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Elect 2012: State sees flurry of filing

RALEIGH (AP) — North Carolina’s election season began in earnest Monday as candidates for governor, Council of State and local offices filed paperwork to enter this year’s races.
The candidate filing period opened at noon with high hopes among Republicans to build upon their 2010 election successes in Congress and the Legislature and with Democrats trying to regroup after a difficult first six weeks of 2012 that saw incumbent Gov. Beverly Perdue drop out of her race. State Rep. Bill Faison, one of three Democrats who’ve announced so far they are running for governor, were among the first-day filers.
Perdue’s decision set off a domino effect in Democratic politics as current and past elected officials scrambled to run for governor, lieutenant governor and the General Assembly. Judicial and local elected seats also will be on this year’s ballot.
The primary is May 8, with the general election Nov. 6.
“Once the governor made the announcement, then opportunity opened up, and there’s just people willing to step in there and take advantage of the opportunity,” state personnel director Linda Coleman said after she filed to run for lieutenant governor.
Coleman made her move after Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, a Democrat, announced he was running for governor.
“There’s nothing wrong with the Democratic Party,” Coleman added. “We are just trying to make sure that we make the best of the opportunities that have become available.”
About 40 candidates had filed at the State Board of Elections offices in the first hour or so after state elections director Gary Bartlett announced in the board’s meeting room that filing could begin. Early filers included Faison, first-term Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and third-term Republican Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry.
The two Council of State members officially had challengers within the first minutes of filing. Republican Mike Causey, a three-time candidate for insurance commissioner, filed to run against Goodwin. Two Democrats — John Brooks, the labor commissioner from 1977 to 1993, and Marlowe Foster — are seeking to unseat Berry.
Berry, who plans to run on a record of lower workplace injury rates and workers’ compensation cost savings, said she believes another successful election cycle is for her fellow Republicans to lose. She’s only one of two Republicans on the ten-member Council of State.
On “all of the issues that are out there, most Americans disagree with what’s going on and they have a lot of distrust with government and elected officials,” Berry said. “The Republicans have the right ideas — they just need a way to express those and stay on top of everything that comes up.”
Faison, who arrived at the state board offices with two of his children and other aides, said focusing on job creation and help for people hurt by the economy will be an effective way for Democrats to keep the Executive Mansion and win down the ticket.
“I think it’s important to focus on the issues that matter to people,” Faison told reporters. “My focus is there. It’s on getting the job done and getting the issues addressed.”
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge also has announced he’s running in the primary for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, state Sen. Dan Blue and former State Treasurer Richard Moore are considering Democratic bids for governor, too. It’s unclear whether Republican candidate Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, will face primary opposition.
The elections board reported on its website that other incumbents who filed Monday include Democratic U.S. Reps. David Price and Larry Kissell; Republican U.S. Reps. Walter Jones and Patrick McHenry; and State Auditor Beth Wood. A campaign spokesman for State Treasurer Janet Cowell said she also filed for re-election.
State Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, said he filed to run for lieutenant governor. The filing period ends Feb. 29.
Filing for office Monday was as much a celebration as actually winning, as spouses and children of candidates took pictures as they filled out forms with elections board officials and paid their filing fees. Foster brought along his wife, Evelyn, and their 5-year-old daughter Kristiahn, and 4-year-old son Noah, both decked out in their Sunday best.
“It’s a family affair,” Foster said.

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