State Rep. Beverly Boswell was defeated in a bitter primary just weeks ago, but members of a new party want to make sure that she and other defeated candidates will be able to try again in November if they choose.
Those options could close if the legislature includes what's called a "sore loser" provision in an election law.
State law prevents candidates who lose primaries from running for the same office that same year as write-in candidates. The new proposal would extend the prohibition to defeated candidates running as members of the Green Party or Constitution Party. The Green Party won state recognition this year and the Constitution Party is expected to make it.
Members of the Constitution Party delivered petitions to the state elections board Wednesday with enough signatures, they said, to earn official recognition as the state's fifth party. The Constitution Party would join Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens.
A Constitution Party officer also delivered the message that candidates will sue if a new state law prevents primary losers from running again this year.
Kevin Hayes, the Constitution Party vice-chairman, said passing the law for this year amounts to changing the rules after the process has started.
"If it goes through, it will be challenged in court," Hayes said. Legislators could change the proposal so it won't apply until next year, he said.
One defeated candidate, Greg Holt — a Craven County Republican who lost a county commissioner primary — has asked the Constitution Party to select him as a candidate for fall, party chairman Al Pisano said. The Constitution Party and the Green Party are holding conventions in June.
The provision won House committee approval Wednesday over the objection of some committee members.
Rep. Michael Speciale, a Craven County Republican, wanted the provision removed, and some Democrats agreed with his position.
"We're in the middle of an election cycle when new parties are being approved," Speciale said.
Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, said the provision should stay because it was always the intent to treat new parties like the others.
Boswell, a one-term Republican from Dare County, says she's been talking to Constitution Party members about running again in November.
Boswell said she is a loyal Republican and has mixed feelings about running as a Constitution Party member.
"What I've heard so far — I'm open to options," she said.
Republicans worry she would split the Republican vote with GOP primary winner Bobby Hanig, she said. That would help the Democratic candidate.