Pictured: Ellie Kinnaird
CHAPEL HILL – Following Ellie Kinnaird’s resignation Monday, questions remain of who will fill her seat in the state senate and how long the process will take.
Chair of the 4th Congressional District, Ted Benson, will preside over the meeting of the 23rd Senatorial District Executive Committee, the group charged with nominating someone to serve the remainder of Kinnaird’s term, which is up in 2014.
“Neither [state] statute nor the [N.C. Democratic Party’s] Plan of Organization has a firm time limit on that process, but I would hope to have it done within 30 days,” Benson said.
He said the Committee meets only in rare circumstances such as this. After the committee nominates a replacement, Benson said it is state law that N.C. Governor Pat McCrory must formally appoint the Committee’s nominee.
Benson said he will have to give five day’s notice to the Committee members once the date for the meeting is set.
The 23rd Senatorial District Executive Committee is made up of four Democratic officials, two from Orange and two from Chatham County. Samantha Cabe and Wanda Hunter will represent Orange County.
Matt Hughes, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, explained that Orange County will hold 446 votes and Chatham will hold 212.
“Those votes are weighted based on population. The counties receive one vote for every 300 people residing in their county, and that gives Orange County about two-thirds of the vote,” Hughes said.
Benson said it is his job to moderate the meeting, but he will not vote.
According to a statement on the Orange County Democratic Party’s website, the group said Monday, “The Orange County Democratic Party will treat filling this vacancy much like a primary election. We will be fair and impartial to all candidates and allow the process to work.”
Benson said registered Democrats over the age of 25, residing in the 23rd District, are eligible for consideration to fill Kinnaird’s vacancy. He clarified that they must go through the process with their respective presiding Democratic Parties.
Before a replacement is named, though, Benson said one of Chatham County’s Executive District Committee slots is currently vacant and has to be filled.
Jan Nichols, Chair of the Chatham County Democratric Party, said Monday that an emergency meeting is planned for Thursday.
“Thursday the Executive Committee of the Chatham County Democratic Party will meet, and we will meet for the purpose of electing somebody to that committee. We will then submit that name to the state party,” Nichols said.
Both Benson and Hughes said Kinnaird served the Democrat Party of North Carolina well during her nine terms as State Senator.
“I tremendously respect both her service and her decision to focus her energies on voter registration and counteract the most difficult aspects of the Voter ID Law that was recently passed,” Benson said.
Hughes echoed the sentiment, adding, “I’m pretty sure we will have a champion of the people who will be the people’s senator as Senator Kinnaird was, and I look forward to working with that person.”
If you’re interested in putting your name forward for Orange County or would like to know more about the process, contact Chair Matt Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-537-9568.