Shared from the 12/12/2017 Charlotte Observer eEdition

NC Dems announce new candidates, almost all are women


The wave of women signing up to run for political office has hit North Carolina.

State Democrats spent Monday announcing nine new candidates – including six women – in their 2018 effort to break Republicans’ veto-proof majority in the state legislature.

Rep. Darren Jackson, the top Democrat in the North Carolina House of Representatives, said on Twitter that he thinks the rise in women candidates has been especially pronounced in the last year.

“It’s something we were seeing way before all the sexual harassment scandals started to break,” he wrote. “After the 2016 election, a lot of women started turning out for events, indivisible groups, house parties. Many for the first time. Been seeing it for a year now.”

The Raleigh city council is now half women for just the second time ever, after the city’s October elections. Also in October, Virginia’s state legislature swung from a strong Republican majority to a split in power after Democrats flipped 15 seats in their favor. Almost all of those 15 Democratic winners were women.

In North Carolina, the elections for state legislative seats aren’t until November 2018, and the deadline for candidates to file (Feb. 28, 2018) is still more than two months away. In the meantime there might be more women of either party to sign up to run for what has always been a male-dominated state legislature.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 13 of North Carolina’s 50 state senators are women, as are 30 of the 120 state representatives. North Carolina Republicans pointed out that many of the GOP incumbents being targeted by the new Democratic challengers are also women.

In Concord, House District 82 was redrawn so that its incumbent, Republican Rep. Larry Pittman, was put into a neighboring district. The new district is home to a different Republican incumbent, Rep. Linda Johnson.

Johnson could face Aimy Steele, an elementary school principal and former Spanish teacher who announced her candidacy Monday.

In Pittman’s new House District 83, he could face a challenger who also announced Monday, Gail Young.

Young is the leader of a liberal advocacy group called Citizens in Action NC that organizes protests in Cabarrus County. Young also worked for a long time for Mecklenburg County government.

Pittman is one of North Carolina’s most controversial lawmakers – he once compared Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler – but he is also popular with his constituents, winning by nearly 16 percentage points in 2016.

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