Now that candidate filing period for the 2024 elections has closed, we now have a first glimpse at what the 2024 elections will look like in North Carolina.
While the 2024 General Election is still more than 10 months off, candidates involved in critical primary contests, are now on a short clock. Once the holidays are over, there are just 65 days from Jan. 2 to March 5 to raise money, meet voters, campaign, and get out the vote.
You have to tip your hat to newly elected state Democratic Party chair Anderson Clayton. The 25 year old rode a wave of activist discontent to become the youngest elected party chair in America. Clayton has focused on rebuilding Democratic Party efforts in rural North Carolina, including candidate recruitment.
In 2022, Democrats left 14 of 50 seats uncontested in the Senate and 30 of 120 uncontested in the House. This year, under Clayton’s leadership, Democrats managed to field candidates in 168 of North Carolina’s 170 legislative districts.
It is the passing of a major test for Clayton. The ultimate test is if she and Democrats increase vote share in the 80 of 100 mostly rural counties NC Democrats lost in 2022. But fielding candidates is the first step. Yet somewhat surprising, Democrats did not field candidates in two of the state’s 14 congressional districts. US Rep. Greg Murphy, R-NC3, only has a Libertarian opponent in the race, and the eventual GOP nominee in NC-6 in the Triad area, will not have a General Election opponent.
Republicans did file in all 14 Congressional Districts but declined to field candidates in the most heavily, almost certain-to-be Democrat state legislative districts. Republicans left unopposed eight of 50 state Senate districts and 25 of 120 NC House districts.
In total, Republicans filed in 31 fewer legislative seats than Democrats. However, Republicans have the upper hand in districts they just reconfigured. Republicans focused on getting the right candidates in their open and newly competitive seats and are pleased with the results.
Republican state Sen. Jim Perry, R-Lenoir — the Senate majority whip — had previously announced plans to seek another term but said in December that he won’t run next year.
A couple of other notes. Some candidates trying to move into or up the ladder in statewide office caught fortunate breaks.
Congressman Dan Bishop will represent the GOP in the State Attorney General’s race. He avoided a primary, as did Judge Jefferson Griffin who will be the GOP nominee for state Supreme Court. Democrats have primary contests on the other side of these races. But Democrats Jessica Holmes (for auditor) and Braxton Winston (for Labor commissioner) also are avoiding primary contestants.
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, state Treasurer Dale Folwell, and Salisbury attorney Bill Graham will vie for the GOP nomination for governor. Attorney General Josh Stein will face four opponents in the Democratic primary for governor, including former NC Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan.
Republicans will have large and unwieldy primary contests for lieutenant governor — where 12 candidates filed — and in the new 13th Congressional District — where 14 candidates filed for office in a district heavily favoring the GOP primary winner. The Eighth Congressional District, which runs from Charlotte to I-95 along North Carolina’s southern boarder, will have a total of six Republicans in this open seat in a ruby red district.
While the GOP races for lieutenant governor and in congressional districts 6, 8, and 13 have a good chance of going to a runoff election, North Carolina Republicans in the First Congressional District will select between two candidates on March 5. The contest has previous NC-1 GOP nominee Sandy Smith facing retired US Army combat commander and Edenton resident Laurie Buckhout. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Don Davis in North Carolina’s only swing congressional race.