Candidate filing for 2012 local, state and federal political races in North Carolina got under way at noon Monday with several surprise challenges to sitting candidates, plus some familiar faces jumping into this yearâ€™s contests.
Due to a resignation and a death last year, Lincoln Countyâ€™s state representative and senator are both party appointees who havenâ€™t been elected in their own right. Challengers emerged this week to ensure that voters will have to approve any additional time in Raleigh for either.
State Rep. Jason Saine (R-Denver) has filed to defend his appointment to the North Carolina House, but County Commissioner Jim Klein (R-Denver) has also filed for the seat and the two will face off in the May 8 primary.
Klein, who has two years left in his county commission term, told the Times-News by e-mail on Tuesday that he will continue to serve as a commissioner during this yearâ€™s political cycle. Should voters decide to send him to Raleigh, the county Republican Party Executive Committee would pick a new commissioner.
State Sen. Christopher CarneyÂ (R-Mooresville), a Mooresville City Commissioner prior to his appointment last year has filed for North Carolina Senate District 44. Denver Democrat Ross Bulla, a former East Lincoln Rescue Chief and security firm owner, has also filed, setting up a potential showdown in November, although thereâ€™s plenty of time for other candidates of either party to enter.
Although Sen. Carney was appointed to complete the term of late Sen. Jim Forrester in District 41, reapportionment after the 2010 Census has resulted in a new District 44. The new district again includes all of Lincoln County, but now how somewhat less of Gaston County and much more of Iredell.
This change could be friendly to Carney with his South Iredell base, or it could benefit Bulla with more Democrats in the new district. However, other candidates have indicated they are likely to enter this race, so who will be on the ballot in November remains to be seen.
U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Cherryville), has filed to seek re-election to Congress and will face a primary challenge from journalist Ken Fortenberry (R-Denver).
A contested race for one of the three district judgeships on the ballot in Lincoln County this fall has also emerged.
Retired Assistant District Attorney Gwynn RadekerÂ (D-Shelby), who served as Lincoln Countyâ€™s chief prosecutor for several years, has filed to challenge Judge Meredith Shuford (D-Lincolnton). Although their voter registrations are a matter of public record, judicial races are theoretically nonpartisan in North Carolina.
District Judges Kelvin Dean Black (D-Denver)Â and Larry Wilson (Unaffiliated-Shelby) have also filed to defend their seats.
The makeup of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners could change dramatically this year, with three of the five seats on the ballot.
So far Commissioner Carrol Mitchem (R-Vale) has filed, as have Cecelia Martin (R-Crouse) and Martin Oakes (R-Denver), both of whom were among the top-vote-getters in an eight-way Republican primary for the two seats on the ballot in 2010. Both qualified to compete in a runoff election with Klein in June 2010, but Oakes decline to participate and Klein was rode unified support from the countyâ€™s vote-rich eastern fringe to victory.
In this yearâ€™s commissioner election, all filed candidates of a particular party will compete in a primary. Voters will pick their top three choices. A runoff election on June 26 would take place if three candidates arenâ€™t far enough ahead of the field to be declared the nominees.
More candidates are expected to file for all of these seats between now and noon on Feb. 29, when the filing window will close.
Nonpartisan local seats on the November ballot, including four Lincoln County Board of Education positions and the Soil and Water Board, will have filing periods in June and July.