GOP replacing disqualified District 22 Senate contender

tgrubb@newsobserver.comJuly 11, 2014 

CHAPEL HILL No one knows who incumbent state Sen. Mike Woodard will face in the District 22 race this fall.

While Republican challenger Douglas Milton Holmes won the May 6 primary by 194 votes, he won’t appear on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot. The Caswell County Board of Elections voted unanimously in June to disqualify him because he may not live in the district.

District 22 covers Durham, Caswell and Person counties.

Holmes, an immigration attorney, did not respond when deputies tried to serve him a subpeona or attend three hearings to discuss the matter, Caswell County elections director Teresa Young said. The party could pick a new candidate later this month, said Vaughan Brandon, Caswell County’s Republican Party chairman.

Herman Joubert, Holmes’ opponent for the Republican nomination, lives just south of the Virginia state line in Milton. Joubert said he thought it was odd when Holmes didn’t actively campaign. The only evidence he had an opponent was the filing fee Holmes paid and his application, he said.

“I could walk away from it,” Joubert said. “But whether I won or not, if there’s something going on here, the public should know about it.”

He found Holmes had a second address in Fayetteville and filed a protest of the primary results May 14.

Cumberland County tax records show Holmes owns a house at 818 Edenwood Drive in Fayetteville. Holmes also voted in Durham’s May 6 primary using an absentee ballot mailed to his Fayetteville address. His voter registration and Orange County tax rolls, however, list his home as 2 Elmstead Place, which is in Durham County but the Chapel Hill town limits.

Joubert also offered witnesses to back his claim, according to elections records.

P.J. Gentry, a real estate professional and chairwoman of the Person County Republican Party, testified at a June 17 hearing that she visited the home in Chapel Hill’s Falconbridge neighborhood and found it abandoned. Documents report the home was in a similar state of disrepair when Joubert and Durham County’s Republican Party vice chairman visited on two other occasions.

A visit to the home last week found a broken, discarded mailbox, poison ivy creeping up the front door and leaves littering the driveway. Tall, dusty stacks of newspapers and other belongings could be seen through a window; the furniture was largely limited to a desk and chairs.

Joubert said he eventually found Holmes at the Fayetteville house, but he didn’t think it served a purpose to stop and ask about the discrepancies.

State elections records show this was Holmes’ second time seeking the District 22 seat. In the 2012 election, Woodard, a Democrat and former Durham city councilman, garnered 65 percent of the vote to defeat Holmes in the general election.

Holmes did not return calls seeking comment.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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