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Dates set for Third Congressional District contest, candidates begin announcing

The dates are set and filing begins next week for Congressional hopefuls who want to represent North Carolina’s Third Congressional District in a seat left vacant by the passing of Walter Jones Jr.

Governor Roy Cooper announced the new dates for a special election to fill the seat on Wednesday. The winner of the election will fill out the remainder of Jones’ unexpired term in the U.S. House of Representatives, which lasts through 2020.

“People in eastern North Carolina need a voice in Congress,” Gov. Cooper said in a press release. “We’re moving ahead so they can choose their new representative quickly.”

Filing with the N.C. State Board of Elections begins Monday, March 4, and will continue all next week through Friday, March 8. A special primary election will be held on April 30, to select candidates from what may prove to be a large field. Absentee voting for that primary will begin on March 15, 2019.

The special general election will take place on July 9, unless a primary runoff is necessary. In that case, a special general election will be held on Sept. 10. Absentee voting for the July 9 election will begin on May 24. If the September 10 election date is needed, absentee voting will start on July 26.

Going into the race for the open seat, the field will be nothing if not crowded. Four Republicans and two Democrats have publicly announced their intentions to run for the seat, with a number of others filing statements of candidacy with the Federal Elections Commission.

Republican contenders whose announcements have been confirmed by the Republican Party include:

  • Phil Law, an Onslow County Marine Corps veteran who challenged Walter Jones in both the 2016 and 2018 Republican primaries.
  • Michael Speciale, a Marine Corps veteran and the sitting representative for Craven County’s N.C. House District 3.
  • Phil Shepard, a retired civil servant and minister who serves as the sitting representative for Onslow County’s N.C. House District 15.
  • Dr. Greg Murphy, a Pitt County medical doctor who currently represents N.C. House District 9.

Democratic candidates whose announcements have been confirmed by the Democratic Party include:

  • George Parrott, a restaurant owner from Morehead City and a former Congressional candidate in 1996.
  • Dr. Ollie Nelson, a Marine Corps veteran, former educator and pastor from Onslow County.

In addition to the candidates confirmed by each party, the following individuals have filed statements of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission:

  • Daryl Farrow, of Trenton, has filed a statement of candidacy to run as a Democrat.
  • Michele Nix, former chair of the Lenoir County Republican Party, and current Vice-Chair of the N.C. Republican Party.
  • Jeff Moore, a Republican political consultant and journalist from Carteret County.
  • Sandy Smith, of Greenville, has filed a statement of candidacy with intentions to run as a Republican.

Attempts to reach the North Carolina Libertarian Party, the North Carolina Green Party and the North Carolina Constitution Party were not returned as of press time. A final list of candidates will be available once filing ends.