Dems object to election delay to fill Watt seat

Updated:

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)

rth Carolina's Democratic congressmen are calling on Gov. Pat McCrory to reconsider his decision to wait until November to hold a special election to fill the 12th District seat vacated by Mel Watt.

U.S. Reps. David Price and G. K. Butterfield sent a letter Thursday to the state's Republican governor calling it unacceptable to leave 700,000 North Carolinians without congressional representation for more than 300 days.

The Democrats noted the delay is unprecedented in recent congressional history. Of the seven other vacancies in the 113th Congress, six were filled in an average of 126 days. The seventh is scheduled to take place 145 days after a Congressman's unexpected death.

McCrory, who announced his plan Monday, said holding the special election at the same time as the already scheduled general election in November will lessen "voter confusion" and save $1 million in voting expenses.

"The rationale you have offered, that it is both too costly and logistically impossible to hold the special election before November, is not convincing," Price and Butterfield wrote the governor. "The assumption that North Carolina is better served by having one less advocate in the House for nearly a full year than by finding a cost-effective way to minimize the vacancy is seriously misguided. The fact that your decision requires so many of our state's citizen's to forgo their constitutionally guaranteed right of representation for twice as long as common practice is indefensible."

Watt resigned to become director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the groups that own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages. Republicans had fought Watts' nomination by President Barack Obama for months, saying he was unqualified. Democrats took advantage of eased rules on filibusters in December and pushed the nomination through.