02/09/10 — Hopefuls sign up for spots on ballot

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Hopefuls sign up for spots on ballot

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 9, 2010 1:46 PM

The first day of the political filing period in Wayne County saw three incumbents and one challenger file for the May 4 primary.

Sheriff Carey Winders, Clerk of Courts Pam Minshew and state Rep. Efton Sager all filed for re-election Monday. Former state Rep. Louis Pate filed for the state Senate seat now held by Don Davis of Greene County.

Winders, Sager and Pate are Republicans. Mrs. Minshew is a Democrat, as is Davis.

The filing period for partisan races ends Friday, Feb. 26, at noon.

The primary will be held May 4 and a second primary, if needed, will be June 22.

Other seats up for election this year include those held by District Attorney Branny Vickory, District Court Judge Elizabeth Heath, state Sen. David Rouzer (District 12), state Rep. Van Braxton (District 10) and state Rep. Larry Bell (District 21.)

Davis represents state Senate District 5.

Other elections will involve seats held by 3rd District Congressman Walter Jones, 1st District Congressman G.K. Butterfield and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr.

Filing for local nonpartisan offices on the Nov. 2 general election ballot starts at noon on June 14 and lasts until noon July 2. The general election is Nov. 2.

Incumbents who are up for re-election in the nonpartisan Board of Education race are Dave Thomas (District 1), who has announced that he does not plan to seek another term; John Grantham (District 4); George Moye (District 5); and Rick Pridgen (District 6.)

Wayne County Soil and Water Board members Ronald Parks and Bryant Worley also face re-election.

All local candidates will file at the Wayne County Board of Elections office, 209 S. William St. Candidates for judicial seats must file at the State Board of Elections office in Raleigh.

April 9 is the final day that Wayne residents can register to vote or make changes to their registration.

Absentee voting by mail begins on March 15 and the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is April 27. May 3 at 5 p.m. is the last day to return absentee ballots by mail.

One-stop absentee voting begins April 15 and continues through May 1. One-stop voting will be held at the Board of Elections office on William Street.

The Wayne County Board of Elections Web site has a detailed voter registration search engine where voters may obtain all of their registration information, including maps to their polling site. In addition, sample ballots and candidate information will be posted as soon as it is made available for download.

A list of offices up for re-election can be found on the Wayne County Web site at www.waynegov.com/boe.

Across North Carolina, candidates began signing up for seats ranging from local boards to Congress.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Larry Kissell and Bob Etheridge and Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate Mike Beitler were among the first at the State Board of Elections in Raleigh to sign their paperwork within an hour of the noon opening of the candidate filing period. Several judicial candidates and district attorney hopefuls also arrived.

Candidates for the 170 seats in the General Assembly and local races filed in their home counties.

Election cycles of 2006 and 2008 were good for Democrats, who used their fundraising advantage and voter unhappiness with President Bush and the economy to knock off three GOP incumbents in federal races, including Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Democrats also retained the governorship and expanded their advantage in the Legislature.

But recent GOP victories in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey, along with voter worries about the sour economy and health care legislation pushed by President Barack Obama, have led some state Republicans to believe 2010 will be better.

"I certainly am optimistic about the change in the general political environment and the quality of candidates that we have," said state Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, who planned to file for re-election at the county elections board Monday afternoon. But with nine months to go before the general election, Berger added, "the world is going to turn over a lot between now and then."

The federal race with the greatest chance to be competitive appears to be in the 8th District seat held by Kissell, who defeated GOP Rep. Robin Hayes in 2008.

Kissell, a Montgomery County schoolteacher, has faced criticism within his own party for voting against the House health care bill -- he said it would break his campaign promise not to cut Medicare benefits -- and was already considered an early GOP target.

"We are about doing the people's business and working hard, keeping our promises," Kissell said as he filed for re-election in Raleigh. "They judge you for what you do."

Etheridge, who is seeking his eighth term in the 2nd District, said the fortunes of both major political parties could improve if the economy improves and double-digit unemployment rates fall. He said lawmakers can pass legislation to help encourage job growth. He filed a bill to give tax credits to businesses that expand their payrolls through 2011.

"This is a tough year for everybody," he said. "There's a lot of work we have yet to do this year before we can get to a campaign season."

Beitler, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro who wants to unseat U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., is banking on voters to be displeased with both Democrats and Republicans. At least three Democrats and one Republican in addition to Burr are expected to enter the race.

"I think it's time for another alternative because we have big spending from both parties," Beitler said.

Other candidates who filed Monday include Court of Appeals Judge Bob Hunter of Marion, who is seeking a Supreme Court seat; Republican Jake Howard of Franklin, who wants to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler in the 11th District; and Republican Frank Roche, who wants to challenge 4th District Rep. David Price, another Democrat.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.