In what seems to be a weekly pattern, North Carolina’s Sue Myrick became the 15th Republican U.S. Representative to announce retirement in 2012. The decision of Myrick—a former Charlotte mayor who first came to Congress in the “Gingrich Class” of 1994—was somewhat of a surprise, in that she represents a district that has been in Republican hands without interruption since 1952 and continued re-election for her, as one local wag put it, “was the nearest thing to eternal life on earth.”
But at age 70, Myrick had clearly had enough. Coming days before the commencement of the filing deadline (Feb. 13 until the end of the month), her exit sets the stage for the Republican considered her heir apparent: Mecklenberg County Sheriff Jim Pendergrass. Although he has primarily dealt with issues of law enforcement issues, Pendergrass is considered cut from the same cloth as Myrick (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 94 percent) and is likely to have the outgoing lawmaker’s endorsement.
Because of the strong Republican history of the Charlotte-based 9th District, it would seem nearly out of the question that Pendergrass would face some form of competition in the May primary. There are quite a few Republican office-holders in the district, among them State House Speaker Tom Tillis and Majority Whip Ruth Samuelson. But given that Mecklenberg is the largest county in the district and Penderegrass is likely to have Myrick’s blessing, the country sheriff has a strong hand up in the nomination race.
Another factor that may have led to Myrick’s exodus is that the next generation of her family is ready to enter the political arena. Dan Forest, her son (from a previous marriage), is the front-running candidate for nomination as lieutenant governor. Since Forest is a strong conservative, one could say with a straight face: like mother, like son.