North Carolina Legislative Update

Posted by The Arc of North Carolina

Republicans in North Carolina have a lot to celebrate with the results of the 2016 elections.  Despite the predictions of most political pundits and the media, Donald Trump is now the President-Elect and Republicans did very well in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Senate picked up a Republican seat to increase its Republican veto-proof super majority to 35-15.  The State House of Representatives lost four Republican seats but picked up three Republican seats for a net seat loss of one to also maintain a veto-proof super majority.  Republicans Rep. Marilyn Avila and Rep. Gary Pendleton lost their reelection bids and these losses are significant because both Rep. Avila and Rep. Pendleton have important leadership positions on health care committees and have been helpful on health policy issues.  Rep. Avila served as deputy majority leader and also chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.  Rep. Pendleton was named as a co-chair on the House Health Committee last session.

Republicans Rep. Marilyn Avila and Rep. Gary Pendleton lost their reelection bids and these losses are significant because both Rep. Avila and Rep. Pendleton have important leadership positions on health care committees and have been helpful on health policy issues.  Rep. Avila served as deputy majority leader and also chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.  Rep. Pendleton was named as a co-chair on the House Health Committee last session.

Moving to the statewide races, Roy Cooper won the Governor's race but only by a margin of about 5,000 votes.  Votes from provisional ballots and absentee ballots continue to be counted, and it is possible, though unlikely, that the final vote count will change the outcome of the Governor's race.  The Board of Elections will certify the official winners at the end of the month. 

There were also some surprises in the Council of State races, with two incumbents losing their re-election bids. Incumbent Democrat Insurance Commissioner Wayne Godwin lost his bid for reelection to Republican Mike Causey and Republican Mark Johnson beat incumbent June Atkinson in the Superintendent of Public Instruction race. Most other incumbents won: Incumbent Republican Dan Forest retained his Lt. Gov. position, Democrat Elaine Marshall retained her position as Secretary of State, Republican Steve Troxler will continue to serve as Agriculture Commissioner, Republican Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry won her re-election and Democrat Beth Wood won re-election for Auditor by a small margin (this race may be within the recount margin).  Open seats on the Council of State were won by  Former Forsyth County Representative Dale Folwell who beat out Democrat Dan Blue III for State Treasurer and Democrat Josh Stein was elected Attorney General over Republican Buck Newton.

The North Carolina Supreme Court did pick up a Democrat seat and will now move to majority Democrat with the election of Mike Morgan over Bob Edmunds.  

The Legislature will see a number of new legislators.  The Insider provided this helpful list of new lawmakers who will be sworn into office this coming Long Session which begins on January 11, 2017.

In the Senate:

District 11: Republican Rick Horner beat Democrat Albert Pacer to replace Republican Buck Newton who stepped down to run for state attorney general and lost to Democrat Josh Stein. Horner is a former Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education member. It was his second run for a Senate seat. In 2000, he ran against Democrat A.B. Swindell for the District 10 seat vacated by Roy Cooper after Cooper chose to run for attorney general.

District 13: Republican Danny Britt upset one-term incumbent Democrat Sen. Jane Smith. Britt is the owner of the Britt Law Firm in Lumberton and a major with the North Carolina National Guard. Robeson has not elected a Republican to the state Senate in decades, according to the Robeson County GOP.

District 33: Republican Cathy Dunn of Lexington beat Democrat Jim Graham of Linwood to fill the seat vacated by Republican Stan Bingham. A businesswoman, Dunn founded Biscuit King Restaurants.

District 36: Republican Paul Newton defeated Democrat Robert Brown to fill the seat previously held by Sen. Fletcher Hartsell. Newton is a retired attorney who worked for Duke Energy for 25 years. Brown is a certified public accountant and a consultant. It was their first time running for public office.

District 39: Republican Dan Bishop beat Democrat Lloyd Scher to fill a seat held by Republican Bob Rucho, a conservative stalwart and head of the Senate Finance and Redistricting committees who served for 17 years in the legislature. Bishop is not exactly new to the General Assembly, as he served one term in the House representing District 104 during the 2015-16 legislative session.

In the House:

District 6: Republican Beverly Boswell, a Dare County commissioner, ran against Democrat and fellow Dare County Commissioner Warren Judge, until Judge died of heart failure. Judge’s name remained on the ballot with his wife Tess running in his place. Boswell won. The seat was open seat after the resignation of Rep. Paul Tine, the House’s only unaffiliated member.

District 26: Republican Donna White defeated Democratic challenger Rich Nixon to fill the seat held by longtime Republican Rep. Leo Daughtry, who did not seek a 14th term. White is a member of the Johnston County School Board.

District 28: Republican Larry Strickland beat Democrat Patricia Oliver to fill the seat held by Rep. James H. Langdon, who did not seek a seventh term. A Johnston County School Board member, Strickland received the endorsement of Langdon.

District 30: Deceased Democrat Rep. Paul Luebke defeated Republican challenger Elissa Fuchs. Philip Lehman, who lives in District 30, will serve in Luebke's place. The Durham County Democratic Party selected Lehman from a list of names suggested by the party’s executive committee. Lehman has served as assistant attorney general.

District 37: Republican Linda Hunt-Williams beat Democrat Randy Barrow with Libertarian Robert Rose coming in a distant third. The seat has been held since 2001 by Republican House Speaker Pro Tempore Paul "Skip" Stam, who did not seek re-election.

District 40: Democratic challenger Joe John unseated Rep. Marilyn Avila, who had held the seat for five terms. Avila served as deputy majority leader and joint caucus chair and prior to elected office led the Wake County Republicans. John had served as a judge in Guilford County and on the N.C. Court of Appeals.

District 46: Republican Brenden Jones defeated Democrat Tim Benton to fill Democratic Rep. Ken Waddell's seat. Libertarian Tom Howell Jr. came in a distant third. This was Jones' second campaign for the House. He lost against Waddell in 2014.

District 49: Democratic challenger Cynthia Ball unseated incumbent Republican Rep. Gary Pendleton, a financial consultant and retired brigadier general who'd been in office for 1 1/2 terms. Ball is a certified mediator who made her first run for elected office. Libertarian David Ulmer finished a distant third.

District 51: Republican John Sauls of Lee County unseated one-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Brad Salmon, a lawyer and farmer. A pastor, Sauls served in the House during the 2003-2004 session.

District 88: Democrat Mary Belk unseated two-term incumbent Republican Rep. Rob Bryan. Belk is a small business owner with deep community and civic roots.

District 92: Democrat Chaz Beasley defeated Republican Danae Caulfield to secure the seat formerly held by Huntersville Republican Charles Jeter, who retired in July. Beasley is a Harvard-educated lawyer while Caulfield is a real estate agent and former Huntersville town commissioner.

District 119: Republican Mike Clampitt unseated two-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Sam Queen. Queen also served three terms in the Senate. Clampitt ran against Queen in 2012 and 2014.