Political Notebook: Warren, Ford plan to seek re-election in 2022

Published 3:03 pm Monday, December 6, 2021

SALISBURY — Rowan County lawmakers Rep. Harry Warren and Sen. Carl Ford say they will add their names to the list of candidates running in 2022.

Though candidate filing for the 2022 election was slated to begin at noon Monday, a court order from the North Carolina Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked the start of filing for all U.S. House, state House and Senate contests until further notice. It’s a temporary stay as judges determine whether to block the use of district boundaries the N.C General Assembly used to create the new districts. An ongoing lawsuit filed immediately after adoption of the maps alleges illegal partisan gerrymandering.

Filing will continue for all other contests.

Filing is scheduled to end on Dec. 17 at noon. The primary election is March 8, with the general election in November 2022. Those seeking election to state offices must file at the Rowan County Board of Elections office, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Boulevard West.

Both state House and Senate members are elected to two-year terms.

Warren, a Republican, is now seeking his seventh term. He was elected to serve District 76, which includes Rowan County, in 202o, but he’s been a member of the House since 2010. During the 2021-22 legislative session, Warren has served as chairman of the State Personnel House Committee, and vice chairman of the Election Law and Campaign Finance Reform Committee, the Finance Committee and the Local Government – Land Use, Planning and Development Committee. He also co-chaired the Joint Legislative Committee on Local Government and was the vice chair of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance.

Warren said there’s still more work to be done, and feels his senior member status can help him get more accomplished for his district. One of his top priorities for the next term is expediting the construction of an interchange for Interstate 85 in East Spencer as “that area is primed for development” much like southern Rowan was before the Beatty Ford interchange, he said.

Ford, another Republican, was first elected to the state House in 2013, where he served until 2018. Then, he was elected senator of District 33, which covers Rowan and Stanly counties. Ford is now seeking his sixth term and the third in the Senate.

Throughout the 2021-22 session, Ford chaired the Appropriations on General Government and Information Technology Committee and the State and Local Government Committee. In December 2020, Ford was elected to serve as the Republican joint caucus leader after an unanimous vote among Senate Republicans.

Ford said he was “able to do a lot of stuff I promised” over the last term, which includes cutting corporate taxes in the state budget and reigning in the governor’s emergency powers, a provision also included in the state budget. His priority for the next term is a focus on election integrity and trying to “take back the supermajority” Republicans held until 2018.

Rep. Wayne Sasser, a Republican representing District 67, told the Post he will also seek re-election. District 67 comprises parts of Rowan, Cabarrus and Stanly counties, but it will no longer include Rowan County in 2022 due to the new redistricting maps. If re-elected, it’d be Sasser’s third term. As the General Assembly’s only pharmacist, Sasser was elected chair of both the House Health committee and the Appropriations for Health and Human Services committee during the 2021-22 legislative session. He was also vice chairman of the Appropriations committee and the Insurance committee.

Grayson Haff, a Republican from China Grove, previously declared a run for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District but is now focused on District 83, a new district with an open seat that will represent the southwestern portion of Rowan County and the northwestern corner of Cabarrus County.

Rev. Brad Jenkins, chair of the Rowan County Republican Party until last month, has also declared a run for District 83. Jenkins considered a run for the district in 2020, but he ultimately wasn’t on the ballot.

Grant Campbell, a Republican, Army veteran and physician from Cabarrus County, says he’ll seek election to District 83 as well.

Despite vetoed bill, Warren, Ford say lawmakers still focused on election reform

Gov. Roy Cooper last week vetoed a bill requiring absentee by mail ballots to be received by Election Day, but Rowan County lawmakers say they’re focused on election reform in the next session.

Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed Senate Bill 326, deemed the “Election Day Integrity Act,” which only amassed support from Republicans. Current law allows absentee ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day three additional days to arrive and be counted, but S.B. 326 sought to move that deadline to Election Day. Such legislation comes after criticism among Republicans regarding a legal settlement reached ahead of the 2020 general election during the pandemic to add an additional nine days to that deadline. Republicans worked to include into the state budget a provision preventing such settlements for future elections.

The bill would only allow ballots to be received after Election Day if they’re from deployed military.

“The legislature ironically named this bill ‘The Election Day Integrity Act’ when it actually does the opposite,” Cooper said in his veto message. “Election integrity means counting every legal vote, but this bill virtually guarantees that some will go uncounted.”

Sen. Carl Ford, a Republican for District 33, was among the sponsors of the bill. Ford said he doesn’t understand why anyone would be against “election integrity,” but North Carolina has “ample early voting days” to get the ballots submitted in time.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections states it will have 17 days of early voting before both the primary and general election, with absentee by mail ballots to be mailed to voters beginning in January.

Ford anticipates revisiting this issue in the next session, and has declared it to be among his top priorities if re-elected in 2022.

Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican representing District 76, said Cooper’s veto was made “on a false premise” as there’s already a deadline set for absentee by mail ballots anyway. Warren said this initiative would only require voters to mail their ballots or ensure they’re delivered earlier.

“Deadlines are deadlines,” Warren said. “At some point, people have to take responsibility with obeying the law and obliging deadlines.”

The General Assembly is expected to formally adjourn the 2021 session Friday and reconvene Dec. 30, where only a narrow number of matters could be considered before the 2022 session convenes in January. Warren said he doesn’t anticipate a veto override or enough Democrats signing on to override the veto. Support from 60% of the members in each chamber would be required, which is 72 House members and 30 Senate members. The bill passed 62-48 in the House and 28-21 in the Senate, with no Democrats voting in support or Republicans opposing.