Politics & Government

With newcomers sworn in, NC legislature now includes 44 women and 126 men

This year, 34 women will serve in the state House, and another 10 women in the state Senate — making the North Carolina General Assembly nearly 26 percent female, an increase from last year.

There are 26 African-American members in the House this year, and 10 in the Senate. One Native American is serving in the General Assembly, and two Indian-Americans are serving. Overall, this is an increase in diversity from the previous session, even though there are now fewer women in the Senate than there were in the 2017-18 session.

The makeup doesn’t mirror North Carolina as a whole, where 48.7 percent of residents are male and 63.6 percent are white and non-Hispanic, according to Census data.

Lawmakers convened Wednesday for their organizational session. According to numbers released by the Senate clerk’s office and and House clerk’s office, this year’s legislature includes eight senators and 24 House members who list military experience. In the Senate, 11 members are attorneys, keeping that as the most common profession in the chamber; other popular occupations include real estate (five senators) and insurance (three senators).

About a quarter of the 50-member Senate are newcomers, and roughly a fifth of the 120-member House will take their seats for the first time this year.

In the Senate, a total of seven new Democrats and six new Republicans are taking office, a big increase in fresh faces from 2017, when five new senators (all Republicans) joined the chamber.

The 2019 House freshman class includes 17 Democrats and nine Republicans, up from the 2017 freshman class that included seven Democrats and 12 Republicans.

Here’s who’s new:

Senate

  • Sen. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, is moving over from the House to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Bill Cook. He defeated Clark Twiddy — who had the backing of some Senate leaders — in the Republican primary last year.
  • Sen. Harper Peterson, D-New Hanover, is a former Wilmington mayor who narrowly ousted Republican Sen. Michael Lee. He’s been an active voice in the fight over GenX water contamination.
  • Sen. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, is the owner of C&D Insurance and a partner in a car dealership who previously served as chairman of the Harnett County Commissioners. He replaces Sen. Ronald Rabin, who retired.
  • Sen. Wiley Nickel, D-Wake, is a Cary criminal defense attorney who previously worked for President Barack Obama and Vice President Al Gore. He represents western Wake County in a redrawn district that had no incumbent.
  • Sen. Sam Searcy, D-Wake, is a vodka distillery owner who was briefly a candidate for Congress before switching races. He defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Tamara Barringer in one of the state’s most expensive races.
  • Sen. Kirk deViere, D-Cumberland, is a former Fayetteville city councilman who owns a marketing, public relations and advertising business. He defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Wesley Meredith.
  • Sen. Michael Garrett, D-Guilford, is a marketing firm owner who defeated Republican Sen. Trudy Wade in his second attempt to unseat the powerful incumbent.
  • Sen. Eddie Gallimore, R-Davidson, owns a real estate and construction business and previously served as vice chair of the Davidson County Republican Party. He’s run in primaries for the state Senate in three previous election cycles before defeating Rep. Sam Watford, R-Davidson, in last year’s primary.
  • Sen. Carl Ford, R-Rowan, is a former three-term House member who ran for Senate after new district maps had him double-bunked with Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus.
  • Sen. Todd Johnson, R-Union, is a former Union County commissioner who owns an insurance company. He’s replacing Sen. Tommy Tucker, who retired.
  • Sen. Ted Alexander, R-Cleveland, is a former mayor of Shelby and former chairman of the Cleveland County Republican Party. He’s a regional director for the nonprofit historic preservation group Preservation NC. He defeated Sen. David Curtis in last year’s GOP primary.
  • Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed, D-Mecklenburg, is an attorney who defeated Sen. Joel Ford in last year’s Democratic primary. He’s a former Mecklenburg County Democratic party chairman and a former candidate for Charlotte mayor, and at age 33 he’s the youngest member of the Senate.
  • Sen. Natasha Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, is the assistant director of development at the Ada Jenkins Center, a nonprofit that deals with poverty issues in northern Mecklenburg communities. She ran unsuccessfully for N.C. House in 2014. She ousted incumbent Republican Sen. Jeff Tarte.

House

  • Rep. Ray Russell, D-Watauga, is a computer science professor at Appalachian State University and runs the popular weather website raysweather.com. He defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Jonathan Jordan.
  • Rep. Kandie Smith, D-Pitt, is a former Greenville mayor and councilwoman who works as a trainer and facilitator. She challenged Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield, D-Wilson, in 2016 and ran last year in a newly drawn district with no incumbent.
  • Rep. Raymond Smith, D-Wayne, is a former Wayne County school board member and previously worked for the N.C. Department of Transportation and a local transit service. He replaces Rep. Larry Bell, D-Sampson, who retired.
  • Rep. Julie von Haefen, D-Wake, has been the president of the Wake County PTA Council, a Guardian ad Litem and a Meals on Wheels volunteer. She defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Nelson Dollar, the top House budget writer last year.
  • Rep. Lisa Stone Barnes, R-Nash, is a former Nash County commissioner who has worked as a real-estate paralegal. She defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Bobbie Richardson in a redrawn district that leaned more conservative than Richardson’s original district.
  • Rep. Jerry Carter, R-Rockingham, is the pastor of Reidsville Baptist Church. He replaces Republican Rep. Bert Jones, who did not seek another term.
  • Rep. Ed Goodwin, R-Chowan, is a former state ferry director and former Chowan County commissioner. He ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2012 and replaces Bob Steinburg, who has switched to the Senate.
  • Rep. Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck, is a former chair of the Currituck County commissioners and owns a property management business. He defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Beverly Boswell in last year’s primary.
  • Rep. Chris Humphrey, R-Lenoir, is a former Lenoir County commissioner who owns an insurance business. He defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. George Graham in a redrawn district that leans more conservative.
  • Rep. Steve Jarvis, R-Davidson, is a former Davidson County commissioner and the president of a construction company. He replaces Rep. Sam Watford, who gave up his House seat to run unsuccessfully for Senate.
  • Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, is a longtime Republican Party leader and accountant from Chocowinity. His redrawn district did not have an incumbent.
  • Rep. Wayne Sasser, R-Cabarrus, is a pharmacy owner who defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Justin Burr in last year’s primary.
  • Rep. Carson Smith, R-Pender, spent 16 years as sheriff of Pender County, including a stint as president of the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association. He replaces Republican Rep. Bob Muller, who did not seek re-election.
  • Rep. Sydney Batch, D-Wake, defeated Republican John Adcock, who was appointed to his seat after Republican Linda Hunt Williams resigned to move to Louisiana. Batch, an attorney, took a break from campaigning in August after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Rep. Christy Clark, D-Mecklenburg, defeated Republican incumbent John Ray Bradford in a Republican-leaning district that was unusually competitive this election cycle. Clark, a paralegal and former state director of Moms Demand Action, was an advocate for gun law changes on the campaign trail.
  • Rep. Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford, an education consultant and former assistant superintendent of Thomasville City Schools, will represent the newly-drawn House District 57, which didn’t have an incumbent in the 2018 election. Clemmons will serve as one of the House Democratic Caucus Freshman Leaders.
  • Rep. Allison Dahle, D-Wake, defeated incumbent Rep. Duane Hall during the primaries after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him. Dahle, a political newcomer, is a Raleigh native. She previously worked with ARC of NC, an organization supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Rep. Terence Everitt, D-Wake, an attorney, defeated Republican incumbent Chris Malone in November. Everitt had previously run against Malone in 2016, but lost.
  • Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash, a pastor at the Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount, won in the open House District 25 seat. The seat was open after former Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash, retired. Gailliard ran against Collins in 2016, but lost.
  • Rep. Wesley Harris, D-Mecklenburg, an economic consultant, defeated Republican incumbent Rep. Scott Stone in House District 105. Harris was a first-time candidate.
  • Rep. Zack Hawkins, D-Durham, replaces retiring Rep. Mickey Michaux, who was the longest serving member of the General Assembly. Hawkins, who was handpicked by Michaux to run in House District 31, had worked on campaigns for U.S. Rep. David Price and N.C. Rep. Larry Hall, and was the president of the Young Democrats of North Carolina.
  • Rep. Rachel Hunt, D-Mecklenburg, daughter of former Gov. James Hunt, defeated Republican incumbent Bill Brawley in one of the tightest races of the year. Their race was the most expensive race in the General Assembly this year, with Hunt raising $1.2 million.
  • Rep. Brandon Lofton, D-Mecklenburg, an attorney, defeated first-term Republican Rep. Andy Dulin. Lofton, a first-time candidate, was active in his community, including Charlotte’s Disparity Study Advisory Committee.
  • Rep. Carolyn Logan, D-Mecklenburg, a contractor with Atkins North America, won in the open House District 101 seat. The seat was open after longtime Rep. Beverly Earle announced her retirement.
  • Rep. Nasif Majeed, D-Mecklenburg, a Charlotte businessman, defeated incumbent Rep. Rodney Moore in the Democratic primary. Majeed served on the Charlotte City Council for eight years.
  • Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood, is a familiar face around the General Assembly, having previously served in the House and Senate. Queen, an architect, is known for being a dance caller.

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