Now that Congressman Mel Watt has been confirmed as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, there will soon be an open seat in the 12th district.
So far, there are at least six candidates – all African-American Democrats – who are competing for his office in a special election. When that election will take place remains unclear.
Mel Watt is still officially Congressman Mel Watt. And that's because he hasn't submitted his resignation letter yet. His office says he won't submit his resignation letter until he's sworn in as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
But that resignation letter is crucial to moving the process along for at least six candidates who plan to run for the 12th congressional district seat.
The majority-minority district is an odd shape – it extends in a diagonal path from uptown Charlotte all the way up to Greensboro with a slight detour to Winston Salem. Watt has represented the district since it was created in 1992. UNC Charlotte Political Science Professor Eric Heberlig says it's a coveted seat.
"Any Democrat who wins the seat is gonna be able to hold it and run as long as they want," Heberlig says. "And if they succeed like Mel Watt did and hold it for 20 years, it's gonna be a long time before anybody else gets another shot at that district."
Governor McCrory must allow for a formal campaign period of at least 45 days.
Four of the six candidates who have said they intend to run are from Charlotte. Former Council member James Mitchell (who recently lost the mayoral election to Patrick Cannon), state Senator Malcolm Graham,
former CMS board chairman CMS general counsel George Battle III and a personal injury lawyer Curtis Osborne. (Correction: George Battle, Jr. is the former chairman of the CMS board. His son, George Battle III, is the candidate.)
The two who are not from Charlotte are state representatives Alma Adams of Greensboro and Marcus Brandon of High Point.