Veteran Republican Sen. Fletcher Hartsell of Concord will not seek re-election to a 14th term, dropping out of the race after filing to run.
Hartsell was the subject of a lengthy investigation by the State Board of Elections over his campaign finance reports. In June, the board decided there was “reason to believe” that Hartsell improperly used campaign donations to pay personal expenses, for family dinners, haircuts, shoe repairs and the like. The board referred the case to prosecutors, but no charges have been filed.
Hartsell, 68, said in an interview it was time for him to “refocus.” Taking his 4-year-old grand-daughter to Disney On Ice last week had him thinking about spending more time with his grandchildren.
He talked about working on church projects, including a church mission to Guatemala.
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“I want to do some other things and it just sort of crystallized,” he said. “I feel good about it. I really do.”
He said the decision had nothing to do with the campaign finance investigation.
“I’ve been as transparent as I can and cooperated as much as I can. I really want to refocus on what I’m doing,” Hartsell said.
“I hope there will be a resolution in the near future. That’s all I can say. It’s been dragging on for three years now.”
Hartsell joins a string of veteran House members and senators who have decided not to run again. Republicans Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg, Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville and Stan Bingham of Denton have also announced they are serving their last terms in the Senate.
Hartsell was facing a primary challenger, Parish Moffitt of Concord.
Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said Hartsell tackled some of the toughest problems facing the state.
“Sen. Hartsell never focused or cared about partisanship in the legislature – he concentrated on finding creative and innovative ideas to improve state government and the lives of his constituents,” Berger said in a statement.
“The General Assembly and the state will truly miss Sen. Hartsell’s genius for solving tough public policy problems,” Berger said.