We heard a few days ago, officially, that incumbent state Rep. Allen McNeill was not running for reelection to district 78. The district has been solidly Republican and has been split between Randolph and Moore County for years.
While the old district 78 took in a small piece of northern Moore County, the new district takes in a lot of the county’s western territory and turns toward Southern Pines, Aberdeen, and Pinehurst in the south. The old district was overwhelmingly friendly to someone from Randolph County. Redistricting has made Moore County more competitive in the district.
Moore has been divided three ways: Districts 78 (yellow), District 52 (Boles) and District 51 (Sauls).
With McNeill leaving at the end of this term, local Republicans need to find a solid Republican candidate to replace him. Nick Picerno — a successful entrepreneur, former educator, former Moore County commissioner, and life-long resident of Moore County — is throwing his hat in. the ring.
Picerno was a leader in the 1988 founding of Southern Pines-based Southern Software, which produces a software package used primarily by police and other first responders. Picerno put some distance between himself and Southern Software when he decided to run for county commissioner in 2008. Picerno stepped down from the county board when his second term ended in 2016. Many local politicos felt sure that there was another campaign in the near future for Picerno. But there wasn’t. He went on to live like an actual retired person. Redistricting and McNeill’s retirement helped Picerno plenty in making this decision to jump back into politics.
Judging from his record on the county board, Picerno is a solid conservative who reads every line of proposed legislation and questions every penny of spending. County bureaucrats were not used to answering tough questions like Picerno posed.
Picerno is also quite popular with the religious right in Moore County.
Thanks to his business success, Picerno will not be as impressed with special interest money as many current legislators appear to be. (He’s already got plenty of money sitting in his bank account.). Speaker Timmy will have his work cut out for him with the gentleman from Moore County.
We’ve got a long time to go. It will be interesting to see who else — if anyone — shows interest in the district 78 seat. Surely, Randolph County GOPers will want to see one of their own win the seat. Someone else from Moore County may jump in.
One thing’s for sure — trying to deny Picerno the seat in March or November definitely will not be a cake walk.