Rep. G.K. Butterfield reflects on past, future of Congress upon retirement

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – After an 18-year career, Rep. G.K. Butterfield is retiring and moving on to his next endeavor a bit earlier than expected. He was originally planning to retire on Tuesday but is instead retiring tonight.

Butterfield was known as a trailblazer in voting rights. His work resulted in several African American legislators representing eastern North Carolina. As he moves on to a new role, his constituents feel incoming Don Davis has big shoes to fill.

“I will no longer serve in Congress. It’s been an honor beyond my ability to express it,” said Butterfield. “At midnight tonight, I’m going to close that chapter and move into the private sector and associate myself with a D.C. law firm, consulting firm, and we will begin Monday morning.”

He’ll have to wait a year before consulting on Capitol Hill litigation, but the soon-to-be senior advisor is eager for a slower pace. Butterfield leaves behind a Congress characterized by polarization that former state senator Don Davis will need to operate within.

“I’m a little concerned about the future of Congress,” Butterfield said. “We have a divided government right now with a Democratic president, Democratic Senate, and a Republican House of Representatives.”

During Butterfield’s time in Congress, he took aim at congressional redistricting and claimed the current maps will disadvantage African American communities. He remains hopeful when looking at the future.

“It’s not just about Democrat or Republican. It’s about taking North Carolina to a greater level; North Carolina has great potential. If these 14 members from North Carolina can work together, legislate together and put aside many of their political and partisan differences that they have, I believe North Carolina will benefit from it.”

Butterfield moves into his new role with a legacy remembered in the east.

“Butterfield’s name is engraved in history. He’s been a warrior,” Pitt County NAACP President Calvin C. Henderson said. “So much can be said about G.K. He served his people well.”

Don Davis received Butterfield’s endorsement and will swear into the new role this coming Tuesday.