Local News

Ruling Monday Will Determine Whether N.C. Primary Delayed

Posted February 9, 2004 6:38 a.m. EST

— North Carolina's election season was scheduled to begin Monday with candidates filing for office at noon. Instead, a delay is looming.

If a three-judge panel in the District of Columbia hasn't ruled by 10 a.m. -- that's when the state Board of Elections meets -- North Carolina's primary won't occur until summer. It's currently scheduled for May 4.

By law, the General Assembly must draw new legislative and congressional districts every 10 years to reflect population changes. It's a job that's proved especially difficult for North Carolina lawmakers over the past few years.

If the primary is delayed, it will mark the third time in six years that redistricting problems have postponed state elections. In 2002, the primary was postponed four months.

Elections board members have not decided when a rescheduled primary might be held.

Once the maps over legislative districtsare settled, Democrats and Republicans will slug it out for control of the legislative chambers, and statewide offices.

If the House remains closely divided between the two major parties, House Co-Speaker Richard Morgan could keep control of at least half the speakership. That's the prediction of John Hood, president of the conservative John Locke Foundation.

Hood also predicts that a wider Republican majority would lead to a new GOP leader.

Ted Arrington, a political scientist at UNC-Charlotte, says more significant changes may occur in the statewide offices just below the governor and lieutenant governor on the ballot.

Arrington says growing numbers of moderate Republicans moving from northern states to North Carolina metropolitan areas are the agents of that potential shift.