Updated Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018
Democrats won enough seats in Tuesday's General Assembly elections to take away the Republicans' veto-proof supermajorities in the state House and Senate. That included flipping key seats in Mecklenburg and Wake counties.
Democrats won nine new seats in the House — more than the four they needed to end the Republicans' ability to override vetoes by Governor Roy Cooper. And they added the needed six seats in the Senate. Many of the races were very tight, and could be subject to recounts.
Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday: "North Carolinians sent a strong message to the legislature that they want their state leaders to find more common ground and work better with the Governor."
At the same time, Republican legislative leaders claimed a "clear mandate" from the results, including voters' approval of four constitutional amendments.
“North Carolina voters issued a clear mandate to continue Republican policies that are benefitting the workforce, improving schools, and delivering a pro-jobs agenda for families,” House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said in a statement. “We appreciate the strong support of our constituents and look forward to continuing our successful approach to making North Carolina the very best state in the nation.”
Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson of Charlotte easily won re-election after helping to lead a county-wide effort to oust Republican incumbents.
"We're going to be able to go back into session in a position to sustain the governor's vetoes, which reshapes our state's political landscape, in a way that allows us to take a big step closer to the center, which is where our state is," Jackson said. "We're a true 50-50 state and we've been governed by the far right for this entire decade. And that is, as of now, over."
One of the hardest-fought races was in the 41st Senate District in north and west Mecklenburg. Democrat Natasha Marcus unseated incumbent Republican Jeff Tarte of Cornelius with nearly 57 percent of the vote. Marcus, a former lawyer from Davidson, outspent Tarte and was among a wave of Democratic women seeking office this year.
"I'm just so excited that we're going to have that chance to work on things like funding public education and environmental protection and health care for every North Carolinian," Marcus said.
In another close north Mecklenburg race, Democrat Christy Clark beat incumbent John Bradford by just 333 votes in the 98th House District — a seat long held by Republicans. That's close enough for Bradford to seek a recount. Clark raised more money than Bradford and focused on his early support for toll lanes on I-77, though he has since opposed the NCDOT project.
Democrats made gains in traditional Republican south Mecklenburg. Brandon Lofton beat incumbent Andy Dulin in the 104th District. That came after reports late in the race that Dulin had been charged with DUI in Ohio this summer.
In the neighboring 105th District, Democrat Wesley Harris defeated incumbent Republican Scott Stone.
One of the biggest surprises came in the 103rd District, where longtime Republican state Representative Bill Brawley was losing all night until the final precinct was reported around 1 a.m. He won by 52 votes. Democratic challenger Rachel Hunt can ask for a recount. She's the daughter of former governor Jim Hunt and raised more $1.2 million — a sum previously unheard of in local statehouse races.
Republican Dan Bishop held on to his seat in south Charlotte's 39th Senate District, beating Democratic challenger Chad Stachowicz with 53 percent of the vote.
Democrats also scored key wins in Wake County, defeating Republican state representatives John Adcock, Nelson Dollar and Chris Malone.