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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A state senate candidate is being less than clear about whether he will accept an appointment to the now open seat he seeks.

After Sen. Thom Goolsby announced his resignation last night, he said he wants fellow Republican Michael Lee “to have a running start” as he seeks goolsby’s old seat representing the 9th District.

Lee won May’s Republican primary for after Goolsby announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection. The question now is if Lee will go into November’s race against Democrat Elizabeth Redenbaugh as the incumbent.

The New Hanover County Republican Party Executive Committee gets to select Goolsby’s replacement, and that very well could be Lee.

“Michael wants to be the next state senator from New Hanover County,” Lee’s campaign spokesman Robert Andrews told WWAY via text today when we asked if Lee wants the nomination for Goolsby’s seat. “That is why he is running. He will participate in the process, whatever that entails.”

Lee was out of town with his family today and not available for an interview, but he did issue a statement.

“No matter what happens over the coming weeks, there will still be an election on Nov. 4, and I look forward to speaking with the voters of the 9th District about strengthening the film tax credit, improving education, investing in infrastructure and bringing jobs to New Hanover County,” he said.

The New Hanover GOP Executive Committee will meet next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss Goolsby’s replacement. County party chair Sam Ibrahim says Lee will be among the names considered.

New Hanover County Republicans have filled an empty seat with a candidate before. In 2012, Republicans appointed Ted Davis, the a New Hanover County Commissioner and Republican nominee for the seat, to fill out the final months of Danny McComas’s final term in the House. Davis then won his race for the seat by 20 points in November over Democrat Emilie Swearingen.

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