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Old North State Report

November 15, 2019

Old North State Report – November 15, 2019

Congressional Redistricting
The NC legislature reconvened for regular session this week with top priority being placed on congressional redistricting.  A three-judge panel ruled last month that 2020 congressional elections could not be held in NC using the current Republican-drawn maps as they represent “extreme partisan gerrymandering.” The panel issued a preliminary injunction requiring the state legislature to redraw the current congressional districts prior to the scheduled March 3, 2020 primaries, otherwise risk the primaries being pushed back until later in the year. House and Senate Redistricting committees have been working over the past two weeks on a new version of a congressional map. On Thursday, HB1029 (“Congress 2020”) passed the House along party lines. The bill includes a newly drawn congressional map that Republicans say will address the partisan gerrymandering concerns expressed in the panel’s ruling. The new map would likely adjust the state’s congressional representation from 10-3 to 8-5 in favor of the GOP.  Congressional districts 4 (incumbent George Holding) and 6 (incumbent Mark Walker) would likely flip from Republican to Democrat. During bill debate on the floor, the Democrats argued the new map still does not provide proper balance between the parties. Minority party members said for the map to be fair, the districts should be drawn to reflect 6-7, 7-6 or 6-6-1 balance in representation.  HB1029 is in Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee this morning.

Session Schedule
The NC House passed HJR1026, “Adjournment Resolution,” Thursday, although many Democrats voted against the motion.  House Minority Leader, Darren Jackson, spoke against the resolution, telling fellow-members that his objection to adjournment related to the legislature’s failure to pass pay raises for teachers. Jackson commented that the House and Senate should not be leaving Raleigh without addressing that piece of business. Republicans issued a press release in response that highlighted comments from SEANC (State Employees Association of NC) leaders criticizing the Governor and Democrats for their lack of support and fairness toward state employees who are also deserving of pay increases. Despite the back-and-forth from both sides, any additional action related to the comprehensive state budget or subsequent mini-budgets will most likely have to wait until January. At the end of October, a Joint Resolution (SJR694) was passed allowing for the legislature to reconvene in November and again in January, with specific provisions as to items approved for business during each regular session. Per the Joint Resolution, veto overrides are limited to the January session, thus a Senate attempt at overriding the Governor’s veto of HB966 (the budget bill) will have to wait until January. That session is also approved for consideration of conference reports – this may be an opportunity for the legislature to make attempts at additional mini-budgets. For clarification, HJR1026 merely adjourns the legislature from this November regular session. All other provisions outlined in SJR694 still apply.

Who, When, Where?
Candidate filing for most 2020 contests will begin on December 2nd at noon, and by all indications, there will be plenty of contenders tossing their hats into the ring to vie for some of North Carolina’s highest posts. While many new faces are making a jump onto the bigger political stage, some very familiar ones are just changing lanes. For that reason, you almost need a flowchart to keep track! With the March 3rd primaries just around the corner, the fields are getting packed. Here are some of the notable races to watch (keep in mind, filing period is Dec. 2-20; this list is guaranteed to change and updates will be provided):

  • N.C. Governor – Incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper has no announced primary challenger as of now, but on the Republican side, current Lt. Governor Dan Forest has at least one announced primary challenger – current State Rep. Holly Grange
  • U.S. Senate/NC (Tillis seat) – Incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis has two announced primary challengers in Garland Tucker and Sandy Smith; among the Democrats, former State Senator Cal Cunningham and current State Senator Erica Smith
  • Lt. Governor – Current Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is running for Governor, making this an open seat contest; among the Democrats vying for the post, current State Sen. Terry Van Duyn and sitting State Representatives Chaz Beasley and Yvonne Holley, and current Chair of the State Democratic Party Wayne Goodwin; the Republican list of contenders is extensive, with former Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, current Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, current State Senator Andy Wells and former State Representative Scott Stone
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction – With the current Superintendent announcing his intent to run for Lt. Governor, there is great speculation that current State Representative Craig Horn will run for this post – Horn is a Republican
  • Commissioner of Labor – Current State Representative Josh Dobson has announced his intent to run for Labor Commissioner, a seat that will be vacated by Cheri Berry after many years; Berry has affectionately come to be known as the “Elevator Lady” in NC
  • Commissioner of Insurance – Current Chairman of the NC Democratic Party, and former Commissioner of Insurance, Wayne Goodwin, has announced he’s running for his former position; he’ll square off with current Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey (Republican)

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as 2020 promises to be an exciting year for politics in the Old North State!