WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Monday is the official start of the political campaign season in North Carolina, where candidates can pay the fee and file to run for office.
A variety of county and state seats are open, and two longtime lawmakers, Rep. Carolyn Justice of Pender County (R) and Dewey Hill (D) of Columbus County, have decided not to run for seats in the State House again.
They are leaving after witnessing a historic change in the General Assembly, with Republicans taking over the majority for the first time in 140 years.
"If we walked in thinking there wasn't going to be problems, we were crazy," said Justice. "I think Republicans needed a year to learn the landscape, how to govern and how to lead if you've never been in that position."
Hill also commented, saying, "Democrats were in charge for many years, and it was difficult for some to take a back seat again."
The 2011 session is now history. Gov. Bev Perdue used the veto stamp on nearly a dozen bills, and lawmakers voted to override six of them, including the state's budget.
Hill is one of several democrats who voted with the Republican majority to get it done.
"As a legislator, you go to Raleigh to work to help the people and the economy back home," he said. "If you see something you think your party is wrong on, you leave your party and do what you think is right for the community."
A lot of eyes will watch North Carolina politics in 2012.
Perdue's decision not to run for a second term will make the governor's race a year-long campaign.
Experts refer to NC as a swing state in the presidential election, and Charlotte hosts the Democratic National Convention.
"It's going to be a battle in every race for every seat, from county commissioner to the president," said Justice. "So this is going to be a big political year."