NC House District 3 will be the site of a lively primary in the spring, though it is expected to remain a safe Republican seat in 2020. Incumbent Michael Speciale cleared the way for a four-way primary after announcing his retirement from the House. Speciale is a favorite of the NC Republican Liberty Caucus, consistently receiving high grades from Civitas Action. He was also a leader of the NC House Freedom Caucus. Speciale’s pastor Jim Kohr announced for the seat. Also running are local businessman, radio show host and County Commissioner Steve Tyson, retired Marine veteran Eric Queen, and New Bern resident Guy Smith.
Kohr, the pastor of Freedom Baptist Church, currently serves on the Havelock Town Board of Commissioners, and as Vice-Chair of the For God & Country Christian Alliance. A Navy veteran, he attended Ambassador Baptist College before taking the role of Pastor at his current church.
Steve Tyson, former host of the radio show All About Craven served on the Craven County Board of Commissioners representing District 7 until 2018. He donated $500 to Scott Dacey’s 2018 campaign for Congressional District 3. Dacey ran on a message of getting along better with members of Congress. He had also served on the Craven Board of Commissioners with Tyson.
Eric Queen ran for this seat in 2018 in a primary challenge to Michael Speciale, receiving 2,201 votes against Speciale’s 2,947. In that election, Queen ran against what he perceived to be polarization between extremists on the left and right who do not represent the values of their constituents. As a Marine, he was based at Cherry Point and by the end of his career served as an MP. The last time he ran he had the support of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association PAC, an organization based in Georgia that claims to have over 50,000 members. He also enjoyed the support of executives in the Ferragon Corporation, a metal services provider based in Ohio. In all, he raised just under $12,000 in the last campaign, a good portion of that coming from self-funding.
Guy Smith—originally from New York—is a Deputy Staff Judge Advocate in the Marine Corps Reserve, and graduated from Tulane University in 2010 with a Juris Doctorate. Before that, he attended Williams College where Smith played defense on the hockey team and outfield for the baseball team. In 2004 he played in the Championship Finals for the New England Small College Athletic Conference against Amherst College, where he hit a single that kept the team alive.
The NC House 3 Primary election will be held on March 3, 2020, along with all other statewide primaries.