Five candidates are running in North Carolina’s 13th Democratic primary

Five candidates are running in the Democratic primary election for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District on May 17, 2022. Incumbent Rep. Ted Budd (R) announced on April 28, 2021, that he would not seek re-election and instead run for U.S. Senate.

Two candidates—Wiley Nickel and Sam Searcy—have led the field in fundraising and media coverage.

Searcy is a former state senator who represented District 17 from 2019-2021. He resigned at the start of his second term. In July 2021, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) appointed Searcy to serve on the State Board of Community Colleges. Searcy is also a business owner, having founded Graybeard Distillery and CliniStart, a company that assists with contracts in clinical research. Searcy described his candidacy, saying, “Families here deserve a representative who knows what a reliable local job, quality education, and just a little bit more financial security can mean for a family, and who will fight for them every single day.”

Nickel has represented District 16 in the North Carolina State Senate since 2019. He also works as a criminal defense attorney. Before his election to public office, Nickel worked in several district attorney offices and in the White House as advance staff for former President Barack Obama (D). Nickel described his candidacy, saying, “I’ve seen the power of a nation’s hope. I’ve also seen the hard work it takes to make real change. I’m proud to be running on my strong record of work on climate solutions, wealth inequality, and human rights as a North Carolina State Senator.”

Jamie Campbell Bowles (D), Nathan Click (D), and Denton Lee (D) are also running.

The district lines of North Carolina’s 13th changed substantially after redistricting, with the new district containing none of the old 13th district. The News & Observer’s Danielle Battaglia described the new district, saying, “Only one district of North Carolina’s congressional map is a swing district, one that’s considered viable for either a Republican or Democrat to win. It’s the 13th Congressional District, and it encompasses all of Johnston County, the southern portion of Wake County, and parts of Harnett and Wayne counties.” 

As of April 2022, three independent outlets rated the general election a toss-up. According to FiveThirtyEight, the old 13th district had an R+38 lean, while the new district has an R+3 lean.