By Raynor James and Diane Rufino
A straw poll was held at the 3rd Congressional District Meeting on Saturday, March 2, 2019, to see which candidate for the US House (to fill the seat vacated by Congressman Walter Jones' untimely passing) and Michael Speciale
was the winner. Dr. Greg Murphy cam in second and Michele Nix in third. There was a long list of candidates from which to choose from as many Republicans have indicated that they are interested in running, such as Jeffrey Moore, Phil Law, and Phil Shepard. Approximately 50 people were in attendance that the 3rd Congressional District Meeting.
Fort those who don't know much about the 3rd District, it encompasses the eastern region of North Carolina, from the border with Virginia all the way down to Onslow County (Jacksonville). In 2013, the redistricted map took 5 counties away from the 3rd District, leaving it with only 15 counties: Beaufort, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Pitt. (Prior to 2013, the District included such counties as Wilson, Wayne, Duplin, Camden, and Tyrell, and I believe parts of Nash). Walter Jones was the first Republican representative elected from the 3rd District since 1868 (Oliver H. Dockery - 1868-1871). Remember, from 1861 until 1868, North Carolina was denied representation in the US government. She could seat no representatives or Senators.
Prior to his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, Jones served ten years in the NC General Assembly as a member of the Democratic Party. He changed parties in 1994, just before running for the US House. Indeed, the 3rd District has a long history of Democratic incumbency. The first three representatives from the District were "anti-Administration" party candidates, and then from 1795 - 1825, the representatives were of the party of Thomas Jefferson (the "Democratic-Republicans," most believing this party to be the true precursor to the modern day Republican Party, and not the Republican Party of Lincoln). After 1825 and up until the Civil War, the representatives from the 3rd District were all of the party of Andrew Jackson (ie, Democrats). Aside from Oliver Dockery, whose seating may be been the result of the coercive forces of the Reconstruction era, all the representatives from the District from 1871 on were Democrat. And then came Walter Jones in 1994, the first Republican.
So far, four (4) Republicans and two (2) Democrats have filed to run in the special election to fill the seat held by Congressman Jones. They are: NC Rep. Michael Speciate (R-Craven), NC Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt), former NC GOP Vice-Chair Michele Nix (R-Lenoir), Jeffrey Moore II (R-Carteret), Phil Law (R-Onslow), New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw (D-Craven). And Ike Johnson (D-Onslow). Since the meeting was held on March 2, others have filed, including former NC Civitas president Francis DeLuca.
Carl Mischka, 3rd District GOP Chairman, did not reveal the number of votes that each candidate received because he "didn't want to embarrass anyone," but judging by the applause that Speciale received after he spoke on Saturday (as compared to the applause received by other candidates who spoke), it would seem that he won the straw poll by a very comfortable margin.
Filing for the open Congressional seat closed on Friday, March 8. The primary election will be held on Tuesday, April 30, with early voting beginning on April 10. If no candidate receives at least 30% of the vote, a run-off election will be held on July 9. If no run-off election is required, July 9 will be the Election Date. (In the event a run-off is needed, Election Day will be September 10).
It is interesting to note that Michael Speciale was one of the founders of CCTA and its first Chairman.