So far the biggest news to come from the opening of filing for the 2018 elections at noon on Feb. 12 is who isn’t going to run.
Republican State Rep. John Blust, who has been in the legislature for 20 years, has decided that he’s traveled down to Raleigh enough and is not going to run for reelection.
Blust has been a thorn in the side of both Democrats and his fellow Republicans in his years down in Raleigh. He has often tried with limited success to change the way the legislature operates – with the major decisions made by a small group of leaders and then the rank-and-file members are informed about what’s going to happen.
Blust has fought hard for more inclusive decision making and hasn’t faired much better trying to convince his Republican colleagues they need to change their ways than he did with the Democrats when they were in the majority.
Also, Democratic Guilford County District Attorney Doug Henderson, who has been in office for 14 years, announced he wouldn’t run for reelection and is looking forward to getting back into private practice.
Considering that everyone is running from new districts that were just finalized by the Supreme Court last week (see maps at right), it’s a wonder that more folks haven’t decided not to run. But all of the other incumbent state representatives and state senators from Guilford County have already filed to run, though for a lot of them they are running in a district with a new number.
Both Democratic state Sen. Gladys Robinson, who is running in Senate District 28, and Republican state Rep. Jon Hardister, who is running in House District 59, moved so that they could run. Robinson had been living in High Point, which is no longer in her district, so she moved to Greensboro. Hardister was double bunked with Republican Rep. John Faircloth so he moved east of Greensboro to Stony Creek so he could run in District 59.
Both Robinson and Hardister are in pretty favorable districts. Robinson’s district takes in nearly all of Greensboro, and since Robinson is a Democrat and a woman and Greensboro just elected a City Council with eight women and eight Democrats, it looks like a good district for her. Hardister’s district rings Greensboro on the south, east and north and rural Guilford County tends to vote Republican, so his new district should work for him.
But Blust not running in District 57 may create a problem for Republicans. So far the only person to file in that race is Ashton Clemmons, who is a Democrat and an assistant superintendent of the Thomasville school system.
One of the advantages of the new districts for Guilford County is that four state senators instead of three have a part of the county and all are running for reelection. Along with Robinson in District 28, Republican state Sen. Trudy Wade has filed to run in District 27; Republican Sen. Rick Gunn of Burlington is running in District 24, which includes the eastern portion of Guilford County; and Republican state Sen. Jerry Tillman of Archdale is running in District 26, which now includes a large part of High Point in southern Guilford County.
President Pro Tem of the state Senate Phil Berger of Eden, a Republican, used to have much of northern Guilford County in his district but, with the new districts, none of Guilford County will be in Berger’s district.
Also filing to run are Democratic state Rep. Amos Quick in District 58, Democratic state Rep. Cecil Brockman in District 60, Democratic state Rep. Pricey Harrison in District 61 and Republican state Rep. John Faircloth in District 62.
So far no one has filed to run against anyone in a state House or Senate race, but filing doesn’t end until noon on Feb. 28, so there will be plenty of time.
Two Democrats have filed to run against Republican 6th District Congressman Mark Walker, Democrats Ryan Watts and Gerald Wong. But Walker, who plans to run for a third term in Congress, has not filed yet.
Republican Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes has filed to run for his sixth term and already has three opponents. Steve Parr has filed to run against Barnes in the Republican primary and Democrats Therron Phipps and Danny Rogers have also filed to run. Rogers ran against Barnes four years ago.
Henderson not running leaves the district attorney slot wide open, but so far the only candidate to file is Democrat Stephanie Reese, a Guilford County assistant district attorney from High Point.
Republican District 2 Board of Education member Anita Sharpe is the only incumbent to file to run for the school board. Sharpe won a two-year term in 2016, defeating incumbent Jeff Belton.
In the 2016 election, all nine seats on the school board were up for election. Those in even numbered districts won two-year terms and those in odd numbered districts won four-year terms. This election will be for four-year terms.
Two Democrats have filed to run in Board of Education District 6, Chris Hocker and Khem Denise Irby. In District 8, Democrat William Levette has filed.