Amid filing, an early look at top statehouse races

Posted by Caitlin Owens on February 20, 2014 

With one week of filing left, some state legislative races are looking more interesting than others.

The N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation, a business-backed political group that analyzes state politics, identified a handful of Senate and House races to keep an eye on, predicting competitive primaries or general election contests because of incumbent departures. In its report, the foundation said the General Assembly is set to lose roughly 200 years of collective legislative experience.

In the Senate:

• District 9 (New Hanover County): Two-term incumbent Thom Goolsby, a Wilmington Republican, has decided not to run for re-election. Only Democrat Elizabeth Redenbaugh has filed but two Democrats have discussed running and one Republican, former state Senate candidate Michael Lee, is said to be considering a bid. The district is rated as leaning Republican, according to the foundation’s rating of voter behavior.

• District 31 (Forsyth County): Despite appearances, this is technically not an open seat, as Joyce Krawiec, a Winston-Salem Republican, was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Pete Brunstetter in January. Former Forsyth County District Attorney Tom Keith and local realtor Steve Wiles are said to be considering challenging Krawiec in the primary. The district has a strong Republican rating.

• District 40 (Mecklenburg County): Incumbent Malcolm Graham, D-Mecklenburg, is pursuing a Democratic primary nomination in the 12th Congressional District. Two Democrats have filed to run for his seat: Joyce Waddell, a Mecklenburg County school board member, and Nasif Majeed, a developer. The district has a solid Democratic rating.

In the House:

• District 2 (Granville and Person Counties): Democratic incumbent Winkie Wilkinshas vacated his seat. One Democratic candidate, Person County Commissioner Ray Jeffers, has filed. A second, attorney Brent Groce, has announced his candidacy. Republican businessman Larry Yarborough has also filed. The district has a competitive rating.

• District 23 (Edgecombe and Martin Counties): Three Democratic candidates have filed: Childcare center owner Bronson Williams, Edgecombe County Board of Education member Shelly Willingham and Tarrboro Mayor Pro Tem Taro Knight. The district is rated solid Democratic.

• Districts 58 and 60 (Guilford County): Democratic incumbents Alma Adams and Marcus Brandon are running against each other for the 12th Congressional District nomination. Former House member Earl Jones has filed in District 60 and attorney Daniel Koenig in District 58. Both are Democrats, and both districts have a solid Democratic rating.

• Districts 98 and 104 (Mecklenburg County): In District 98, GOP House Speaker Thom Tillis has vacated his seat for a U.S. Senate run. In District 4, Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican, is also leaving an empty seat. In District 98, two Republicans have filed: John Bradford, an engineer, and Cornelius mayor Lynette Rinker. Attorney Natasha Marcus, a Democrat, has also filed. In District 104, the only candidate to file thus far is former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Dan Bishop, a Republican. Both districts are rated solid Republican.

On the other hand, other races have yet to gain steam, according to the filing reports through mid-week. In the state Senate, no one has filed at all in a handful of districts, a candidate is running unopposed in roughly 30 districts and a few candidates currently are looking at competition only in their primaries.

In the state House, its a similar story with nearly a candidate running unopposed in two-thirds of the districts. About a dozen districts have competition only in the primaries.

Filing ends at noon Feb. 28.

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