Feb 25, 2022 - News

Jeff Jackson is running for the new 14th congressional district seat

Jeff Jackson

Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Jackson for NC

Jeff Jackson says he was in the deli section at Harris Teeter the other day when his phone started buzzing with people telling him he should run for Congress.

  • Judges had just approved this year’s maps, and the new 14th congressional district included his home and was set up favorably for a Democrat.

State of play: Jackson did an about-face on his plan to take the year off from politics, announcing Friday that he’ll run for the 14th district seat. The news came just a couple of months after he ended a bid for U.S. Senate.

Why it matters: The 14th is one example of how court challenges to the legislative districts will almost certainly alter the face of North Carolina’s congressional delegation.

  • The initial version, drawn by the Republican-led legislature, showed a likely 10-4 or 11-3 Republican edge.
  • After multiple revision proposals, the final version from a court-ordered group of outside experts created maps where 7 of the districts favored Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, and 7 favored Donald Trump.
  • The 14th was one that went from leaning to Republican to about 55% Democrat overnight. It covers southern Mecklenburg and much of eastern Gaston County.
2022 congressional races Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg now is divided among two congressional districts — the 12th, represented by Alma Adams, and the 14th, a new district. The line between them runs up Independence Boulevard to the northwest and includes the airport. Source: N.C. Legislature

Between the lines: Jackson, 39, would be an early favorite. He has $830,000 in cash on hand from his Senate run. His exit from that race in mid-December cleared the way for Cheri Beasley to become the Democratic nominee, and helped him build goodwill among party leaders throughout the state.

  • Jackson told me Friday that he made several calls on Thursday to see if those same party leaders would support him, and he said their response rate was “100% yes.”
  • On Thursday night, he sent an email to supporters asking them to reply with their thoughts on his potential bid. He had 1,315 responses as of 10am Friday.

The big picture: Of course there was one small matter: When he bounced from the Senate race he promised his wife, Marisa, that he’d take 2022 off from campaigning and they’d have a year of vacations and trips together. And he said he’d focus on running for “Dad of the Year.”

  • He had a big trip planned this spring, during the middle of what’s now primary season. On Thursday, as he started to be more convinced he’d run, he turned to Marisa and said, “I promise I will make this up to you.”

What’s next: The primary is May 17.

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