Who’s Running in NC Elections?


North Carolina has always been a swing state, but in recent years has trended red. Democrats are hoping to change that in 2020 and turn the state blue in every race. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Smith)

North Carolina’s deadline for candidates to file to run for any public office closed on December 20. The 2020 elections are shaping up to be one of the most critical elections in North Carolina history, with almost every important statewide race scheduled to be on the ballot. Democrats are looking to sweep the ballot, banking that with suburban trends and exponential growth in the state will make 2020 the tipping point for them.

In the North Carolina senate race, incumbent Senator Thom Tillis is running for re-election. Many analysts say that Tillis’ unwavering support for President Trump, in a state where the Presidents supports in consistently in the red, will hurt his re-election bid. Two main challengers have filed to run against him. The first is Cal Cunningham, an army veteran, and former state senator. The other is State Senator Erica D. Smith (D-Northampton), a former engineer, educator, and pastor.

Cunningham has gained many big endorsements such as the DSCC and former Senator Kay Hagan. Smith is running more of a progressive campaign and has polled well but has had poor fundraising numbers. The majority of pollsters rate this race as a toss-up. 

Democrats are going to most likely need to flip four senate seats to regain the majority, five if they lose the Presidency. Anyone on Capitol Hill will tell you that flipping North Carolina is essential to gaining back the majority for Democrats, and one of their most likely pick ups.

Roy Cooper became Governor in 2016 after defeating former Gov. McCrory by a slim margin, he is seeking another term in 2020. Cooper has two main Republican challengers, his Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, and State Representative Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), an army veteran. Cooper, however has consistently had high approval ratings and leads by large margins in head to head polls against both Forest and Grange. Most pollsters rate this race as leaning in Democrats favor.

Winning back the governorship is essential to Republicans in the General Assembly if they want full control with no restraints and key to stopping Democrats plans if the Democrats win back either chamber.

The majority of Leesville students live in North Carolina’s second congressional district. The incumbent Congressman George Holding (R-NC) is not running for re-election after redistricting has made the district much more Democratic. 

Two women are running to serve the second district, which takes up much of Wake County. The first is 2016 senate nominee Deborah Ross, a lawyer and former state representative. The other is Wake County school board member Monika Johnson-Hostler. Vote Mama, a PAC that supports women running while raising kids, and two of her fellow school board members have endorsed Johnson-Hostler. Whoever wins the primary in March is almost surely going to win the general election. 

The race for lieutenant governor is packed on both sides since Dan Forest is running for governor. This particular race has a whole fourteen candidates running, because it’s a fairly lax job, with good pay, and a great stepping stool to higher office. Big names on the Democrats side, big names include State Representatives Yvonne Lewis Holley (D-Wake) and Chaz Beasley (D-Mecklenburg), as well as State Senator Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe). Republicans have State Superintendent Mark Johnson, former US Representative Renee Ellmers, and State Senator Andy Wells (R-Catawba). This race is a toss-up.

The lieutenant governorship, just like the vice president, is a tiebreaker vote. If Republicans win and hold on to the office, they can break ties to favor their side, and vice versa for Democrats. If Democrats tie it up in the state senate in 2020, which is looking very possible for them, both sides want to have the tie breaking vote.

The attorneys general race was a bright spot in 2016 for North Carolina Democrats, after State Representative Josh Stein won the office to hold the seat for his party. Stein is up for re-election again in 2020 against three formidable Republican opponents. They include Sam Hayes, a lawyer in the state treasurer’s office, Forsyth County district attorney Jim O’Neill, and Christine Mumma, director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, an association focused on freeing wrongfully convicted inmates. This race leans in Democrats favor as Stein is a powerful incumbent.

If Republicans flip the attorney general’s office, it will be the first time in around a hundred years that a Republican has been elected to this position. Stein has focused his tenure on issues such as ending the untested rape kit backlog, ending robocalls, and protecting the Affordable Care Act in North Carolina. 

The 2020 election is going to be a dramatic election for both parties in North Carolina. Democrats could win back the general assembly for the first time in a decade, giving them a say in redistricting, a very powerful tool. Republicans could flip the governorship and create a trifecta in the state, or make history by flipping the attorney general’s office. It’s anyone’s game in 2020, more money will be spent here than ever before. Some elections are decided by less than fifty votes, please make your voice heard and vote if you can in 2020. 



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