NAACP wants earlier election for Watt’s old seat

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RALEIGH, N.C. — State NAACP officials on Tuesday threatened legal action as they called on Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, to reconsider the schedule he has set for the special election to replace U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, a Democrat, for the remainder of his term in the 12th Congressional District.

Watt, who had been the district’s representative since Jan. 3, 1993, recently was confirmed to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

McCrory — citing cost, efficiency and the goal of averting voter confusion — established a schedule that coincides with the regularly scheduled election for the full two-year term.

As things stand, the primary to replace Watt for the remainder of his term will be held May 6. A likely runoff will be July 15 and the election to fill the remainder of the term falls in line with the regularly scheduled general election for the full term on Nov. 4.

The Rev. William Barber said in a conference call with reporters that holding the special election in November for the remainder of the Watt’s term is too long — 300-plus days — for the almost 700,000 people in the district to go without someone to directly represent them. The district runs through a section of Winston-Salem, from Greensboro to Charlotte roughly along Interstate 85.

By holding the election in November, Barber said, the governor is perpetuating a Republican “pattern of denial,” in this case the denial of a timely vote.

Barber did not propose an alternative timeline for the special election when asked.

“Rev. William Barber, the de facto leader of the North Carolina Democrat Party, is once again misleading the public with ridiculous attacks that only seek to advance his highly partisan and out-of-touch liberal agenda,” said Todd Poole, the executive director of the state Republican Party. “The governor selected the only viable option that would save taxpayer money while preventing massive confusion over voting dates.”

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal

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