State Politics

Former Obama staffer to run for NC Senate – but he isn’t sure which seat

Wiley Nickel
Wiley Nickel

Cary attorney Wiley Nickel, a former staffer in President Barack Obama’s administration, is launching a campaign for the state Senate.

Nickel filed campaign finance paperwork this month and is starting to raise money for an effort to flip a Republican-held Senate seat. But with a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision on legislative districts, he’s waiting to decide which district he’ll run in.

A lawsuit challenging the current legislative maps as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders is on the Supreme Court calendar later this week, and the court’s ruling Monday against the state’s congressional districts is giving Democrats hope that the legislative maps will need to be redrawn – either for 2018 or for a special election this year.

“Once that happens, then we’ll make a decision” on where to run, Nickel said. “The Republican legislature has gotten out of hand, and it’s about time that we get a change in Raleigh.”

Nickel says he wants to help Gov. Roy Cooper break the legislature’s GOP supermajorities so the governor will be able to successfully veto legislation.

Before opening his law practice in Cary, Nickel worked on Obama’s advance team from 2008 to 2011 – the staff that made preparations for the president’s public appearances. He held a similar role for Al Gore when he was vice president.

Nickel’s Senate campaign has help from Scott Falmlen of Nexus Strategies, a firm that also includes Cooper’s campaign strategist, Morgan Jackson.