If the number of people from a party waiting to file for candidacy from the opening bell of the filing period is an indication of ballot box success, then Brunswick County Republicans may be looking at another banner year.
Two Republicans - clerk of court candidate Jim MacCallum and incumbent state Rep. Frank Iler - had been waiting at least a half hour when elections director Greg Bellamy announced at noon that the three-week filing period was officially open. Another, incumbent county Commissioner Phil Norris, was in line before Bellamy's announcement.
State House candidate Leonard Jenkins was the only Democrat there for the brief and informal ceremony.
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Brunswick Republicans swept the local races in the 2008 elections, winning among other things the Register of Deeds office, which had been a Democrat stronghold, and the two county commissioner seats formerly held by Democrats.
Shortly after the initial flurry, Corrine McCray of Calabash came in to file as a Republican challenger to Norris. Former state Rep. David Redwine showed up about 45 minutes later to file for the state Senate seat held for four decades by Sen. R.C. Soles Jr., who announced he will not seek re-election.
Just three more candidates, all filing for the clerk of court job, filed during the remainder of Monday, according to the Board of Elections. They are incumbent Democrat Cheryl Cheers Wilson, Democrat challenger Linda Moses and Pauline Hankins, a Republican who will face MacCallum in the May 4 primary.
A total of 19 seats will appear on this year's ballot in Brunswick County, including U.S. House and Senate seats now held, respectively, by Democrat Mike McIntyre and Republican Richard Burr.
Campaign finance reporting is different this year, with candidates required to file the initial finance information within 10 days of filing or announcing they would seek an office. Previously, the initial report wasn't due until 10 days after candidates began raising money. Additionally, all who spend at least $1,000 must file a report now, a threshold that formerly was set at $3,000.
That figure won't make much difference to those running for state and federal seats that generally take at least tens of thousands in campaign spending. But Sara Ashcraft, deputy director of the elections office, said that more local candidates could be required to file the detailed reports with the lower threshold.
As of Monday, Redwine and Republican sheriff candidate Timothy Daniels, a state trooper, topped the initial money list. Both opened their campaigns with $1,000 in their war chests.
The next campaign expense filing is due about a week before the primary.