RALEIGH – What a long and arduous way to win an election. Finally, with current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley conceding, Justice Paul Newby is set to be certified winner of the closest statewide race in North Carolina history.
On election night, and the ensuing days after the election, the lead switched back and forth several times. Eventually, though, Newby stabilized with a lead of a few hundred votes.
Then the votes were counted again; and then a sample hand recount was requested. Last Saturday, with Newby’s lead left intact after multiple recounts, Beasley called and conceded.
The long delayed resolution to an election held over a month before was added perhaps the biggest feather to Republicans’ judiciary cap. While Democrats still hold a majority on the N.C. Supreme Court, it is dramatically weakened, from 6-1 to 4-3. The N.C. Court of Appeals races were also swept by Republicans. Newby, who was the lone Republican on his bench since the early retirement of former Chief Justice Mark Martin, will now lead the high court as chief justice starting in 2021.
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The eternally genial Newby reflected on his historic win in an interview with North State Journal, noting the incredible closeness of the race and his humble ascent in the law:
“[…] “This is historic,” Newby told NSJ in a Dec. 14 interview. “I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a race anywhere in the country with 5.5 million people voting and the separation was 401 votes. I haven’t done the math, but I imagine it’s 50.0000-something to 49.9999-something.”
But with his opponent, Beasley, conceding the race, after pursuing multiple legal avenues and recounts, the election is set to be certified by the State Board of Elections.
“She called about 9:30 Saturday morning, and very graciously conceded the race,” Newby said. “She talked about how it was important for the best interest of the court and the judicial branch to bring some finality to the race and move on to the transition. She was very gracious.” […]
“It’s so humbling. I’m the first lawyer in my family. Mom was a school teacher, dad, a printer. I had no idea I’d ever, frankly, have the privilege of being a lawyer, and then a justice, and now my goodness, chief justice. I’m so incredibly humbled and honored that the people chose me. It’s certainly my hope and my prayer that I have the wisdom and discernment and humility to properly lead the branch over this next term.” […]”
Newby goes on to discuss why he thinks North Carolinians favor conservative judges, and what it took to get across the finish line (finally). Read the rest of the interview here.