GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Cheri Beasley, Kathy Manning, Virginia Foxx and Richard Hudson are in. Dan Bishop and Jeff Jackson are maybes. Madison Cawthorn and Tim Moore have said nothing new.
Across North Carolina candidates lined up Thursday to submit their paperwork on the first day of resumed candidate filing for the 2022 elections.
Hundreds of candidates statewide had submitted paperwork to run during the roughly 24 hours the window to do so was open in December. The NC Supreme Court then postponed the filing while lawsuits filed by the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, Common Cause and a Harper group of voters, which challenged the electoral maps approved in November by the General Assembly, could be heard.
Local election office doors opened at 8 a.m., as did the statewide site at the NC Fairgrounds in Raleigh, where statewide candidates must file, after the state Supreme Court upheld a ruling by a 3-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court and allowed new maps for Congress and state Senate and House races to become final.
That Republican-majority panel had hired three former judges to serve as special masters during the review of remedial maps drawn last week by the General Assembly. The court approved those for the legislative district but adapted lawmakers’ congressional map to uphold the constitutional responsibility of the General Assembly to be the architect of election maps, the court’s opinion stated.
Even candidates who didn’t like the fact that the state Supreme Court had, in a party-line vote, thrown out the legislature’s original maps because they were the production of unconstitutional extreme partisan gerrymandering were ready to go.
Some of those who filed earlier will have to clarify their districts even if they already had announced they would run. A reminder: Candidates for Congress don’t have to live in their districts, but state legislators, judges and many others do. That will be important to remember as the ballot for the Primary Election on May 17 comes into focus.
Former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat Richard Burr is vacating, was in Raleigh to file her paperwork. The four Republicans at the top of a long list in that race, state Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), newcomer Marjorie Eastman of Cary, former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro, did not appear.
The window to file is open until noon March 4.
Manning, Foxx to run
Rep. Manning (D-Greensboro) was out of the country on a congressional trip to Israel, but her spokesperson said in an email that she would confirm Manning is running for re-election in the 6th District, which now includes all of Guilford and Rockingham counties, the area around Winston-Salem and almost all of Caswell County. She would file her paperwork when she returns.
“Representing North Carolina in Congress is one of the greatest honors of my life,” Manning’s statement said. “I look forward to continuing to represent Guilford County and parts of Forsyth County, and I will work hard to earn the support of voters in Rockingham and Caswell Counties.”
Rep. Foxx (R-Banner Elk) reiterated her plans to run in the 5th District, which covers her home county of Watauga and most of Forsyth and Caldwell counties and all of Davie, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes, Alleghany, Avery and Mitchell counties.
“This redrawn district is composed of most of the same North Carolina counties I have represented already in Congress,” Foxx said in the release from her campaign, “and I am looking forward to running in a part of the state that I care so deeply about and has sent me to Congress in the past to represent our shared values.”
Budd is a co-incumbent in the 5th District, but that doesn’t really matter because of his Senate candidacy.
Some district decisions needed
But the new congressional map sent many candidates who had announced their intention or filed paperwork scurrying to re-evaluate where they might want to run. Experts on the competitiveness of electoral maps suggest this congressional map has seven safe Republican Districts, six likely safe Democratic districts and one that’s a toss-up, maybe with a slight lean to Democrats. Among those who have had to ponder their routes:
- Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Concord) had filed in the 11th District under the original map, but now his home district would be the 12th, which includes a large chunk of Mecklenburg County and is considered strongly Democratic. Rep. Alma Adams (D-Charlotte) is the incumbent who will run there. Hudson then skipped over the 8th District, which includes the rest of his home county (Cabarrus) to say he would run in the 9th, which encompasses Fort Bragg in a block of Randolph Chatham Moore, Lee, Hoke Scotland and some of Harnett and Richmond counties, most of which he had served at one point, his announcement said. “I look forward to remaining Fort Bragg’s Congressman and again earning the support of the people of the new 9th District,” he said.
- Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), who had said Wednesday that he might leave Congress and run for a judicial seat, reversed his field on Thursday and told The News & Observer that he would run in the 8th District, which includes some counties he previously had served. The 8th District is made up of Davidson, Rowan, Stanly, Montgomery, Union and most of Anson and Cabarrus counties.
- Former Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican who lives in Harnett County, had announced she would seek a return to Congress in, first, the 4th and then the 6th districts, under the General Assembly’s map, but she has not announced which district she would pursue now. Harnett County is split between the 9th District, where Bishop is running, and the 13th, which is open. Democrat Wiley Nickel filed to run in the 13th. Both are strong/likely GOP districts.
- Rep. Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) had announced he would leave his incumbent 11th District and had filed to run in the 13th. Numerous candidates have been campaigning for Cawthorn’s current spot. But the area Cawthorn had been targeting is now the 14th District, which is comprised of southern Mecklenburg County and southeastern Gaston county and is seen as likely Democratic, or the 10th. Bishop and Adams are both residents of the 14th, although neither will run there. A campaign challenge to keep Cawthorn off the ballot for violation of his oath of office also can’t go forward, the NC BOE said Thursday, because Cawthorn remains filed in the 13th.
- House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) also had said he perhaps would run in the new 14th, but now his home – and the area Cawthorn had targeted – is part of the 10th District, where powerful Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Denver) is the incumbent.
Another Triad race
- Alamance County is combined with Orange, Person, Durham and Granville counties and a small section of Caswell County in the 4th District, where incumbent Rep. David Price (D-Durham) is retiring. Democrat Ashley Ward of Mebane filed Thursday to run there.
Beasley has raised millions to run for the Senate. In filing her paperwork for that Senate, she said, “I will bring the same values I was raised with – hard work, faith and fairness – to fight for North Carolina in the U.S. Senate.” Greg Antoine of Fayetteville and Patrice “Chrelle” Booker of Tryon both filed to run against her in the primary.
But the biggest surprise of the day may have come from the man who stepped aside to give Beasley a clearer path to the nomination, state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte). When he pulled out of the campaign for Senate, Jackson said he would not run for Congress, but his tone Thursday was quite different. Then on Friday he announced he would be running in the 14th District.
“I want to show the 14th Congressional District an approach to politics that is fundamentally honest and decent – and that puts the people of the district first,” Jackson said in his announcement. “That means no corporate PAC money, no stock trading, just a serious approach to the practical challenges we face and treating this job like the public service that it is.”