UNC law student Phil Feagan runs for NC Senate

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Phil Feagan is running for the North Carolina State Senate for District 47. Feagan, a Democrat, will receive his law degree from UNC in May 2012.

Phil Feagan didn’t expect to run for the N.C. Senate right out of law school, but he decided this year was too important to watch from the sidelines.

The UNC law student, who will graduate this May, is running for N.C. Senate this November as a Democratic challenger in the 47th district, which is in the western region of the state.

Feagan does not have a primary challenger and will face incumbent Republican Ralph Hise.

“This seat was too competitive to not give people a choice,” Feagan said.

He said he is upset with how extreme the current legislature has been and has seen too many of the University’s supporters leave the legislature.

“There’s been a lot of attacks on education and universities, and I thought it was important for people to step up who are interested in maintaining both quality of education and access to the system,” he said.

“Education’s really the biggest motivation for me.”

Feagan, who also attended UNC as an undergraduate, said this is a very important race for determining the makeup of the legislature.

“This race, for a very competitive district, helps determine the direction of policy for education in general but specifically for this University,” he said.

Nathan Denny, a longtime friend, said Feagan is an example of a young person with enthusiasm stepping up to the plate.

“This legislature needs a shot in the arm of new energy,” Denny said. “He’ll bring new life to it.”

Feagan is from Columbus, a small town in North Carolina of fewer than 1,000 people where his family has lived for generations.

He has been passionate about politics since campaigning at polls with his grandfather as a child, said his sister Alice Feagan.

“My grandpa was involved in the local Democratic party, so I think that instilled the importance of being involved in your community and politics,” she said.

While at UNC, he worked for many groups, such as The Daily Tar Heel, and was a manager for the junior varsity basketball team.

“I kept the shot clock for Roy Williams’ first game,” he said.

After graduation in 2004, Feagan landed an internship in Washington in the office of U.S. Rep. David Price before becoming Price’s policy aide and press secretary.

Feagan said he felt he knew a lot about government after earning a political science degree.

“Then you get up there, and you see all the different issues a congressional office actually deals with,” he said.

But Feagan said his time in Washington wasn’t all work. The White House invited UNC graduate staffers on Capitol Hill to meet the 2009 basketball team during their visit, he said.

“All the Carolina grads were getting as big a thrill out of meeting Carolina basketball players as being on the South Lawn of the White house.”

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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