Democrat David Price will retire after more than 30 years representing NC in Congress

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Longtime U.S. Rep. David Price announced his retirement Monday in an interview with WRAL-TV, potentially opening the door for new congressional candidates in a Democratic stronghold in the Triangle. Price will not run for reelection after his current term expires at the end of 2022.

North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District and the state’s other political districts are being redrawn by the General Assembly. Price’s current 4th district includes Durham, Orange, Franklin, Granville and Orange counties along with parts of Wake, Chatham and Vance counties.

Price served four terms from 1987 to 1995. He lost the seat in 1994 during the Republican Revolution that saw 34 House Democrats lose reelection, but regained it in the 1996 election. He’s remained in Congress since.

Price has long served on the House Appropriations Committee and is chairman of its subcommittee for transportation, housing and urban development.

A flood of retirement announcements by the majority party can mean an expectation that it will lose the majority in the next election. So far that hasn’t happened, with 10 other Democrats and roughly the same number of Republicans announcing they won’t run again, the Washington Post reported last week.

Who’s running for the seat

As Price announced his retirement, state Sen. Wiley Nickel, a Cary Democrat, is also announcing his campaign for the congressional seat. Nickel, a lawyer whose Wake County district also includes Northwest Raleigh, is serving his second term in the legislature. He previously worked in President Barack Obama’s administration. As a senator, Nickel has pushed for increased wages for state employees, adding school nurses and overturning the 1959 ban on collective bargaining for public sector employees.

Anticipating a run, Nickel has already raised about $253,000, he told The News & Observer.

“We owe Congressman David Price a debt of gratitude for his tireless service to the people of North Carolina,” Nickel told The N&O.

“If we’re going to deliver quality education and childcare to all, protect reproductive health rights and combat the climate crisis, we’ll need a proven fighter for North Carolina,” he said. Nickel said he’s fought for those issues as a state senator and is “ready to take that fight to Washington, D.C.”

Wiley Nickel
Wiley Nickel

Price’s record in Congress

Price has often pushed for election-law changes and is known for the “Stand By Your Ad” law that requires candidates to identify themselves in the ads their campaigns produce.

He has also sought more transparency in college sports, sponsoring legislation to make public financial information that Division I colleges report to the NCAA. Athletic conferences, the NCAA and other entities holding postseason tournaments would also have to provide financial information.

His wife, Lisa, co-founded North Carolinians Against Gun Violence in 1993, and Price has sought legislation such as expanded background checks on gun buyers.

A former North Carolina Democratic Party chairman, Price has written four books about politics and the inner workings of the federal government, including The Congressional Experience. A fourth edition of the book, which was first published in 1992, was released this year.

Price’s record in the Triangle has included support for transportation, education and affordable housing.

Price was in Carrboro with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper earlier this month to announce federal American Rescue Plan funds that will provide grants to child care centers.

“This is critical time for North Carolina,” Price said, with vulnerabilities like gaps in caregiving infrastructure and needs for affordable child care exposed during the coronavirus pandemic. The state will get $800 million in COVID-19 relief grants for early childhood centers, The News & Observer previously reported.

Price holds degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill and Yale University, and taught at Duke University before serving in Congress. He has lived in Chapel Hill since 1972.

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it at link.chtbl.com/underthedomenc or wherever you get your podcasts.

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