RALEIGH — Despite being a “blue moon election” with no statewide campaigns, like presidential, gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races, this November’s midterms have a lot at stake for the governance of the state and the nation. Heavily contested races for the state supreme court, North Carolina seats in the U.S. Congress and the state General Assembly all put key levers of power in the balance.
Justice Barbara Jackson is one of three Republicans on the state Supreme Court, which is currently a 4-3 Democratic majority. With her seat up this fall, a loss for her re-election campaign would tilt the court to a 5-2 Democratic stronghold. The Republicans called foul when another candidate filed as a Republican despite public connections to high-profile Democrats. Chris Anglin swears he is a genuine Republican, but the GOP calls him a plant and went to court to have the “R” next to his name removed. With the party eventually losing the case, Jackson’s Republican backing may be diluted, giving an advantage to Democrat Anita Earls.
North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Dallas Woodhouse told North State Journal this is just another sign that Democrats are willing to play dirty to win.
“They’ve created a structural advantage for themselves in this race,” Woodhouse said. “We’ll have to see if it works for them, but it’s a window into their souls.”
Woodhouse believes the elections will be thoroughly colored by what he calls “the ugliest smear campaign” he’s ever seen, referring to the allegations against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“The women of the North Carolina Republican Party said it best at their recent press conference,” Woodhouse told NSJ. “The confirmation battle reframes the context of all races. This is no longer about politics. It’s an American responsibility to send a message to the Democrats that this can’t continue. This kind of thing can never be allowed to happen again. We need an absolute repudiation of Democrats up and down the ballot or they won’t get the message.”
U.S. Congressional races in North Carolina are gaining national attention, with Democratic candidates in North Carolina’s 2nd, 9th and 13th districts all performing competitively in GOP-leaning regions. Former President Barack Obama’s move to endorse Linda Coleman earlier this month, in a District 2 race once seen as a long shot, is further evidence Democrats are seeing some pickup opportunities in the Tarheel state.
The North Carolina General Assembly’s Republican supermajority also hangs in the balance, with Democrats only needing to flip four House seats or six Senate seats to successfully break the GOP’s legislative dominance. A loss of the Republican supermajority would give Cooper’s veto pen a more-than-symbolic effect, because Democrats would be needed, but unlikely to help, in overriding his vetoes. Eric Holder, attorney general under President Obama, made an appearance Tuesday to rally crowds in Greensboro for this “Break the Majority” push.
The Democrats are also using the fresh emotion from the Kavanaugh hearing to their advantage. In suburban Wake and Mecklenburg counties, they believe connecting vulnerable Republicans to Kavanaugh will help their candidates.
In a press release on their website, the North Carolina Democratic Party said, “This week, the NCDP ran digital ads against Reps. Dollar, Bradford, Stone, and Dulin, and Sens. Tarte and Bishop for believing Kavanaugh, not women.” One of the ads, targeting powerful House member Nelson Dollar, said, “Despite everything, Representative Dollar stands with Brett Kavanaugh. Tell Dollar that if he doesn’t believe women, he doesn’t have your vote.”
Also on the blue moon ballots will be six amendments to the North Carolina Constitution, some of which also had to pass through legal challenges to make it to the final printing.
Early voting starts Oct. 17, and general election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.