Langston launches bid for state Senate seat

Published 12:46 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Chocowinity real-estate manager announced his intention to run for the state Senate District 1 seat presently held by Sen. Stan White, D-Dare.

Wayne Langston

With that announcement, Republican Wayne Langston began his first run for political office.

“It is a high seat to shoot for, but I feel like we have a chance,” said the 43-year-old, self-described fiscal conservative.

Langston thinks the timing is right, too.

“What is unfolding is the right time for me to run and the right seat for me to run for,” he said.

The self-employed resident made clear he has nothing against White, but wants to aid the Republican leadership in accomplishing its legislative goals.

In a written statement, he also indicated a willingness to break with the rank and file.

“Sometimes our party is wrong,” Langston wrote. “The issue of teacher’s checks being delayed at the start of next school year is an example. Should we force middle class teachers to have to borrow money to cover a shortfall because the state legislature moves their first paycheck back two weeks?”

Sources acknowledged this first-time office-seeker will face the usual challenges of fundraising and building name recognition.

Also, with more than one possible Republican candidate’s name in contention for the District 1 job, it’s unclear whether Langston will have to tackle a primary next year after he files for the office.

Greg Dority, chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party, estimated Langston would have to raise $150,000 to mount an effective campaign in District 1, which covers a wide swath of the northeast, including all of Beaufort County.

Dority also pointed to state Rep. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, who defeated Arthur Williams, the heavily favored Democrat, in last year’s state House race. (Williams has since switched parties and become a Republican, though he’s not making public statements about his intentions next year.)

“Bill Cook’s victory last time showed that regular folks running on a Republican ticket can win these seats,” Dority commented. “I’ve had a lot of contact from political newcomers looking to run for office. I think Wayne has a chance to win this seat if he can raise the money.”

White, the current occupant of the post Langston’s targeting, doesn’t deny District 1 is more GOP-friendly in the wake of this year’s legislative redistricting.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly redrew the district — once held by the powerful Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare — to exclude the reliably Democratic Tyrrell and Washington counties, White has pointed out.

“From what they’re telling me it’s about 50-50,” White said Tuesday. “If anything it may be more Republican leaning, but from what the folks are telling me up here in Raleigh, it’s more a pretty even split. It has been classified as a vulnerable district for the Democrats.”

White owns a Nags Head realty and construction business that his family is running while he serves in the Senate. Early this year, he was appointed to replace Basnight, who retired from the Senate after a record-setting tenure as president pro tempore.

White said he doesn’t know Langston, and hasn’t heard of him.

“I’m definitely running again,” the lawmaker confirmed.

As for fundraising, White said Democratic insiders have told him he needs to generate between $300,000 and $500,000 for his campaign.

In June, the incumbent lent his campaign committee $10,000, according to the latest state campaign-finance records available.

“I’m working as hard as I can to raise money,” White said. “I’ve been mighty fortunate to raise money already.”