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2024 election: North Carolina candidate filing ends with some last-minute surprises

During candidate filing at the State Fairgrounds, former Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan, left, a Democrat running for governor, greeted House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican running for Congress.
Rusty Jacobs
During candidate filing at the State Fairgrounds, former Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan, left, a Democrat running for governor, greeted House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican running for Congress.

Candidate filing for next year's elections in North Carolina ended at noon Friday.

Many of the candidates for Congress, statewide offices and the legislature have been running for months. But others waited until the 11th hour to launch their campaigns or announce they won't be running at all.

State Sen. Jim Perry, R-Lenoir — and the Senate majority whip — had previously announced plans to seek another term but said Friday that he won't run next year.

In a news release, Perry said he "finally reached the conclusion that I would not be able to make the time commitment necessary to be an effective senator. ... I am entering a season of life where I will need more time to support those closest to me."

New Bern attorney Bob Brinson and former Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, filed for the Republican primary for Perry's seat. Perry hasn't endorsed one of them but says he might do so at a later date.

Former state Sen. Andy Wells, R-Catawba, had been running for governor but didn't file before the deadline. Neither he nor his campaign manager, Carter Wrenn, could be reached Friday. His departure leaves three Republicans in the race: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, State Treasurer Dale Folwell and Salisbury attorney Bill Graham. Attorney General Josh Stein will face four opponents in the Democratic primary.

State Sen. Mary Wills Bode, D-Granville, announced Friday morning that she won't seek a second term. Another Democrat, Rep. Terence Everitt, will run for her seat. He'd previously announced he was taking a break from politics to spend more time with his kids, but he told WRAL that Gov. Roy Cooper asked him to jump into the Senate race, where he'll face Republican Ashlee Bryan Adams of Wake Forest.

Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill entered the primary for lieutenant governor, joining 11 other Republicans in one of the state's most crowded primaries. He'd previously run for attorney general. Perennial candidate Ernest Reeves also joined the long list of candidates on Friday. 

A Democrat named Mark Robinson — no relation to the current lieutenant governor — filed Friday for that job as well. Robinson joins state Sen. Rachel Hunt and former Sen. Ben Clark in the Democratic primary.

A total of 14 Republicans are running in the 13th Congressional District. Johnston County attorney Kelly Daughtry was one of the latest entries to the race, along with Steve Von Loor of Raleigh. Only one Democrat — Frank Pierce of Raleigh — filed for the district, which is currently represented by Democratic Congressman Wiley Nickel but has been redrawn to lean Republican.

The primary for the 8th Congressional District, which runs from the Charlotte suburbs to Lumberton, also drew a total of six Republicans with the departure of Congressman Dan Bishop, who is running for attorney general.

In other news from the final hours of candidate filing:

  • Democrats managed to field a candidate in nearly every state House and Senate race. That was a goal for new N.C. Democratic Party Chairwoman Anderson Clayton; party leaders were heavily criticized last year for leaving a large number of Republicans running unopposed. Democrats aren't, however, fielding candidates in two of the state's 14 congressional districts.
  • A handful of legislators — mostly Democrats in left-leaning districts — are running unopposed: Reps. Renee Price (Orange), Terry Brown (Mecklenburg), Carolyn Logan (Mecklenburg), Brian Turner (Buncombe), Deb Butler (New Hanover), Vernetta Alston (Durham), Marcia Morey (Durham), Zack Hawkins (Durham), James Roberson (Wake), Frances Jackson (Cumberland), Cynthia Ball (Wake), Amos Quick (Guilford), Kanika Brown (Forsyth) and Mary Belk (Mecklenburg), and Sens. Gale Adcock (Wake), Gladys Robinson (Guilford), DeAndrea Salvador (Mecklenburg) and Joyce Waddell (Mecklenburg). Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, appears to be the only Republican without an opponent.
  • Despite speculation he could face opposition for his support of proposed casinos, Senate leader Phil Berger didn't get a Republican primary challenger. His only opponent will be Democrat Steve Luking of Reidsville.
  • The state's best-known Libertarian candidate, Durham pizza delivery driver Sean Haugh, is running for agriculture commissioner. He'd previously run several times for U.S. Senate. He said his goal is to "bring back petting zoos and pig racing to the N.C. State Fair."
Colin Campbell covers politics for WUNC as the station's capitol bureau chief.
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