Chatham's state representative Sen. Valerie Foushee announces run for Congress

Posted 11/23/21

State Sen. Valerie Foushee, who has represented Orange and Chatham counties for eight years, is running to represent the Triangle in the U.S. House, she announced last Wednesday.

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Chatham's state representative Sen. Valerie Foushee announces run for Congress

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State Sen. Valerie Foushee, who has represented Orange and Chatham counties for eight years, is running to represent the Triangle in the U.S. House, she announced last Wednesday.

“I am thrilled to enter this race and bring a fighter for North Carolina to Congress,” Foushee told McClatchy newspapers in a written statement. “I’ve dedicated my entire life to public service, and I know and understand the values of this district.”

Foushee, a Democrat and lifelong resident of Orange County, is running to represent the Triangle in the 6th Congressional District of the U.S. House. A likely front-runner, she joins multiple Democrats who have announced bids for the seat after U.S. Rep. David Price announced his retirement in October. Richard Watkins, a virologist who was previously running for U.S. Senate, also announced his candidacy Wednesday. He ran in the 2018 primary against Price and finished as a distant third. Other Democrats running for the seat include Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, the first Muslim woman elected to office in the state, and former Obama staffer and state Sen. Wiley Nickel.

Robert Thomas and Mahesh Garnorkar are the only Republican candidates in the left-leaning district so far.

Following the redistricting of North Carolina’s three political maps for the next decade, approved along partisan lines earlier this month, Foushee would no longer have represented Chatham in the state’s General Assembly after the 2022 election.

Foushee’s new district — if she were still running — includes Orange, Caswell and Person counties. The projections for redistricting based on preliminary Census results back in August suggested it’d be unlikely Foushee would continue representing Chatham.

“I’m not happy about it,” Foushee told the News + Record of the likely redistricted lines in August. “I’m happy to serve, let’s be clear, but as a representative of Chatham now for eight years and my husband was born in Chatham — we have lots of friends and relatives in Chatham, he has siblings who live in Chatham and my sister lives in Siler City — I wasn’t just representing the county itself. Because of our relationships with friends and family, it was like one continuous district. There were no county lines for me.”

If elected to Congress, Foushee wants to be a champion for working families, a leader in criminal justice reform and to help protect the environment while addressing climate change.

She worked 21 years at the Chapel Hill Police Department as an administrator who oversaw two units. Her long political career includes serving on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board and the Orange County Board of Commissioners — the first African American woman on that board — and representing the area in both the N.C. House and Senate.

Foushee received nearly 30 endorsements after announcing, including former state Sens. Mickey Michaux and Sam Searcy, Sens. Natalie Murdock and Mike Woodard and Reps. Marcia Morey and Graig Meyer.

Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson also endorsed Foushee.

Prior to announcing her bid for Congress, Foushee told the News + Record she’s been honored to represent Chatham.

“I enjoy working with residents of Chatham,” she said. “It was certainly an honor to represent Chatham in the Senate. I am willing to serve where I am designated to serve. But the processes are over. We have what we have, and I look forward to continued service to the state.”

Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at hannah@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.

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