Candidate filing for the statewide May 8 primary officially opens at noon on Feb. 13, with several local, state and federal offices up for election this year.
On both the national and state levels, 2012 has long been expected to be quite a contentious year in politics.
With a presidential election nationally and the North Carolina governorâ€™s race already receiving plenty of media attention across the state following Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdueâ€™s decision not to run for re-election, campaigns are heating up on every front.
The Times-News has rounded up the list of offices up for contention during the primary election within, and impacting, Lincoln County.
Control of the Board of Commissioners will be up for grabs as three of the five seats are on the ballot. The election could give Democrats a chance to cut into Republican dominance or even take control with a clean sweep.
If recent trends prevail, the primary race may pit candidates from different sides of the county against one another with issues like economic development, county spending and taxation up for debate and a run-off primary the likely outcome.
The seats currently held by Chairman Alex Patton, Vice Chairman George Arena and Carrol Mitchem will be on ballot. Crystal Lovingood, assistant director of the countyâ€™s Board of Elections, said two potential candidates, Martin Oakes of Denver, and Cecelia Martin of Crouse, have both filed to raise campaign funds to run for a county commissioner seat.
Oakes and Martin were both among the top four finishers in the eight-way 2010 Republican primary for two seats, with Oakes deciding not to participate in a run-off in which fellow-Denver resident Jim Klein defeated Martin.
The North Carolina Senate seat for the 41st District, previously held by the late Sen. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, will be up for election. Chris Carney, a member of the Town of Mooresville Board of Commissioners, was chosen to fill the seat for the remainder of its term in November by Republican Party executive committee members from Lincoln, Gaston and Iredell counties after Forresterâ€™s death on Oct. 31.
Dr. David Curtis, vice chair of the Lincoln County Republican Party, is planning to challenge Carney for the seat. Curtis had the support of the Lincoln county delegation during party executive committee voting last year, but the larger delegation from Iredell was joined by the Gaston faction and outvoted the Lincoln members.
The 41st District is newly redrawn for this yearâ€™s election, giving Iredell even more clout. But the new district now includes areas of Iredell that may not be in lockstep with those on the southern end that handpicked former Carney for the seat.
How Carney will do in defending his seat against voters instead of party insiders may also be in doubt, due to his connection to a controversial venture into the cable TV business by the Mooresville commissioners that has saddled taxpayers with a tsunami of debt. The newly drawn district could also be more friendly to Democrats.
The North Carolina House of Representatives seat for the 97th District, previously held by Johnathan Rhyne and currently by N.C. Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, will also be up for election. Saine has been buying campaign ads and posting signs indicating his plans to seek election in his own right.
The Lincoln County Republican committee appointed Saine, its then-chairman, to finish Rhyneâ€™s term, after the former legislator resigned amid plans to move outside the district. Itâ€™s not known whether any Democrats or other Republican will challenge Saine.
U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, of North Carolinaâ€™s 10th District, will be challenged for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
One local outspoken critic and early opponent of McHenryâ€™s is Denver journalist Ken Fortenberry, who is now a registered Republican after one previous unsuccessful bid for office as a Democrat. He is expected to challenge McHenry in the primary.
While this district has been hostile territory for Democratic candidates in recent years, itâ€™s not known whether the new election map this year could change that.
The filing period for these offices will close on Feb. 29 at noon. Filing for the four Lincoln County Board of Education seats on this yearâ€™s ballot and the Lincoln County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors for the general election begins in June.
The voter-registration deadline for those Lincoln County residents planning to participate in Mayâ€™s primary is April 13.