Today is the official beginning of the 2012 election as candidate filing gets underway across North Carolina. Candidates have until February 29 to file if they wish to be on the ballot this year, and, as Jim Morrill notes in the Charlotte Observer, it’s going to be a pretty wild year for elections here in the state.
We already have an open race for governor, three open congressional seats and more than 30 openings in the General Assembly. Many of these openings are a result of last year’s redistricting, which forced a lot of lawmakers into less-friendly districts or districts with another lawmaker. And for Democrats, a lot of it could be the result of two years in the minority after a long time in the majority, and the likelihood that they would remain in the minority next year.
The open governor’s race garnered much of the attention, and speculation, in the weeks leading up to candidate filing after Gov. Perdue became the first North Carolina governor in the modern era to not seek re-election. Three Democrats have announced so far in the race to replace Perdue: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, former Congressman Bob Etheridge and N.C. Rep. Bill Faison. With candidate filing now open we are still awaiting a final decision from Congressman Brad Miller, state Sen. Dan Blue and former Treasurer Richard Moore on whether or not they will throw their hat in the ring. Pat McCrory is all but certain to be the Republican nominee and the race could be one of the most competitive gubernatorial contests in the country.
Of course, with Lt. Gov. Dalton running for governor his current post now becomes an open seat as well. Republicans were already poised for a competitive primary, with Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley, N.C. Rep. Dale Folwell and Raleigh architect Dan Forest in the lieutenant governor’s race. Now the Democrats will have a primary too as N.C. Sen. Eric Mansfield announced he was running today. Mansfield is serving his first term in the state Senate from Fayetteville and will at least be challenging former N.C. Rep. Linda Coleman if no other candidates file in the next two weeks.
Political junkies are sure to be glued to their laptops and phones over the next two weeks tracking which candidates file for which office, who will retire and who will be seeking re-election. No matter what happens in 2012, though, there’s sure to be a lot of new faces in Raleigh in 2013.
Keep up with the latest filing news with the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation’s 2012 Election Tracker.