Former state budget director launches bid for NC Court of Appeals

McCrory appointed Heath to Superior Court seat after election

Christine T. Nguyen—North State Journal
North Carolina budget director Andrew Heath on Wednesday

RALEIGH — Judge Andrew Heath, a former state budget director, announced Monday he is running for a seat on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Heath, who was appointed to the Superior Court by outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory in December, will seek the seat formerly held by Judge Doug McCullough.”2018 will be an important election year for the direction of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and I have been encouraged by supporters in every region of the state to run,” Heath said in a press release sent late Monday.McCullough, a Republican, announced in April that he would retire early in order to give Gov. Roy Cooper the power to appoint his replacement, in protest of a bill that would reduce the number of Appeals Court judges from 15 to 12 members. Cooper quickly appointed Charlotte Democrat John Arrowood to the seat.”It’s a shifting landscape,” said Heath in a phone call with the North State Journal. “There could be less seats on the Court of Appeals, which makes each seat all the more important.”Prior to his appointment in late 2016 to the Superior Court bench, Heath served as state budget director, advising McCrory on a $500 billion economy and managing the state’s $22 billion budget. Heath had previously served as chairman of the Industrial Commission, a body that administers the state’s workers’ compensation laws. He received his law degree from Indiana University in 2006, and a bachelor’s degree from UNC Asheville in 2003.Heath said his background sets his candidacy apart.”You’re just not going to see that type of depth of experience from the other folks who are running for Court of Appeals,” he said.Monday’s campaign announcement marks Heath’s first attempt at elected office. Heath will run as a Republican, months after state lawmakers changed laws to require judicial candidates to identify their party affiliation.Arrowood is currently serving his second short-term appointment to the N.C. Court of Appeals, having also been appointed to the bench in 2007 by Gov. Mike Easley. He lost his bid for a seat on the court in 2014 to Judge John M. Tyson.Arrowood has not yet formally announced his intentions with respect to the 2018 race.Last week, appellate attorney and Campbell Law School professor Allegra Collins, a Democrat, announced she will run for the Appeals seat currently held by Judge Rick Elmore, who is not seeking re-election.