Each week, staff at Carolina Journal looks back at the week in N.C. politics and chooses several interesting, relevant stories you may have missed.
Moving forward: Despite a failed bid for state superintendent, Jen Mangrum, a Democrat, still has her sights on a future in education policy. In a Facebook post, Mangrum signaled her desire to join the State Board of Education. She could take Board Chair Eric Davis’ seat when his term expires in March. Gov. Roy Cooper isn’t likely to reappoint Davis, a former Gov. Pat McCrory appointee, said Terry Stoops, vice president of research and director of education studies at the John Locke Foundation. Alternatively, she could replace Vice Chair Alan Duncan if he decides not to vie for reappointment in March, Stoops said. If the state education board doesn’t work out, Mangrum might have a place in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. She said her name was mentioned in talks for assistant secretary of education under Biden, the Insider reported. “Should I be considered for a position, whether on the state or national level would be an honor,” Mangrum told the Insider.
Cunningham concedes: Democratic U.S. Senate contender Cal Cunningham has seen the writing on the wall. Cunningham conceded defeat to Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, on Nov. 10 – a week after the election. “The voters have spoken, and I respect their decision,” he said in a statement. Tillis leads Cunningham with more than 95,000 votes. The Democratic Party had pinned their hopes on taking control of the U.S. Senate with the help of a Cunningham victory. Despite significantly outraising his competitor, Cunningham failed to come out on top. But an October surprise in the form of an extramarital affair certainly did Cunningham no favors.
New blood: Democrats failed to retake the House, while Republicans made small gains. Democratic minority leader, Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, is shouldering the blame for the disappointing night. He won’t seek reelection to his leadership position. “I do take responsibility, of course, for us not picking up seats,” Jackson told WRAL. “We’ve got a lot of leaders in our caucus, and it’s time to give somebody else a chance.” Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham, is in the running for the leadership position, WRAL reported.
Voter turnout: A whopping 75% of registered N.C. voters voted in the 2020 election, surpassing the turnout of the past three general elections. The State Board of Elections announced that as of 5 a.m., Nov. 13, 893,500 ballots were cast on Election Day, 3,626,987 ballots were cast at early voting sites, and 1,001,300 absentee ballots were sent through the mail. Election officials are still counting absentee and provisional ballots, but are expected to finish on Nov. 13.
Ready, Set, App!: Gov. Roy Cooper wants N.C. teens to sign up for the Ready, Set, App! Competition by Nov. 30. The competition allows groups of high school students to compete, developing the best Android mobile app to help fix a local school or community problem. Lenovo and the North Carolina Business Committee for Education host the annual competition. The competition is a great opportunity for high school students to develop their technical skills, Cooper said in a news release. Winning teams will get prizes from Lenovo. There is no cost to sign up for the competition.