RALEIGH – It was a long night of watching elections results trickle in across North Carolina for candidates and their supporters, and some races are still too close to call, but the fact that is now behind us should be a relief for everyone.
The 30,000 foot view of power shifts as a result of the elections is that Democrats flipped just enough seats in both chambers to break the Republican super-majority; The N.C. Supreme Court lost a sitting Republican and added a social justice warrior to the bench, while Republican judicial candidates for the N.C. Court of Appeals came up short; and, voters approved four of the six proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, most notably Voter ID and a cap on state income tax rates at seven percent.
We’ll tackle the judicial races and amendments in a separate piece, but for now let’s take a look at the legislature.
Many of those Republican House losses were in suburban districts of high population counties, namely Wake and Mecklenburg counties. Republican Reps. Nelson Dollar, Chris Malone, and John Adcock lost in Wake County. Dollar is probably the most notable among them, being the chief budget writer for the House for several sessions.
That’s a hit to Republican leadership in the House, which probably doesn’t upset hardcore conservatives very much, but it makes advancing Republican legislation that much more difficult.
Overall, Republicans lost nine net seats in the N.C. House, dropping their majority from a 75-45 advantage in the 2017 session to a 66-54 majority that cannot override vetoes with out help from some Democrats. Full disclosure, a few races are still up in the air.
Conventional wisdom leading into election day was that the super-majority was toast in the House. That proved to be correct, and then some, but the damage in the upper chamber was a little more surprising to us.
In the Senate, too, suburban Republicans adjacent to urban centers did not fare well. Sen. Trudy Wade (Greensboro) narrowly lost after several terms on Jones Street. Republican Sen. Tamara Barringer (Wake) lost to Democratic challenger Sam Searcy. Barringer has tried several times over the last couple years to appeal to moderates and liberal, being the first to flip her support of House Bill 2 and recently coming out in favor of the man-made global warming narrative.
One Republican that stood strong against the metro/suburban tide was Sen. Dan Bishop (Mecklenburg) who won his race despite ludicrous last hour efforts by the Left to associate him with the Pittsburg synagogue shooter. Bishop is a strong conservative voice in the Senate and conservatives should be relieved the Left’s smears didn’t sink him.
Overall the Republicans lost half a dozen seats in the Senate. Republicans need at least 30 votes to override a Cooper veto. The Republican majority will shrink from 35-15 to maybe as low as 29-21 (at least one race is still up in the air).
This all means that Democrat-in-Chief Roy Cooper has a much better negotiating position for the next two years. Come January, Republicans can no long bulldoze right over his purely political vetoes. There will be chances for veto overrides, however, but they will require much more finesse.
There are handful of moderate, rural Democrats in both chambers that, with this election, just became a very popular crowd. Those Democrats will be pushed and pulled by both sides on key issues that the governor will likely veto.
This was not exactly the ‘Blue Wave’ Democrats hyped in the past several months and weeks, but they certainly made a splash on Jones Street that will have Speaker Tm Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger facing a much tougher position until 2020.