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The North Carolina General Assembly reconvened this week for a skeletal session. No formal work was conducted. The short session is slated to begin Wednesday, May 18, the day after the state’s primary election. This week, Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed Executive Order 257 as part of his administrations push to get more North Carolinians vaccinated and boosted against the coronavirus. The order will give all state employees who get the booster shot before August 31 eight hours of additional paid leave.
North Carolina Congressional Primaries
In March, the North Carolina Supreme Court accepted a Congressional redistricting map that was drawn by a trial court and OK’d by the state legislature. According to elections experts, the map likely produces seven Republican, six Democrat, and one toss-up district. The primary election for North Carolina’s Congressional and state legislative races is Tuesday, May 17. Early voting began on April 28 and will run through May 14.
There will be some noteworthy changes to the North Carolina Congressional delegation in 2022. Because of population growth recorded in the 2020 Census, North Carolina gained an additional 14th congressional district, which was drawn in the Charlotte region. District 14, which trends 11-points more Democratic than the national average according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical model, will likely see Senator Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg) represent them next term in the U.S. House.
Additionally, long-term Democratic Congressmen G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) and David Price (D-Orange) both announced their retirements and are not seeking re-election. Their absence on the ballot has been the catalyst of two spirited, and at times controversial, Democratic primary races to decide their replacements.
In District 1, Congressman Butterfield’s current seat, which spans northeastern North Carolina, State Senator Don Davis (D-Pitt) is facing former State Senator Erica Smith. Smith ended her bid for U.S. Senate to seek this seat, and has received the endorsements of progressive national icons like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and NARAL. Senator Davis has received endorsements from current Congressman G.K. Butterfield and local elected officials. The Cook Political Report moved the race from a “Likely” to a “Lean” Democratic seat in 2022, meaning it could be competitive for Republicans to claim. On the Republican side, it’s a Sandy vs. Sandy Republican primary. Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson has endorsements from NC House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), and his opponent Sandy Smith, a Nash County business owner, has been endorsed by members of former President Trump’s inner political circle, including Congressman Madison Cawthorn and Roger Stone.
In District 4, Congressman Price’s current seat, which mostly includes the very liberal counties of Durham and Orange, a competitive race exists between State Senator Valerie Foushee (D-Orange), current Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, and American Idol contestant Clay Aiken. National progressive political figures, including Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, in addition to several other progressive organizations, have endorsed Allam. Senator Foushee has been endorsed by mainstream Democrats including the Congressional Black Caucus and North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein.
The other top Democratic Congressional primary is in the open District 13, which spans southern Wake County and surrounding suburban counties. This is considered to be the toss-up race in North Carolina, though FiveThirtyEight rates it as three-points more Republican than the national average. The two heavily funded Democrats running are State Senator Wiley Nickel (D-Wake) and former Wake County Senator Sam Searcy. On the Republican side, the President Trump endorsed candidate, Bo Hines, is facing former Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, Raleigh business owner DeVan Barbour, Johnston County attorney Kelly Daughtry, among a handful of others. It is expected to be a tough race on both sides, as all candidates are fairly evenly funded. Both parties are expected to spend heavily in District 13 ahead of the general election. Current projections forecast Republicans to pick up eight seats in the House, which would give them a slim majority.
Lastly, District 11, encompassing the North Carolina mountains, which has become a “celebrity” district being recently represented by former NFL Quarterback Heath Shuler, former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and current conservative firebrand Congressman Madison Cawthorn, is seeing a ferocious Republican primary battle. Incumbent Cawthorn is being challenged by State Senator Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson), who has gained support from North Carolina institutional Republicans, including Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis. Over the last few weeks, media outlets have reported on Cawthorn’s repeated alleged scandals, including having a handgun confiscated at the Charlotte Douglas Airport, an insider trading accusation, and leaked photos and videos. Still, Cawthorn has maintained support from former President Trump and many local elected Republican officials. The district is a likely Republican seat.
There are contested primaries in all but one of the other Congressional races, but due to redistricting, incumbents are likely favored to win re-election in each of those competitions. To view your sample ballot, or to search for your polling place to vote in the primary election, click here.
Upcoming Legislative Meetings
Monday, May 9: House Select Committee on An Education System for North Carolina’s Future (Public Hearing)