North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

October 28, 2022

Pardon Our Dust

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This week Democratic Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order to “accelerate the state’s transition to a clean energy economy.” The order directs the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to establish the North Carolina Advanced Clean Trucks Program that would propose rules to require truck manufacturers to sell more zero-emission trucks in the state. The order requires the N.C. Climate Change Interagency Taskforce to conduct a needs assessment over the next year of zero-emission vehicles, charging stations, the cost of electric charging, and other fuel sources.

One Stop Early Voting in North Carolina runs through November 5th. Voters can visit any early voting location in the county in which they are registered to cast their ballot. For more information on locations and times to vote early, click here.

Election Preview

There are just 11 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. For more information on how to register or how to vote in North Carolina, click here.

To catch up on all the races happening in North Carolina, you can check out the latest edition of Week in Review. For an overview of the legislative races taking place in the Eastern part of the state, click here. For an overview of the legislative races taking place in the Western part of the state, click here. For an overview of the races taking place in the Piedmont region of the state, click here. And finally, for an overview of the US Senate and Congressional races, click here. This week, we review the most competitive North Carolina House of Representatives races to watch.

Top NC House Races to Watch

In the 120-member North Carolina House of Representatives, Republicans hold a majority with 69 seats, compared to Democrats’ 51 seats. This election year, Republicans are attempting to expand their majority to a supermajority with at least 72 seats, which would allow them to override vetoes by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. Earlier this year, the legislature redrew their district lines, which will inevitably change the partisan makeup of several districts. According to the Civitas Partisan Index, as a result of redistricting, Republicans are going into the 2022 election with a baseline of 52 “safe” or “likely” Republican seats and Democrats have a baseline of 43 “safe” or “likely” Democratic seats. There are a handful of seats this year that both political parties are seriously investing in to either pick up or hold.

District 5

The northeastern corner of North Carolina has been represented by a Hunter for nearly 25 years. Democratic Representative Howard Hunter III, of Hertford County, has represented the state’s 5th District since first being elected in 2014. His father, the late Howard Hunter Jr., represented the same district from 1989 until his passing in 2007. The seat was once considered safely Democratic, but due to population declining in this rural district, the Republican-voting Camden County was added during redistricting, making it a competitive seat now rated as “lean Democratic.” Republican Bill Ward, a retired lieutenant with the Pasquotank Sheriff’s Office who unsuccessfully ran for Pasquotank Sheriff in 2018 and for Pasquotank County Commission in 2020, is challenging Hunter. Although Ward has not raised a significant amount of funds for his campaign, Republican-supporting interest groups have spent heavily in the district to defeat Hunter.

District 9

Democratic Representative Brian Farkas, of Pitt County, defeated an incumbent Republican in 2020. Farkas’ victory was one of only two Democratic pick-ups in the House in 2020. The 9th District is centered in Pitt County, but through the redistricting process, the district lost much of the city of Greenville, making it more competitive. It is rated as a “lean Democratic” seat. Republican Dr. Tim Reeder, an emergency physician, is challenging Farkas. Both Farkas and Reeder have campaigned hard and raised about the same amount of funds for their respective campaigns, but Republican-supporting interest groups have spent heavily to flip the seat.

District 20

Republican Representative Ted Davis, of New Hanover County, is no stranger to winning tough races. District 20 has been competitive for several election cycles as the city of Wilmington has continued to grow and become more Democratic. Democrats see this district as one of their rare pickup opportunities with their candidate, Amy Block DeLoach, who comes from an entrenched political family in the county. Her father, Frank Block, owned a large factory with hundreds of employees and served three terms in the North Carolina Senate. Both Davis and Block DeLoach have raised around $100,000 to win this seat, but it’s no doubt that during a tough election cycle for Democrats Block DeLoach will have a difficult time flipping the seat. The district is rated as a “toss-up.”

District 24

Democratic Representative Linda Cooper-Suggs, of Wilson County, has served in the state House for one term. Until this year, the district only included the entirety of Wilson County, which has long been a reliable Democratic-voting county. It is the home of former Democratic Governor Jim Hunt and current Democratic Congressman G.K. Butterfield. But like most other rural areas, it has both lost population and shifted Republican in recent years. Through redistricting, the district picked up a portion of rural Nash County. Cooper-Suggs is challenged by Republican Ken Fontenot, who ran for the seat in 2018 as an independent and came within 450 votes of defeating former Democratic Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield. Cooper-Suggs performed better during her first election in 2020, winning by over 2,000 votes, but this district is expected to come down to a handful of votes this year. The district is rated “lean Democratic.”

District 25

Democratic Representative James Gailliard, of Nash County, is running for a third term. During redistricting, this rural district was expanded to include more of Nash County. As the pastor and CEO of Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount, a large church which brings thousands of parishioners every week, Galliard is a force to beat. Still, Republicans think they have a chance with their nominee, Allen Chesser, a combat veteran. Although Chesser has not raised a significant amount of funds for his campaign, the Republican House Caucus has invested in the district with hopes of flipping the seat. The district is rated “lean Democratic.”

District 35

After the 2018 election, Wake County voters unseated all but one Republican member of the state House. This year, Republicans are trying to win back some of the seats they lost. Democratic Representative Terence Everitt was one of those members who won in 2018 and was reelected in 2020. The northern-Wake County district, based in the town of Wake Forest, became slightly more Republican through redistricting. In 2020, the newly drawn district went for Democratic President Biden by just 51% of the vote. Republican Fred Von Canon, a veteran and business owner, is challenging Everitt, in addition to a Libertarian candidate on the ballot. Von Canon has raised slightly more than Everitt this year, but it will still be a difficult race for a Republican to win as Wake County continues to grow every year. The district is rated “lean Democratic.”

District 43

Following the departure of Representatives John Szoka (R-Cumberland) and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland), the House districts in Cumberland County shifted significantly through redistricting since incumbent protection was not a factor. The county gained a safe Democratic seat, and the seat currently held by Republican Representative Diane Wheatley, of Cumberland County, became a “toss up” district. She is challenged by former Democratic Representative Elmer Floyd who served six years before losing the Democratic primary in 2020 – the Democratic candidate in that race went on to lose the general election to Representative Wheatley. In 2020, District 43 voted for both Republican Donald Trump for President and Democrat Roy Cooper for Governor.

District 47

The only American Indian member of the legislature, Representative Charles Graham (D-Robeson) is leaving the state House to run for Congress, leaving a vacancy in this competitive district. District 47 has always elected a Democrat because of its unique triracial characteristics: it is nearly 50% Lumbee American Indian and 30% African American. However, this year the district could flip. Republican Jarrod Lowery, a Marine veteran, is seeking the seat, and is challenged by former Fairmont Mayor Charles Townsend. Lowery could have a unique advantage in the district as the only Lumbee candidate and as a Republican in a region that has realigned towards the Republican Party quicker than any other region in the state. The district is rated as a “toss up.”

District 48

Democratic Representative Garland Pierce, of Scotland County, is seeking a tenth term in the state House. Pierce has not yet had a tough election fight. Since his district was drawn to include only Hoke and Scotland County, he has had just two challengers, both of which he soundly defeated by at least 11-points. Although Democrats for state office, like Pierce and Governor Roy Cooper, have comfortably won the district, it has also trended Republican in recent elections for national elections. This year, Republicans feel they have an opportunity to defeat Pierce, and have invested significantly to assist his challenger, Republican Melissa Swarbick, a personal trainer. The district is rated “lean Democratic.”

District 54

House Democratic leader Representative Robert Reives, of Chatham County, saw his district become more competitive during redistricting. He is losing a portion of the Democratic voting Durham County and picking up a portion of the Republican voting Randolph County. Reives is challenged by Republican Walter Petty, a former Chatham County Commissioner. Reives has raised significantly more money for his campaign fund than Petty, but Republican-supporting interest groups have invested in the district in hopes of taking out Democrats’ leader. District 54 is rated “lean Democratic.”

District 59

Republican Representative Jon Hardister, who serves in leadership as the House Majority Whip, is seeking a sixth term. His opponent, Democrat Sherrie Young, is a political newcomer who won the Democratic primary in May in an upset victory. During the primary, Young did not actively campaign for the district, and did not even have a Facebook page, which is why it surprised many Democratic Party activists when she defeated her opponent who had actively campaigned for the seat. Hardister has raised nearly $200,000 for his reelection, but according to the state board of elections website, Young had not filed a recent campaign finance report. The district is rated as “lean Democratic.”

District 63

Democratic Representative Ricky Hurtado, of Alamance County, was one of two seats that Democrats flipped in 2020, when he won by less than 500 votes. He is challenged by the man he first defeated, former Republican Representative Stephen Ross, also of Alamance County. House Republicans have spent more in this district than possibly any other and see this district as one of the best opportunities to flip a seat. Through redistricting, the district changed slightly, losing some of the city of Burlington, which typically votes Democrat. District 63 is rated “lean Democratic.”

District 73

Cabarrus County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state, as the city of Charlotte’s suburbs have spread to the county. The area of the county that has grown the fastest is the home of one of the most competitive state House races. An open seat, Democrat Diamond Staton-Williams, a Harrisburg Town Councilmember, is opposed by Republican Brian Echevarria, a local business owner. Both political parties have spent heavily in the district to pick up the seat. The district is rated “lean Democratic.”

District 98

The 98th District is a Charlotte-suburbs district that has traded hands several times in recent elections. Democrat Christy Clark won the district in 2018, then lost it to incumbent Representative John Bradford in 2020. Clark is challenging Bradford this year for a rematch and the race has shaped up to be one of the most competitive in the state. Republicans have outspent Democrats in the district, but Charlotte is the fastest growing city in the state, becoming more Democratic each election year. The district is rated as a “toss up.”

District 103

Incumbent Democratic Representative Rachel Hunt, of Mecklenburg County, is running for the state Senate this year, leaving her suburban Charlotte district open. In 2018, Hunt defeated former Republican Representative Bill Brawley in one of the most expensive campaigns in the state. This year, Brawley is running to reclaim his seat, and is challenged by Democrat Laura Budd, an attorney. Republicans have outspent Democrats in the district, but like other Charlotte-area districts, District 103 has become more Democratic in recent years. The district is rated “lean Democratic.”

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

There are currently no legislative meetings scheduled for next week.