A veteran North Carolina legislator has resigned from the state Senate more than two months after the General Assembly confirmed his appointment to the Utilities Commission.

Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. of Durham tendered his Senate resignation — effective Tuesday afternoon — to fellow Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who had nominated McKissick for the seven-member commission back in May. The powerful panel regulates companies that offer electricity, natural gas and other services.

McKissick joined the Senate in 2007 and was a key Democratic voice on legal and civil rights matters.

Now, Durham County Democratic activists must choose someone to fill the remainder of McKissick's term through the end of 2020. The timing on seating a successor is important because the legislature reconvenes Jan. 14, and Senate Republicans are talking about trying to override Cooper's two-year budget veto from last June.

One empty seat from a Democratic district wouldn't secure a Republican override if all GOP senators vote to override, but it would make the job easier.

Three Democrats already are running in the March 3 primary for the 20th District seat held by McKissick. Local party activists are under no obligation to choose among the three to fill out the current term.

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