US Senate hopeful Erica Smith files papers for House vacancy left by Butterfield’s retirement

Politics

FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, file photo, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Erica Smith is seen during an interview in Raleigh, N.C. In a move announced Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, Smith has switched over to a run for a northeastern North Carolina congressional seat after veteran Rep. G.K. Butterfield announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Erica Smith has switched over to a run for a northeastern North Carolina congressional seat after veteran Rep. G.K. Butterfield announced this week that he wouldn’t seek reelection.

Smith’s campaign updated its organizational documents with the Federal Election Commission late Friday to indicate she is now running for the redrawn 2nd Congressional District seat.

Smith, a former state senator, finished second in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary in 2020 to Cal Cunningham. She entered the 2022 Democratic field early but has been outraised handily by the campaigns of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and current state Sen. Jeff Jackson. Smith has portrayed herself as the most progressive candidate in the primary.

News by Butterfield on Thursday that he would not run in 2022 would give Smith a potential landing spot in a district that includes her Northampton County home. Calls or texts to Smith and her campaign office, as well as an email to her campaign manager, weren’t immediately returned late Friday. Official candidate filing begins Dec. 6 for the March 8 primary.

In his retirement video, Butterfield, who has served in Congress since 2004, criticized Republican redistricting for drawing excessively partisan maps while announcing it was time for “the torch to be passed to someone who shares the values of the district.”

Butterfield, a former leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, has usually won by comfortable margins in his rural district, which has often contained majority-Black counties. But the latest redrawn U.S. House map in North Carolina places him in a toss-up seat, making it challenging for any Democrat to win.

Smith’s move also shakes up the Senate race, especially as Smith’s supporters must determine to whom they will shift their allegiances before the primary.

State Sen. Don Davis, a Democrat who represents Pitt and Greene counties, has signaled his interest to succeed Butterfield, saying Thursday that he will share more about his future plans “in due time.”

Republican Sandy Smith of Pitt County, who lost to Butterfield in the 2020 general election by 8 percentage points, is already seeking the GOP nomination in the district.

The enacted 2nd District covers all or parts of 18 counties, stretching from Washington County in the east, stretching inland to as far as Caswell County.

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