Tuesday, July 26, 2016

#NCGA: Jeter resigns House seat...former opponent Davis seeks to be his replacement

In a surprising move, NC-92 Rep Charles Jeter announced his resignation from the General Assembly on Monday.

Citing the need to focus more on family, Jeter's sudden departure leaves Republicans without a candidate for the seat this November.  Republican party rules state that the county Executive Committee will pick Jeter's replacement.

Jeter's former 2-time primary opponent, Tom Davis, is wasting no time campaignign to fill out the remainder of Jeter's term and for the opportunity to run for the seat as the party's candidate this November.  To that end Davis appears to already have an impressive list of support - puting out this statement on Monday.

Technically, the local GOP big wigs could select anyone they want, but picking someone other than Davis would likely not be a path to success in November.

As aShortChronicle reported after the primary this spring, Davis actually won the precincts in the Republican heart of NC-92 here in North Mecklenburg.  Jeter squeaked out the victory by running up the margins in the southern, more Democratic, part of the district where there are fewer Republican voters but Davis was less well known.

However, the dynamic will be different in the general election this fall when Democrat Chaz Beasley is also on the ballot.

During the primary, Davis ran on an anti-toll platform that resonated with voters in North Mecklenburg - particularly those who saw Jeter's late conversion to the anti-toll effort as somewhat suspect.   Beasley is also running as an anti-toll candidate.

The overall November election will be driven by the Presidential race as much or more than anything, but a candidate in the NC-92 race that doesn't pull strong anti-toll support will be at a distinct disadvantage.

NC-92 is one of the few truly competitive districts in the whole state, so every vote truly does matter here.

What could prove interesting in picking Jeter's replacement is the makeup of the NCGOP members who may do the picking.  Throughout the anti toll fight, the NCGOP has run cover for pro-toll electeds.  The issue has divided Republican and consevative activists in North Mecklenburg in particular.

For replacing Jeter for the remainder of his current term, Ballotpedia.org outlines the NC procedure this way.

"If there is a vacancy in the North Carolina General Assembly, the governor is responsible for appointing a replacement.[62][63]
When making an appointment, the governor must make a decision from a list of recommended candidates submitted by the political party committee that last held the vacant seat.[64] The appointment must be made within seven days of receiving a list of recommended candidates.[63] The person selected to the seat serves for the remainder of the unfilled term.[63]"

What's the likelihood of McCrory pushing to get that list quickly?  What's the likelihood the NCGOP would put an anti-toll person on the list?

To replace Jeter on the ballot gets a bit more murky. 

G.S. 163-114 says the "County executive committee of political party in which vacancy occurs" - meaning the MeckGOP Exec Committee - is the body responsible for picking the replacement candidate.  In fact it is just the subset of this committee from NC92.

If this group were to pick a candidate it's unclear if Davis would get the nod.  There are a number of pro-tollers in the bunch who would likely fight it.

However, this section also references a 120 day window for replacing a candidate.  Since it is less than 120 days until the election, it's unclear if Jeter can even be replaced on the ballot at this point - effectively leaving Republicans without a candidate.

If the local GOP establishment decides to continue its pro-toll political cover, it is possible they could pick someone other than Davis to replace Jeter or pick nobody at all to send to the Governor.  If they can't replace Jeter on the ballot for November, or don't fight to be able to do so then that makes winning  an almost insurmountable climb for any Republican.

However, this would all prove only one thing.  They would rather lose a House seat, than cross those higher up the political food chain who they've been covering.

Clarification: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the MeckGOP executive committee was responsible for these selections.  Per discussion with Mecklenburg BOE Director, Michael Dickerson, only MeckBOE members in NC-92 will pick.  They would only be responsible for the canddiate replacement if it's allowed.  He has a question out to the State BOE regarding the 120 day window.

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