Mark Chilton and Valerie Foushee are Chatham and Orange county voters’ top choices to replace Ellie Kinnaird in the state Senate, according to Public Policy Polling.
The Raleigh-based company’s newest survey found 36 percent of voters say Chilton, the current mayor of Carrboro and former Chapel Hill Town Council member, would be one of their top two choices.
Twenty-eight percent rank Foushee, a current state House representative, former Orange County commissioner and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board member, in their top two.
Aside from Alice Bordsen at 14 percent, there’s little support for any of the remaining candidates – Heidi Chapman has 7 percent, Amy Tiemann 5 percent, Jim Porto 2 percent, and M. Lynette Hartsell 1 percent.
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Chilton and Foushee hold nearly identical favorability ratings – Chilton’s at 40/14 and Foushee’s at 40/13.
Chilton comes out in first because of strong support in Carrboro (36/15 over Foushee), Chapel Hill (31/15), and Chatham County (21 percent to 7 percent for Bordsen with Foushee at 6 percent).
Foushee does best in unincorporated Orange County (33 percent to 15 percent for Bordsen with Chilton at 13 percent) and Hillsborough (24 percent to 13 percent for Chapman with Chilton at 12 percent).
One thing that may have Chilton polling well for this vacancy is his decision to get arrested as part of the “Moral Monday” protests. Seventy-five percent of voters in the district approve of local elected officials who got arrested as part of that movement compared to only 18 percent who take issue with their decisions.
Whoever gets the appointment will have a hard time filling Kinnaird’s shoes in voters’ eyes, PPP said in a news release. She leaves office with a 72 percent approval rating and only 14 percent of voters disapproving of the work she did in the Senate.
“Those are the strongest numbers we’ve found for an elected official anywhere in the country so far this year,” pollster Tom Jensen said.
But voters don’t necessarily think Kinnaird, who supports Bordsen, should be able to determine her successor. Only 19 percent agree with Kinnaird’s premise that it’s necessary for her replacement to be a woman, compared to 68 percent who disagree with that thought – even among women it’s just 24 percent.