ORANGE COUNTY – It’s a case of musical chairs for our local state leaders. Now that Valerie Foushee has been appointed to fill Ellie Kinnaird’s vacant Senate seat, the process to find a new representative for N.C. House District 50 has begun.

Matt Hughes, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, explains that “three or four people” have contacted him, expressing interest in the House seat, which covers parts of rural Orange and Durham Counties.

Registered Democrats living in the district who are over the age of 21 are eligible.

“The folks who have approached me are still in their private deliberations. They are talking with friends, families, and supporters,” Hughes says. “They are determining if going to the Legislature is something they’d like to do, and if so, if this is the seat that will allow them to go to Raleigh.”

North Carolina Democratic Chair Randy Voller told WCHL’s Elizabeth Friend Sunday that the process to fill the House District 50 seat will kick off as soon as Governor Pat McCrory officially names Foushee to the Senate.

Hughes says Chair of the 4th Congressional District, Ted Benson, will preside over a House of Representatives District Executive Committee to appoint someone to serve the remainder of Foushee’s term. Graig Meyer and Phyllis Mack-Horton will be representing Orange County.

“The Sixth Congressional District is undergoing a leadership change at the moment, so it will fall into the lap of Fourth District Chair Ted Benson again to oversee this process,” Hughes says.

Benson will moderate the meeting, as he did Sunday night when Foushee was appointed to the Senate seat, but he will not vote.

“I’m going to have a better sense of what all the moving parts are earlier on and a better sense of how to set it all up,” Benson says.

Hughes says that the committee members’ votes are based on population and that the numbers mirror the split that was used in the Senate District 23 appointment process: one vote for every 300 people residing in the county, which gave Orange County about two-thirds of the vote.

“Orange has a similar proportion of the votes in this House District Committee and actually the district is slightly more favorable [in number of votes] to Orange and the Senate district,” Hughes says.

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, or 919-537-9568.

For Durham County, contact Chair Tracey Burns-Vann at, or 919-627-1621.

To email the House District directly, email house