DURHAM, North Carolina (AP) – A scientist and university administrator on Wednesday announced he would run for a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina, vacant at the end of 2022 by incumbent Republican Richard Burr.
Richard Watkins Jr. of Durham said he was embarking on the Senate race in part to ensure that “science is represented at the highest levels of our government,” especially with challenges like climate change and COVID-19. “If we are to meet the great challenges of tomorrow, then science must lead today,” he added.
Watkins joins at least two other Democrats who have announced their candidacies – current Senator Jeff Jackson and former Senator Erica Smith. Smith finished second in the 2020 Democratic Senate primary ahead of Cal Cunningham. Watkins ran a third way ahead of U.S. Representative David Price in a three-candidate Democratic primary in 2018 for Price’s fourth seat.
Former U.S. Representative Mark Walker announced in December that he would run for the Republican nomination to succeed Burr, who announced years ago that he would not seek re-election in November 2022. Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law is considering an offer. She currently resides in New York City, but grew up in Wilmington and attended NC State University.
Watkins, who earned a doctorate in microbiology and immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a focus on AIDS research, operates a consulting firm focused on science education, research and advocacy. He also works for a …
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