Western North Carolina has four seats in the state senate. Two of those will be open seats in next year’s election, including the one that represents the state’s westernmost counties.
After five terms representing Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties in the North Carolina General Assembly, Franklin Republican Sen. Jim Davis announced he wouldn’t seek reelection to his seat next year.
“I am a strong proponent of citizen legislators, those individuals who bring their talent and energy for public good,” Davis said. “I believe they should hold their seats for a limited time so others can then step forward with their unique perspectives and skills. That limited time has come for me.”
Davis spoke at a rally at the Macon County Republican Party headquarters in Franklin, where a who’s who of western Republicans joined him. “It has been my honor to serve five terms as a senator for North Carolina Senate District 50,” he said. “Since January, 2011, I have traveled extensively throughout the beautiful mountain counties that I represent and my goal has always been to understand how I can effectively support their needs in the North Carolina legislature.”
Prior to his tenure in the Senate, Davis served on the Macon County Board of Commissioners, and always called himself a local government guy who became a legislator by necessity. “I classify myself as a displaced county commissioner,” said Davis. “One of the heads of the Republican Party asked me about three years ago when I was going to quit thinking like a county commissioner. I said, ‘Not as long as I'm serving.’”
At that same event, Davis’ fellow Macon County GOP legislator, Rep. Kevin Corbin, announced he he’d seek Davis’ seat, and that he had Davis’ endorsement. “It means the world … Jim Davis is a statesman, whether you agree with him politically or not,” said Corbin, another local government guy who spent 20 years on the Macon County School Board and then followed Davis onto the Macon County board of commissioners, serving six years. He’s since won two terms in the House, with vote totals above 70 percent.
Haywood County Democratic Party Chair Myrna Campbell said she hasn’t heard of any Dems lining up to oppose the popular Corbin, but thinks it’s possible, now that Davis has made it official.
In addition to Davis, Buncombe County Democrat Terry Van Duyn will also not run for re-election next year to her senate seat in District 49. She is instead running for her party's nomination for lieutenant governor.