Butterfield endorses Davis for US House seat
Drew C. Wilson | Times file photo
State Sen. Don Davis, D-Greene, speaks during The Wilson Times’ 1st Congressional District candidate forum April 13 at Wilson Community College. U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield has endorsed Davis to succeed him in Congress.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield hopes voters in North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District will send state Sen. Don Davis to take his place in Washington.
Butterfield, D-Wilson, endorsed Davis on Monday as his preferred successor to the U.S. House seat he’s held for the past 18 years, shaking up the Democratic primary three days before the start of early voting in May 17 elections.
“I enthusiastically endorse Sen. Don Davis to replace me in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Butterfield said in a statement released by Davis campaign manager Emma Gore. “Having served in Congress for 18 years, I know what the people of the 1st District expect from their representative. Don has the legislative experience and is prepared to fight for the Democratic agenda of empowering America’s families and communities.”
Butterfield said the veteran, teacher and pastor from Greene County shares his key priorities.
I’m confident Don Davis will fight to protect voting rights, provide a safety net for those who have been left behind due to the pandemic and advocate for public-private partnerships to build much-needed infrastructure in the 1st District,” Butterfield said. “I respectfully ask all eligible voters to send Don Davis to Washington.”
Davis said he’s humbled to earn Butterfield’s support in the contest.
“Congressman Butterfield has spent his entire career tirelessly working for the families of eastern North Carolina,” he said ina Monday morning statement. “I am honored to gain his vote of confidence to lead us forward, making sure Washington hears our voices and that we get our fair share.”
Butterfield’s pivotal endorsement could turbocharge a campaign seeking to build on its first-quarter fundraising momentum. Davis hauled in $283,192, outpacing Democratic primary opponent Erica D. Smith’s $174,955.92 total from Jan. 1 through March 31, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
Smith has raised more money overall, reporting $785,060.09 in total receipts for the election cycle compared to Davis’ total of $426,235.43 as of the mid-April reporting deadline. But she’s depleted much of that war chest, with FEC data showing $102,439.30 in remaining cash on hand. Davis’ campaign still had $323,825.38 in the bank at the quarter’s close.
Smith pledged to fight on in a Monday statement that acknowledges Butterfield’s choice, but says the decision ultimately belongs to the voters.
“Congressman Butterfield has served this district with distinction for almost 20 years, and any candidate would be proud to have his endorsement,” she said. “I congratulate Don Davis on securing his support.”
The May 17 primary will narrow the field and marshal Democratic support behind a consensus candidate, Smith noted, whoever that may be.
“We have elections, not coronations, for a reason,” she said. “While I’m honored to have the support of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Katie Porter, over 15 PACs and organizations including Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Sunrise Movement, Higher Heights, Elect Black Women and the Collective PAC and more than 100 community leaders, including 20 local elected officials, at the end of the day, it’ll be the people of NC-01 who decide this election.”
While Smith’s camp struck a conciliatory note with Butterfield, her campaign manager, Morris Katz, came out swinging against Davis, calling him “out of touch with the Democratic Party” and saying voters should regard his record as disqualifying.
“Having voted in favor of a voter ID law that got struck down by the courts for targeting Black voters to voting to restrict access to reproductive health care and against Governor Cooper more than any other Democrat in the NCGA — the vast majority of voters are going to reject Don Davis and his dangerous record of selling out working families,” Katz said in a news release. “The polling we have seen shows Erica as the only candidate who can win a general election in NC-01. We believe that she will be the Democratic nominee and the next congressperson for NC-01.”
Davis and Smith face two opponents — Henderson City Councilman Jason Spriggs and Fayetteville State University professor Julian C. Bishop Sr. — in the Democratic primary. Neither Bishop nor Spriggs has reported any campaign contributions to the FEC.
Spriggs called the endorsement “inappropriate” in a Monday statement that expressed support for Smith and said Butterfield’s intervention in the contest marked “a very sad and disappointing day for women candidates and voters across North Carolina.”
“Not endorsing Erica, who’s given her all for years in pursuit of a federal seat, and who happens to be the only female candidate in our Democratic primary, is an assault on the fight for equity and equality,” Spriggs said. “Ms. Smith faced this same sexism, discrimination and lack of party support in her 2020 bid for Senate. The result: Democrats lost a valuable U.S. Senate seat.”
Spriggs stopped short of endorsing Smith over his own candidacy, but said his campaign is “speaking out in disappointment” due to “Congressman Butterfield’s inappropriate and biased endorsement of Sen. Don Davis.”
Editor's note: A previous version of this story listed an incorrect last name for Jason Spriggs, a Henderson city councilman and one of four candidates in the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District. Spriggs' name has been corrected in the version above. The Times regrets the error.
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