WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Sen. Thom Goolsby (R-9th District) will not seek a third term in the North Carolina Senate.
Goolsby says he wants to spend more time with his two young daughters and on his Wilmington law practice.
Even though he won't run again, Goolsby says the seat will stay with the GOP.
"This is a Republican seat," Goolsby said. "I know the liberals like to say it's somehow a toss-up, but it's never been a toss-up for me. I won by 16 or 17 points against (James) Leutze, and I beat my last opponent by twice the Republican handicap that we already had on it, so it was 8 or 9 points then. We've always won this seat strongly and will continue to do so."
Goolsby, who says he is "a citizen legislator, not a career politician," won the Senate seat in 2010 by beating out Leutze, the former chancellor of UNCW. He won reelection in 2012 by defeating attorney Deb Butler in a highly contentious and often personal campaign.
Goolsby points to New Hanover County's falling unemployment rate as a key accomplishment during his time in office. He also helped engineer legislation that effectively ended forced annexation in North Carolina, which had become of special importance locally after the City of Wilmington annexed much of Monkey Junction.
While Goolsby quickly became an outspoken member of the General Assembly, he also became a lightning rod for criticism.
"Thom Goolsby represents everything that is wrong with the reckless Republican agenda, from gutting public education to his cold-hearted support of ending benefits for thousands of jobless North Carolinians," Micah Beasley, a North Carolina Democratic Party spokesman said in a news release. "Rather than face the voters in his district, Sen. Goolsby chose to retire, instead."
A champion of sorts for many conservative issues, liberal groups often attacked him for his views on issues like abortion and the death penalty, though he also sponsored a bill making human trafficking a sex crime in North Carolina. He gained statewide attention last year when he referred to the Moral Monday protests in Raleigh as "Moron Mondays." Those protests eventually found their way to his downtown Wilmington office.
Many names are already being tossed around for possible successors to Goolsby. Republican Rick Catlin will not be one of them. Catlin, who is currently in the middle of his first term in the NC House representing part of New Hanover County, said Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger asked him to run for the seat. Catlin says he gave it some thought, but decided to honor his commitment as the Republican's freshman leader in the House.