Steinburg eyeing bid for Senate if new lines OK'd
By Jon Hawley
Friday, August 11, 2017
State Rep. Bob Steinburg said Friday he likely will make a bid for the state Senate next year if new legislative district lines remain the way they’ve been drawn.
Steinburg, who currently represents House District 1, said he’ll make a bid for the Senate District 1 seat if lawmakers approve new redistricting maps now under consideration by the House and Senate redistricting committees.
According to those new maps, Senate District 1 would grow from eight counties to 11. Currently the district includes Beaufort, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties. The new district would gain Chowan, Hertford, Tyrrell and Washington, but lose Beaufort.
Approval of the new map could affect the re-election plans of Republican state Sen. Bill Cook, who lives in Beaufort and currently represents District 1.
In an interview Friday, Cook legislative aide Jordan Hennessy said Cook is not on the Senate Redistricting Committee and isn't yet taking a position on what the new districts should be. Hennessy also said he doesn't know if Cook will seek re-election in 2018.
Steinburg, R-Chowan, stressed that his intent is not to challenge Cook, noting that the new Senate District 1 map doesn’t include Beaufort.
The reason he’s interested in the Senate seat, he said, is its size: with 11 counties, the new Senate District 1 would unify the region under a single senator who'd have a strong voice in the General Assembly.
“It is northeastern North Carolina,” Steinburg said.
The senator representing that new district would represent “more than 10 percent of the state's political entities,” he said, referring to the many municipal councils, county boards of commissioners, school boards, law enforcement agencies and others. That would give that senator serious clout, he said.
“In that seat, you're going to have an enormous voice in state government,” Steinburg said.
Steinburg said his three terms in the House would help him bridge potential divides between the two chambers.
Steinburg also said he'd be ready for the challenges of running for Senate District 1, which in recent elections has been an extremely expensive race.
Steinburg said he's prepared for primary challengers and would raise the money needed to compete for the seat. Cook has had to raise around half a million dollars or more in prior elections, about quintuple what Steinburg has raised running for House.