Voters want Chilton, Foushee for senate seat

Aug. 29, 2013 @ 06:58 PM

Voters in Chatham and Orange counties told Public Policy Polling that Mark Chilton and Valerie Foushee are their top two choices to replace former state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird who resigned her District 23 seat earlier this month.  

According to the poll by the Raleigh-based company, 36 percent of the voters say Chilton would be one of their top two choices and 28 percent rank Foushee as one of their top two.
“Chilton and Foushee are also the only people who have put their names in the mix that a majority of voters in the district are familiar with,” polling officials wrote in a news release. “They are both quite popular among voters familiar with them and hold nearly identical favorability ratings -- Chilton's at 40/14 and Foushee's at 40/13.”
Meanwhile, there appears to be little support for the remaining applicants with 14 percent placing Alice Bordsen in their top two, 7 percent Heidi Chapman, 5 percent Amy Tiemann, 2 percent Jim Porto and 1 percent Lynette Hartsell.
Chilton and Foushee outperformed Bordsen, a former state representative, despite strong support for Bordsen from Kinnaird, who said she favors Bordsen because of her 10 years of experience in the legislature.     
Chilton comes out in first because of strong support in Carrboro (36/15 over Foushee), Chapel Hill (31/15), and Chatham County (21 percent to 7 percent for Bordsen with Foushee at 6 percent.)
Foushee does best in unincorporated Orange County (33 percent to 15 percent for Bordsen with Chilton at 13 percent) and Hillsborough (24 percent to 13 percent for Chapman with Chilton at 12 percent).
Pollsters say Chilton is polling well for the vacancy because of his decision to get arrested as part of the “Moral Monday” protests. Seventy-five percent of voters in the district approve of local elected officials who got arrested as part of that movement compared to only 18 percent who take issue with their decisions.
Orange County Democratic officials have called a September 8 to vote on Kinnaird’s replacement.
Whoever gets the appointment will have hard a time filling Kinnaird's shoes in voters' eyes because she leaves office with a 72 percent approval rating, the group said.
Only 14 percent of voters disapproved of the work she did in the Senate.
“Those are the strongest numbers we've found for an elected official anywhere in the country so far this year,” the polling group wrote.
Still, even with such great popularity among voters, the majority of them don’t agree with Kinnaird that her replacement should be a woman.
Kinnaird’s replacement will be appointed by the four-member N.C. Senatorial District 23 Democratic Party Executive Committee.
The committee is composed of two members from Chatham County and two from Orange County.
Kinnaird, who was in her ninth term as a state senator, cited her frustration with the Republican-controlled General Assembly as the reason for her resignation on Aug. 19.
She believes she can be more effective working outside the legislature, and intends to focus on ensuring citizens have the proper identification to vote in the wake of the state’s new voter ID law backed by the state’s Republican majority.