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Kathy Manning announces second congressional bid, seeks seat held by Rep. Mark Walker

GREENSBORO — A decision Monday by a three-judge panel in Raleigh set up a potential showdown between U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and prior congressional candidate Kathy Manning, both of Greensboro.

Manning announced Monday morning before the judges’ ruling that she would seek the Democratic nomination for the “newly drawn” 6th District post that Walker, a Republican, has held since 2015.

“For too long the Triad has been underrepresented in Congress due to unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps drawn by Republican insiders,” the community volunteer and former immigration lawyer said in a news release.

Later in the day, the judicial panel from Wake Superior Court upheld new congressional maps produced last month by state legislators in response to a lawsuit by voters who linked the current map to “partisan gerrymandering.”

The new map makes it much more likely that a Democrat challenger could succeed in the 6th District. Democrat Angela Flynn of Chatham County also has announced she is running in the 6th District, but she lives outside its new boundaries.

Manning’s announcement was the local highlight of the opening day of filing for state and federal offices in North Carolina. The redrawn 6th District appears to lean strongly Democratic because it includes all of Guilford County and parts of Forsyth County, geography where Democratic voters are more numerous.

The current 6th District that Walker represents includes east Greensboro and parts of suburban Guilford County, as well as Alamance, Randolph, Rockingham, Caswell, Chatham, Lee and Person counties.

Manning had run an aggressive, but unsuccessful campaign last year to unseat then-first-term GOP Congressman Ted Budd of Advance in the 13th District. That district currently includes part of Guilford County but will not under the new map.

“Our community needs a bold leader who will stand up and fight for us during the good and tough times,” Manning said Monday. “We deserve leaders who will fight for affordable health care, quality education and an economy that works for all — not just those at the top.”

Walker said Monday that he wasn’t sure what his next step would be, but that he has several weeks to make a decision before the filing period ends.

“I ran for Congress on the promise of people over politics. That promise will not be overridden by hasty judicial action or the calculations of others,” said Walker, an ordained pastor. “From the pulpit to the halls of Congress, I have always sought the counsel of others as I strive towards service. This is no different.”

He added that “filing will remain open until December 20th, and I feel no pressure to rush a decision.”

North Carolina’s primary elections are set for March 3.

Walker had said earlier in published remarks that he was pondering a fourth term but was not sure which district he might run in.

Parts of his current district have been parceled out between the 10th and 13th districts in the newly approved map. Fellow Republicans Budd and U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry now hold those seats.

Guilford County residents who filed Monday for statewide office included state Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler and Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey.

Troxler, a Browns Summit farmer, is seeking his fifth term at the helm of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, where he has served since 2005.

Causey of Greensboro was first elected in 2016 after four unsuccessful tries dating back to 1992. He and Troxler are Republicans.

Current members of Guilford County’s delegation to the General Assembly also filed for re-election Monday, including Democratic state Reps. Cecil Brockman, Ashton Clemmons, Amos King and Pricey Harrison.

On the Republican side of the state House, Reps. John Faircloth of High Point and Jon Hardister of Whitsett also joined the battle to retain their seats.

Hardister will face a challenge from Nicole Quick, chairwoman of the Guilford County Democratic Party and no relation to Rep. Amos Quick.

The state districts also were redrawn in the outcome of another gerrymandering lawsuit, and Nicole Quick described Hardister’s reformed House District 59 as “highly competitive.”

“I’m running because I believe the interest of our state’s people should come before the interests of corporate CEOs and shareholders,” Nicole Quick said in a news release, adding that her campaign would focus on such issues as the Republican-led General Assembly’s failure to expand Medicaid and approve significant teacher pay raises.

Hardister said recent years of Republican legislative leadership in Raleigh “have made great strides in making North Carolina the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

“We have balanced our budget, reduced our debt and turned deficits into a surplus,” he said in a prepared statement. “We have enhanced funding for education, increased pay for teachers and worked to improve vocational training in our school system.”

In North Carolina Senate races, incumbent Democratic state Sens. Gladys Robinson and Michael Garrett, both of Greensboro, also were among those filing to run again.

Garrett could face a general-election challenge from another Monday filer, Greensboro resident Sebastian King who has been active in the Guilford County Republican Party.

State candidate filing begins for North Carolina 2020 elections

RALEIGH — A rush of candidates filed Monday to join long and crowded ballots for North Carolina’s 2020 elections, seeking to win hundreds of statewide and local positions.

The State Board of Elections and county election boards in all 100 counties began taking candidate paperwork and filing fees at midday and will continue doing so weekdays through noon Dec. 20. Nearly 130 people had filed at the state board office by closing, a board spokesman said, eclipsing the first day’s total of 108 for the 2016 elections.

The first day was marked by a court ruling that allowed filing for congressional candidates to begin Monday afternoon. A three-judge panel had recently blocked the state board from accepting candidacy notices while the judges scrutinized a new U.S. House map approved by the General Assembly. The judges ruled the replacement map would be used in 2020 and allowed filings to be turned in based on those boundaries.

Primaries will be held March 3 for multiple candidates from the same party who are vying for the same job.

Much is at stake in next year’s elections. North Carolina citizens will vote for president, governor, a U.S. Senate seat and members of the U.S. House. The other nine Council of State positions will be on the ballot, as well as three of the seven seats on the state Supreme Court, including the chief justice’s position.

All 170 General Assembly seats also will be up for grabs next year, and whichever parties win the state House and Senate will have power to draw legislative and U.S. House boundaries in 2021 based on the 2020 census data. Barring litigation, those districts would be used through 2030.

Republicans flexed their political muscles in state politics this decade by winning legislative majorities in the 2010 elections, allowing them to draw the maps in 2011.

Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer called 2020 a “once-in-a-true-generation kind of election that could set the tone for the competitive nature of North Carolina politics well into the future.”

Next year “could be a distinct turning point in not just the competitive (nature) of North Carolina, but where the electorate is heading in terms of a generational shift and the potential growing divide between urban, rural and suburban North Carolina,” he said in an interview.

Candidates filing Monday in Raleigh included Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and Associate Justice Paul Newby, who is seeking the chief justice’s post. Incumbents and other candidates also filed for other statewide and local judgeships.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey filed to seek reelection, as did Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. Republican state Rep. Holly Grange filed for governor. She’s expected to run against Lt. Gov. Dan Forest for the GOP nomination. Five people filed to succeed Forest as lieutenant governor. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller and Steve Swenson officially filed to run for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham, whose filing wasn’t immediately recorded by the board — his campaign said he filed by mail — held campaign events Monday in Raleigh and elsewhere.

Monday also was notable because someone decided not to run. Garland Tucker told supporters he wouldn’t file for the U.S. Senate, months after announcing his bid against U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis in the Republican primary.