by Bob Geary
In state Senate District 17, southwestern Wake, the incumbent Republican Richard Stevens isn't running, and this afternoon Democrat Erv Portman, a county commissioner, filed for the seat. Apparently that "Draft Portman movement" I mentioned last week came true. Portman, unopposed thus far, will likely face Tamara Barringer, a Republican activist and the only GOP candidate to file — with one more day to go.
Senate 17 is a Republican-learning district, but no so much that a Democrat couldn't take it away if the wind is right. Especially with a formidable candidate, which Portman certainly is.
A business owner, Portman is a former Cary Town Council member who was appointed to the Wake commissioners board when Stan Norwalk retired.
Filing to replace Portman in his commissioners district today: Democrat Caroline Sullivan, a Raleigh PTA leader with a solid track record as a fundraiser for various nonprofit groups.
She'll run from District 4. Democratic incumbents James West and Betty Lou Ward are running for re-election from Districts 5 and 6, respectively.
I say "from" because, though a candidate must live in his or her district, the voting for every district is countywide. Commissioners serve four-year terms.
Incredibly, with one day left to file, only one Republican is a candidate for any commissioners seat: Paul Fitts, in District 6, has put his name in to run against Ward. He ran unsuccessfully for Raleigh City Council last year.
Nonetheless, even if they don't win any of the three commissioners seats on the ballot this year, the Republicans will retain their 4-3 majority on the board — all four Republicans, including Chair Paul Coble, were elected in 2010.