THE RALEIGH REPORT
November 21, 2016
I'm glad Thanksgiving week came along when it did. The election was brutal and divisive. Regardless of whether you are mourning or celebrating the results, it is time consider the many things for which we are all thankful. We still live in a country founded by visionary leaders who had faith Ė albeit tempered faith - in the common man and the generations that would follow. We still have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure the success of this bold experiment. Iím thankful for the Americans before me that took risks, made sacrifices and rallied from failure to preserve the democracy we enjoy today. Now, itís our turn to do the same, and Iím confident we will respond with determination and optimism. Our country will become more inclusive, more equitable, and more united as the generations pass and as we learn from our successes and mistakes.
Meanwhile, certain election deadlines are passing without any declaration of winners for the Governorís race or the State auditorís race. Friday, November 18, was county canvassing day when precinct officials were to submit their final vote count to their county boards of elections. Several counties failed to do this. Tuesday, November 22 was the deadline for candidates to ask for a recount if they lost their election by less than 10,000 votes. Tuesday, November 29 is State Board of Elections canvassing day when all overseas absentee ballots are accounted for. With Governor McCroryís campaign charging malfeasance in 52 counties and asking for a recount, itís not clear if these deadlines will hold or when the governorís race will be resolved.
Despite the voter irregularity charges and the requested recount, Iím confident Roy Cooper will retain and even increase his lead for governor. Outstanding provisional and absentee ballots historically break the same way the vote did in the General Election and documented voter fraud is so small, it has never changed an election.
But, Governor McCrory isnít the only one who wants to overturn the outcome of the governorís race. With a Governor Roy Cooper, NC House and Senate Republicans will have a harder time pushing through their agenda even though they retained a supermajority in both chambers. Republicans also have to contend with Josh Stein as Attorney General who may chose not to defend court challenges to some laws. For cases that make it to the State Supreme Court, Mike Morganís election gives that body a 4:3 spit favoring Democrats.
Governor McCrory legally may not try to add two more judges to the State Supreme Court as he legally could do with the approval of the General Assembly. With another election for the NC House and Senate coming up in 2017, Republican state legislators would be reluctant to face charges of court packing in their re-election campaigns. Thatís especially true because House Democrats need to regain only three more seats to sustain a gubernatorial veto.
Yes, I said another election for NC House and Senate in 2017. Itís unprecedented and confusing; but when the courts ruled the 2011 redistricting maps for NC House and Senate to be unconstitutional, they also ruled that Republicans had to draw new maps and hold a new election. That election will probably take place in 2017. If so, we would still have the regularly scheduled 2018 election. At this time, it isnít clear if every state legislator would have to run again in 2017. That election might be limited to those districts that were identified in the challenge to the 2011 maps. But, if we have a special election in 2017, at least some of the 2016 newly elected members would have to face annual elections in 2017 and 2018.
That brings us to the 2016 results for the NC House and Senate Democrats. House Democrats won four Republican seats but lost three for a net gain of one seat. The 2017 NC House will have 74 Republicans and 46 Democrats; still three seats short of sustaining a gubernatorial veto. Senate Democrats lost one more seat and will hold 15 in 2017. Senate Republicans will control 35 seats.
New NC House Democrats include the four winning challengers and three replacements for Democrats who decided not to seek re-election. In January, another Democrat will be named to replace the recently deceased Paul Luebke, thus bringing the 2017-18 NC House Democratic freshmen class to 8 members. The new members include several small business owners, educators, a financial services attorney, a retired judge, a mediator, a pastor, a refugee services staffer, a community college administrator and a film director. Three have experience as elected officials and all have won awards and received recognition for their service to their communities.
As a group the newly elected House Democrats strengthen the Democratic caucus. For that and for another chance in 2017 to gain the three more seats in the NC House and bring balance back to state government, I am very thankful.
As always, thank you for your support of my work in Raleigh as your representative. Please let me know of your position on issues, your suggestions for legislation and your requests for help.