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Bevy of seats up for grabs in Brunswick County

Filing for a variety of local and state offices opens Monday along with the checkbooks of those who would occupy the offices.

Candidates for Rep. Frank Iler's 17th House seat and for the 18th district Senate seat being vacated by Sen. R.C. Soles anticipate spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on things such as yard signs, posters, bumper stickers and media advertising.

"The big cost is the TV cost," said former state Rep. David Redwine, who plans to file Monday as a Democrat candidate for the seat Soles is vacating.

A number of seats including sheriff, two county commissioners, two state representatives, one senator and three local court judges will be on the November ballot in Brunswick County, elections director Greg Bellamy said.

The elections office has moved recently to Building H at the Brunswick County Complex, across a parking lot from the Brunswick Sheriff's Office. Bellamy said that the entrance will have a waiting area separate from the actual workings of the office. At least some campaign filings will be able to be completed at a service window in the lobby. Others will go through a door into the office and stand behind the same counter the office had when it had nearly half the space it has now.

Filing closes at noon on Feb. 26.

Redwine said the final amount he spends in his campaign will depend on how the race unfolds. It will be more costly, for example, if he has to keep up with a determined and well-financed opponent. He's got research that shows he could spend between $500,000 and $600,000 if the challenge is stiff. That would be the highest amount, he said. It could be done for $250,000.

Brunswick County veterinarian Bill Rabon is one of two Republicans who say they plan to run for Soles' seat on the Republican ticket. Rabon said he doesn't yet have a handle on how much the campaign may cost, but he's ready to fork out whatever's necessary to win.

The campaign already has begun ordering yard signs and the like, but nothing will be distributed until his campaign papers have all been filed properly, he said. He won't file on Monday because he will be in a 100th anniversary celebration for the Boy Scouts.

The other Republican running for Soles' seat is Bettie Fennell of Pender County, who almost beat Soles in 2008.

Redwine said he plans to be at the elections office when filing gets under way at noon. Rep. Frank Iler, R-Brunswick, is likely to be standing beside him. Iler said he plans to be through the process by 12:01 p.m.

His re-election campaign could cost $100,000 and Iler said he'll spend it if he can raise it.

Northwest Mayor James Knox, a possible Iler challenger if he survives an expected Democrat primary challenge, thinks he'll spend $25,000 just on the primary and another $50,000 to get through November's general election.

Redwine acknowledged that this is a lot of money, but he said you don't look at it as the cost of the seat. You look at it from a point of what it takes to win and then spend that amount. Iler said the $100,000 he can envision spending will come mostly from donors, and if that's what it costs to get a voice they can trust, he'll spend it gladly.