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Elizabeth Redenbaugh among Democrats considering senate bid

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Elizabeth Redenbaugh Elizabeth Redenbaugh
Julia Boseman Julia Boseman
Deb Butler Deb Butler
Andrew Barnhill. Andrew Barnhill.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Former New Hanover County School Board Member Elizabeth Redenbaugh, who switched from the Republican to Democratic party in 2011, said she's considering a run for state senate next year.

"I want to see education remain strong in North Carolina," she said. "Right now, it is under attack by our General Assembly, by our Republican-led General Assembly. And I want to get up there, potentially, and make a stand."

"I think it's interesting that she's considering this race, and I think she would represent us well if she's the candidate," said Richard Poole, chair of the New Hanover County Democratic Party.

Redenbaugh received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2011 for her strong opposition to a school redistricting plan that she said would result in socioeconomic and racial segregation.

She remained outspoken after losing her seat on the school board last November. At a rally for public education held this summer on the steps of the federal courthouse in Wilmington, she urged demonstrators to contact their legislators, saying the General Assembly put the state on a race to the bottom.

If Redenbaugh enters the senate race, she will have at least one challenger for the district nine Democratic primary in May, as Julia Boseman, who previously served in the senate, announced earlier this month that she wants to challenge Republican incumbent Thom Goolsby for her old seat in Raleigh.

Wilmington attorney Deb Butler, who lost to Goolsby in the 2012 general election, confirmed Monday that she is considering a run, but said she would not enter the race if Redenbaugh does.

"I think she would be a terrific choice," Butler said.

She characterized Boseman's candidacy differently.

"She did it in a different era with a different set of personal experiences," Butler said. "A lot has changed for her as well. There's a lot of water under the bridge for her as well."

Andrew Barnhill, chair of the 7th congressional district Young Democrats of North Carolina, said he is "seriously planning to run" and will make a final decision in the coming days.

"New Hanover County needs a State Senator who can appeal to moderate voters throughout our community as well as someone who is committed to rethinking what [it] means to offer effective legislative leadership for our state," Barnhill wrote in a statement. "My previous experiences in service to Eastern North Carolina have prepared me for such a capacity." 

Barnhill said he has already begun fundraising and has received support from leaders throughout the state.  

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. 

Butler said the poll numbers are a cause of optimism, but she says they caused some democrats to become "giddy" and hastily consider a run for the senate run.  

"You just don't do it cavalierly and I'm afraid some folks aren't approaching it with that seriousness," she said. "I'm concerned that some folks are in it for the wrong reasons."

Butler said she is talking with local Democratic leaders to see what's best for the party.  

"It's not about a personal vendetta. It's not about personal gain," she said. "It's about the politics of this state and the ruination of our educational system." 

Butler said she did not know when she would decide whether to run, but said she is approaching the decision with "extreme seriousness." 

"It's going to be a knock-down drag out, hard-fought battle just like the last go round." 

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