ELIZABETHTOWN — Two Bladen County candidates are switching party affiliation.
On Wednesday afternoon, N.C. House Rep. William Brisson and Bladen County Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson turned in paperwork at the Bladen County Board of Elections to switch their affiliations from Democrat to Republican.
“I’ve been a lifelong Democrat,” said Peterson. “I feel like it’s time for me to take a new direction. I’ve been faithful in the past … and when it comes time to support (voters), nothing has changed as far as the citizens of Bladen County go.”
Brisson — a Dublin native — represents District 22, which encompasses portions of Bladen, Sampson, and Johnston counties. In his long tenure in the House, Brisson has voted with the Republican party on a majority of budget-related bills and votes 92 percent of the time overall with the Republican party. He was one of five Democrats to vote GOP on this year’s budget and one of two Democrats to override North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto on the bill.
“Representative Brisson is an honest public servant, but one who rarely caucuses with Democrats and votes more than nine out of ten times with the Republican majority,” said North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin. “Our party remains committed to fighting for every seat possible in order to retake the majority by 2020.”
Brisson’s switch increases the GOP majority to 75-45 in the N.C. House.
“After thoughtful consideration and countless conversations with the citizens of House District 22, I have decided to switch my party registration from Democrat to Republican.” Brisson said. “As an admitted conservative, I cannot continue to be part of today’s liberal Democrat Party.
“While some might try to attribute motivations to my actions, let me speak openly and honestly about the reason for this change,” he added. “Early on, I made a promise to my constituents to always represent their best interests. This switch will help me continue to work with greater success to support the citizens of Bladen, Sampson, and Johnston counties.
“This move is not about partisan politics,” he concluded. “This step is about getting things done for House District 22.”
Peterson’s new affiliation, however, means changes for the Board of County Commissioners. The nine-member board was previously tilted in favor of the Democrats, but Peterson’s change to red means GOPs now hold the majority, 5-4.
The change almost didn’t happen immediately. When both gentlemen filed, they were initially told the change wouldn’t take effect until the middle or end of November, because the filing period had ended. After much back and forth, the change was made as an update and will take effect immediately.
Both Peterson and Brisson are up for re-election next year. The signing was attended by Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker, who welcomed both men to the Republican party.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.