Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and state Rep. Valerie Foushee are the top choices in a crowded field of candidates who want to replace nine-term Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, according to an early assessment of the race.
That’s not surprising, given Chilton and Foushee have the greatest name recognition in the district, which includes Chatham and Orange counties.
Chilton was elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1991, before moving to Carrboro and running for office there. Foushee, who was elected to the House last year, has been on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
The Public Policy Polling survey found 36 percent of voters in Senate District 23 said Chilton would be one of their top two choices, and 28 percent put Foushee in their top two.
But 44 percent said they were not sure or favored somebody else.
Former state Rep. Alice Bordsen from Alamance County drew 14 percent, followed by minimal support for Heidi Chapman (7 percent), Amy Tiemann (5 percent), Jim Porto (2 percent) and M. Lynette Hartsell (1 percent).
Chilton’s support came mostly from Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Chatham County, while Foushee’s strength was in unincorporated Orange County and Hillsborough.
PPP notes that Chilton might have earned bonus points in the heavily Democratic district by getting arrested during the Moral Monday protests at the General Assembly this year. It’s a district where three-fourths of those surveyed approve of their elected officials getting arrested during those protests.
Kinnaird, who resigned from the Senate earlier this month to pursue grassroots organizing, leaves office with a 72 percent approval rating and 14 percent disapproving. PPP says those are the strongest numbers they’ve found for an elected official anywhere in the country.
The automated phone survey of 484 voters took place Monday through Wednesday, and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.