North Carolina Family Policy Council
With 43 percent of registered North Carolina voters participating in Tuesday’s midterm elections, Republicans gained control of both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time in more than a century. While the balance of power shifted significantly down on Jones St., North Carolina’s congressional delegation looks mostly the same. All of North Carolina’s incumbent members of Congress—Senator Richard Burr (R) and 13 representatives—were reelected, except for Rep. Bob Etheridge (D–2), whose race against challenger Renee Ellmers (R) is still too close to call, though Ellmers currently leads Etheridge, who has called for a recount.
There will be dozens of new faces when the General Assembly convenes on January 26 for the 2011-2012 session. At least 14 of the 50 members of the Senate—28 percent—will be new, although a handful have served in the General Assembly previously. For the first time since 1898, Republicans hold a majority of the seats (30) in the Senate. Going into the elections, Democrats controlled the Senate by a 30-20 margin. In District 50 incumbent Democrat John Snow trails Republican challenger Jim Davis by less than 200 votes in a race that is too close to call.
Twenty-nine (29) of the 120 members of the House—almost 25 percent—will be new. While four races are too close to call—District 9 between Rep. Marian McLawhorn (D) and Stan Larson (R), District 44 between Rep. Diane Parfitt (D) and Johnny Dawkins (R), District 45 between Rep. Rick Glazier (D) and Jackie Warner (R), and District 77 between Rep. Lorene Coates (D) and Harry Warren (R)—Republicans gained controls of the House for the first time since 1994 by capturing 66 seats. Democrats captured 49 seats, while the one Unaffiliated candidate who won—Bert Jones in District 65—is expected to caucus with the Republicans. Going into the elections, the Democrats controlled the House by a 68-52 margin.
From a judicial standpoint, the State Supreme and Appellate Courts maintained the same ideological make-up with all four of the incumbent members of the Court of Appeals winning reelection—Ann Marie Calabria, Rick Elmore, Martha Geer, and Sanford Steelman—and the more conservative Barbara Jackson defeating Robert Hunter for the lone open Supreme Court seat. The unusual 13-way race for a fifth seat on the Court of Appeals will not be decided until the end of the month. An instant runoff for that seat, calculated by tallying voters’ second and third choices, if necessary, is expected between Cressie Thigpen, who was appointed by Governor Perdue to fill the vacant Wynn seat on the Court, and Doug McCullough, who formerly served on the State Court of Appeals.
More than four-fifths of North Carolinian approved an amendment to the state’s constitution that would prohibit felons from running for and serving as sheriff.
The election results will not be certified by the State Board of Elections until November 12. At that time, candidates in races decided by less than 1 percent of the total votes cast will have until November 15 to demand a recount. Preliminary unofficial election results are available on the Board of Elections website. Additionally, the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation (NCFEF) has detailed campaign finance information for North Carolina candidates.
The historic shift in power means that the leadership of both chambers, including the Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Majority and Minority leaders are all expected to be new. While legislators will face another tough budget year with a deficient projected to be more than $3 billion, the agenda in the General Assembly is likely to be very different than in past years with several bills that are widely supported, but have been ignored, expected to receive attention, including a Marriage Protection Amendment, providing protection for unborn victims of violence, and efforts to lower taxes and reign in government spending, among others.
This article was used by permission of the North Carolina Family Policy Council