- "Republicans have developed a second issue, and Democrats haven’t, and for Republicans that issue is crime,” said Jim Blaine, The Differentiators
Some solidly held Democrat seats in the state House and Senate in North Carolina may be at risk in this November’s General Election.
“Recent polling has shown a shift in public opinion in favor of Republicans,” said Dr. Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity at the John Locke Foundation. “They indicated that Republicans are on pace to get 3-5 percent higher than average this year. If that continues through election day, Republicans will almost certainly gain a supermajority in the Senate.”
Jackson said several seats that are usually safe for Democrats might come into play, including the seat currently held by outgoing Democratic incumbent Sen. Kirk deViere, Cumberland, in District 19. deViere was defeated by Val Applewhite in the primary and will face off against Republican Wesley Meredith, who previously held the seat before deViere.
deViere was popular with moderate voters but lost the backing of Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper after he helped broker the budget deal with Republicans. if Meredith wins, it could be a sound repudiation of Cooper.
Jackson noted that something similar happened to Democrats in Cumberland County in 2020 when a progressive Cooper-back candidate, Kimberly Hardy, defeated incumbent moderate Elmer Floyd in the primary but lost to a Republican, Diane Wheatley, in the general election.
Similar prospects are looking likely in the House as well.
“Recent polling indicates Republicans have a seven-point advantage in the state generic legislative ballot, giving Republicans a solid chance of retaking supermajorities this year,” said Jim Stirling, research fellow at the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Center for Public Integrity. “The most likely path to a supermajority for them would be taking 14 of the 19 toss-up and lean Democratic seats.”
He said many of the seats that Republicans could potentially pick up sit just outside North Carolina’s urban centers or Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro.
One such seat is that of incumbent House Minority Leader Robert Reives. Stirling and others say that, despite his name recognition and fundraising abilities as an incumbent and House minority leader, he is still only in a D+4 district. This means he will likely need to spend more money and time campaigning to secure his seat rather than helping his fellow House Democrats.
Races to keep an eye on include; In District 48, incumbent Democratic Rep. Garland Pierce, Scotland, will match up against Melissa Swarbrick. Democrat incumbent Rep. Terry Garrison, Vance, is challenged by Republican Frank Sossamon in District 32.
Also in the mix is the race in District 24 between Democrat incumbent Rep. Linda Suggs, Wilson, and Republican Ken Fontenot. District 25 has incumbent Democratic Rep. James Gailliard, Nash, Republican Allen Chesser II, and Libertarian Nicholas Taylor in a three-way race. In District 5, it’s Democrat incumbent Rep. Howard Hunter III of Hertford, vs. Republican Bill Ward.
Experts say that the races for Suggs, Galliard, and Hunter look problematic for Democrats in early voting, and at least one of those seats may flip to Republicans.
Jim Blaine of The Differentiators, said that while the Democrats and their base are focused solely on abortion, Republicans are focusing on inflation and another key issue.
“I think the thing that’s happened, in the last four to six weeks is that Republicans have developed a second issue, and Democrats haven’t, and for Republicans that issue is crime,” said Blaine. “The Republicans are more trusted by voters on the crime issue right now, so that gives them a second prong in their messaging strategy instead of just inflation, inflation, inflation all the time. The Democrats have been unable or unwilling, or maybe feel it’s unnecessary to develop a set of messaging beyond abortion, and my suspicion is, particularly in some of these rural districts, that abortion alone is just not going to be enough to win for the Democrats.”