WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We are less than a week from election day and a heated race for State Senate just got a lot more interesting. The Libertarian candidate taking his hat out of the race to endorse incumbent State Senator Michael Lee.
Ethan Bickley announced Wednesday he was supporting the Republican incumbent.
“After meeting with Senator Lee, I am convinced that he should be re-elected and continue the dedicated service he has demonstrated as our State Senator,” said Bickley in an official statement.
It comes as thousands of votes have already been cast in New Hanover County.
At the start of early voting, New Hanover County voters had three choices to represent them in the State Senate district 9 seat. Republican Incumbent Michael Lee, former Wilmington Mayor Democrat Harper Peterson, and newcomer Libertarian Ethan Bickley a veteran.
“The endorsement stemmed from basically this is the first time that I’ve ever done anything political and it’s a tough gig,” said Bickley. “So on a human level, Michael Lee reached out to me and asked me for help.”
Bickley says he agrees with Lee’s record in the Senate on water safety. That led to his support.
“I was as surprised as you,” said Lee’s challenger Peterson. “But I think we’re fine. Six days out and we’re excited about our campaign.”
Peterson says he’s not worried about the endorsement swaying voters.
“I don’t know what to tell you. I’m sure it would be confusing to Libertarians.”
Libertarian State House candidate David Perry taking to social media backtracking his endorsement and saying, “I have no doubt that financial threats and/or incentives factored into this deplorable decision.”
“We may not agree on everything politically but we definitely agree on many things,” Bickley said referring to Lee.
Bickley says he is unable to commit to the campaign due to new employment opportunities adding that he thought long and hard about whether or not to endorse anyone else in this election.
Lee provided this statement to our Andrew James saying in part, “I appreciate Mr. Bickley taking the time to get to know me, the real me and not what the false ads portray.”
“I apologize to the Libertarian Party for having to discontinue my campaign,” wrote Bickley in his endorsement statement. “I really wanted to make an impact on my community. I now feel that by endorsing Senator Lee, my candidacy can still have an impact by asking my supporters to make their votes count.”