State Politics

Wake County’s last Republican legislator is retiring

N.C. Sen. John Alexander flashes the Wolfpack sign at Roy Williams on May 3, 2017, during a joint session of the N.C. House and Senate that honored the Tar Heels and their 2017 NCAA national basketball championship.
N.C. Sen. John Alexander flashes the Wolfpack sign at Roy Williams on May 3, 2017, during a joint session of the N.C. House and Senate that honored the Tar Heels and their 2017 NCAA national basketball championship. cliddy@newsobserver.com

As senators work to redraw Wake County’s Senate districts, three-term Republican Sen. John Alexander says he won’t seek re-election next year.

Alexander, who owns Cardinal International Trucks in Raleigh, told the NC Insider on Thursday that “it’s time” to end his tenure in the legislature. He said he hopes to spend more time with his grandchildren and teach them how to fish.

Alexander’s announcement came as Wake County senators worked on new district maps as part of a court-ordered redistricting process.

The latest proposal for Wake Senate districts would put Alexander in the same district as Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Raleigh Democrat. Senate District 18, which Alexander represents, would be redrawn to include Franklin County and northeastern Wake, including the towns of Wake Forest, Rolesville, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon. That would be an open seat with no incumbent under the proposed map.

Alexander had previously worked on map changes that could have kept his inside-the-Beltline home inside District 18, at one point Wednesday instructing a legislative staff member to keep Franklin County in his district if possible. But on Thursday, Alexander said he won’t ask for any changes to the maps to avoid double-bunking, and he’ll let Chaudhuri represent his section of Raleigh in the Senate.

Legislative redistricting committees were working Thursday to tweak maps to avoid putting more than one incumbent in each district — so they won’t have to run against each other.

As Wake County shifts more to the political left, fewer Republicans have been representing Wake in the General Assembly. Alexander was the only GOP lawmaker to win re-election in Wake County last year. In campaign ads, he positioned himself as a moderate, reminding voters that his wife is a Democrat. In 2016, he was the fifth Republican state legislator to call for the repeal of House Bill 2 (known as the “bathroom bill”), telling The News & Observer at the time that “most people don’t view HB2 as a solution to their bathroom privacy concerns.”

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