Under the Dome

Longtime Smithfield Rep. Leo Daughtry won’t run again

Rep. Leo Daughtry
Rep. Leo Daughtry

State Rep. Leo Daughtry, a Smithfield Republican, announced Tuesday that he won’t seek another term after more than 20 years in the House.

Before he was elected to the House in 1995, Daughtry served in the state Senate starting in 1989. He’s one of the legislature’s most senior members and has served as the House majority leader and minority leader.

He currently chairs the House Judiciary I committee and is a lead budget writer for justice and public safety.

“I’ve got to quit sometime, and I’ll be 75 years old in a couple of months,” Daughtry said. “It’s probably time to step down at this point and perhaps let someone else fill the role I’ve filled for so many years.”

Daughtry’s announcement comes after another longtime Republican House leader, Rep. Paul Stam of Apex, said he won’t run in 2016. Both plan to finish their current terms, which run through next year’s short session.

With next year’s primaries moved from May to March, incumbents face extra pressure to decide on their plans for the 2016 election – leading to a flurry of announcements this month.

Daughtry, an attorney, cited his work on judicial and public safety issues as a major accomplishment of his tenure.

“I’ve tried to be the gatekeeper for the courts and the judicial branch, and I’m proud of the fact that we have our court system in pretty good shape,” he said.

Daughtry unsucessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2000, falling short to Richard Vinroot. He twice ran unsuccessfully for House speaker –in 2003 when the two parties ended up sharing power – as well as last year when Tim Moore of Kings Mountain was elected.

Daughtry said he doesn’t know who might run to replace him in the district that includes Smithfield, Clayton and northern Johnston County. He said he won’t endorse anyone until a Republican nominee emerges from any primary contest.

“There’s a lot of great people here in the county,” he said.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter