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Talking about outcomes of key races in North Carolina

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North Carolina General Assembly building.

Taking a look at the outcomes in some of the key North Carolina races in the midterm elections, WFAE's Marshall Terry is joined by Jim Morrill, co-host of WFAE’s podcast, Inside Politics: Election 2022.

Marshall Terry: Well, first, did anything surprise you?

Jim Morrill: You know, I think overall it was kind of a mixed bag. You know, a lot of pundits here and across the country had predicted a red wave and in North Carolina, Republicans certainly won the races that were important to them. The U.S. Senate race where Ted Budd defeated Cheri Beasley and the Supreme Court race where they are going to take control of the Supreme Court by winning the two seats that were at stake last night. And they also won all four court of appeals state seats that were up for grabs yesterday, too. But the red wave, such as it was, sort of stopped at the congressional level, and Democrats sort of held their own there.

Terry: Well, let's talk about that U.S. Senate race that Ted Budd won. What did he do right to win?

Morrill: You know, he had his base and he won a lot of familiar counties. You know, if you look at the map, the red and blue map of North Carolina, it's pretty familiar. The urban areas stayed blue. I don't know whether it's so much what Ted Budd did right as what Cheri Beasley didn't do. She didn't appear to get the early vote that she needed in places like Mecklenburg and other places to win.

You know, Democrats have had a real hard go of it for this century. You know, Kay Hagan in 2008 was the only Democrat to win in the last 20, 23, 24 years. So it's a tough go for Democrats. And what Budd did do was pick up counties like Anson and Scotland counties, which had been going for Democrats in the past. He narrowly won those, but he won them.

Terry: How much of a factor was former President Trump's endorsement of him?

Morrill: Well, I think it was a big factor, especially in the primary. I think it sort of helped him beat Pat McCrory in the primary. The former governor. You know, and it kept his base together. And I don't think Budd did anything during the election that really alienated other more mainstream Republicans, who may not be big Trump fans, but he did enough to win. You know, he won with just over 50, I think, 51%. So, you know, it's still a purple state in some ways.

Terry: Well, let's look at some of the state-level races. Republicans missed a supermajority by one seat in the state House. They did gain a supermajority in the Senate, though. But is being one vote shy to override a veto in the House enough to keep Republican state leaders from doing what they want to do?

Morrill: You know, I think they're going to try to do what they want to do. I think they're going to push it on redistricting. And you'll see some abortion legislation come up during the next session. I'll tell you, there's going to be a lot of arm twisting in the House. You know, it's a very ... they may be one vote shy of a super majority, but they'll be trying to twist the arms of a lot of Democrats who they hope can they can get on their side. So if I were Roy Cooper, I would probably take a little deep breath this morning, but I wouldn't be too complacent going into the next session.

Terry: Now, you mentioned the state Supreme Court a moment ago, Republicans did win both seats that were on the ballot and now have a majority on the court. And now that was something Republican legislative leaders were really hoping to do. What issues do they expect this new court to be friendlier to?

Morrill: You know, I think a lot of issues, certainly redistricting. The Democratic-controlled court overturned a Republican redistricting plan and gave us the congressional districts that we used yesterday that allowed at least a couple Democrats to win. So redistricting, number one. And like I said, there will probably be some abortion legislation in the next General Assembly, and that could ultimately find its way to the Supreme Court as well. So it's very, you know, it's a very important victory for Republicans that way.

Terry: Jim, what else stood out to you in yesterday's election?

Morrill: You know, I looked at some of the congressional races in North Carolina that were expected to be where Democrats were expected to be swept aside in a red wave and they weren't. I'm talking about the 13th District in the Raleigh area where Wiley Nickel defeated Bo Hines. Hines had the support of President Trump, former President Trump, and was considered a, you know, somebody who could win in a wave election. And in the 1st District, Sandy Smith was a Republican in that district. And even though the district leans heavily Democratic, people thought she might have a chance in a wave election, too, but she also lost. So North Carolina was going to go into the next Congress with an evenly divided congressional delegation for the first time in years.

Terry: All right, Jim, we appreciate your take. Thanks for joining us this morning.

Morrill: Okay. Thank you, Marshall.

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Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.
Jim Morrill is a native of the Chicago area who's worked in the Carolinas since 1979. He covered politics and government for the Charlotte Observer for almost 40 years. He's won several press awards and in 1999 was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. He's taught about NC politics at UNC-Charlotte and Davidson College.