August 23, 2012The biggest race in North Carolina that nobody is talking about is the race for a North Carolina Supreme Court seat where North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby is being challenged by North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV.
What the ballot won't tell you, because the Democrats don't want you to know is that Newby is a Republican and Ervin, who is the grandson of Sen. Sam Ervin of Watergate fame, is a Democrat. Back when the people of North Carolina decided that Republicans made better judges and started elected Republicans to judicial seats all over the state, the Democrats who controlled the legislature and the governor's mansion decreed that judicial races would be nonpartisan. This was not considered necessary by the Democrats as long as they were winning the judicial races, but when Republicans started winning the Democrats decided that judicial elections should be nonpartisan.
The North Carolina Supreme Court is extremely partisan. Right now, despite all the efforts of the Democrats to do otherwise, the Republicans hold a four-to-three majority. Hot political issues invariably come down to party-line votes. The current redistricting done for the first time in over 100 years by the Republican Party will be before the court in the next session, and if Ervin is elected the Democrats will have a four-to three majority and the redistricting lines drawn by the Republicans to favor Republicans will most likely be thrown out the window. There are at least five other lawsuits over legislation passed by the Republican legislature that will come before the North Carolina Supreme Court, which means if the Democrats can win a majority on the state Supreme Court they can undo much of the reform the legislature passed. But the big one is redistricting because that goes a long way toward determining who will control the legislature for the next 10 years.
It certainly appears that Pat McCrory is likely to be elected governor. The voters realize what a horrible mistake they made in 2008 electing Gov. Beverly "Dumplin" Perdue, and what a detriment she has been to the state. Despite the example of former Gov. Mike Easley, who was convicted of a felony for his campaign finance shenanigans, Perdue's campaign was up to the same thing with one top aide pleading guilty to a felony and several others charged.
So it appears the voters of North Carolina in 2012, for the first time in over 100 years, are likely to elect a Republican majority in the state House and the state Senate, as well as a Republican governor.
It would be a clear sign from the people of North Carolina that they are not happy with the way the Democrats have been running the state and that it is time for a change. However, if Newby is not reelected and Republicans lose their majority on the state Supreme Court, much of what the legislature will do could be overturned after lawsuits work their way up the judicial ladder.
If Newby were running as a Republican and Ervin were running as a Democrat then the people of North Carolina, who are likely to pick a Republican governor and a majority of Republican legislators, would also be likely to pick Newby as the Republican Supreme Court judge.
But because of the way the Democrats have muddied the waters, people won't know what party the judges are in unless they know before they go to the polls. With such a long ballot and so many races, it will be easy for voters to be confused.
Also, a lot of folks vote straight party tickets. If this were a partisan race then all those that voted straight Democratic Party would go to Ervin and all those who voted straight Republican would go to Newby. But because it is nonpartisan, voters who only vote for the president and then vote a straight party will not have voted in one of the most important races on the ballot – the North Carolina Supreme Court race. Voters have to work their way to the end of the ballot to vote in this nonpartisan race, which is after all the partisan races.
The good news is that Republicans have formed a political action committee (PAC) for this race and are raising money to let people know how important it is for voters to make their way down the ballot and vote for the right North Carolina Supreme Court candidate.
Tom Fetzer, former mayor of Raleigh and former chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, has set up the PAC and is in the midst of fundraising.
Fetzer described the race as "the most important in the state that nobody is talking about." Much of what the PAC intends to do is educate voters about the importance of voting in the race and, of course, the importance of keeping the Republican majority on the court.
As a side note, this area fares pretty well on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Newby lives in Raleigh but grew up in Jamestown, Justice Robert Edmonds is from Greensboro, and Justice Robin Hudson grew up in Greensboro and went to Page High School.