NC House sees less competition among parties than two years ago

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives at the General Assembly (Christine T. Nguyen | The North State Journal)

RALEIGH — In the 2020 election cycle, Democrats fielded candidates for 119 of the 120 House seats. In this year’s midterm filings, Democrats are competing for only 92 seats whereas Republicans are represented in 111 of the 120 seat races, nearly equaling their 2020 recruitment. 

Following the end of candidate filing on Friday, March 4, the fields are set for the May 17 primary and Nov. 8 general election.  

The General Assembly’s lower chamber consists of 120 seats across the state.  

The number of Republicans running unopposed for House seats dwarfs that of Democrats by a count of 20 to four. The four Democrats running unopposed are Allison Dahle (HD-11), Vernetta Alston (HD-29), Pricey Harrison (HD-69) and John Autry (HD-100).  

Seven former members of the House are running for seats this cycle and five of the seven are seeking seats that they previously held: Republicans Marilyn Avila (HD-40); Bill Brawley (HD-103); Christy Clark (HD-98); and Stephen Ross (HD-63); and Democrat Elmer Floyd (HD-43).  

Two of the seven are locked in a primary against one another: Democrats Tricia Cotham and Rodney Moore are both running for House District 112, which has no incumbent. There are also two additional candidates in the race.  

There are 18 House incumbents who are not seeking reelection, which means at least 15% of the current members will not return to Raleigh in 2023. Eleven are Democrats and seven are Republicans. Eight of the 18 are retiring. The five Democrats retiring are John Ager, Verla Insko, Evelyn Terry, Billy Richardson, and Brian Turner. The four retiring Republicans are Pat McElraft, Allen McNeill, Larry Pittman and John Szoka. 

Richardson, who has served for five and a half terms, said he owes it to his immediate family to step down after sacrificing so much for him to serve.  

“Serving Cumberland County means so much to me, but this is not my seat, this seat belongs to the people of this county,” he said last month. 

Two sets of Republicans are facing off after the redrawn maps left them double-bunked. 

In House District 52, longtime state Rep. Jamie Boles faces first-term state Rep. Ben Moss in a district that covers southern Moore County and all of Richmond County. The district makeup is nearly even with 49% in Moore County and 51% in Richmond County, but more Republicans are registered in Moore County than Richmond, which may favor Boles. 

The other primary between incumbents is in the redrawn 113th House District, with state Rep. Jake Johnson facing off with state Rep. David Rogers. The new district makeup is slightly favored by Johnson’s current district, with 48% of the new district made up of Henderson and Polk counties and 43% of Rogers’ home county of Rutherford. Additionally, the new district takes in a small part of southern McDowell County. 

In total, 15 Republicans have picked up a primary challenger whereas only five Democrats have primary challengers lined up. Of those 15 Republicans, three have picked up more than one primary opponent. 

The race shaping up to be most competitive of those is House District 109, with appointed state Rep. Donnie Loftis facing three challengers. One of his primary challengers is Lauren Bumgardner Current, the daughter of the late Dana Bumgardner, who Loftis was appointed to replace following his death in October 2021. John Gouch and Ronnie Worley are also in the race. 

One incumbent state Senator decided to switch chambers. Democrat Sarah Crawford, who was elected in 2020 in Senate District 18, filed for a new N.C. House seat in Wake County. In an announcement, she claimed the new maps took most of her community out of the Senate District.  

“Running for this House district allows me to focus closer to home and continue doing work in my community. Mary Wills Bode will run for Senate District 18.  As a native of Wake County with deep generational ties to Granville County, she is poised and ready to represent Granville and Wake Counties,” said Crawford.