04/29/04 — Democrats file to challenge Ballance

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Democrats file to challenge Ballance

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on April 29, 2004 2:05 PM

An embattled congressman has picked up more opposition, this time from his own party.

On Wednesday, two Democrats filed challenges to U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance in the 1st District, which includes Wayne County.

The candidates are Sam Davis of Elizabeth City and Christine Fitch of Wilson, both of whom also ran in the 2002 Democratic primary.

Both cited discontent with Ballance, a former state senator who has been in the center of a controversy over his John A. Hyman Memorial Youth Foundation. The program has been under federal investigation for the misuse of state funds.

Davis, who has served as a Pasquotank County commissioner, said Wednesday, "I'll be the first to admit that I am not perfect, but I can confidently say that none of my personal mistakes have ever cost the taxpayers a dime."

He added, "It stands to reason that Frank Ballance can't fight for eastern North Carolina in Washington, D.C., if he's busy fighting indictments in front of a grand jury. That's my opponent's record and we need to replace him with someone who can be a full-time fighter for our issues in Congress."

Davis finished second in the 2002 primary. Ms. Fitch, an East Carolina University professor and Wilson County school board member, finished fourth.

Ballance has not yet filed for re-election but has said that he will.

At least two Republicans intend to run, and one has filed. He is Jerry Williford, a registered nurse from Oxford who recently campaigned in Wayne County.

Greg Dority, a security specialist from Washington, N.C., has not yet filed, according to the State Board of Elections.

The 1st District includes about half of Wayne County, including most of Goldsboro.

The rest of Wayne is in the 3rd District, where the only candidate so far is the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones of Farmville. Jones has been the district's representative since 1994.

In the U.S. Senate race, the only Democrat to file has been Erskine Bowles, the former White House chief of staff and 2002 Senate candidate.

The only Republican has been John Hendrix of Cary, but U.S. Rep. Richard Burr has been actively campaigning for the position for several months and says he will file by next week.

No one filed Wednesday at the Wayne County Board of Elections. The filing period closes at noon Friday, May 7.

For more information on filing or voting, call the Board of Elections at 731-1411 or go to its Web site, www.waynegov.com/boe.