• 84°

Now what? Five initial election takeaways for North Carolinians

By Rob Schofield

The 2018 election is finally and mercifully over and now is no time for progressives to rest on their laurels. Having taken some promising initial steps in the struggle to overcome Trumpism and build a better, fairer, freer and more sustainable nation and planet, now is the time for caring and thinking people to redouble their efforts and turn their electoral energy toward the cause of governance.

Here in North Carolina, this will remain an enormous challenge. Despite important progressive victories in several races, the state legislature and congressional delegation both remain absurdly and illegally gerrymandered and highly unrepresentative of the state’s closely divided and increasingly urban and diverse voter population. Despite being headed for victory in the combined popular vote in congressional and legislative races (the Democrats only ran candidates in 12 of 13 U.S. House races), North Carolina Democrats remain mired in minority status.

That said, last night’s results offer some significant glimmers of hope for the future.

Here are five initial takeaways:

#1 – The demise of the Republican supermajorities in the General Assembly should make a big difference.

Despite the election of a strong and talented progressive governor in Roy Cooper in 2016, conservative legislative leaders at the General Assembly – particularly Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger – have enjoyed near dictatorial powers on a host of issues thanks to veto-proof majorities in both the House and the Senate.

This situation reached its nadir this past legislative session when Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore rammed through a 266 page state budget bill crafted behind closed doors without even allowing any proposed amendments.

Thanks to these results, this situation will almost certainly change. Now that Democrats will be able to sustain a Cooper veto in the House (and likely the Senate as well), Republicans will be forced to negotiate and compromise on some important issues.

#2 – The defeat of two power-shifting constitutional amendments is another major defeat for Berger and Moore. 

Ever since Cooper was elected in 2016 (and even before he took office), Berger and Moore have repeatedly advanced schemes to seize power from the Governor and transfer it to themselves – particularly with respect to the composition of the courts and the state elections board. The whole thing descended into near tragicomedy this summer when the two slapped a pair of convoluted power-shifting amendments onto the state ballot during the waning days of the legislative session and then, after they were struck down as unconstitutional, hastily rewrote them during a one-day special session just days before the start of absentee voting. Let’s fervently hope that last night’s resounding “hell no” from voters across the state puts an end to such mischief-making for the foreseeable future.

#3 – The special lame duck session scheduled for later this month could be a real donnybrook.

Voters may have rendered an unambiguous thumbs-down on the Berger-Moore supermajority control of state government last night, but, of course, the new General Assembly doesn’t take office until January. In the meantime, look for the pair to try and press their current advantage to the limit until the very last minute.

That means the special session scheduled for November 27 will almost certainly feature efforts to pass a host of new laws to lock in conservative hegemony – perhaps, most notably, a highly restrictive voter ID law in the wake of the passage of the voter ID amendment yesterday – that will be impossible to pass come January.

Two years ago, when Berger and Moore tried such a power play, thousands of citizens rallied inside and outside of the Legislative Building in spirited resistance. Such a grassroots effort seems likely to be necessary once again in just a few weeks.

#4 – Anita Earls’ Supreme Court victory is a very big deal.

It’s hard to imagine a more inspiring and important victory for progressives than voters’ selection of Anita Earls to an eight-year term on the state Supreme Court. Not only will North Carolinians enjoy the benefits having a brilliant and highly skilled exponent of civil and human rights, civil liberties and societal equality on the state’s highest court, the victory provides for a five-to-two Democratic court majority. This, in turn, forecloses the possibility that Berger and Moore could attempt to seize control of the Supreme Court through the passage of a lame duck session court packing law that would add two new GOP justices to the court.

#5 – The Washington profiles of Congressmen David Price and G.K. Butterfield just received a boost.

There is obviously a long list of important changes that will come about as the result of Democrats winning back control of the U.S. House of Representatives – not the least of which is the strong likelihood that investigations into the presidency and possible criminal behavior of President Donald Trump will get a lot more serious and soon.

From a more routine, day-today governance perspective, however, it should be noted that the shift boosts the profile of a lot of Democratic members who’ve languished in the minority for years, including two North Carolina veterans – David Price, who’s now on a path to become chairman of an important House Appropriations subcommittee and G.K. Butterfield who is set to become a higher profile member of the House Democratic leadership team. Both changes should prove beneficial to North Carolina.

Rob Schofield is director of NC Policy Watch, ncpolicywatch.com, where this article originally appeared.

MORE OPINIONS:

John Hood: Voters opt for split decision

Colin Campbell: GOP’s urban election failures and Democrats’ rural losses could hurt NC

You Decide: Can small towns make a comeback?

Currituck

Currituck-Knotts Island ferry route to suspend service Tuesday through Friday

Hyde

Hyde County Courthouse bell project made possible with community support

Crime

Newport News man arrested on charges related to Currituck County road rage incident

News

Sunday night wreck in Frisco results in fatality

News

Feeling sleepy? Bear cub takes a break at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

News

North Carolina gas prices fall slightly over past week

Lifestyles

Fishing on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Crime

North Carolina man charged with murder in drive-by shooting of teen girl

Hyde

Airplane flips after landing at Ocracoke airport

Crime

North Carolina police investigating drive-by shooting that claimed life of 12-year-old

Crime

Virginia man arrested for domestic assault in Rodanthe

News

William B. Umstead Bridge speed limit temporarily lowered for purple martins

Crime

Virginia man arrested in Nags Head after traffic stop

Lifestyles

Outer Banks Anglers Club to hear from artificial reef coordinator at next meeting

Crime

Former North Carolina resident sentenced to prison for bribery, visa fraud, tax charges

Hyde

Drone trial delivers supplies to Ocracoke Island

News

Comments open on proposed Buxton and Avon nourishment projects

Currituck

Shingle Landing Park opens in Moyock

News

Retired magistrate called back to active duty

Lifestyles

New bicycle exhibit opens at Roanoke Island Festival Park

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to five years in prison, three years of supervised release for firearm charge

Crime

Two men dead after interstate shooting in North Carolina

Lifestyles

Hundreds gather to witness release of two sea turtles at Coquina Beach

News

Major North Carolina hospital systems to require staff to get COVID-19 vaccine