U.S. Senate: Cheri Beasley 

For the first time in almost a decade, North Carolinians have a fighting chance at electing a senator who actually cares about us. We do not want to mess this one up.

The INDY unflinchingly endorses Cheri Beasley, a former chief justice of the state supreme court, whose sensible-yet-spirited approach to leadership will play a pivotal role not only in passing key legislation—her priorities include expanding Medicare, protecting reproductive freedoms, and improving housing affordability—but in steadying our country’s teetering democracy.

In her two decades on the bench, Beasley ruled with an even hand while acknowledging—and taking steps to combat—the entrenched inequities of the criminal justice system, and during her senatorial campaign, she has shown to be principled and hardworking, standing by her promise to not accept corporate PAC donations and engaging with voters in every county in the state.

“She is independent and bold, even in the face of colleagues who say, ‘That’s not the way I see it,’” Patricia Timmons-Goodson, a retired NC Supreme Court justice, told the INDY last month.

Beasley’s opponent, on the other hand, raises more red flags than a matador convention. In his six years as a U.S. congressman, Ted Budd, who is endorsed by Donald Trump, has consistently voted and behaved in ways that benefit his corporate backers while harming his central North Carolinian constituents, and he recently cosponsored a nationwide abortion ban that would violate the basic human rights of millions of people.

A gun store owner in an era marked by mass shootings, and a Trump endorsee in a country still reeling from the January 6 insurrection, Budd’s platform and voting record are incongruous with the needs of our nation; his time in Congress must come to an end.

U.S. House 2: Deborah Ross

When Deborah Ross was first elected to the U.S. House in 2020, she became the first Democratic Party candidate elected in over a decade to represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

The civil rights lawyer was first elected in 2002 to serve in the NC House, where she worked to protect voting rights, provide access to affordable housing, and raise the minimum wage for state employees. The incumbent lists her top priorities as lowering prescription drug prices, pursuing racial justice under the law, investing in infrastructure, and combating climate change.

Republican challenger Christine Villaverde promises to fight any taxpayer initiative to expand abortion and says that “progressives have imposed a destructive Critical Race Theory curriculum” that “attempts to rewrite history” and indoctrinates students with “toxic messaging” that divides the country.

CRT isn’t taught in North Carolina’s public schools, but hey, never let the truth get in the way of a divisive political campaign.

U.S. House 4: Valerie Foushee

An Orange County native with over two decades of experience in public office, state senator Valerie Foushee has vowed that she will work to enhance equity in education, reform the criminal justice system, expand healthcare access, and combat environmental racism if elected to the U.S. House—and based on her record of fighting for progressive rights as a school board member, county commissioner, and state legislator, we believe her. The INDY endorses Foushee as the best candidate to fill Rep. David Price’s vacant seat.

We do have some qualms with Foushee’s acceptance of $2.4 million in Super PAC contributions in the months leading up to the May primary. The INDY plans to monitor whether Foushee’s corporate backers have an undue influence on the way she votes in Congress and encourages our readers to do the same.

But Foushee is far and away the better candidate than her challenger, nurse Courtney Geels. Geels has no political experience and wants to defund Planned Parenthood, eliminate vaccine mandates in healthcare facilities, and other nonsense.

U.S. House 13: Wiley Nickel

Of all the congressional contests in the country this November, this race—which will be decided by swing voters in District 13’s rural battleground—is one of the few true toss-ups and will play a major role in determining the balance of power in the U.S. House.

The INDY endorses Wiley Nickel, a state senator and criminal defense attorney who worked as a White House staffer for Barack Obama. While some of Nickel’s stances are a bit moderate for our taste, his voting record in the General Assembly is solidly progressive, as are his priorities for Congress, which include funding community safety programs and improving housing affordability.

Nickel’s opponent, Trump-endorsed political newcomer Bo Hines, is hard to take seriously (if you missed his “banana republic” gaffe, look it up)—but he’s dangerous nonetheless. Hines has supported a total ban on abortion with no exceptions and touts a host of other far-right stances that are out of step with the ideals of most North Carolinians.

NC Supreme Court Justice, Seat 3: Lucy Inman

For Seat 3, the INDY endorses Lucy Inman, a one-term appellate court judge who has received a slew of endorsements from retired jurists across the political spectrum. Inman has authored more than 500 court opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions that the state Supreme Court has adopted. Inman also has experience as a trial judge, working in courthouses across the state. We see Inman to be an incisive, even-handed judge and trust her to uphold the constitutional rights of North Carolinians.

Inman is running against her appellate court benchmate Justice Richard Dietz. In his eight years as an appellate judge, Dietz has never written a dissenting opinion, which he attributes to his “consensus building” skills. But that makes us worry that Dietz won’t speak up if other Supreme Court justices try to take our rights away.

Inman is the better candidate with more, and more diverse, judicial experience.

NC Supreme Court Justice, Seat 5: Sam J. Ervin IV

Sam J. Ervin IV was elected to the state’s highest court in 2014. He says that his judicial philosophy is centered on fairness. Ervin says voters can choose judges who are fair and impartial or a court system that’s little more than a partisan political institution. “I decided to run for re-election because I believe that you deserve a Supreme Court where every case is decided based solely on the law and the facts,” Ervin says on his campaign website, “not on a judge’s partisan politics or ideological beliefs.” Ervin’s challenger, Curtis “Trey” Allen is a Robeson County native, Marine Corps veteran, and law professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. Allen says that he is a constitutional originalist and without an ounce of irony asserts on his campaign website: “When judges issue rulings based on their political views they exceed their authority and abuse the public’s trust.”

NC Court of Appeals, Seat 8: Carolyn Thompson

Carolyn J. Thompson amassed over two decades on the bench and presided over thousands of cases as a district and superior court judge. “Each case deserved and received my thoughtful preparation, respect and knowledge of the law,” she states on her website. Thompson points to her record as an attorney representing victims of domestic violence and, as district court judge, changing the court calendar so that domestic violence cases could be heard separately from other civil cases. Thompson says she is “committed to serving with integrity, fairness, and impartiality.” Her opponent Julee Flood is native of Florida who moved to North Carolina in 2003. Flood, who cofounded with her husband a “multistate veterinary business,” says her judicial philosophy is rooted in fairness. She believes in judicial restraint, consistency in applying the law, and adhering to the original language of the state and federal constitutions “as originally written and understood.”

NC Court of Appeals, Seat 9: Brad Salmon

Late last year, Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Brad Salmon to serve as district court judge to Judicial District 11, which covers Johnston, Harnett, and Lee Counties. “Brad Salmon has demonstrated leadership skills and legal knowledge throughout his career,” Cooper stated. Salmon was a member of the NC House in 2015–16. He sponsored bills on behalf of military veterans coping with posttraumatic stress and to protect the elderly from exploitation. Salmon is challenging incumbent Donna Stroud, who was first elected in 2006. Stroud describes herself on her campaign website as “NC’s first conservative to serve as Chief Justice on the Nc Court of Appeals.” Stroud promises to continue her work of “enforcing the law as it is written and upholding the Constitutions of the United States and North Carolina.”

NC Court of Appeals, Seat 10: Gale Adams

Last year in May, state and national news outlets reported that state appeals court incumbent John Marsh Tyson had been summoned to court in Cumberland County after he was accused of aiming his sports utility vehicle at Black Lives Matter protesters in downtown Fayetteville. One month later, charges were dismissed against Tyson, who was last elected to the court of appeals in 2014 and had previously won election in 2000 but was not reelected in 2008. Challenger Gale Adams says she was raised in the tobacco fields of Warren County and worked multiple jobs to pay her way through law school. She went on to serve in the armed forces as a judge advocate general and later as a private attorney, assistant prosecutor, and federal public defender before she was elected in 2012 to serve as resident senior judge in Cumberland County. “Then and now, I approach cases carefully and thoughtfully with the resolve to render a fair and equitable decision for all concern,” she states on her website.

NC Court of Appeals, Seat 11: Darren Jackson

Former NC House minority leader Darren Jackson was appointed to a state court of appeals seat that was left vacant when Phil Berger Jr. was elected to the state supreme court. Jackson has garnered endorsements from the NC Association of Educators, the NC Association of Women Attorneys, and the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Jackson, on his campaign website, says that he has written at least 11 dissents during his brief tenure with the state court of appeals. “Although writing a dissent often means more work for me and my staff, I think it’s important that when I disagree with the majority opinion to express why I believe that,” states Jackson, who adds that a dissent from the court of appeals also provides the losing party the right to file an appeal with the state supreme court. Jackson’s challenger Michael Stadling is a former Mecklenburg County prosecutor, district court judge, and current judge advocate officer with the U.S. Air Force. In February, Stadling also reported in his year-end report that he had raised $171,306, a total that his website describes as “a modern record in state history.” With endorsements from the NC Police Benevolent Association and the NC Fraternal Order of Police, Stadling says he will uphold the Constitution, defend law and order, and protect American values.

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