Candidates galore

Published 12:05 am Saturday, January 28, 2012

The abundance of candidates for local legislative offices is a response to the changing political landscape.

The departure of Rep. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, from the House District 6 race paved the way for two local Republican candidates from Washington. Neither Realtor Jerry Evans nor former state Rep. Arthur Williams will have to battle Cook, who would have had the advantage of incumbency.

Evans and Williams, who will face off in the GOP primary, used to be Democrats. In fact, Williams spent most of his life as a Democrat before switching parties last year.

Williams’ switch was, in itself, a tacit acknowledgement of new GOP dominance in a county long ruled by Democrats.

It was also a nod to a redistricting map that divided Beaufort County between two state House districts. The map was approved last year by the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly.

That map was one of the factors Cook considered in deciding to run for Senate District 1, now represented by Sen. Stan White, D-Dare.

At the same time, political observers are giving Kitty Hawk Democrat Paul Tine a fair chance of winning in House District 6, which includes Dare County.

The new map inspired Democratic Beaufort County Commissioner Robert Cayton to give up re-election to his spot on the county board and run for House District 3, which includes Cayton’s home of Aurora. Cayton may have a GOP challenger in Wayne Langston of Chocowinity.

Though the map-drawers in Raleigh ignored Beaufort County’s calls to keep it whole in one state House district, the new map presents intriguing possibilities for the candidates mentioned above.

And one thing seems certain: Beaufort County will have two new representatives in the House next year.