Watt seat sure to remain in Democratic hands and could attract crowded field

If Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) is confirmed as the next head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, a special election to replace him would be triggered. And given the heavy Democratic tilt of his district, it's overwhelmingly unlikely to switch party control.


(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Watt has represented North Carolina's 12th district since 1993. The oddly shaped  and heavily gerrymandered district spans from Charlotte north to Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Both Watt and President Obama won nearly 80 percent of the vote there in 2012.

The district is home to nearly as many many African Americans, who comprise 64 percent  of registered voters there. Watt is African American.

According to state election law, the governor would call for a special election to fill the seat. There would almost certainly be primaries, too, given the timing of Watt's nomination.

The Democratic field could grow crowded, too. The Charlotte Observer reported that an election could be held before the scheduled city elections this fall depending on when and if Watt departs.

The Observer also mentioned state Sen. Malcolm Graham and state Rep. Alma Adams as locks to run for Watt's seat if he is confirmed. State Rep. Marcus Brandon is another name the paper mentioned.

There is skepticism about Watt on both ends of the political spectrum, so until he is confirmed, it's not a sure bet that his seat will be vacant.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · May 1, 2013