...because there's no Republican running for the House District 44 in Cumberland County (Fayetteville). It's that safe a seat for Democrats. The district is 43.8% Black, and the primary contest will pit the Black candidate who ran before in 2020, and got a respectable 47.9% of the vote, and a young white lawyer who has worked as an assistant district attorney in Cumberland Co. and is now in private practice.
The current Democratic incumbent in the seat, attorney William O. Richardson, waited until March 1st to announce his retirement. He had served a term in the mid-1990s and was appointed to finish out liberal lion Rick Glazier's term when Glazier stepped down in 2015. Richardson made a name for himself as a strong advocate for public education and alienated others because of his willingness to work with the Republicans. He was one of the very few Democrats given a committee chairmanship. Richardson said in a news release the reasons for his decision “are several and mostly private” but largely focus on the sacrifices his family and work colleagues have made for him to serve.
Terry L. Johnson Sr.
made allegations practically on the eve of the election that he had been offered a $12,500 bribe to drop out of the race by a person connected to Richardson. Johnson alleged in a complaint to the State Board of Elections (SBOE) that the offer of money came from a political contractor who worked for Richardson. Johnson and the contractor talked during a 90-minute dinner meeting at a local restaurant. Both the contractor and Richardson proclaimed the accusation absurd, and the investigator for the SBOE concluded, “Based on the facts presented, we do not see a violation of election or campaign finance laws.”
In 2020, Smith was one of five lawyers recommended to Gov. Cooper for filling a vacant district court seat.