CHARLOTTE, N.C. – President Obama nominated of Rep. Mel Watt to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency Wednesday, creating a long-awaited opening in Charlotte politics. Watt’s held North Carolina’s 12th U.S. Congressional seat since it was created more than 20 years ago.
It happens just two days after Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx was nominated to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation, also creating a vacancy for local aspiring political leaders. Both positions are in Democratic Party strongholds: the City of Charlotte and the 12th U.S. Congressional District.
“It's an embarrassment of riches. I mean for any Democrat wanting to advance their cause, and advance their political career. Boy, this is the week of opportunity,” said Dr. Michael Bitzer, professor of politics at Catawba College.
Assuming both Mayor Foxx and Rep. Watt are confirmed, their vacancies will likely attract some of the same candidates, forcing individuals to decide which race to enter.
“It appears both jobs are appearing within a month of each other,” said Democrat State Senator Malcolm Graham.
Graham is the first of what’s expected to be a crowded field of Democrats running for both jobs. He said he’s dreamed of holding both positions since he was in college. When news first leaked that Foxx wouldn’t seek re-election, he expressed interest in the mayor’s job, but he intends to fun for the congressional seat if Watt’s confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
“Since February of this year, we've been quietly building and putting together the infrastructure, so we are prepared, and if this comes to pass, we're ready to go."
If Watt is confirmed, he’ll step down and the Governor will schedule a special election in two to three months. As for the Mayor’s position, if confirmed, city council can appoint an interim mayor, and then there’s a general election in November.