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Chitlik defeats Woodard in race for N.C. Senate seat

Sophia Chitlik stood on a bench at her watch party in Zweli’s Kitchen in her signature hot pink jumpsuit and matching headband, giddy as she overlooked her crowd of cheering supporters.

“It looks like we won,” said Chitlik at 9:47 pm, as she watched the returns in her race against   three-term incumbent Mike Woodard in the Democratic primary for the District 22 seat in the North Carolina Senate. 

Woodard received 42.45 percent of the votes to Chitlik’s 57.55 percent, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. Woodard had held the seat for 12 years, easily winning reelection three prior times. In running for reelection, he emphasized his experience and his ability to negotiate. But this time, voters tapped Chitlik, who in the course of her campaign criticized Woodard for frequently voting with Republicans, including voting to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto on three occasions. 

Chitlik, who grew up in California and moved to the Bull City in 2017, is a former organizer for the Obama campaign who later served in the White House and in the federal Department of Labor under the Obama administration. She also previously led a New York nonprofit that works with youth, and is co-founder of Tend, a company that supports people through pregnancy and birth. 

At Zweli’s, Chitlik gathered a youthful, diverse group of supporters. Family members, campaign staff, friends — and their children — spent the night in lively conversation, occasionally checking their phones to see that Chitlik’s lead was maintaining as more precincts reported. 

“We’re not done yet, because we’re gonna keep knocking and we’re gonna keep raising and we’re gonna keep fighting for the policies that this campaign was built on,” Chitlik said during her victory speech.

Her supporters cheered after her speech: “So-phi-a! So-phi-a!”

One of Chitlik’s supporters, Diana Medoff, talked about the “revolution” that this win implied. “We are living in a world where moms with young kids aren’t feeling empowered, or feel like they have the time or the bandwidth to take on this kind of role,” said Medoff. To Medoff, Chitlik’s victory suggests that mothers like her can take on tough challenges.

To Chitlik, the win “means that we have a critical constituency of caregivers and that we have the power to speak directly with them in a way that pulls voters to the polls,” she told The 9th Street Journal. 

Though Tuesday was an exciting victory for Chitlik’s campaign, she is aware that Democrats are a minority in the N.C. Senate, where Republicans hold a supermajority. “Coming up in November, the stakes are so high, and we need to be clear what Democrats stand for,” she said. 

Tonight, though, Chitlik is celebrating her victory. 

“I feel so proud of us.”

 

Ryan Pelosky