North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

September 30, 2022

Pardon Our Dust

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North Carolinians are bracing for the impact of Hurricane Ian as the storm is expected to bring 35 mph winds and up to six inches of rain to most of the state, with up to 10 inches of rain possible towards the coast. Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Wednesday and said search rescue teams are already being deployed. Most meteorologists anticipate the worst of the storm to pass over the state Friday through Saturday afternoon.

state audit issued earlier this week found that the Division of Employment Security (DES), which is the state agency tasked with paying out unemployment benefits, overpaid recipients by $380 million between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2021. During the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, DES reported an uptick of unemployment claims by 5,000 percent and scaled from 6,000 calls a day to 42,000 calls a day.

Election Preview

There are less than 40 days to go before voters across North Carolina cast their ballots for who they would like to represent them in the US Senate and the US House, as well as in the state legislature and in judicial offices. Over the next few weeks, our team will be highlighting races across the state to keep you informed on the election. For more information on how to register or how to vote in North Carolina, click here.

When voters cast their ballots on November 8, North Carolinians will decide which party controls the General Assembly. This week we focus on legislative races in the Eastern region of North Carolina.

Eastern North Carolina Senate Races

In both the House and Senate, Republicans are expected to remain in control following this year’s election, however, the Republican path to a supermajority is easier – but not likely – in the state Senate. According to the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Partisan Index, of the 50 total Senate seats, 24 are likely to elect Republicans, four are “toss-up” districts, and five “lean Democrat.” Republicans need to win six of the toss-up or lean Democrat seats to take the supermajority (30 seats). In November, voters in the eastern part of the state will decide the winners of the following races:

District 1: Carteret, Chowan, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Washington

Following redistricting, business owner and incumbent Senator Norm Sanderson (R-Pamlico), who currently represents District 2, will see his district shift up the coast to take in northeastern counties. He is running unopposed.

District 2: Beaufort, Craven, Lenoir

Senate Majority Whip, Senator Jim Perry (R-Lenoir), is running unopposed this year.

District 3: Bertie, Camden, Currituck, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Tyrrell, Warren

One of the most hotly contested seats features Republican and former House Representative Bobby Hanig (R-Currituck), who was appointed to the Senate earlier this year, is vying against Democrat and Department of Transportation Board Member Valerie Jordan of Warren County. The predominantly rural District 3 leans Democrat but has shifted Republican in recent years. Republicans will likely have to win this district to take a supermajority.

District 4: Greene, Wayne, Wilson

Following redistricting, long-time Democratic incumbent Senator Toby Fitch (D-Wilson) is running in a district with two new counties. He faces Republican Buck Newton, also of Wilson County, who unsuccessfully ran for Attorney General in 2016. District 4 is rated as a “toss-up” district that has leaned Republican in recent election years.

District 5: Edgecombe, Pitt

When Senator Don Davis (D-Pitt) announced his campaign for Congress, current Representative Kandie Smith (D-Pitt), who formerly served as Mayor of Greenville, announced her run for the District 5 seat. She faces Republican Karen Kozel, a community leader in Pitt County.

District 6: Onslow

Incumbent Republican Senator Michael Lazzara, an Onslow County business owner, is running unopposed.

District 7: New Hanover (part)

This New Hanover County-based district has flipped each election year since 2016. This year, District 7 is rated as a “toss-up.” Incumbent Republican Senator Michael Lee, an attorney in New Hanover County, faces Democrat and retired Army Colonel Marcia Morgan.

District 8: Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover (part)

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) is running unopposed for this “safe Republican” district this year.

District 9: Bladen, Duplin, Jones, Pender, Sampson (part)

Senate Appropriations and Agriculture Committee Chairman Brent Jackson (R-Sampson) is running unopposed for this “safe Republican” district this year.

District 10: Johnston

This is a new district, redrawn to include all of Johnston County. With no incumbent, it is considered to be a “safe Republican” seat. Republican Benton Sawrey, a Clayton attorney, faces Democrat Dr. Gettys Cohen Jr., a dentist in Smithfield.

District 11: Franklin, Nash, Vance

Incumbent Lisa Stone Barnes (R-Nash), a farmer and business owner, saw her district shift, dropping Johnston County and picking up Franklin and Vance County, making it a “lean Democrat” district. It is a must-win seat for Republicans to take the supermajority in the Senate. Barnes faces Democrat Mark Speed, a Franklin County Commissioner.

District 12: Harnett, Lee, Sampson (part)

Incumbent Senator Jim Burgin (R-Harnett) faces Democrat Richard Chapman, a retired newspaper journalist, in this “likely Republican” seat.

Eastern North Carolina House Races

Like the Senate, Republicans are anticipated to remain in control of the House following the election. According to the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Partisan Index, of the 120 total Senate seats, 58 are likely to elect Republicans, 56 will likely elect Democrats, and six are “toss-up” districts. Republicans need to win six of the toss-up or lean Democrat seats to take the supermajority. In November, voters in the eastern part of the state will decide the winners of the following races:

District 1: Chowan, Currituck, Dare (Part), Perquimans, Tyrrell, and Washington

Incumbent Representative Ed Goodwin (R-Chowan), who chairs the House Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, is running unopposed in this “safe Republican” district.

District 3: Craven (Part)

Incumbent Representative Steve Tyson (R-Craven) is unopposed as he seeks his second term.

District 4: Duplin and Wayne (Part)

Incumbent Representative Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin), who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, is seeking his seventh term in the House. He faces Democrat Wesley Boykin in this “likely Republican” district.

District 5: Camden, Gates, Hertford, and Pasquotank

Incumbent Representative Howard Hunter (D-Hertford) is seeking re-election in this “lean Democrat” seat. He faces Republican activist Bill Ward of Pasquotank County.

District 8: Pitt (Part)

Following Representative Kandie Smith’s (D-Pitt) announcement to run for the NC Senate, Bethel Mayor and Democrat Gloristine Brown filed to run for this “likely Democrat” seat. She faces Republican Charles Vincent.

District 9: Pitt (Part)

In an important seat for Republicans to flip in order to win a supermajority, incumbent Representative Brian Farkas (D-Pitt) will face Republican Dr. Timothy Reeder, an emergency physician. It is a “lean Democrat” district.

District 10: Wayne (Part)

House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) is unopposed as he seeks his sixth term in the House.

District 12: Greene, Jones, and Lenoir

Incumbent Representative Chris Humphrey (R-Lenoir), who chairs the House Insurance Committee, is seeking his third term in the House. He faces Democrat Lillie Williams, a teacher in Kinston. The district is rated “lean Republican.”

District 13: Carteret and Craven (Part)

Long time Representative Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) declined to seek re-election this year. Republican activist and CPA, Celeste Cairns, of Emerald Isle, will face Democat Katie Tomerlin, a community leader from Newport, in the race efor this “safe Republican” seat.

District 14: Onslow (Part)

Incumbent Representative George Cleveland (R-Onslow), who chairs the House Appropriations, General Government Committee, is running for re-election this year in this “safe Republican” seat. He faces Democrat Ike Johnson, a retired Marine officer.

District 15: Onslow (Part)

Incumbent Representative Phil Shepard (R-Onslow) is seeking re-election in this “safe Republican” district. He faces Democrat Christopher Schulte.

District 16: Onslow (Part) and Pender

Incumbent Representative Carson Smith (R-Pender), who chairs the House Appropriations, Justice and Public Safety, Committee is running unopposed for his third term.

District 17: Brunswick (Part)

Incumbent Representative Frank Iler (R-Brunswick), who chairs the House Transportation Committee, faces Democrat and former Marine Eric Terashima. It is considered to be a “safe Republican” seat.

District 18: New Hanover (Part)

House Democratic Whip, Representative Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) is seeking re-election in this Wilmington-based district. She faces Republican John Hinnant, a developer and community leader in Wilmington.

District 19: Brunswick (Part) and New Hanover (Part)

Incumbent Representative Charlie Miller (R-Brunswick), who served as Brunswick County Sheriff prior to being elected to the House, is running unopposed for re-election.

District 20: New Hanover (Part)

Frequently competitive, this Wilmington-to-Wrightsville Beach district pits incumbent Representative Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) against Democrat Amy Block DeLoach, the daughter of former Senator Frank Block. It is rated as a “toss-up” district.

District 22: Bladen and Sampson

Incumbent Representative William Brisson (R-Sampson), who co-chairs the House Agriculture Committee, is running unopposed to serve a ninth term.

District 24: Nash (Part) and Wilson

Incumbent Representative Linda Cooper-Suggs (D-Wilson) faces Republican Ken Fontenot, a Wilson pastor. Republicans likely have to flip this “lean Democrat” seat in order to win a supermajority.

District 25: Nash (Part)

Incumbent Representative James Gailliard (D-Nash) faces Republican Allen Chesser, a veteran and Republican Party activist. Republicans will likely need to flip this “lean Democrat” seat to win a supermajority in the House.

District 27: Halifax, Northampton, and Warren

Incumbent Representative Michael Wray (D-Northampton) is seeking his tenth term in the House. He faces Republican Wes Tripp in this “safe Democrat” seat.

District 28: Johnston (Part)

Incumbent Larry Strickland (R-Johnston), who co-chairs the House Appropriations Committee, is seeking his fourth term in the House in this “safe Republican” seat. He faces Democrat Wendy Ella May.

District 42: Cumberland (Part)

Incumbent Representative Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland) is seeking his 12th term in this “safe Democrat” seat. He faces Republican. Gloria Carassco.

District 43: Cumberland (Part)

Former Democratic House Representative Elmer Floyd, of Cumberland County, is seeking re-election against incumbent Republican Representative Diane Wheatley, also of Cumberland County, who is serving her first term. The district is rated as a “toss-up.”

District 44: Cumberland (Part)

Following incumbent Democratic Representative Billy Richardson’s (D-Cumberland) decision not to seek re-election, Democrat Charles Smith, an attorney, and former assistant District Attorney, is running unopposed.

District 45: Cumberland (Part)

Following redistricting, this seat became open with no incumbent. Democrat Dr. Frances Jackson, a former community planner and social studies teacher, is expected to win in this “likely Democratic” seat against Republican Susan Chapman.

District 46: Columbus and Robeson (Part)

Incumbent Representative Brenden Jones (R-Columbus), who serves as House Deputy Majority Leader and House Transportation Committee Chairman, is running unopposed for his fourth term.

District 47: Robeson (Part)

Following Robeson County Democrat Representative Charles Graham’s decision to run for US Congress, this Lumberton-to-Pembroke district is an open seat. Democrat Charles Townsend, the former Fairmont Mayor, faces Republican Jarrod Lowery, Marine veteran and brother of the Lumbee Tribal Chairman John Lowery.

District 48: Hoke and Scotland

Former Democratic Whip and Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Representative Garland Pierce (D-Scotland) is seeking his 10th term in the House to represent Hoke and Scotland County. He faces Hoke County Republican Melissa Swarbrick in this “lean Democrat” seat.

District 79: Beaufort, Dare (Part), Hyde, and Pamlico

Incumbent Representative Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort), who leads the House Freedom Caucus, is running unopposed in this safe Republican district.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Tuesday, October 4
9:00AM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government

Wednesday, October 5
9:30AM: Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee

Thursday, October 6
10:00AM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology