Polls show Republicans hold lead in top judicial races ahead of midterms 

RALEIGH — Recent opinion polls in North Carolina show voters are more likely to vote for Republican candidates than Democrats for two state Supreme Court seats this year. 

A poll of likely voters from Sept. 24-26 was conducted by the national polling group Cygnal on behalf of the Civitas Institute and John Locke Foundation.  

Republican Richard Dietz leads Democrat Lucy Inman 44.5% to 40.5%. Both Dietz and Inman currently sit on the N.C. Court of Appeals and are running for Seat 3 on the state’s high court. That seat is being vacated by Associate Justice Robin Hudson, who faces mandatory retirement. 

Inman — along with former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who is now running for U.S. Senate — was criticized for filming campaign ads in judicial chambers while courts around the state were shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Beasley in 2020. 

Similarly, 38.9% said they’d vote for Seat 5 incumbent Democrat Sam Ervin IV while 46% would vote for Republican Trey Allen. 

Allen is the general counsel for the Administrative Office of the Courts. Ervin was elected in 2014 and previously served as a state appellate judge. 

A SurveyUSA poll of North Carolina registered voters conducted on behalf of WRAL News also shows the Republicans with leads over Democrats in the N.C. Supreme Court races. That poll has Dietz up 37% to Inman’s 32%, and Allen with 39% to Ervin’s 37%. 

The SurveyUSA poll has an unusually elevated level of undecided voters in its results; 31% and 24%, respectively. The Cygnal poll had just 15% of voters responding as undecided in both races. 

The results of the polls may highlight that judicial races are on the minds of voters after the Democrat majority on the N.C. Supreme Court overturned state constitutional amendments on Voter ID and tax caps passed in by voters in 2018, essentially nullifying millions of votes. Cases involving redistricting voting maps and the long-running Leandro education funding case have also drawn headlines in recent months. 

Both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are statewide races, meaning all North Carolinians will get to vote on those candidates. 

The N.C. Court of Appeals has four seats on the ballot this cycle; seats 8, 9, 10 and 11. 

Court of Appeals incumbents Chief Judge Donna Stroud (Seat 9) and Judge John Tyson (Seat 10) are both seeking reelection. Both are Republicans. 

Stroud has served on the Court of Appeals since 2006 and was appointed chief judge of the court in 2021. She will face Democratic Superior Court Judge Brad Salmon. 

Tyson is an appeals court veteran, having served for nearly 20 combined years. He was last reelected in 2014. He faces Democrat Gale Adams. 

Two other Republicans, Julee Flood and Michael Stading, are also seeking spots on the court of appeals. 

Flood is seeking Seat 8. That seat is currently held by Inman who is running for Supreme Court and whose current term expires this year.  

Flood lives in Wake County and is a graduate of the University of Florida (BS, MS), the University of Maine (MPA), the University of New Hampshire (JD) and the University of Tennessee (Ph.D.). She works as an attorney at the Court of Appeals and was a visiting fellow at Elon Law with clerkships in federal and state appellate courts in Maine, New Hampshire, Tennessee and North Carolina. 

On the Democrat side of the aisle, Carolyn Thompson is Flood’s opponent for Seat 8. Both candidates were unopposed during the primary election. Thompson is an attorney who served as an N.C. District Court judge from 2009 to 2018. She was later appointed to the N.C. Superior Court in the 9th Judicial District. 

Stading is running for Seat 11 against Democrat Darren Jackson. 

Jackson, a former legislator who spent 12 years in the N.C. House, currently holds the seat after being appointed by the governor in December 2020. Jackson practiced law with his firm, Gay, Jackson & McNally law firm for 24 years. 

Michael Stading is a District Court judge in Mecklenburg County and was elected to the bench in 2018. He also serves as a JAG Officer in the U.S. Air Force. Stading was a special assistant U.S. attorney and previously worked as an assistant district attorney in Mecklenburg County.

Republican judicial candidates banded together earlier this year to run as a slate as they had successfully done during the 2020 election. Republican judges won all five seats on the ballot for the N.C. Court of Appeals that year. 

About A.P. Dillon 1127 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_