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Political shakeups continue as election filing approaches

·5 min read

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It’s been hard to tell in the past month but election season isn’t technically underway yet.

That happens on Monday.

Candidates looking to run in the 2022 election can make their aspirations official then by filing with the boards of elections.

But since North Carolina lawmakers released the newly redrawn district maps, there have many shake-ups in North Carolina politics.

Let’s unpack this, starting at the beginning.

The U.S. Senate race is already heated with former N.C. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and state Sen. Jeff Jackson running for the Democratic nomination.

On the Republican side, former Gov. Pat McCrory, Congressman Ted Budd and former Congressman Mark Walker want the Republican nomination. Former President Donald Trump shocked everyone this summer by announcing Budd had earned his endorsement at a GOP convention in Greenville. And when I say he shocked everyone, I mean it. Even Budd received only 15 minutes notice.

That helped Budd gain name recognition and support across the GOP and pushed him into a race against McCrory, but largely left Walker trailing far behind.

Now there are rumblings that Walker is considering running instead for the 7th Congressional District. The switch could have ripple effects with others eyeing that race, including N.C. Rep. Jon Hardister and Bo Hines, a former All-American football player and Yale graduate. Like Walker, Hines has been endorsed by Trump supporter and U.S. Congressman Madison Cawthorn.

Speaking of Cawthorn, he caused his own shakeup in the western part of the state after lawmakers diluted his district, now the new 14th Congressional District, of Republican voters.

They didn’t dilute it enough that a Republican would lose the race, but enough that his district is less appealing.

Cawthorn turned around and chose to hop over to the 13th Congressional District to run instead. That district has a higher number of constituents likely to vote Republican, but was also believed to have been hand-drawn by lawmakers for House Speaker Tim Moore’s attempt to reach higher office.

Once Cawthorn announced his decision, Moore said he was out and would seek re-election as speaker.

Many believe that District 11 (the new District 14) GOP chairwoman Michele Woodhouse has been handpicked by Cawthorn to serve the 14th Congressional District. This week, N.C. Sen. Chuck Edwards announced he will try to get the Republican nomination there.

More shakeups

Across the state, in the new 2nd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield announced that he did not like how lawmakers drew the district, saying it was both politically and racially gerrymandered. With that, he took himself out of the race for his re-election.

That led to several big name Democrats entering the race, causing yet another shakeup. Former state Sen. Erica Smith ended her campaign for U.S. Senate and decided to run for Congress. After leaving the race, Smith threw her support behind Beasley for Senate.

Smith was followed by N.C. Sen. Don Davis who also hopes to succeed Butterfield. Then came N.C. Rep. James Gailliard who also filed.

Smith and Davis have been very clear that they supported Butterfield’s work in the House and want to build on that to help Eastern North Carolina. They’ll battle against Henderson Councilman Jason Spriggs, who has said that Butterfield has largely ignored Eastern North Carolina and could have done more to help the community and fight the poverty there.

Meanwhile, the 4th Congressional District, which includes Johnston County, has pulled in people like N.C. Sen. Ben Clark, former N.C. Rep. Charles Graham, both looking for Democratic nominations; and N.C. Rep. John Szoka and Kelly Daughtry, the daughter of former N.C. Rep. Leo Daughtry, seeking the Republican nomination.

But all of this could become a moot point today as the maps are brought before the court to challenge the constitutionality.

And more surprises could be expected over the weekend as candidates gear up to make their campaigns official.

Happy Friday!


  • The woman who could bring down Roe v. Wade, from The Lily

  • Former U.S. Rep. and Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows walks back allegations in his new book that the president tested positive for COVID-19 before his debate with Biden, but went anyways, from The Washington Post.

  • For more on Meadows, CNN reports the lengths he went to push federal agencies to pursue dubious election claims.


  • The face of North Carolina’s COVID-19 response, state health department secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, will step down from her role at the end of this year. In her place, Gov. Roy Cooper will name Kody Kinsley, who currently serves as chief deputy secretary, Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan and Lucille Sherman report.

  • North Carolina’s Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson “berated” a Democrat Monday night, the lawmaker said, because the lawmaker called attention to Robinson’s anti-LGBTQ comments, Lucille Sherman reports.

  • UNC Board of Governors members didn’t know that the UNC System Office will be moved from Chapel Hill to Raleigh until after the measure was signed into law. Some members didn’t find out until they read about it in the newspaper, Kate Murphy and Lucille Sherman report.

  • Cooper vetoed an election bill Thursday that would require election officials to only count absentee ballots that arrive before polls close, Will Doran reports.

  • A judge ruled Tuesday against a group that wants to delay the primary election so lawmakers could redraw political maps, Will Doran reports. Two more lawsuits challenging the newly drawn maps that will last for the next decade are still looming, however.

  • Vice President Kamala Harris visited Charlotte, Will Wright reports.

  • What does a Trump endorsement mean in 2022? North Carolina’s Senate campaign may shed light on that, by Francesca Chambers and Danielle Battaglia.

One more thing: We’re phasing out our weekly “closer look” episodes on our podcast, Under the Dome. You can still count on the podcast to give you a weekly primer about what’s coming up in North Carolina politics, though. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts. (Pandora, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Megaphone.)

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

— Danielle Battaglia, Washington congressional correspondent, and Lucille Sherman, state government reporter for The News & Observer. Email us at and

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