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There's at least one special election coming to North Carolina soon

Simone Pathe, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The death of North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. over the weekend opens up a safe Republican seat on the state's east coast.

The governor must call a special election to fill the 3rd District seat. But there is no statutory timeframe, so the timing will be up to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Further west, in the 9th District, voters are still waiting to hear whether there will be a special election in the open seat, where results of the 2018 election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready have not been certified. The North Carolina State Board of Elections is holding an evidentiary hearing on allegations of election fraud on Feb. 18.

North Carolina may have a new congressional map in place by the 2020 elections, but likely not before a special election in either district. A three-judge panel in August struck down the state's congressional map as a partisan gerrymander, but that decision has been appealed to the Supreme Court, which isn't likely to rule until June.

Jones ran uncontested in the 2018 3rd District race, when he'd already said that his 13th term would be his last. So there's little chance of Democrats making this seat -- which President Donald Trump carried by 24 points in 2016 -- competitive.

The real action will be in the primary.

Aside from one two-year term, a Jones has represented North Carolina in Congress since 1966, when Jones' father came to the House. The younger Jones tried to succeed him, but he fell short in the 1992 Democratic primary runoff. Jones switched to the Republican Party and won the seat in 1994.

Jones saw his fair share of contested primaries, especially given his predilections for bucking his party's establishment. The fact that there's no Jones on the ballot this time opens up the race to a crowded GOP field.

 

State Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown is a potential candidate to watch. An automobile dealer, he first ran for the state House unsuccessfully as a Democrat, then won a seat in 2004 after changing his party. He represents Jones and Oslow counties.

Another potential candidate who could raise competitive money is state Rep. Greg Murphy, a urologist who represents Pitt County, although he's also thought to be interested in a gubernatorial bid.

North Carolina won't be the only state with early special election action in 2019. Pennsylvania's 12th District will hold a special election on May 21 to fill the remainder of former Rep. Tom Marino's term. The Republican congressman left several weeks after the new session to take a job in the private sector.

(c)2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Visit CQ Roll Call at www.rollcall.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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