Perry named Pate's successor by Lenoir, Wayne GOP

Perry named Pate's successor by Lenoir, Wayne GOP

Moments after Republicans in Lenoir and Wayne counties selected him to replace recently-retired Louis Pate in the N.C. Senate, James ‘Jim’ Perry addresses the media. Photo by Linda Whittington / Neuse News

GOLDSBORO — There’s a new senator in the North Carolina Legislature — and he hails from Lenoir County.

James “Jim” Perry of Kinston was selected by his fellow Republicans in Lenoir and Wayne counties at a special meeting to replace the retired N.C. Sen. Louis Pate. The meeting was held at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Goldsboro.

Pate recently announced his decision to step away from the N.C. Senate. He was reelected in November, so Perry will serve the remainder of Pate’s two-year term.

The six candidates for the position were given several minutes each to make their pitch to the assembled delegates, and then the voting process began. There were 74 Wayne County delegates, and three from Lenoir. Although Lenoir County had only a trio of delegates, the votes of those three were weighted to accurately reflect the number of registered Republicans in Lenoir County vs. Wayne County.

The Lenoir County delegation together was allotted 198 votes, meaning each delegate’s vote was worth 66 votes toward the total, while the Wayne County delegation was allotted 409 votes, meaning each delegate’s vote was worth about five votes each.

Perry received all three of the Lenoir County votes, along with 20 from the Wayne County delegates to receive more than the requisite 50 percent of the tally. If a candidate had not received more than 50 percent in the first round of voting, then there would have been a second round of voting featuring the top two.

A bit of controversy attended the first round of voting, as it appeared an extra vote had come from a Wayne County delegate. Seventh District N.C. Republican Chairman Brent Heath spoke to the delegates about the importance of a fair and honest election process, and the decision was made to redo the vote with an amended process.

North Carolina GOP Vice-Chair Michelle Nix explained the amended process.

“People who are voting will go up and get their name checked off on a list; they will get a ballot and then their wristband will be marked once they have cast their vote,” she said.

After going through the voting process a second time, the results were same, and officials discovered the one Wayne County delegate had not been properly checked in, leading to the apparent discrepancy. With the fears of irregularities cleared up, the results were announced to the waiting crowd, which included both delegates and a number of spectators.

Wayne County’s Joe Daughtery received 33 votes from Wayne County delegates, and Billy Strickland received 19 votes from Wayne County. Lenoir County Commissioner J. Mac Daughety received one vote from a Wayne County delegate.

Once the weighting was taken into account, Perry received 307 votes, putting him just over the 50 percent threshold, giving him the victory. Once the votes were tallied, Heath made a motion to nominate Perry by unanimous vote, and all the delegates agreed.

The new senator said he appreciated the trust that had been given to him by the people of Lenoir and Wayne Counties, and said he plans to spend his first days in office learning how things work in Raleigh while getting to know his colleagues.

He also said he didn’t want to make bold statements about things he hopes to accomplish in the near future.

“I don’t think any single lawmaker can do things that way, so while there are things that are near and dear to my heart, like everyone in Eastern North Carolina,” he said. “Now we have more of an opportunity to have a voice, but … in the beginning it’s all about learning and building relationships.”

Neuse News Editor Bryan Hanks contributed to this report.

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