WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – State Sen. Thom Goolsby (R), who represents New Hanover County, announced Friday he will not seek a third term.
The Wilmington attorney said he wants to spend more time with his wife and two young children.
"I just look forward to watching them grow up, being at their soccer games, their dance recitals, those kind of things, I think that's important," he said.
Goolsby, first elected in 2012 when Republicans took control of both chambers of the General Assembly, is proud of the legislature's work to improve the state's economy. A press release from the senator noted that when he took office, New Hanover County's unemployment rate was at 10.3 percent compared to 6.7 percent in November 2013.
"Good days are ahead, and I was happy to help shore-up the sinking ship," he said.
According to a September poll by left-leaning Public Policy Polling, half of the voters surveyed in Goolsby's district said they would cast a ballot for a Democrat if the election were held that day.
In September, left-leaning Public Policy Polling said half the voters surveyed in Goolsby's district said they would cast a ballot for a Democrat, but Goolsby is adamant that his replacement will be a Republican.
"There will be a good Republican stepping forward to take this seat, and this is a Republican seat," Goolsby said. "I know the liberals like to say somehow it's a toss-up seat. It never has been for me."
The N.C. Democratic Party released a statement saying Goolsby chose to retire rather than face the voters in his district.
"Thom Goolsby represents everything that is wrong with the reckless Republican agenda, from gutting public education to his cold-hearted support of ending benefits for thousands of jobless North Carolinians" said Micah Beasley, a spokesman for the party. "It's time to replace Sen. Goolsby with a real leader who values public education, will fight to create jobs, and get our state back on track."
Rep. Ted Davis, who represents part of New Hanover County, hadn't heard of Goolsby's decision not to run until he received a call Friday from a reporter.
When asked if he would run for the senate seat, Davis said, "That's something that I have to give serious consideration to."
Rep. Rick Catlin (R), the county's other representative in the state house, said Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger contacted him several days ago asking him to consider running for Goolsby's seat. Catlin said he wants to fulfill his commitment to serve as Republican Freshman Leader in the House and will not seek the position in the other chamber.
Former Rep. Danny McComas (R) said he was considering running for the seat, as is Michael Lee, a Wilmington attorney who ran for state senate in 2008.
As for the Democrats, former Sen. Julia Boseman announced in October that she was seeking the seat. Elizabeth Redenbaugh, a former New Hanover County School Board member, is considering a run.
Wilmington attorney Deb Butler, who lost to Goolsby in the 2012 general election, said she might run but wouldn't enter the race if Redenbaugh does.
Other Democrats interested in the seat include Andrew Barnhill, chair of the 7th congressional district Young Democrats, and Wilmington attorney Gary Shipman.