Double bunks and call ups lead NC Senate candidate filing

State senators Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) and Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) are featured in this combination photo. Photos courtesy of the N.C. General Assembly

RALEIGH — The N.C. Senate will say goodbye to some current members who are running against one another and welcome a freshman class of several N.C. House lawmakers after the 2022 elections. 

Following the end of candidate filing on Friday, March 4, the fields are set for the May 17 primary and Nov. 8 general election. 

The General Assembly’s upper chamber consists of 50 seats across the state. Following the drawing of remedial maps, candidates had just under two weeks to file if they hadn’t already. 

The most-watched primary in the NC Senate is likely to be a contest between two senators in the western part of the state double-bunked by the maps: Deanna Ballard and Ralph Hise. 

Both have held leadership roles within the Senate. 

In her third elected term, Ballard chairs the Senate Education Committee and has been the lead sponsor of many education-related reform bills in her tenure. 

Hise, in his sixth term, is one of three Senate Appropriations Chairs and also chaired the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee. 

The new 47th District contains counties they have both represented over the last several years. Ballard represents nearly 44% of the current county makeup with Alleghany, Ashe, and the district’s largest county, her home of Watauga. 

Hise currently represents a six-county region, three of which are located in the new district: Madison, his home of Mitchell, and Yancey. Those three counties account for 26% of the new district. In addition, three counties neither currently represent are also in the new district. Those are Avery, most of Caldwell, and part of Haywood. The three new counties make up 30% of the new district. 

Another district on the other side of the state will see two incumbents taking on one another, with senators Norm Sanderson and Bob Steinburg competing in the 1st district. The new district splits approximately 60% to 40% in favor of Steinburg among the counties they both represent, although the district’s largest county, Carteret, is represented by Sanderson. 

The redrawn 4th District race features three current or former elected officials. On the Democratic side, incumbent state Sen. Toby Fitch will face current state Rep. Raymond Smith, who chose to run for the Senate instead of challenging House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) in his native Wayne County. On the Republican side, former state Sen. and 2016 Republican Attorney General nominee Buck Newton is seeking a return to Raleigh. He faces former Wayne County Board of Education member Joe Democko in the Republican primary. 

Newton is one of four former Republican state senators running in 2022. 

In Cumberland County, Wesley Meredith is running again against state Sen. Kirk deViere, who defeated Meredith in 2018 and 2020. DeViere also faces a formidable primary challenge from former Fayetteville city council member Val Applewhite. 

Two Piedmont seats also see former senators running. Eddie Gallimore is in a rematch with current state Sen. Steve Jarvis in District 30, which now includes all of Davidson and Davie counties. In District 36, which is now a four-county district consisting of Alexander, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties, former state Sen. Shirley Randleman is one of four candidates running along with Eddie Settle of Wilkes County, Vann Tate of Surry County, and state Rep. Lee Zachary of Yadkin County, who opted to run for the new seat instead of competing against longtime state Rep. Julia Howard in a primary for the N.C. House. 

Zachary is one of seven current members of the N.C. House looking to join the upper chamber. 

Four Democrats are running for the N.C. Senate following redistricting. They are Kandie Smith of Pitt County, Gale Adcock of Wake County, Graig Meyer of Orange County, and Rachel Hunt of Mecklenburg County. 

Smith, Meyer, and Hunt opted to make runs for the Senate after the current holders of their seats decided to run for higher office. 

On the Republican side, Bobby Hanig of Currituck County and Tim Moffitt of Henderson County are running for seats in the Senate. Hanig will take on incumbent Democratic state Sen. Ernestine Bazemore in the reconfigured northeastern NC district and Moffitt, who held state House seats first in Buncombe and currently in Henderson County, looks to succeed Chuck Edwards, who is running for Congress. 

Eight current senators will not return when the new session begins in 2023. They include six Democrats and two Republicans. The Democrats are Ben Clark, Sarah Crawford, Don Davis, Valerie Foushee, Jeff Jackson, and Wiley Nickel. 

The two Republicans are Edwards and Majority Leader Kathy Harrington.  

Harrington is the only one of the eight who isn’t seeking another office. 

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Matt Mercer is the editor in chief of North State Journal and can be reached at [email protected].