Voters often decry the establishment, calling for outsiders who are not career politicians. But in the state’s 2022 midterms, voters rewarded political experience, with every new member of North Carolina’s congressional delegation — Don Davis, D-NC1; Valerie Foushee, D-NC4; Chuck Edwards, R-NC11; Wiley Nickel, D-NC13; and Jeff Jackson, D-NC14 — coming via the state Senate.

This has often been considered a traditional path to Congress, rising through the local ranks of city councils and county commissions, to a seat in the state House or state Senate, before seeking federal office or a high-profile statewide office like treasurer or even governor.

Current U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, R-NC8, is a good example of someone following a traditional path to Washington. Bishop was on the Mecklenburg County Commission for four years before serving in the N.C. House, then in the N.C. Senate, then running for Congress.

During cycles with a lot of dissatisfaction with elected officials, though, voters often decide they prefer outside perspectives and will choose from non-politician candidates.

It’s not only the new members that served in Raleigh. All but two incumbent members of N.C.’s U.S. House delegation came to their congressional seats after serving in the state General Assembly:

  • Greg Murphy, R-NC3, had two terms in the N.C. House.
  • Deborah Ross, D-NC2, spent 10 years in the N.C. House.
  • Virginia Foxx, R-NC5, spent 10 years in the state Senate.
  • David Rouzer, R-NC7, had two terms in the state Senate.
  • Patrick McHenry, R-NC10, served one term in the N.C. House
  • Alma Adams, D-NC12, served 10 years in the state House.

U.S. Reps. Kathy Manning, D-NC6, and Richard Hudson, R-NC9, never served in legislative office before running, but Hudson did work as legislative staff on Capitol Hill and in state politics prior to running.

In the two most high-profile U.S. House races this election season, the Republican candidates were political newcomers. In NC-1, Sandy Smith had run for office against incumbent Rep. G.K. Butterfield in the previous cycle, but was otherwise new to politics. And in NC-13, Republican Bo Hines was a 27-year-old law school student without much political or career experience prior to the campaign.

Smith and Hines lost to Davis and Nickel, both of whom had served in the state Senate. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-NC11, had never served in elected office before being winning a congressional seat in 2020. Cawthorn was ousted in the 2022 primary by Republican state Sen. Chuck Edwards.