Rep. Ed Hanes, a Democrat who has represented District 72 in the state House since 2013, abruptly announced his retirement after serving three terms.
Hanes said in an interview on Tuesday that he is giving up his House seat representing Winston-Salem effective immediately to pursue “cross-platform opportunities” and explore various options “over the next two or three months,” although he declined to specify his plans.
Hanes ran unopposed in the Democratic Party and was facing Republican Reginald Reid in the November general election. The Forsyth County Democratic Party will have to appoint a replacement to fill Hanes’ unexpired term and to be placed on the ballot as the Democratic nominee for the seat in the general election. Hanes said a professional opportunity “just came up as something that has presented itself,” adding that in hindsight he would have preferred to announce his retirement earlier to allow for a Democratic primary contest to decide his replacement.
Hanes has asked Winston-Salem Councilman Derwin Montgomery to replace him in the House. Montgomery said he has spoken with Forsyth County Democratic Party Chair Eric Ellison and state Sen. Paul Lowe about the appointment, which would be made by Gov. Roy Cooper at the local party’s recommendation.
Montgomery’s appointment to the fill the vacancy in District 72 and replace Hanes on the ballot in November is not automatic. Ellison said the Forsyth Democrats’ executive committee will meet on Sunday at 4 p.m. to name a successor to forward to Gov. Cooper as Hanes’ replacement.
“I will say wholeheartedly that we have heard that Councilman Derwin Montgomery is interested in serving our city as a state legislator,” Ellison said. “I think Derwin has done an excellent job. He is everything we would want in young leadership. He would do a fantastic job at the state level. He is a rising star. That said, the Forsyth County Democratic Party believes in democratic values. All Democrats that reside int he 72nd District are welcome to come forward and express their interest in the seat.”
Ellison said anyone interested in the House seat should contact him.
Montgomery said that when Hanes initially approached him, he questioned whether the House seat would give him the opportunity to continue the work he’s been doing on city council.
“One of the reasons that led me to say yes to the task is that it offers me the opportunity to do the same work on another level. Fighting for affordable housing, working for the creation of jobs in the community for everyone at many different levels of competency, that’s something that’s very important to me,” he said.
Montgomery said he also looks forward to advocating for additional support for schools and teachers in the state legislature.
Montgomery’s anticipated elevation to the state House creates a vacancy for the East Ward seat on city council. Mayor Allen Joines said that rather than hold a special election, the council will likely appoint a replacement to fill Montgomery’s unexpired term through 2020. Joines said the city council would likely act on a recommendation from the local Democratic Party.
Montgomery expressed confidence that the East Ward will be well served by whomever accepts appointment to fill his seat.
“There are some great folks who have been working in the East Ward,” he said. “I don’t want to prematurely state any names. I do have a couple folks in mind that I think will do an amazing job.”
Ed Hanes was elected to the General Assembly in 2012, when the Republican Party consolidated control by winning a super-majority in both houses and taking the Executive Mansion.
“I was able to remain committed to a singularly policy driven focus,” Hanes said in a press release. “I came to Raleigh to create relationships and bring people together on difficult issues and I was able to do that. I’m proud that I was able to remain policy focused while avoiding most of the politics that has created the stratified political environment that exists nationally.”
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