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McHenry's surprise departure has ripple effect for NC primaries

FILE - Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Al Drago
/
Pool Bloomberg, via AP
File photo of Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., speaking during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry's announcement that he won't seek re-election is shaking up the state's congressional primaries. Several Republicans are now looking to switch races to run for his seat.

McHenry's prominence as a former interim speaker of the House meant that no one else was running for his seat — until this week. Within minutes of his surprise announcement, congressional candidate Pat Harrigan said he'll switch districts from the 14th district to the 10th, ending his primary challenge to House Speaker Tim Moore.

The latest version of McHenry's 10th district includes Lincoln, Iredell, Catawba, Yadkin and Forsyth counties, while the new 14th includes counties west of Charlotte. Harrigan switched his voter registration this week from Gaston County to Hickory, having previously run last year in a different version of the 14th district as a resident of Mecklenburg County.

In a video announcing the switch, Harrigan and his wife Raquel emphasized their close ties to the Hickory area.

"This decision is more than politics," Raquel Harrigan said. "It's about where our calling from God first started, the home where we started our family, where our kids go to school, and where we practice our faith."

State Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, and one of the legislature's top budget writers, said on his WSIC radio show Wednesday that he's considering a run for McHenry's seat.

"It wasn’t something I got up yesterday and thought I would be looking at," Saine said. "So I think I owe it to myself for what I want to accomplish, but also to the people I represent and the people of the 10th district, to see if I’m a good fit for that or if it’s maybe somebody else."

Rep. John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg, is also considering a switch from his current campaign for state treasurer, The Assembly reported. Saine said his House colleague, Rep. Grey Mills, R-Iredell, is also getting calls urging him to run, as is Sen. Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell.

They don't have much time to decide — deadlines are approaching next week for candidates to file for office or switch races if they're already filed for a different position.

Harrigan's departure from the 14th district GOP primary leaves Moore and Eric Levinson, a longtime judge and prosecutor from Mecklenburg County. Democrat Pam Genant has also filed for the seat, which is currently held by Democratic Congressman Jeff Jackson but has been redrawn as a Republican-leaning district. Jackson is running for attorney general instead.

Redistricting and the departures of McHenry and Congressman Dan Bishop will mean there will likely be five new Republicans in North Carolina's congressional delegation.

In other candidate filing news:

  • Presidential candidates don't formally file with the State Board of Elections, but the state parties provide a list of candidates to appear on their primary ballots. The N.C. Republican Party announced Wednesday that it's submitting seven names for the GOP presidential primary ballot here: Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson and Ryan Binkley.
  • Longtime Charlotte state Rep. Kelly Alexander isn't seeking re-election. Aisha Dew, a political strategist who's held multiple leadership roles in the Democratic Party, has filed to run for his seat.
  • Rep. Wayne Sasser, R-Stanly, isn't running for another term and has endorsed his policy advisor, Cody Huneycutt, to replace him.
  • Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has filed for another term and will face former N.C. Rep. Robert Brawley in the GOP primary.
  • One of the longest-serving House Democrats, Rep. Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland, is retiring. Former Rep. Elmer Floyd and Mike Colvin, a funeral director who is the brother of Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin, have filed for the northwestern Cumberland seat. Lucas is endorsing Colvin.
Colin Campbell covers politics for WUNC as the station's capitol bureau chief.