Foushee officially sworn in; HD-50 appointment process begins

Travis Crayton's picture

With Sen. Valerie Foushee taking the oath of office today at the Chatham County Courthouse in Pittsboro, the appointment process for her replacement to represent House District 50 can officially begin.

If you've been following the news, though, you know that there are already several declared candidates for the seat, and that things have already unofficially begun.

At the time of this post, declared candidates are:

  • Chapel Hill Town Councilmember Laurin Easthom
  • Businessman Tommy McNeill
  • Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools Graig Meyer
  • Attorney Drew Nelson
  • Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier

Graig Meyer, who was one of the four members of the HD-50 selection committee, resigned to seek the seat himself. This means that members of the Orange County Democratic Party County Executive Committee residing in precincts within HD-50 will meet on October 1st to appoint his replacement. Party Chair Matt Hughes has recommended Dave Gephart to replace Meyer. Hughes notes that Gephart "has been a county party vice chair, precinct chair, and presently serves as secretary of the 6th Congressional District. He's a business owner in the county; attended UNC Chapel Hill; and is known for being fair and a team player." You can read more about the selection process itself at this post by Gerry Cohen.

I'm personally a bit surprised at how low-key this race has been so far with so many candidates already stepping forward. My guess is that, with now-Senator Foushee officially appointed, we'll be hearing more from the candidates and the selection committee in the coming days and weeks.

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21 Comments

not a gimmee district like the senate seat or Insko's

This district does not include the city of Hillsborough, the only "urban" portion is along Weaver Dairy.  Foushee had a very competitive race when President Obama was on the ballot.  If the committee picks the wrong person Dems can easily lose this seat in 2014.  It's basically a tiny part of chapel hill and rural outskirts of Orange and Durham.

Won by over 10%

That district was won by over a 10% spread I believe. I don't think we should take it for granted, but after this extremely regressive legislature, if we can't count on Orange and Durham to go blue, then we've got no chance of taking the state back.

Ed Harrison's picture

House 50 geography/demographics

These are comments on two of Mr Traver's statements,which I've rearranged.First statement: “…the
only ; portion is along Weaver Dairy. … It's basically a
tiny part of chapel hill and rural outskirts of Orange and Durham.”

Having run in all the
precincts in House 50, in both counties, and knowing the map, I don’t agree
with this.  The precincts of Booker
Creek, Cedar Falls, Eastside (which doesn't touch Weaver Dairy Road and goes to
the Durham County line), Weaver Dairy, and the heavily-Democratic Weaver Dairy
Satellite, Carol Woods (with the highest turnout % in NC) are entirely in the
District, and the municipal part of Patterson is as well. This is a lot of Chapel Hill voters. Foushee ran very
strongly in all of them. Of the Durham County precincts, the land area in the
City limits is actually more than Chapel Hill has, but much of it is within Eno
River State Park. They are the seven most Republican precincts in the county,
and Foushee lost all of them.

Second statement: “Foushee
had a very competitive race when President Obama was on the ballot.  If
the committee picks the wrong person Dems can easily lose this seat in 2014.”

Because of the Durham
County demographics, I agree more with this, but not with the term “easily.”  A candidate will have to maximize turnout
in the Chapel Hill precincts and at certain Durham early voting sites. A well-organized Democratic campaign can do this. 

 Ed Harrison

James Barrett's picture

Couple of relevant numbers

In the 5 Chapel Hill precincts (Eastside, Patterson, Cedar Falls, Booker Creek, Weaver Dairy) in HD50, Sen Foushee picked up a 5500 vote lead (7816-2371).  She won the overall race by 4600 (24806-20266).Other interesting note is that Sen Foushee won HD50 55%-45%.  Walter Dalton also won this area, 55%-42%.  I don't see how you think any reasonable Dem can lose this seat when Dalton won handily here.  You could conclude there are more votes "to be got" in Durham Co here than Sen Foushee was able to bring in in her single election there, but her OC experience clearly out-performed Dalton inside and out of CH.Here's all the HD50 precinct info -- https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?hl=en&hl=en&key=0AlY4uP2JGCH7dGl...

presidential year 2012 turnout higher for left leaning voters

it's well known that left leaning (non conservative) voters turnout more in presidential elections than off years.  (look at 2010 if you don't believe that, or the Colorado gun recall elections).what I've read is in an off year like 2014 there will probably 5-6% more conservative leaning voters relative to liberal ones. So 2012 is a high water mark.   Old  white tea party types will be more likely to vote in 2014 than younger voters.  so a 55-45 in 2012 will project tighter in 2014.   Also, every precinct in the county has more registered dems than republicans yet most of the commissioners lose all the rural counties, so this candidate needs to do really well along weaver dairy in chapel hill to win 

Jason Baker's picture

Democratic Commissioners win in rural Orange

Also, every precinct in the county has more registered dems than republicans yet most of the commissioners lose all the rural counties, so this candidate needs to do really well along weaver dairy in chapel hill to win

I am assuming you meant that the Democratic commissioner candidates lose all the rural precincts, not counties. But all of our incumbent commissioners won the majority of the rural districts. In 2012, Mark Dorosin and Penny Rich ran unopposed and won every precinct, Renee Price won 42 of 44 precincts, and Bernadette Pelissier won 40 of 44. In 2010, Barry Jacobs and Alice Gordon ran unopposed and won every precinct, and Earl McKee won 43 of 44 precincts.

board of elections map

of course people running unapposed win every precinct, did not mean to imply otherwise. however,  If you look at the states color coded map - -  basically the county commissioners running county wide appear to lose most of the precincts against GOP opponents that do not have city of hillsborough, chapel hill, and carrboro in them.   This is also true if you see that foushee got 4,600 of her 5,500 vote differential from her Chapel hill districts alone according to an elected official on this thread.. I see a lot of red precincts outside of the ones that include our three "towns"  .   my question is how many of those precincts do not have town of hillsborough, chapel hill and carrboro in them? http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/NC/Orange/42991/113988/Web01/en/... in any case the political experts on this thread (Ed/James) more or less agrees to win 50 the dem will have to do exceptionally well in chapel hill and hope it carries him or her to victory.

Jason Baker's picture

Wrong Map

You're looking at a map of voting only on Election Day; early votes are not included in the totals which are mapped. Most people vote early, and those who do are disproportionately Democrats. See the link I provided in my comment above for the election totals. Democrats also by and large win the rural precincts; in 2010 and 2012, by the margins I provided you with already.

Bonnie Hauser's picture

H50 voters are likely to come out for the person, not the party

The House 50 district is politically and ethnically diverse - and is not a simple win for anyone.  As a county commissioner, Valerie built great relationshps throughout the district, and even conservative voters came out for her.   Leaders throughout the county worked hard to get her elected.  It helped that her opponent was unimpressive. House 50 is important to rural Orange - and the voters will turn out for the right person to represent them.Bonnie Hauser

Jason Baker's picture

Evidence?

In last year's election, statewide, about 56% of ballots cast were straight ticket for either party. In Orange County it was about 60% of overall ballots being cast straight ticket. Mind you, this doesn't count people who vote all-Democrat or all-Republican by filling in the individual ovals, just those who selected the straight party option on the ballot.Now for House 50 - if you  look at the votes on Election Day 2012 from the Orange County precincts in House 50, 51% of the people who voted for Chaney or Foushee voted straight ticket. (edit: I only have the final canvass vote totals as a PDF, not a spreadsheet, but maybe James Barrett has them and would share them with me?) These precincts are slightly less than the average for the state and county, but not a big deviation.Of course, with straight ticket voting going away, it won't be so easy to track this in the future. But at least up until this point in time, it seems that a whole lot of folks are voting the party, not the person. Not that I'm saying that's a good thing, but, it seems to be what's happening.

Jason Baker's picture

More Numbers

Sorry to spam this thread, but I ran some other numbers on the Orange County portion House 50 and I thought y'all might be interested.28,717 total ballots were cast, of which 27,653 voted in the House 50 race, which means that 1,064 (3.7%) people did not bother to vote this downticket race. (Compared to some past elections, and some other areas in North Carolina, that's pretty darn good!)56.8% of all ballots cast voted straight ticket for one party or another (up a bit from the 51% I had above which only reflected votes on Election Day). Assuming that folks who voted straight ticket didn't change their vote for an individual candidate (which you can do), then 66.2% of Valerie Foushee's votes in Orange County were from straight ticket voters versus only 46.8% of Rod Chaney's. This is in keeping with the statewide trend of Democrats voting straight ticket more than Republicans, and surely one of the reasons why Republicans eliminated straight party voting with the Voter Suppression Act of 2013 (I doubt this portion would be affected by the outcome of the lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice). 

Mark Marcoplos's picture

More info on 10/24 selection meeting

Oct. 24 at 7 p.m is when the meeting will be held to select replacement
(location to be determined). No info session this time. All candidates
will receive a questionnaire (still in development) for the committee
and the answers will be released to the public.

Travis Crayton's picture

Applications are now online

There are now seven applicants for the seat: the five previously announced applicants from above as well as Danielle Adams (Durham Soil & Water Commissioner, candidate for NC's 6th congressional district) and Travis Phelps (Sen. Foushee's primary opponent for this seat in 2012).You can read all of the applications here.

James Barrett's picture

Thanks for the link - interesting read

I like the question about how are you going to support yourself given high workload and low stipend.  It is something we never ask in elections, but it certainly is something people need to think about.  And is a big factor in who can serve in this office and thus reduces diversity of thought from the start.