NC Candidates Rush For Legislature, Meadows' Seat

Dec 20, 2019

RALEIGH — Candidate filing for the 2020 election cycle in North Carolina closed on Friday with a rush of electoral hopefuls seeking spots in the General Assembly and a congressional seat in the mountains.

The State Board of Elections and election boards in all 100 counties stopped taking candidacy documents at midday for ballots that will be chock-full of races in a presidential year. North Carolina's electorate also will vote for governor, a U.S. Senate seat and members of the U.S. House. The other nine Council of State positions will be on the ballot, as well as three of the seven positions on the state Supreme Court, scores of other judgeships and all 170 General Assembly seats.

Ten additional people paid the filing fee Friday to run for the 11th Congressional District seat, bringing to 19 the number of candidates seeking to succeed Republican Rep. Mark Meadows. He announced on Thursday that he wouldn't seek reelection, hinting at a new job in the Trump administration. Friday's candidates include Wayne King, Meadows' deputy chief of staff, and Democrat Phillip Price, who lost to Meadows in the 2018 general election. On Thursday, Haywood County GOP leader Lynda Bennett and state Sen. Jim Davis of Macon County filed for the seat.

Primary elections are March 3.

Meadows is among three Republican members of the state's congressional delegation who aren't running in 2020. Incumbents George Holding of the 2nd District and Mark Walker of the 6th District chose not to run because of last month's redrawing of the state congressional map after judges ruled the previous boundaries likely were unlawful partisan gerrymanders. Both districts shifted to the left politically as they became more urban.

Five Democrats and two Republicans are running for the Triad-area 6th District seat while four Democrats, one Republican and a Libertarian are seeking Holding's seat, which now only includes Wake County. One 2nd District candidate is Democrat Deborah Ross, a former state legislator who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Even after redistricting brought all of liberal Asheville into the 11th District, the district keeps favoring the GOP, Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper said. A dozen Republicans are running for the seat.

“It's still a leaning-Republican district ,” Cooper said in an interview. Politicians from both parties say the new map is likely to elect eight Republicans and five Democrats. The current delegation consists of 10 Republicans and three Democrats.

All 13 U.S. House seats will field Democratic and Republican candidates. GOP Rep. Ted Budd in the central Piedmont 13th District didn't have a Democratic challenger until 2018 8th District candidate Scott Huffman filed Friday morning.

The number of legislative candidates surged Friday morning so that all but a dozen of the 170 seats will be contested by both a Democrat and Republican in November, according to a review of state board data.Democrats were the lone major-party candidate in nine of the 12.

Partisan control of the state House and Senate — and who gets to draw legislative and congressional districts following the 2020 census — is at stake next year. Democrats made enough seat gains in 2018 so that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoes could be upheld if party members stayed united. Democrats need six more House seats and five Senate seats to take back chambers held by Republicans since 2011.

In other statewide court races, the top two Court of Appeals judges in terms of seniority — Chief Judge Linda McGee and Court of Judge Wanda Bryant — both didn't seek reelection next year. McGee joined the Court of Appeals in 1995. Bryant first arrived in 2001.

In the U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent Thom Tillis received two more last-minute GOP challengers in Sharon Hudson, a Lake Norman-area activist and 2016 Senate candidate Larry Holmquist. Former Judge Paul Wright of Mount Olive is also in the GOP race. Five Democrats seeking to unseat Tillis include former state Sen. Cal Cunningham and current Sen. Erica Smith.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper got a late primary challenge in Ernest Reeves of Greenville, who has run p revious statewide races with little campaign money. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and state Rep. Holly Grange filed early for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. The Constitution and Libertarian parties also field candidates.

Fifteen candidates filed for lieutenant governor — nine Republicans and six Democrats. Notable Democrats are state Sen. Terry Van Duyn of Asheville and state Reps. Yvonne Holley of Raleigh and Chaz Beasley of Charlotte. Republicans hopefuls include former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, current state Sen. Andy Wells and state schools Superintendent Mark Johnson.

Seven candidates — five Democrats and two Republicans — are now running to succeed Johnson as the schools chief.