Candidates for the U.S. Senate often come from the other side of Capitol Hill. Fully half of the senators in the 115th Congress had experience in the House
It makes sense: A House race is an introduction to the big leagues of politics, with big donors, big PACs
Here in North Carolina, that hasn’t always been a prerequisite. Only U.S. Sen. Richard Burr — who served five terms in the House — has had House experience among senators since Jim Broyhill in the mid-1980s.
Look for that to change soon. North Carolina has U.S. Senate races in 2020 and 2022, and Burr is retiring — so there are plenty of openings. Expect at least one or two of the current House delegation to explore a bid.
So who among North Carolina’s current congressional delegation is most likely to run for U.S. Senate? We’ve ranked the current representatives by their likelihood to run and win.
1) Patrick McHenry – 10th District
The Hickory Republican has quietly become one of the most powerful figures in North Carolina. He already has a full career’s worth of experience at just 43 years old, and real credibility in financial services and small business legislation. McHenry has the tech chops to run a modern campaign and the suburban appeal to be popular across North Carolina.
2) David Rouzer – 7th District
The 46-year-old Wilmington Republican has already gotten the taste for the U.S. Senate — he started his political career as a legislative aide and policy adviser for U.S. Sens. Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole.
He has deep familiarity with agriculture and the military, and experience in tight elections from the beginning of his U.S. House career.
3) Richard Hudson – 8th District
The Charlotte-area Republican is deeply connected with North Carolina’s political establishment, having worked for Virginia Foxx, Robin Hayes, Pat McCrory and the state Republican Party. This would help him raise money in a hurry. Hudson, too, has urban-suburban-rural crossover appeal.
Hudson is considered a more moderate Republican, which could help in a statewide campaign. But he also has conservative cred with his stances on Second Amendment issues.
4) Mark Walker – 6th District
Though he was only first elected in 2014, Walker is a rising star among the conservative wing of the Republican Party and has been tapped to head the Republican Study Committee.
Walker has perhaps the most robust web and social media presence out of the entire delegation, which would help him raise his profile in a hurry.
5) Mark Meadows – 11th District
Meadows has the highest national profile among North Carolina’s delegation and would likely be able to raise the most money. But he has a sweet gig as the leader of the Freedom
6) Ted Budd – 13th District
Budd is young, conservative and just held off a well-funded opponent in Kathy Manning. But he’s just in his second term and likely hasn’t quite built the profile for a Senate run. However, his brand is as an outsider, so don’t count him out.
7) George Holding – 2nd District
The 50-year-old Republican has won in Wake County and its suburbs, a position on the influential House Ways and Means Committee and is a political survivor. He held off a strong challenger in Linda Coleman and made it through redistricting. However, he has one of the lowest statewide profiles.
8) G. K. Butterfield – 1st District
The Wilson Democrat represents a huge district and a national profile — he was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2015-17. But at age 71 might not be willing to run a statewide campaign.
The oldest person to be elected to the Senate for the first time in a traditional race was 70 years old.
9) Alma Adams – 12th District
The Charlotte Democrat has held off fierce primary challenges and survived redistricting. She’s extremely popular in a large urban area. At age 72, she might not be willing to run statewide for Senate.
10) Virginia Foxx – 5th District
The Republican took over Burr’s seat when he ran for Senate, and Foxx has more than a decade of experience and influential committee assignments. But again, at age 75, she might not be willing to make the 8-year commitment to a Senate run.
11) David Price – 4th District
The Triangle Democrat is a decades-long fixture of the House. At age 78, don’t count on him running.
12) Walter Jones – 3rd District
The eastern N.C. Republican is in poor health and has already announced he’s retiring.
North Carolina has 13 districts, but only 12 people are on this list. The 9th District remains unseated. Robert Pittenger is not likely to run for Senate, and Mark Harris would not get elected. Dan McCready could if he ultimately wins in a special election.