In a real blow to The North Carolina Democrat Party, the last best hope for them to hold the 7th congressional district is stepping down after 18 years of service in Washington, DC.
Mike McIntyre (D-Lumberton) was first elected to the seat in 1996, following the retirement of 22 year veteran Democrat Charlie Rose of Fayetteville. McIntyre has straddled the fence while in DC — occasionally bucking his party on things like taxes, spending and ObamaCare. He’s been a popular figure among social conservatives, and has even managed to snag significant GOP votes at the polls.
The NCGOP thought they had McIntyre down for the count in 2012. The district had been gerrymandered to favor a Republican — even going as far as cutting McIntyre’s hometown out. But the Lumberton Democrat surprised everyone by narrowly ekeing out a win against GOP state senator David Rouzer of Johnston County.
McIntyre had been looking at a primary challenge from a sitting New Hanover County commissioner. Republican New Hanover County commissioner and former state senator Woody White of Wilmington had said he was looking at a challenge to McIntyre. Rouzer, the 2012 GOP nominee, is already out there running. McIntyre’s announcement is likely to open the floodgates even further on the GOP side.
The layout of the district would seem to favor a conservative candidate from the coast. It will be interesting to see who — if anyone — else decides to throw their hat in the ring.