The North Carolina Supreme Court races this year have gotten a little interesting and with the Republicans finally having control over the legislature and Governors mansion, the Democrats likely are turning their sights on a way influence the final stop on what seems to be a steadily chugging conservative train ride: The Courts.
There has been some musical chairs and surprises in these races. First let’s look at the candidates. I’m including the Justice positions here, not the court of appeals.
The Races – Primary
The Races – No Primary
- NC Supreme Court Chief Justice – Mark Martin, Ola Lewis
- NC Supreme Court Associate Justice – Sam J. Ervin IV, Bob Hunter Jr.
- NC Supreme Court Associate Justice – Cheri Beasley*, Mike Robinson
In the Associate Justice race containing Levinson, Hudson and Doran, the insertion of Doran seems to have come at a surprise. Hudson is one of the 3 Democrats on the court. Cheri Beasley and Chief Justice Sarah Parker are the other two. Parker is forced to retire, by law, this year in August at age 72. Doran’s entry here will force a primary to occur in that race so that the selection is narrowed to two candidates. NC law states that judicial candidates are to run in non-partisan races. NC law also says that when three or more candidates file for the same seat, there has to be a primary election in order to reduce the number to two candidates.
Given there are three candidates (Levinson, Hudson, Doran), an elimination of one of them will happen by primary. With two Republican backed candidates in this race, turn out of Republican voters will be higher and perhaps push Hudson right out of the race in the primary. To restate, it is feasible that Doran and Levinson could knock Hudson out during the primary as Hudson seems to have little name recognition despite serving six years. The Left and the News and Observer have tried to make hay out of Doran’s entry into the race since she works for the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law (NCICL). Why? Because… the Left’s got to have their boogey man, Art Pope.
In the Associate Justice race with incumbent Cheri Beasley, she faces Mike Robinson. Beasley was a Perdue appointment. In order to retain her seat, Beasley has to run for re-election this year. Beasley was apparently supposed to have one challenger – Ola Lewis. It appears that when Mike Robinson entered the race, Ola Lewis decided to hop out of that race. Lewis instead decided to challenge Mark Martin for the Chief Justice spot — a race which if Martin was running alone in as Chief Justice Parker was ending due to legal restrictions on age limit. In the next installment, we’ll take a closer look at why that swap by Ola Lewis might have taken place and what it means.
Update: Thank you to Carolina Plott Hound for linking!