Primary game on in area GOP legislative race
An internal, and potentially heated, Republican Party battle is officially ready to play out through next spring in a contest for a state legislative seat.
Rep. Roger Younts, R-Davidson, and GOP county commissioner Sam Watford both formally announced plans to run in the 80th State House District that covers the eastern portion of the county. The winner of the 80th State House District primary May 6 has the inside track to win the heavily Republican-leaning seat in the fall 2014 general election.
The campaign grows out of cantankerous roots — Watford is running in part because of the manner in which Younts was appointed to the seat during a Davidson County GOP meeting this past July.
Younts was appointed by the Davidson County Republican Party executive committee to the post vacated July 1 by longtime Republican legislator Jerry Dockham, who took a position on the N.C. Utilities Commission.
The meeting in Lexington where Younts was appointed was rife with controversy. Younts, who was the Davidson County GOP treasurer, declined to recuse himself and voted for his own nomination. At the same time, longtime GOP activist Dwight Story of Thomasville was denied a chance to vote for the appointment by phone while on a church trip to Virginia. Some members of the Davidson County GOP walked out of the meeting to protest the way that the appointment was handled.
Watford told The High Point Enterprise earlier this year that Younts’ appointment was embarrassing and that Younts didn’t act ethically in the matter. Younts has defended his appointment and said that the emotions of this past summer have dissipated since he took office.
Younts announced his intentions to seek a full term during a campaign event in late September that featured eight Republican legislative leaders from across the state, including House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell.
In announcing his campaign, Younts said that he wants to continue reflecting the conservative values of his constituents at the N.C. General Assembly.
“We have put our state back on the right path, but after 140 years of almost total Democrat control there is still much to be done,” Younts said.
Watford announced his candidacy Oct. 19 during a fundraiser in Welcome for Republican Sheriff David Grice and state Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson.
“I look forward to participating in the management of our state government resources to help keep N.C. a great place to do business, live and raise a family,” Watford said.
Though Watford ran against Bingham last year in the 33rd State Senate District Republican primary, Bingham is supporting Watford in his bid for the state House.
“I’ve worked with Sam and like Sam; so I guess you can say I’m endorsing Sam. He’s always been reasonable and good to work with,” Bingham told the Enterprise.
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The 80th State House District covers the eastern part of Davidson County, including cities such as Thomasville. The district leans heavily Republican, with 50 percent registered GOP voters, 29 percent registered Democrats and 21 percent unaffiliated.
Source: N.C. General Assembly website