Goolsby, Walters will not seek re-election

Jan. 10, 2014 @ 10:11 PM

RALEIGH — Two North Carolina state senators announced Friday they are not seeking re-election in November.

Sens. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, and Michael Walters, D-Robeson, made separate announcements.

In a statement on his website, Goolsby said his two young daughters need him more at home than service in the Senate allows. He said he also plans to focus on his law practice. Goolsby arrived at the General Assembly in 2011 after Republicans claimed majorities at the legislature. He had significant roles on legislation related to the death penalty, medical malpractice and other issues.

"I will look for other opportunities to serve in the future," Goolsby said. "For now, I'm pleased someone else will have the opportunity to build on our successes and keep New Hanover County moving in a positive direction."

Walters, who joined the Senate in 2009 when he was appointed to succeed David Weinstein, said his decision was for personal and business reasons. He's president of a logging company.

"I want to come back home to spend time with the family and business I love," Walters told The Robesonian ( ).

Walters, 57, said he was proud of legislation he sponsored to protect landowner property rights and to authorize fracking in the state for natural gas exploration.

"Nobody has done more to support small businesses, farmers and students in North Carolina than Michael," Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, said in a written statement.

Goolsby helped push through legislation in 2013 that repealed the Racial Justice Act and that he said would clear the way for executions to resume in North Carolina. An unsuccessful candidate for attorney general in 2004, Goolsby also supported strengthening North Carolina's public records and open meetings laws.

Goolsby's "personal sacrifice and tireless work on issues such as justice and public safety, tax reform, and education reform have made North Carolina a far better place," Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement.

Goolsby, 52, took heat last year for describing the "Moral Monday" protests opposing Republican policies at the General Assembly as "Moron Monday" and said participants were "mostly white, angry, aged former hippies."

The 13th District that Walters represents favors a Democrat, while Goolsby's 9th District is considered a swing district.

State Democratic Party spokesman Micah Beasley said Friday that Goolsby "represents everything that is wrong with the reckless Republican agenda."

The candidate filing period begins Feb. 10.