By Carissa Joines
With the December resignation of four-term State Senator Pete Brunstetter, the Forsyth and Yadkin County Republican parties were tasked with recommending an individual to Governor McCrory for appointment to fill his un-expired term and represent District 31 in the coming Short Session of the legislature, due to open on May 15th. Brunstetter himself first held the seat after being appointed to finish the term of Ham Horton, who died of cancer in 2006.
In Tuesday night’s special meeting of delegates from Forsyth and Yadkin counties, a field of four competed for the recommendation. After two rounds of voting and a fair amount of confusion, Joyce Krawiec eventually emerged the winner. Krawiec is a Kernersville resident, long time GOP activist, and current Vice-Chair of the NC Republican party. (Read more about who Krawiec is HERE.)
Krawiec faced 3 opponents for the nomination – Mitch Farris, a US Army vet, self-professed “Yankee” and 8-year resident of Forsyth County; Darrell McCormick, a Yadkin County native who now owns a business in Winston-Salem and has previously served 2 terms in the NC House; and Tom Keith – former Forsyth County District Attorney (1991-2009) and prosecuting attorney for 21 years, who also served as chair of the FC Board of Elections for 2 terms.
Each candidate was nominated by a delegate, who then had a period of time to present why they had nominated the candidate, before the candidates themselves were granted 3 minutes to make their case. Prior to the meeting, the results of a candidate questionnaire were posted on the FC GOP website, listing candidate bios and their answers to issue-based questions.
The delegates were required to register before the meeting, and a count of 77 delegates from Forsyth County and 13 from Yadkin County were deemed eligible to vote for a candidate. In the first round of voting, McCormick received 5 votes from Forsyth delegates, Farris received 9 votes from Forsyth, Krawiec received 42 votes from Forsyth, and Keith received 23 votes from Forsyth and all 13 of Yadkin’s votes. There was a problem however, when the totals for Forsyth County votes amounted to 2 more votes than eligible delegates – 79 votes were cast, but only 77 eligible delegates were present. This declaration was made in spite of the fact that the governing board of the meeting had answered a delegate’s question as to how large the FC delegation was with the statement that there were 75 delegates signed in for FC. In trying to make light of the misstep, FC GOP chair Scott Cumbie said, “We in Forsyth County are supposed to be the city-folk but we can’t seem to get this right.”
The votes were then weighted to allow for a proportionate number of votes to be cast based on the population of the two counties. After the tallies indicated no candidate had received the majority vote (equaling 334 weighted votes) and that the two over-votes would not have provided any candidate with the necessary majority, a second vote was called for, and candidates were given the opportunity to withdraw their names from consideration. Both Harris and McCormick withdrew from the race, leaving their 14 votes up for grabs in the second round.
Ballots for the second round were distributed by one delegate, Pattie Curran, to insure equal distribution, and Cumbie stated that only 77 ballots were made available to Curran, so no one could vote multiple times as they had in the first round.
The second round of voting however showed a total of 92 votes cast, which means that once again, 79 Forsyth votes were cast and 13 Yadkin votes were cast. Final tallies gave Tom Keith 29 Forsyth and 11 Yadkin votes, and Joyce Krawiec 50 Forsyth and 2 Yadkin votes. The end result, in spite of the incorrect weighting of the votes by including the 2 illegal votes as valid, seems to have still given the majority to Krawiec by one weighted vote. No explanation was given as to why the two extra votes were still cast in the second round of voting, and the tally sheet shown on the overhead screen clearly indicated that they were indeed included in the accounting in the second round.
Should Krawiec be appointed by the Governor to serve the remainder of Brunstetter’s term, she would participate as the representative in the Short Session, which is scheduled to open almost one week to the day after the May primaries. Tom Keith has already gone on the record stating that he will file to run as a candidate for election for the seat, and Krawiec indicated that she intends to run for the seat as well. Both have campaign experience, Keith with his own successful campaigns for District Attorney, and Krawiec with assisting on various campaigns for local to national candidates. The filing period for all candidates seeking election in 2014 opens at noon on February 10th and runs through noon on February 28th. Should both candidates file for the GOP nomination, the primary election would be May 6th.