RALEIGH — The combination of retirements and the new court-drawn interim congressional map could send as many as four new Democrats from North Carolina to Congress.
The announced retirements of U.S. Reps. G.K. Butterfield and David Price had already opened two seats held for decades by the two Democrats. The area containing Butterfield’s district, centered in many of the state’s northeastern counties, favors electing a Democrat. Former state Sen. Erica Smith, who opted to run for the seat instead of making a second U.S. Senate run, entered the race following Butterfield’s retirement announcement. Also in the race is state Sen. Don Davis.
Price’s district, which includes strongly Democratic Durham and Orange counties, has three high-profile Democratic candidates. Singer Clay Aiken previously announced he would run for the seat in his bid to become the first openly gay member of Congress from North Carolina. Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam is also running. She would be the first Muslim member of Congress elected from the state. Orange County state Sen. Valerie Foushee entered the race as well and is seen by many political observers as the favorite in the race.
The court-drawn map also creates a new Democratic district in eastern Mecklenburg County and a tossup district containing the fast-growing areas of southern Wake County and all of Johnston County.
The new 13th Congressional district, centered in southern Wake and Johnston, will see a rush of candidates on both sides. Already, Democratic Wake County state Sen. Wiley Nickel announced he would run for that seat, abandoning the safe district Price is retiring. Republicans running in that district include many who had already announced their intention to run, including Johnston County businessman DeVan Barbour, Johnston County attorney Kelly Daughtry, Wake County resident Chad Slotta, and Bo Hines.
In the new 14th Congressional District, the court-drawn map bisects Mecklenburg County diagonally from the northwest to the southeast, taking in much of western Gaston County.
Former U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Jackson announced he was running for the seat in a statement on Friday. Jackson, who said he was looking to spend more time with his family when he left the U.S. Senate campaign, said he decided to run after many parts of his former state Senate district were included.
Jackson may not be the only Democrat in the race, though. Several Mecklenburg County Democrats have been rumored to run for the seat, including state Rep. Brandon Lofton, former state Rep. Chaz Beasley, and Charlotte City Council member Julie Eiselt.