Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A congressional district - and campaigns - in limbo

U.S. Rep. Mel Watt is spending the August recess doing what he does every year: "Trading Places" with constituents in his 12th Congressional District. On Wednesday he worked as a postal carrier, pharmacy technician and quality control inspector in the Triad.

But the job he really wants is in Washington. The Charlotte Democrat is waiting for Senate confirmation as head of the Housing Finance Agency.

But Watt's confirmation appears to be in limbo, as do the campaigns of several would be successors.

Politico ran a story today that says some Capitol Hill Democrats worry about Watt's confirmation. He made it out of the Senate Banking Committee on a party line vote. But Senate Democratic leaders didn't push hard for hhis confirmation before the month-long recess started last week. He needs 60 votes to overcome any Republican filibuster.

While Watt waits, so do at least a half-dozen people interested in his seat. Several already have filed papers with the Federal Election Commission.

“The only thing you can do is run your campaign and be ready when it's time to be ready,” says state Rep. Marcus Brandon, a two-term Democrat from High Point.

Sen. Malcolm Graham is in the same boat. He's already lined up a shadow team of consultants.

"Obviously we’ve got a team that's ready in the dugout, ready to come out and play if there's a resignation," he says.

If Watt were to be confirmed when Congress returns in September, it's unclear when a special election would be held. The longer it takes to actually have a vacancy, the more difficult it will be to prepare ballots by November.

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