Republican primary, state Senate District 1, (Dare, Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Gates, Hertford, Chowan, Washington, Tyrrell, and Hyde counties)

Bob Steinburg. Education: Associate degree in Retail Business Management from Corning Community College. Bachelors in Business Administration from Upper Iowa University. Occupation: Retired, former businessman and newspaper columnist. Career highlights: Member N.C. House of Representatives since 2013. Former president of the Albemarle-Pamlico Republican Club. Former president of Edenton Emergency Aid. Chairman of the Chowan County Republican Party.

Clark Twiddy. Education: Virginia Military Institute. George H.W. Bush School of Government at Texas A&M. Occupation: Realtor at Twiddy & Company real estate in the Outer Banks. Career highlights: Retired lieutenant commander, U.S. Naval Intelligence. Member N.C. State Board of Community Colleges.

Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, a veteran politician and controversial figure, is looking to swap his seat in the N.C. House for one in the Senate. Clark Twiddy, a realtor and self-proclaimed politics newbie, hopes to beat Steinburg — and given broad support from Raleigh’s political establishment, Twiddy may do just that.

“I’m running for the reason I would hope more people would run, as a form of public service to a community that has been so good to me and my family,” Twiddy told Carolina Journal.

The former naval commander is the first to admit he has no political resumé, but that hasn’t slowed him from gaining traction among leading members of the Republican majority. Twiddy received the endorsement of seven General Assembly members, including retiring 1st District Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort. Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, who chairs the powerful Senate Rules Committee, is also backing Twiddy.

“As one of only five senators representing the coastal region of North Carolina, I cannot stress to you the importance of having a strong, rational, conservative voice representing you and your interests in the state legislature,” Rabon said in his endorsement letter.

Economic growth and protections for natural resources top Twiddy’s list of legislative priorities. Infrastructure is another issue not receiving proper attention, he said.

“Many in my district work in Virginia, and our roads and bridges running in and out of the state must be properly maintained and expanded.”

CJ made multiple attempts to get comment from Steinburg, but received no response by press time.

The N.C. FreeEnterprise Foundation, which tracks voting patterns, rates the district as “competitive.”

Steinburg’s more prominent endorsements include N.C. Right to Life, a political action committee. The organization usually distances itself from primary elections, but is offering support based on Steinburg’s strong pro-life record, said PAC President Barbara Holt.

Steinburg also prioritizes education reform.

“[Bob] will fight for more local control, along with accountability, so that our schools can improve each year,” his website states.

While taking many socially conservative stances, Steinburg clashes with many Republicans on issues such as renewable energy. His support for taxpayer funded business incentives and other subsidies has caused fiscally conservative lawmakers to question his loyalty to free-market principles.

He disagrees with the assessment.

“Bob has never wavered in his support for conservative principles, values, and ideals,” his website reads.

Steinburg has faced other turbulence during his three-term stint at the General Assembly.

The lawmaker is known for his temper. During his 2012 campaign, Steinburg was charged with assault during an altercation with his opponent’s campaign manager Russell Haddad.

[Editor’s note: After initial publication, Steinburg spoke with CJ and said the charges against him were dropped. Haddad withdrew his complaint. Steinburg also acknowledged that CJ had attempted to reach Steinburg through his campaign office but the campaign worker didn’t return the call.]

Such a combative legislator is hard to work with and unfit for office, Cook said in a recent statement.

“You cannot hurl insults at people whenever you have a disagreement with them, and that is the norm for Bob Steinburg,” he said.

Twiddy claims better diplomatic skills.

“It is important that our area of the state has a strong voice in the legislature to represent them,” he said. “My opponent has a history, some of it within the past few weeks, of being confrontational with the Republican leadership.  Our area needs someone who can build bridges, not burn them.”

The winner will face Democrat Cole Phelps in the Nov. 6 general election. Richard Steve James is also listed on the ballot as a Democrat, but he was deemed ineligible to run after a panel of election officials ruled he does not live in the district.