05/03/04 — Baddour will not run for House seat

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Baddour will not run for House seat

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on May 3, 2004 1:58 PM

Phil Baddour Jr. has decided against a run this year for the N.C. House of Representatives, saying the new district lines would make it extremely difficult for any Democrat to win.

Meanwhile, current legislators John Kerr and Larry Bell, both Democrats, have filed for re-election.

Sen. Kerr filed Friday in the 5th District (previously the 7th). The Goldsboro lawyer has served six terms in the Senate, following three terms in the N.C. House.

Rep. Bell filed last week in Sampson County. A retired educator and former county commissioner, he is seeking his third term representing the 21st District, which includes parts of Mount Olive and Goldsboro.

Baddour's announcement ends speculation of a fifth match against N.C. Rep. Louis Pate, a Republican. Pate narrowly defeated Baddour, one of the state's most powerful legislators, in 2002.

In an announcement this morning, Baddour said, "The eight years I spent in the North Carolina House serving the people of Wayne County were an absolutely wonderful and rewarding experience."

But new House districts approved last year changed the voter makeup of the 11th District, he added. "It would be extremely difficult for a Democratic candidate to win this district."

The 11th District is still entirely inside Wayne County, but it now includes all of northern and western parts of the county that have voted for Republicans for both the state Legislature and the county Board of Commissioners. Voter registration within the district is 49 percent Democrat, 38 percent Republican and 13 percent unaffiliated. It's 79 percent white.

Baddour added that the demands of his law practice have also contributed to his decision.

He will continue to serve as Gov. Mike Easley's appointee on the Clean Water Management Trust Fund Board, he said. "It has given me an opportunity to serve Wayne County and North Carolina by seeking and advancing projects that protect both our water resources and North Carolina's military bases from encroachment."

Baddour has spearheaded a proposal to buy and restore wetlands off the northern end of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's runway. The trust fund board will be discussing that project again this month.

Baddour was the House majority leader, a close aide of Gov. Mike Easley and ranked the fourth most influential House member in a 2002 survey of legislators.

But he lost the November 2002 election to then-Mount Olive mayor Louis Pate.

Baddour had seemed on Election Night to have won, but a malfunction in some voting tabulators caused some ballots not to be counted. A manual recount found Pate had edged out Baddour by 174 votes among 17,000 cast.

The 2002 campaign was the fourth match between the two men. Baddour was first elected to the House in 1992 but was defeated his first bid for re-election in 1994 by Pate. Pate served until 1996, when he was defeated by Baddour. Baddour won re-election in 1998 in the third match.