Who’s in, who’s out? Lawmakers make changes as candidate filing period opens

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
The NC Legislative Building on Monday

RALEIGH — As the N.C. General Assembly looks toward the short session in May after adjourning on Tuesday, several lawmakers have announced they will not be running again.

Reps. Larry Bell (D-Duplin), Bert Jones (R-Caswell), Susan Martin (R-Pitt) and Mickey Michaux (D-Durham) are all House members who say they are not going to seek another term. Michaux is the longest serving House member ever, having been in office for 40 years and 20 elections. Michaux played a historic role in the state legislature during the civil rights movement and was a personal friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Bell has served in the legislature since 2001 and announced his retirement in the spring. He is reportedly writing his autobiography.

Jones, a Republican and a dentist, announced his retirement in December saying he did not intend to make politics a career. Martin announced her decision late last year. Martin would have faced long-time incumbent Democrat Jean Farmer-Butterfield, but said she was proud of her accomplishments and that she brought a fresh perspective to the body. She said it was time for more new voices.  Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford) and Rep. Jeff Collins (R-Franklin) also will not seek re-election.

Rep. Carl Ford (R-Cabarrus) also said he would not seek re-election to his seat representing House District 76 but will run for the redrawn District 33 Senate seat, representing Rowan and Stanly counties.

Rep. Bob Steinberg, a Republican currently representing House District 1 in the eastern part of the state, said he will not seek re-election, but said he plans to run for the redrawn District 1 Senate seat. Sen. Bill Cook, who represented the old District 1 area, had already announced that he will not run again.

Rep. Sam Watford (R-Davidson) who serves in the House representing the 80th District, announced in November that he will instead run for the N.C. Senate’s 33rd District, which covers Davidson and Montgomery counties.

That seat is held by Republican Sen. Cathy Dunn, who announced her retirement last year, citing health reasons. In the state Senate, Senators Ron Rabin (R-Harnett) and Angela Bryant (D-Halifax) announced that they will not seek another term. Also, Tommy Tucker (R-Union) won’t seek re-election next year after playing a key role in re-writing the state’s tax policy since 2011.