NC Council of State turns red

With many close statewide still hinging on absentee and provisional ballots, Republicans pick up key posts

Madeline Gray | North State Journal
Lt. Gov.Dan Forest delivers his closing remarks during a debate with Democratic challenger Linda Coleman at Barton College in Wilson on Sept. 13. Forest won re-election Tuesday.

RALEIGH — After Tuesday’s elections, Republicans now make up the majority of North Carolina’s Council of State, winning races that have historically gone to Democrats.
Given that the jury is still out on who will officially occupy the Mansion on Blount Street, the new makeup of the Council could either offer balance to a new Democratic governor, or add extra ideological backing to Gov. McCrory in a potential second term. The gubernatorial election is poised to head for a recount as less than 5,000 votes separate McCrory and Democrat challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper, with absentee and provisional ballots still outstanding.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) was able to run to victory over challenger Linda Coleman by 300,000 votes.
As Cooper vacates his chief law enforcement post regardless of the outcome of the gubernatorial race, it appears his former understudy, and former state senator, Josh Stein (D-Raleigh) will replace him as North Carolina’s Attorney General.
Stein secured a slim lead over Republican opponent Sen. Buck Newton (R-Wilson) of less than half a percentage point. Still, the difference of approximately 20,000 votes may prove difficult for Newton to overcome as absentee ballots are counted in the coming days.
With an even closer margin of apparent victory, incumbent State Auditor Beth Wood (D) leads Republican Challenger Chuck Stuber by less than 4,000 votes after election night. Though, as thousands of outstanding ballots have yet to be counted, a switch in the lead is possible. A final margin of less than 10,000 votes could also spark a call for recounts.
Twenty-year incumbent Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall (D) has retained her post on the council for Democrats, fending off her Republican challenger Michael LaPaglia with a healthy margin of 200,000 votes.
Incumbents on the Republican side also had solid victories to retain their respective posts.
Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler (R), and Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry (R) both won their races by more than 10 percentage points, earning the pleasure of serving North Carolinians for four more years.
The remaining Council of State races represent gains by Republican office-seekers, one in an open race.
Former Republican state legislator and Mccrory administration stalwart, Dale Folwell, bested Democrat Dan Blue III, a bond attorney and son of current state Sen. Dan Blue (D-Raleigh). Folwell’s win has him replacing eight year incumbent Democrat Janet Cowell, the first woman to hold the post, who chose not to seek re-election.
Incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction, Democrat June Atkinson, was seeking re-election, but in one of the election’s biggest surprises Atkinson was outmatched by Republican challenger Mark Johnson. Like Cowell, she was the first woman to serve in as superintendent and held the post of more than a decade.
Finally, in the race for Commissioner of Insurance, two-term incumbent Democrat Wayne Goodwin lost to Republican challenger Mike Causey by 40,000 votes. Causey has been a perennial candidate for office in myriad statewide and regional races, having run for, and lost, the top insurance regulatory role in four previous tries.