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What to look for: Background on the “supermajorities”

Yesterday was Election Day across the country and in North Carolina.  The big question going into the election was whether Republicans could maintain their “supermajorities” in the North Carolina House and the North Carolina Senate.  Having a supermajority means that one party controls more than 3/5 of the vote.  The reason that is so important in North Carolina is that it takes a vote of 3/5 of a chamber to override a gubernatorial veto.  So in North Carolina when Governor Roy Cooper (D) would veto a bill, Republicans in the General Assembly could override his veto easily, without the need for any Democrats to vote with them.  The most important question going into Election Day was whether Democrats would break the supermajority threshold in one or both chambers.  If they did, it would give Governor Cooper significantly more leverage to negotiate on a wide range of legislation, because Republican legislators will be forced to compromise on policy issues, or else risk that he would veto the bill and it wouldn’t become law.

So were the supermajorities broken?

House:  Going into Election Day, Republicans held a 75-45 majority in the House.  In order to break the supermajority, Democrats needed to win a net of 4 seats, to get below the 72 vote supermajority threshold.  As of this writing, it appears that Democrats have picked up a net of 9 seats in the House, which leaves the Republicans with a 66-54 majority, and easily breaks the supermajority.

Senate:  Going into Election Day, Republicans held a 35-15 majority in the Senate.  In order to break the supermajority, Democrats needed to win a net of 6 seats, to get below the 30 vote supermajority threshold. As of this writing, it appears that Democrats have picked up a net of 6 seats in the Senate, which leaves the Republicans with a 29-21 majority, and breaks the supermajority by just one vote.  However one of the races was decided by just 36 votes (see below), so Democrats will need to hold onto the narrow lead in that race after a potential recount in order to ensure the supermajority is broken.

So who lost?

Many of the Democratic pick-ups were in Wake and Mecklenburg Counties, but there were other seats all across the state that flipped.  Here’s a rundown of which incumbents lost:

House:

Incumbent Defeated: Bobbie Richardson (D)
Challenger Won: Lisa Barnes (R)
District: 7 (Franklin/Nash)
Notes: One of two house seats that Democrats lost

Incumbent Defeated: George Graham (D)
Challenger Won: Chris Humphry (R)
District: 12 (Lenior)
Notes: One of two house seats that Democrats lost

Incumbent Defeated: Chris Malone (R)
Challenger Won: Terence Everitt (D)
District: 35 (Wake)
Notes: This was a rematch

Incumbent Defeated: Nelson Dollar (R)
Challenger Won: Julie von Haefen (D)
District: 36(Wake)
Notes: Chairman Dollar is the powerful Senior Chairman of the Appropriations Committee

Incumbent Defeated: John Adcock (R)
Challenger Won: Sydney Batch (D)
District: 37 (Wake)
Notes: Rep. Adcock was recently appointed to fill Rep Hunt-Williams’ seat

Incumbent Defeated: Jonathan Jordan (R)
Challenger Won: Ray Russell (D)
District: 93 (Ashe/Watauga)
Notes:

Incumbent Defeated: John Bradford (R)
Challenger Won: Christy Clark (D)
District: 98 (Mecklenburg)
Notes: Currently a 333 vote lead

Incumbent Defeated: Andy Dulin (R)
Challenger Won: Brandon Lofton (D)
District: 104 (Mecklenburg)
Notes:

Incumbent Defeated: Scott Stone (R)
Challenger Won: Wesley Harris (D)
District: 105 Mecklenburg
Notes:

Incumbent Defeated: Mike Clampitt (R)
Challenger Won: Joe Sam Queen (D)
District: 119 (Haywood/Jackson/Swain)
Notes: This was a rematch

 Senate:

Incumbent Defeated: Michael Lee (R)
Challenger Won: Harper Peterson (D)
District: 9 (New Hanover)
Notes: Currently a 36 vote lead

Incumbent Defeated: Tamara Barringer (R)
Challenger Won: Sam Searcy (D)
District: 17 (Wake)
Notes:

Incumbent Defeated: Wesley Meredith (R)
Challenger Won: Kirk DeViere (D)
District: 19 (Cumberland)
Notes: Currently a 306 vote leas

Incumbent Defeated: Trudy Wade (R)
Challenger Won: Michael Garrett (D)
District: 27 (Guilford)
Notes: This was a rematch

Incumbent Defeated: Jeff Tarte (R)
Challenger Won: Natasha Marcus (D)
District: 41 (Mecklenburg)
Notes:

Constitutional Amendments

There were a total of six constitutional amendments on the ballot statewide.  Four of them passed, while two of them failed.

  • Right to Hunt and Fish: PASSED 57.13%-42.87%
  • Strengthening Victims’ Rights: PASSED 62.11%-37.89%
  • Maximum Income Tax Rate of 7%: PASSED 57.37%-42.63%
  • Require Photo ID to Vote: PASSED 55.51%-44.49%
  • Nonpartisan Judicial Merit Commission: FAILED 66.9%-33.1%
  • Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections: FAILED 61.65%-38.35%

 Appellate Courts

This year there was one state Supreme Court seat on the statewide ballot, and three Court of Appeals seats on the ballot.

Supreme Court: Anita Earls (D) defeated incumbent Barbara Jackson (R). This shifts the balance on the NC Supreme Court from a 4-3 Democratic majority, to 5-2 Democratic majority.

Court of Appeals: Democrats appear to have won all three of the Court of Appeals seats.  Democrat John Arrowood appears to have beat Republican Andrew Heath by less than 1%. Democrat Toby Hampson easily defeated Republicans Jefferson Griffin and Sandra Rice, and Democrat Allegra Collins defeated Republican Chuck Kitchen and Libertarian Michael Monaco.

Takeaways:

Overall this was a good night for the Democrats.  Their goal was to break the supermajority in at least one chamber, and it appears they were able to break the supermajority in both chambers.  Although Republicans still maintain a majority in both chambers, last night’s results will dramatically change the power dynamics in Raleigh.  Without supermajorities, Governor Cooper’s veto has suddenly become much more powerful, and Republicans in the General Assembly will be forced to negotiate with Governor Cooper and legislative Democrats on a wide range of issues.

Full House Results: https://er.ncsbe.gov/?election_dt=11/06/2018&county_id=0&office=NCH&contest=0

Full Senate Results: https://er.ncsbe.gov/?election_dt=11/06/2018&county_id=0&office=NCS&contest=0

For more information about our Government Relations practice, please reach out to:
John A. Hardin
William K. Morgan III

 

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