RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Democratic state Senate candidate Valerie Jordan called an effort to get her removed from the ballot “baseless” on Tuesday after Republicans filed a protest claiming she doesn’t live in the district where she’s running for office.
Jordan is running against Republican state Rep. Bobby Hanig in the state’s third Senate district, which includes Warren County and several other counties in the northeastern part of North Carolina.
As CBS 17 reported Monday, in the protest Hanig submitted, he included evidence he said shows that Jordan does not live in Warren County but rather continues to live at a home in Raleigh where she lived for many years before launching her campaign.
Jordan is a current member of the state Board of Transportation. As part of the evidence Hanig submitted, he included photographs taken at Jordan’s home in Raleigh of cars with DOT license plates each day for more than three weeks. Republicans also submitted documents showing she continues to list the Raleigh home as her mailing address for tax purposes with Warren County.
Jordan changed her voter registration from Wake County to Warren County after the Nov. 2020 election, online records show.
No one responded at the home in Raleigh on Tuesday. Her campaign did not make her available for an interview about the issue.
In a statement Jordan released Tuesday, she said:
“I was born and raised in Warren County. I went to school here, I put in tobacco here, and I raised my daughter here. While I did move to Raleigh for work, years ago, I began commuting back to Warrenton daily to take care of my dying mother. Caring for my mother while she was sick was a deeply painful experience, but the support I received from my Warrenton family and friends reminded me of just how much I love this community and it inspired me to move back home after her passing in 2020. Warrenton is my home, where I pray on Sunday, and where I host our family dinners. Anyone that would suggest that I don’t live in Warrenton clearly doesn’t know Warrenton, which is exactly what’s wrong with Raleigh politicians like Bobby Hanig. This part of our state has been left behind for too long and I look forward to putting eastern North Carolina back on the agenda when elected.”
In an interview Tuesday, Hanig said there’s a “litany of issues” and called for election officials to remove Jordan’s name from the ballot.
“These folks need the representation they deserve. And, someone living in Raleigh just isn’t going to give it to them,” Hanig said. “The evidence is just completely overwhelming, so compelling that she does not live there. Ideally, she would step aside and let someone that lives in the district run for the race.”
Pat Gannon, a spokesperson for the NC State Board of Elections, said a party’s nominee can withdraw their name from a race up until the time absentee ballots begin to go out to voters, which is Sept. 9.
If there’s enough time, a replacement nominee’s name could be on the ballot. However, if there is not enough time, any votes cast for the original candidate would count toward the replacement candidate.
Chris Cooper, an expert on state politics at Western Carolina University, said when he reviewed the protest he found it “compelling” but noted there have been mixed outcomes with similar challenges in the past.
“We see these challenges from time to time. A lot of folks have multiple houses, maybe they have a rental house somewhere else. But, this does look fairly compelling,” he said.
The protest comes during an election in which Republicans are hopeful they will retake a veto-proof supermajority in the General Assembly.
Jordan defeated current Sen. Ernestine Bazemore in the Democratic primary this year. Republicans need to flip at least two seats currently held by Democrats in order to achieve a supermajority in the Senate.
Based on recent voting history, the district favors Democrats by about five percentage points.
Jordan recently stood with Gov. Roy Cooper (D) at a press conference on abortion access as he highlighted the critical races across North Carolina that will determine whether Republicans win a supermajority or if Democrats can hang onto enough seats to prevent that.
“If the Republicans were going to pick off a Democratic district, this would be a pretty good candidate to do it,” Cooper said. “You’ve got Bobby Hanig, the Republican who’s running for higher office, who is certainly an extremely conservative Republican who has denied some things about the 2020 election who is running in a Democrat +5 district. So, even if Jordan isn’t the candidate, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Republicans are going to take this seat.”