9:17 pm