CHARLOTTE — Gov. Pat McCrory has decided to hold a special election to fill Democratic U.S. Rep. Mel Watt’s seat when the primary and general elections are held in 2014.
The Republican governor said Monday that his move will save up to $1 million.
But McCrory’s decision also means North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District won’t have a representative for 10 months, which has upset some of the candidates running for Watt’s seat.
“The citizens who pay taxes in the 12th district will not have representation for almost a year. I don’t support that. I’m disappointed with the governor’s decision,” said Democratic state Rep. Alma Adams of Greensboro.
Watt resigned Monday to become director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the groups that own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages. Republicans had fought Watts’ nomination by President Barack Obama for months, saying he was unqualified. Democrats took advantage of eased rules on filibusters in December and pushed the nomination through.
On primary day, May 6, voters will choose the candidates who will compete in November to fill out the remainder of Watt’s expiring two-year term, and to serve a full two-year term beginning in 2015.
At least seven potential candidates have said they would run for Watt’s congressional seat.
Watt, 68, has won by comfortable margins for years in the heavily Democratic district, which starts in Charlotte and extends north along Interstate 85 to Greensboro, taking in parts of Winston-Salem.
McCrory said that after looking at various filing deadlines, ballot preparation time and other issues, rolling the special election into the already established primary and general election dates was the most efficient process.
But Adams said she disagreed with the governor.
“There is nothing really special about this timeline. I believe the citizens of the 12th District deserve a quick and fair election and it appears that based on what the governor has proposed you’re going to have over 600,000 constituents who are not going to have a voice or a vote in Congress until after November,” she said.