Nov 9, 2022 - News

Cooper holds onto veto power, barely

Photo illustration of the North Carolina State Capitol over a divided red and blue background with elements of ballots.

Yes, we know this is the North Carolina State Capitol, and that the legislature doesn't legislate out of this building anymore. Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Rolf Schulten/Getty Images

The highly anticipated "red wave" expected to hit North Carolina Tuesday night turned out to be more of a ripple, serving as a reminder of the complexities of this swing state's politics.

  • While Republican Ted Budd defeated Democrat Cheri Beasley in the U.S. Senate race, and the GOP took several key state legislative races, their gains in the state legislature were less than they hoped.
  • Meanwhile, Democrats gained a seat in the U.S. House, and held firm in local races in Wake County.

Driving the news: Republicans appear to have picked up a supermajority in the state Senate, claiming 30 seats to Democrats' 20, and they snatched the highly coveted majority on the state Supreme Court.

  • They fell short, however, of seizing a supermajority in the state House.

Why it matters: This means that Gov. Roy Cooper is able to hold onto his veto power, which is key if Republicans decide to pass legislation like further restrictions on abortion.

Between the lines: A handful of moderate Democrats who have broken with their party in recent years won re-election, an indicator that the House may still have the votes to override Cooper’s veto.

The big picture: Republicans successfully won both state Supreme Court seats on the ballot this year, flipping it from a 4-3 Democratic majority to a 5-2 Republican majority — a win that will massively help the party further their agenda in North Carolina.

  • Republican Trey Allen defeated incumbent associate justice Sam Ervin IV, and Republican Richard Dietz beat Democrat Lucy Inman in the race for an open seat.
  • The new court will decide the fate of gerrymandering challenges, funding in K-12 education, guns, abortion and other cases that come before it in the coming years.

Details: In the state Senate, Democrats maintained their hold on three important races: two in Wake County with state Sen. Sydney Batch and Mary Wills Bode and one in Fayetteville, with Cooper's handpicked candidate, Val Applewhite.

  • Democrats lost two seats — in New Hanover and in the northeastern corner of the state.
  • And Republicans swept numerous eastern North Carolina legislative races held by Black incumbents, including state Sen. Toby Fitch and state Reps. Terry Garrison and Howard Hunter.

The bottom line: It won't be any easier — or harder — for issues like medical marijuana or sports betting to pass the General Assembly come January.


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