RALEIGH – The race for Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court is about as close as it gets. After several back and forth lead changes, and a correction to ‘errors’ in two counties, the canvassing of votes is finished.
The final margin is thin. Really thin; but in the end Republican challenger Justice Paul Newby leads current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley by 367 votes. That’s out of more than 5.3 million votes.
Last week, the lead changed with every click of the ‘refresh’ button on the State Board of Elections website. Late in the week, Newby seemed to settle on top by several hundred votes, but over the weekend, as county canvassing operations continued, Beasley overtook the lead again.
Then, on Monday, some ‘errors’ were corrected in Robeson and Sampson Counties. Fixing those errors resulted in Newby retaking the lead by the current razor-thin margin.
While Newby appears to have won the incredibly tight race, Beasley has until Tuesday night to request a recount. She almost certainly will do so, and who can blame her.
Assuming the result does not change via recount, Newby’s victory cements a resurgence of Republican jurists on the State’s highest court. Currently, Associate Justice Paul Newby is the only Republican on the bench, after retirements of and election losses for Republicans in recent cycles left the Democrats with a 6-1 majority.
Should Newby’s victory be certified after recount, he’ll lead a court with two more Republican justices. Court of Appeals Judge Phil Berger Jr (Son of the NC Senate Leader Phil Berger) and former state senator and law professor Tamara Barringer.
Further, the Republicans won ALL FIVE races for the N.C. Court of Appeals as well.
This is a big victory for Republicans, and the citizens of North Carolina, as far as reclaiming the judicial influence. That influence is marked by originalism, interpreting the Constitution(s) and laws as written, and reducing the ability for Democrats to leverage activist liberal judges to win political battles by judicial decree.
After years of losing ground in the judicial branch, this is welcome news for conservatives.
Again, Beasley has until Tuesday night to request a recount. We’ll follow the action provide further analysis as we near year’s end.