N.C. Sen. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, passed away Monday at the age of 74 after being admitted to the hospital over the weekend for tests.
Once at Gaston Memorial Hospital in Gastonia, his condition quickly deteriorated, and he was placed on life support following some cranial bleeding, according to correspondence between area Republican leaders. The senator had been in poor health for some time.
In a statement released by the North Carolina Republican Party on Monday, Chairman Robin Hayes said, â€œJim was a dear friend whom I respected and admired. He had a long and distinguished career serving the people of North Carolina. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the North Carolina Republican Party are with Mary Frances and the Forrester family tonight.â€
Forrester, who represented Lincoln County and portions of Gaston and Iredell counties, was in his 11th term as a senator in the North Carolina General Assembly.
He had also been a practicing family physician in Stanley.
Following the passing of Forrester on Monday, the question remains as to who will fill his seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.
N.C. Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, told the Times-News on Tuesday that no one wants to act too quickly regarding the matter.
â€œItâ€™s a real void that he leaves (behind),â€ he said.
The three Republican Party chairs from Lincoln, Gaston and Iredell counties are discussing potential
nominees, said Saine, but they also want to honor his memory. Forrester represented Lincoln County and portions of Gaston and Iredell counties.
Saine noted that Forresterâ€™s widow, Mary Frances, has been involved with party politics over the years at her husbandâ€™s side, but he doesnâ€™t know whether she would want to continue in his footsteps.
While he said there is no official timetable for selecting a new senator to replace Forrester, when the time comes, he assumes the vote by Republican Party executive board members from each county will be weighted by population, adding that his are â€œtremendous shoes to fill.â€ In addition, Saine said only those members living within Forresterâ€™s district could place a vote.
Saine described Forrester as both â€œwell-respectedâ€ and an â€œadvocate for conservative valuesâ€ who he said, in sponsoring the Defense of Marriage Act, â€œdefended traditional families.â€
Overall, Saine said it was a â€œsad dayâ€ for Conservatives across the state, but he believes the party chairs will â€œcome to a good decisionâ€ in filling the seat left vacant by the late senator.