After the death this month of Rep. Walter Jones — a Republican who represented the 3rd District — and the contested 9th District election that’s left that position unfilled, two of the Tar Heel State’s 13 U.S. House seats are vacant.
It’s not the first time it’s happened.
House vacancies aren’t uncommon, particularly in states with large congressional delegations. In Pennsylvania, for example, two seats were vacant for a period in 2018 after the resignations of Republican Reps. Patrick Meehan and Charles Dent. (Dent joined CNN as a contributor; Meehan was facing sexual harassment accusations).
It’s been decades since North Carolina had two House vacancies in the same Congress.
Back in 1946, two North Carolina seats were open, but not at the same time.
Democratic Rep. Joe Ervin (10th District) committed suicide in December 1945. His older brother, Sam Ervin (known for his later work in the Senate investigating the Watergate scandal), was elected to fill the seat in January, 1946. He was sworn into the House on Feb. 4, 1946.
In April of that year, Rep. William O. Burgin (D-8th District) also died in office. Eliza Jane Pratt, another Democrat, was elected in May and sworn in that June. She was the first woman to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Congress.
The last time North Carolina had two simultaneous vacancies was in 1930.
Democratic Reps. Charles Stedman (5th District) and William Hammer (7th District) both died in office that September. Stedman had been a Confederate soldier and was the last Civil War veteran to serve in the U.S. Congress. Their successors — Reps. Franklin Wills Hancock Jr. and Hinton James — were both elected that November.
Gov. Roy Cooper will need to set dates for an election (both primary and general) to replace Jones. The future of representation for the 9th District currently remains in the hands of the state Board of Elections.
Robin Bravender is the Washington Bureau Chief for The Newsroom network, of which NC Policy Watch is a member.