GOP locks in high court majority; 2 local Dems prevent House supermajority

CHARLOTTE — While most of the attention was on the US Senate race, one of the biggest wins of the night for Republicans was on the state supreme court. Republicans solidified power for years to come.  

Republicans Trey Allen and Richard Dietz won their races handily and will join the state supreme court in 2023. That flipped a 4-3 Democratic Party advantage to a 5-2 GOP tilt on the state’s high court and secures a majority through at least 2028.

Jim Blaine, one of the top Republican strategists in the state, calls it one of the biggest wins of this election. It wasn’t just the state supreme court, Republicans won all six statewide judicial races.

“It was an absolute wipeout,” Blaine said. “It was a repudiation of the activist judiciary we’ve seen in North Carolina.”

Republicans also clawed back power in the General Assembly. They secured a supermajority in the North Carolina Senate and fell only one seat short in the state House of Representatives.

Blaine says Democrats are still walking a tightrope.

They’ll have to ensure every member is present and voting together in order to sustain Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes.

“They have zero margin for error, they have to be perfect and there is nothing about politicians that lead to believe perfection is a likely outcome,” Blaine said. “If one of them doesn’t show up or shows up and votes wrong, Cooper pays the price for that.”

Because of the lack of a supermajority, Blaine says he doesn’t expect the legislature to pursue social issues or abortion legislation.

The lack of a supermajority in the House is due in part to two newcomer democrats in the Charlotte area winning their close races. Diamond Staton-Williams in Cabarrus County defeated Brian Echevarria by a little more than 400 votes. Laura Budd in Matthews defeated Bill Brawley by around 1,600 votes.

Democratic strategist Douglas Wilson calls their victories two of the night’s bright spots for local Democrats.

He hopes going forward, national Democrats will invest more in North Carolina and less in states like Florida.

“A lot of national pundits and operatives, and even national Democrats, have said that North Carolina has to be the focus now in the south,” Wilson said. “The state of Florida is a red state now. It is not a battleground anymore. So I think now North Carolina takes over that Florida spot.”

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