Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

Watt Confirmation Kicks Off North Carolina Special Election

Several Democrats are seeking Watt's House seat. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After more than seven months of delays, a special election for North Carolina’s 12th District will begin in earnest now that the Senate confirmed Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Tuesday.

Watt was ultimately confirmed to head the FHFA, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac overseer, 57-41, after Senate Republicans previously rejected a bid to cut off debate on the nomination. That was back before Democrats set a new Senate precedent using the “nuclear option,” a move that made Watt’s confirmation inevitable.

Watt’s departure from the district will kick off a frenzy among Tar Heel State Democrats looking to succeed him in the safe Democratic seat he has held for two decades.

The special election will probably take place on previously scheduled election dates, according to a source familiar with North Carolina election law. That would mean a primary in February, with a runoff on May 6 — the same day as the previously scheduled midterm election primaries in North Carolina. The special election could then be held July 15 — the same day as the regularly scheduled runoff date for 2014 elections.

So far, at least seven Democrats filed federal paperwork to run for the safe Democratic seat:

  • State Rep. Alma Adams, who also served as a member of the Greensboro City Council. Adams is poised to receive the support of EMILY’s List, who placed her “On the List”  of candidates who may receive their endorsement.
  • State Sen. Malcolm Graham, who served on the Charlotte City Council.
  • Former Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board Chairman George Battle III, the son of a well-known bishop in North Carolina.
  • State Rep. Beverly Earle who hails from Charlotte, the most populous part of the district.
  • State Rep. Marcus Brandon, a former staffer on Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s 2008 presidential campaign.
  • State Rep. Rodney Moore from Charlotte.
  • Personal injury attorney Curtis Osborne, also from Charlotte.

An eighth Democrat, former Charlotte City Council member and failed Charlotte mayoral candidate James “Smuggie” Mitchell, also announced a bid, according to the Charlotte Observer.

President Barack Obama carried the district with 79 percent in 2012.

North Carolina’s 12th District is rated a Safe Democrat contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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