Democrats set meeting to pick Basnight successor

By on January 14, 2011

Sen. Marc Basnight. (Virginian-Pilot photo)

Democrats have set Friday as the date for their meeting to choose a successor to state Sen. Marc Basnight.

The meeting of the party’s 1st District Senate Executive Committee will be at 6:30 p.m. at Tyrrell Hall, 906 U.S. 64 in Columbia. It is open to the public, but only committee members can participate.

Basnight, a Dare County Democrat, announced earlier this month that he was resigning for health reasons effective Jan. 25.

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A neurological disease has affected his speech, and the longtime Senate leader says he would not be effective as a back-bencher in the Republican-controlled chamber.

Under state law, the district committee selects a candidate to recommend to the governor. If the governor does not make a decision within five days, the recommended candidate assumes the seat.

Several people have expressed an interest or have declared themselves candidates.

Among them are Warren Judge, the chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, Virginia Tillett, a Dare County commissioner, Paul Tine, a former Chamber of Commerce leader and local business owner, and Stan White, a former Dare County Commissioner and member of the state Board of Transportation.

At least two potential contenders from Beaufort County have been mentioned: Art Williams, a state representative in Beaufort County until his defeat in November’s Republican sweep, and the Rev. Robert Cayton, a Beaufort County commissioner.

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In addition, Matt Wood, a former Pasquotank County commissioner, has expressed an interest in the seat, and Ashley B. “Brownie” Futrell Jr., retired publisher of the Washington Daily News, has been mentioned.

State Reps. Tim Spear, D-Creswell, and Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, have said they are not interested.

Two committee members represent each of the counties in the district. Their votes are weighted according to the population of the county they represent.

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Basnight was getting ready to start his 14th two-year term after surviving an election dominated by the GOP, which gained majorities in both chambers.

Basnight had been the longest-serving president pro-tem in the state’s history, holding the leadership position for eight terms.

Senate District 1 includes Beaufort, Camden, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Pasquotank, Tyrrell and Washington counties.

Related stories:
Basnight will leave state Senate on Jan. 25 »
Prospects for Basnight’s seat begin to emerge »
Power brokers earned their clout in a different era »
System shuts voters out from a rare moment »
White in, Spear out in scramble for Basnight’s seat »

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