Rep. Ken Waddell, a moderate Democrat from Columbus County, announced Monday that he won’t run for reelection next year.
Waddell’s departure gives Republicans a better chance to pick up a House seat next year. Brenden Jones – a Tabor City auto body shop owner who got 47 percent of the vote against Waddell last year – says he’ll run again in 2016.
Echoing a concern voiced by other incumbents who are stepping down from the legislature, Waddell said he needs to spend more time on his day job.
“The extraordinary requirements of time, money and commitment to service will not allow me to spend the necessary time required to do the job at a level I consider a personal requirement and further my farming interests while continuing to support my family,” Waddell said in a Facebook post.
“It is my hope and prayer that the people elect a person who will put the interests of the ordinary citizens ahead of personal gain as they seek to be of service to the district.”
Waddell is a member of the N.C. Main Street Democrats, a group of moderate, business-oriented Democrats that formed this year. He’s one of a dwindling number of Democrats from rural districts, and he sometimes broke with his party this session to vote with the Republican majority.
Jones, who launched his 2016 Republican campaign for the seat months ago, praised Waddell in a Facebook post Monday.
“While we may have had policy disagreements, Rep. Waddell's love for Columbus County is obvious,” he wrote.