Part I reviewed how NCAE-endorsed candidates performed in Council of State, federal and statewide Judicial races. This article reviews how NCAE-endorsed candidates did in legislative House and Senate races.
To recap part I, NCAE-endorsed candidates won just 9 of 29 races for Council of State, federal offices and statewide judicial races. Their win tally includes 4 of 10 Council of State races, no statewide judicial elections (0 for 8) and 5 of 10 congressional races (NCAE only endorsed 10 of 13 congressional races). While two North Carolina congressional districts flipped from having Republican to Democratic representation, both Republican incumbents cited redistricting as one of the factors in their decision not to seek re-election. Most importantly, however, of the 29 races listed, not a single incumbent Republican was defeated by a candidate endorsed by NCAE.
Let’s now turn our attention to elections for North Carolina state House and Senate.
NCAE and House Elections
Every two years, the North Carolina House of Representatives holds elections for all 120 members. Currently, the House is comprised of 65 Republicans and 55 Democrats. To win majority control of the House, Democrats needed to flip six seats.
It didn’t happen. Instead of picking up seats, Democrats lost four seats to Republicans. When the General Assembly reconvenes in 2021, the House will be comprised of 69 Republicans and 51 Democrats.
Of the 120 legislators who won state House elections, 51 had been endorsed by NCAE, 50 of 51 Democratic winners and 1 of the 69 Republican winners.
NCAE helped to flip two Republican House seats. Republicans Steven Ross and Perin Jones both lost their seats to Democrats endorsed by NCAE. However, to the surprise of many, Republican candidates beat six Democrats, including five incumbents (Sydney Batch, Scott Brewer, Ray, Russell, Christy Clark and Joe Sam Queen). The other Republican win was a victory over Democrat Kimberly Hardy, who defeated incumbent Elmer Floyd in the primary. All five incumbent Democratic legislators, along with Kimberly Hardy had endorsements from the NCAE.
NCAE supported 50 Democratic winners and one Republican winner. However, of the Democratic winners, only two candidates endorsed by NCAE beat Republican incumbents. Conversely, of the 69 Republican candidates, 68 were not endorsed by NCAE. Six of those candidates beat Democratic candidates, who had the endorsement of NCAE.
How did these elections go for NCAE? Simply stated, Republican candidates not endorsed by the NCAE flipped three times as many races as Democratic candidates endorsed by the progressive advocacy group.
NCAE and Senate Elections
The news was not much different in the state Senate. Election day began with the Senate having 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats. NCAE was hoping to flip 5 seats. When voting was complete however, Democrats flipped two seats; Republicans flipped one. When all the spending and jockeying was done, Republicans still controlled the Senate. The new total is Republicans 28; Democrats 22. Republicans lost one seat in the upper chamber.
So, what exactly happened? Democrats picked up John Alexander’s seat in Wake County. Alexander decided not to run again largely because redistricting made it a district much more favorable to Democrats. The winner, Sarah Crawford, was endorsed by NCAE. In addition, Democrats also picked up the former Senate seat of Rob Bryan who also decided not to run because of redistricting. The Democrat winner, DeAndrea Salvador, was also endorsed by NCAE. Those gains were offset by Republican Mike Lee’s victory over incumbent Democrat Harper Peterson in the 9th District.
Except for the changes stated, Republican incumbents successfully defended their seats against NCAE endorsed candidates. Moreover, Republican candidates successfully defended Republican seats against Democrats endorsed by NCAE. Likewise, however, again with the exceptions noted, Democrat incumbents backed by NCAE successfully held on to Democrat seats.
If we look at winners, 24 of the 50 winners elected to the state Senate received an endorsement from NCAE. This includes 22 Democrats and two Republicans. Only three seats flipped: two Republican seats, one Democrat seat.
For all the talk about flipping seats and changing players to create a House and Senate more consistent with the views of NCAE members and leadership, very little changed. NCAE endorsed candidates helped to flip two seats in the House. Still, Republicans flipped six Democrat seats. In the Senate, two NCAE friendly Democrats flipped Republican seats. While one Republican defeated a Democrat endorsed by the NCAE.
With four new Republicans in the House, it’s likely the chamber may be even less hospitable to the NCAE. The Senate has one more Democrat endorsed by NCAE. What the results say about NCAE and its political influence is another topic. Waning political influence usually goes together with an organization that has been bleeding members for years. NCAE invested a lot to reverse those trends and flex its muscle once again. The effort failed to produce the political change the organization worked so hard to achieve.