RALEIGH — Primary candidates are making their last push this week ahead of the May 8 primary election day. In N.C., only voters affiliated with a party can vote in its primary election. However, unaffiliated voters, the state’s fast-growing segment at 30 percent of the electorate, can vote in any primary. Over the last decade, more than 650,000 North Carolinians have registered as unaffiliated, nearly 2,000 voters ahead of the GOP.
On the ballot are 50 candidates for U.S. House, including incumbents who are working to make their case to voters to send them back to Washington. Republicans are talking tax cuts, while Democrats are focused on the White House. All seats in the N.C. General Assembly are up for re-election as lawmakers work with reshaped district maps. With traditionally low voter turnout for primaries, Republicans and Democrats are heavily invested in get-out-the-vote efforts.
Saturday, May 5 is the last chance to vote early for the primary, so visit ncsbe.gov to find an early voting site near you. On election day, you must vote at your assigned precinct. Polls will be open on election day from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Voters who want to cast ballots in the Nov. 6, 2018 midterms must register to vote by Oct. 12.
To find out where to vote early or find your polling place, visit the N.C. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement at ncsbe.gov.
What’s new this year?
Parties will be working even harder to get you to the polls. Historically, voter turnout is lower in midterms than in presidential election years, like 2016, with national and statewide offices at the top of the ballot. For primary elections in midterms, it’s even lower. In 2014, N.C. had a 15.79 percent voter turnout for the primaries. This low number means that every vote becomes even more critical, and you may have folks knocking at your door even more this year.
Also new this year is the number of candidates. Every U.S. congressional district across the state, except District 1, currently held by Democrat G.K. Butterfield, has at least one primary. That includes a relatively unusual Libertarian primary in Congressional District 4 between Barbara Howe and Scerry Perry Whitlock. In several primaries there are a list of names to chose from; Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry has five primary challengers for the District 10 seat, and Congresswoman Alma Adams, a Democrat, faces three primary challengers for District 12.
In the general midterm elections in November 2018, watch for the Green Party to show up on your ballot for the first time. In 2017, the N.C. legislature passed the Electoral Freedom Act that reduced the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot and allowed third parties to get on statewide ballots if they are on the ballot in 70 percent of states in the last presidential cycle. The Green Party doesn’t have any primaries this year but is expected to choose candidates for November at their party convention scheduled for June 23, 2018.
Races to watch
Several N.C. races have made national news, including the challenge to Rep. Robert Pittenger in the 9th District. Pittenger has a well-supported primary opponent in Mark Harris. However, Vice President Mike Pence was in town and spent some time campaigning for Pittenger, as did Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The winner of that Republican primary will face one of three Democrats, likely the well-funded Dan McReady, who has drawn a lot of out-of-state Democrat attention, including California billionaire Tom Steyer. Steyer helped secure Virginia’s executive mansion for Democrats in a special election this fall. He is also helping fund the N.C. Democrats’ get-out-the-vote effort in Congressional District 13, held by Republican Ted Budd.
In the east, 12-term Congressman Walter Jones is challenged by Craven County commissioner Scott Dacey, who is hoping to unseat him by focusing attention on Jones’ votes against the federal tax cut bill and other Republican centerpieces. However, Congressman Mark Meadows of N.C.’s 11th District, and chair of the House Freedom Caucus has thrown his name, and conservative credentials, behind Jones. Meadows faces his own primary challenger in Chuck Archerd, who only filed to run on the last day of the filing period. Archerd told a local paper he’s putting his name in the mix just in case Meadows is tapped to join the Trump administration.
The battle for Raleigh
At the state level, all eyes next week will be on N.C. General Assembly races where all 120 House and all 50 Senate seats are up for re-election. Democrats launched a campaign to break the Republican majority in the state legislature, but even if they aren’t able to sweep the state at that level, they could break the Republicans’ supermajority by picking up four House seats and six Senate seats.
Incumbents are also campaigning with newly-drawn district maps, that reshaped the home turf for both parties and brought a number of challengers. In Charlotte, House Minority Leader Joel Ford faces four Democrat primary challengers, while in the west, two Republican women, both incumbents, are battling it out to represent the redrawn N.C. Senate District 45. Republicans Shirley Randleman and Deanna Ballard were “double-bunked” in the new maps and face each other on May 8. It’s a similar situation in N.C. Senate District 31, where Republican Joyce Krawiec of Forsyth County and Davie County’s Dan Barrett are in a GOP face off next week.
For the judiciary there are no primary elections, but expect tough races leading up to November. There will be three N.C. Court of Appeals races on the November ballot, along with one N.C. Supreme Court seat. Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson already has her re-election campaign underway as she is expected to be challenged by social justice lawyer and Democrat Anita Earls.
For more on the primary races in your area, and details on the May 8 election day, visit ncsbe.gov.
Democrats: Wendy Ella May, Ken Romley, Linda Coleman
Republicans: George Holding (I), Allen Chesser
Republicans: Walter B. Jones (I), Phil Law, Scott Dacey
Democrats: Michelle Laws, David Price (I), Richard L. Watkins
Libertarian: Barbara Howe, Scerry Perry Whitlock
Democrats: Jenny Marshall, DD Adams
Republicans: Virginia Foxx (I), Dillon Gentry, Cortland J. Meader Jr.
Democrats: Ryan Watts, Gerald Wong
Democrats: Kyle Horton, Grayson Parker
Democrats: Scott Huffman, Frank McNeill, Marc Tiegel
Democrats: Dan McCready, Christian Cano
Republicans: Clarence W. Goins, Jr., Mark Harris, Robert Pittenger (I)
Republicans: Jeff Gregory, Patrick McHenry (I), Ira Roberts, Albert Lee Wiley Jr., Seth Blankenship, Gina Collias
Democrats: Phillip G. Price, Steve Woodsmall, D. Scott Donaldson
Republicans: Mark Meadows (I), Chuck Archerd
Democrats: Gabe Ortiz, Patrick Register, Keith Young, Alma Adams (I)
Republicans: Carl Persson, Paul Wright, Paul Bonham
Democrats: Kathy Manning, Adam Coker