High Point's Brandon may run for Congress

Mar. 25, 2013 @ 09:29 PM

State Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford and one of two legislators from High Point, may make a bid for Congressman Mel Watt’s seat in a special election if Watt resigns to take a post with the Obama administration.

Brandon told The High Point Enterprise that he intends to create a formal exploratory committee in case Watt follows through on public speculation that he will become the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The Wall Street Journal first reported a week ago that President Barack Obama is considering Watt for the post, a move that could come as early as next month.
Watt hasn’t said anything publicly about the speculation. A spokesman for the congressman reiterated Monday that Watt has no comment on the matter at this time.
Brandon is in his second term as a state representative for a district that includes large portions of High Point.
“I’ve always wanted to do it. And these opportunities only pop up every now and then,” Brandon said about running for Congress.
Brandon said he believes that the work he’s done at the N.C. General Assembly during the last three years has prepared him to serve in Congress.
If Watt did resign to join the Obama administration, state election law requires that a special election be held in the heavily Democratic-leaning district to pick someone to fill out Watt’s term through November 2014. First elected in 1992, Watt is the only representative to have served in the 12th District.
Because it would be a special election, Brandon wouldn’t have to relinquish his 60th State House District seat to run for Congress. If Brandon didn’t win the congressional special election, he could continue to serve in the General Assembly.
The prospect of a special election could prompt a dozen or more Democrats to run for the seat because it’s a safe Democratic district, said Matthew DeSantis, professor of political science at Guilford Technical Community College.
“Every Democrat who has hope of ascending in office will look at this opportunity,” DeSantis said. “Marcus has set himself pretty well. The challenge for him is that he’s from here and the district is centered in Charlotte.”

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The 12th Congressional District stretches from the Charlotte metropolitan area through the central Piedmont to parts of High Point and the Triad. The district was created more than 20 years ago during congressional redistricting following the 1990 census. Democratic Rep. Mel Watt is the only congressman to serve in the 12th District. Watt has won election in the heavily Democratic-leaning district by wide margins over an array of Republican challengers.