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By Peter Vankevich

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday new election dates to fill the seat in North Carolina’s Third Congressional

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper talks to members of the North Carolina Press Assn. Feb. 22 in Raleigh. Photo by Peter Vankevich

District, which has been vacant since Congressman Walter Jones, Jr. died in February. A special general election to elect a representative to serve out the remainder of Jones’s two-year term will be held on July 9.

A special primary election will be held on April 30. Absentee voting for the special primary election will begin on March 15.

Candidates seeking to fill the seat must file notices of candidacy with the State Board of Elections between March 4 and March 8.

The July vote could be pushed back if a primary runoff is required which would occur if the winner failed to win 30 percent of the votes. In that case, the special general election would then be held on Sept. 10.

“People in eastern North Carolina need a voice in Congress,” Cooper said. “We’re moving ahead so they can choose their new representative quickly.”

Absentee voting for the July 9 election will begin on May 24. If the Sept. 10 election date is needed, absentee voting will start on July 26.

At least three North Carolina state lawmakers have entered or planning to enter the race for the Republican nomination: Greg Murphy (District 9), Michael Speciale (District 3) and Phil Shepard (District 15).

Also planning to run are state Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Michelle Nix and these other Republicans, Phil Law, a Marine veteran and  information technology manager, who lost to Jones in the past two Republican primaries, Jeff Moore, a former official in the McCrory’s administration and Sandy Smith, a political newcomer of Greenville.

Ollie Nelson, a retired Marine, educator and pastor from Jacksonville is the only Democrat so far that said he intends to run.

Federal and state laws require the governor to schedule election dates to fill the vacant seat in the Third Congressional District. 

There is one other open congressional seat in North Carolina. Following the general election last November, no winner was declared in the Ninth Congressional District race due to allegations of absentee ballot fraud. On February 21, 2019, the state Board of Elections voted 5-0 to call a new election. The State Board of Elections is responsible for scheduling a new election in that district and will meet next Monday to set a date.  

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