Democrats in Lee, Harnett and Johnston counties will have to find a new candidate for the North Carolina Senate after Howard Baldwin – who filed in February for the seat being vacated by Republican Ron Rabin – officially withdrew from the race this week.

Baldwin, of Cameron, said in a letter to the North Carolina State Board of Elections that he was “serving notice of (his) withdrawal” from the race and asked a committee of Democrats from the state’s 12th Senate District meet to name a replacement. The letter does not say why Baldwin is ending his candidacy.

Baldwin didn’t have much online presence as a candidate. A story in the Sanford Herald from March, just after the close of candidate filing, identified him as (subscription required) “a retired Major in the U.S. Air Force” who “has served as a military contractor providing military intelligence training since his retirement in 2011.” Campaign finance documents on file with the state Board of Elections show the only money he raised for the race was $207 he gave himself to file for the seat.

Baldwin was set to face Republican Jim Burgin, an Angier insurance salesman and former chairman of the Harnett County Board of Commissioners, in November.

The committee that will select Baldwin’s replacement is set to meet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 2 at the Harnett County Democratic Headquarters in Lillington. Party sources tell the Rant that people interested in filling the vacancy should submit a letter to the Senate District 12 Executive Committee at, but that given the short meeting notice, potential candidates may express their interest in person at the meeting.

The committee’s selection must also be approved by North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin. Pat Gannon, a spokesman for the state Board of Elections, said that in order for the committee’s selection’s name to appear on the November ballot, it must be certified by Aug. 8.

Rabin has held the seat since being elected in 2012 and is retiring after three terms.

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