Politics

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.

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.