NC House, Senate remain under Republican control
Posted November 3, 2020 9:00 p.m. EST
Updated November 4, 2020 7:42 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Republicans maintained their majorities in the state House and Senate following Tuesday's elections, but failed to restore the veto-proof majorities they held for most of the last decade.
Democrats needed to flip six House seats and five Senate seats to gain control of those chambers, but failed on both counts. They picked up one Senate seat, moving the split to 28-22 in favor of Republicans, but they actually lost a net total of four House seats and now face a 69-51 deficit in the chamber.
In the Senate, Democrats picked up the two redrawn districts they were expected to win in Wake and Mecklenburg counties, but Sen. Harper Peterson, D-New Hanover, lost his rematch with former Sen. Michael Lee.
In the House, Democrats lost a total of six seats: Reps. Sydney Batch, D-Wake, Scott Brewer, D-Richmond, Christy Clark, D-Mecklenburg, Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood, and Ray Russell, D-Watauga, all lost their re-election bids. The seat held by Rep. Elmer Floyd, D-Cumberland, who lost in the March primary, also went to a Republican.
However, Democrats appear to have picked up two new districts currently held by Reps. Perrin Jones, R-Pitt, and Steve Ross, R-Alamance, leaving the party with an unofficial net loss of four House seats.
Republican legislative leaders said Wednesday that their gains are proof that North Carolina voters favor their agenda of low taxes, limited spending and school choice.
"For the sixth consecutive election, voters made a clear choice in support of the Republican platform," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said at a news conference.
"What I was seeing, consistently out there, the energy around the state, was a lot of enthusiasm for Republicans up and down the ticket," House Speaker Tim Moore said. "[Voters] know the policies we've put in place are working."
Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, who is one of the campaign chairs for the House Democrats, was disappointed by the results, saying that Republican voters were more enthusiastic than Democrats and more likely to vote for their candidates all the way down the ballot.
The GOP legislature and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper have been at such an impasse in recent years over issues such as Medicaid expansion and business tax cuts that state has gone without a budget for two years.
"I hope over the next two years we see a departure from the divisive partisan lawsuits that have hamstrung attempts at good-faith negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in the legislature and the executive branch," Berger, R-Rockingham, said.
Meyer said he doesn't expect positions to soften that would allow more compromise.
"This last session was our least productive session in a long time, and Gov. Cooper vetoed 25 bills, none of which got overridden," Meyer said. "Given that both chambers still have the ability to sustain a governor's veto, I think we see a lot of stalemate over the next two years."
With the majority, Republicans will control the redistricting process in which the voting districts for congressional and legislative districts are redrawn based on 2020 census data. Berger and Moore, R-Cleveland, noted that the GOP continues to win under maps drawn with Democratic approval.
Courts have repeatedly tossed republican-drawn voting maps in recent years and forced redraws to eliminate racial and partisan gerrymanders.
"I hope this puts an end to the decade-long saga of redistricting lawsuits," Berger said.
"The reality is," Moore added, "the voters of this state chose to have a Republican majority in the state Senate and in the state House. Every time these groups want to come in and try to attack, they're really insulting those voters, frankly. They're not respecting the will of the voters."
Here's a look at some key House and Senate races:
House District 7
The district, which covers Franklin and Nash counties, is an open seat after Republican Rep. Lisa Stone Barnes ran for state Senate. Republican Matthew Winslow had 59 percent of the vote, while Democrat Phil Stover had 41 percent.
House District 43
Republican Diane Wheatley had 52 percent of the vote to Democrat Kimberly Hardy’s 48 percent for the Cumberland County seat formerly held by Democratic Rep. Elmer Floyd. Hardy beat Floyd in the March primary, but the seat now shifts to the GOP.
House District 98
Rep. Christy Clark, D-Mecklenburg, appears to have lost her bid for re-election to Republican Johnny Ray Bradford, 48-52 percent. The election was a rematch of the 2018 race that Clark won by 415 votes.
House District 119
Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood, also lost his bid for re-election to Republican Mike Clampitt, a former state lawmaker, 46-54 percent. This is the fifth time they have run against each other, with Queen winning three of the four previous matchups.
Senate District 11
Barnes won the seat covering Nash County and part of Johnston County, which was left open after Sen. Rick Horner, R-Nash, didn't seek re-election. Barnes finished with 55 percent to Democratic former lawmaker Allen Wellons' 45 percent in a race marked by intensely negative ads funded by groups not associated with either candidate.
Senate District 18
Democrat Sarah Crawford defeated Republican Larry Newman 52-44 percent in the redrawn district that covers Franklin County and northeast Wake County. Sen. John Alexnader, R-Wake, formerly held the seat but didn't seek re-election after the district changed.
Senate District 24
Republican Amy Galey defeated Democrat J.D. Wooten 53-47 percent in the seat left open after Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, didn't seek re-election. In addition to Alamance County, the district includes part of Guilford County.
Senate District 31
Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, was re-elected by a 53-47 percent margin over Democrat Terri LeGrand. The district covers all of Davie County and part of Forsyth County.
Senate District 39
Democrat DeAndrea Salvador defeated Republican Joshua Niday 62-38 percent, flipping a district previously held by Republican 9th District Congressman Dan Bishop.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect unofficial results as of 9:00 AM November 4th.