The old saw tells us that absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Republicans have held absolute power on Jones Street since 2013, for the last two years by virtue of illegitimate supermajorities won through unconstitutional gerrymanders. Democrats need to net six Senate seats or four House seats to overcome the supermajority, eliminate the GOP’s ability to override Governor Cooper’s vetoes at will, and make the Republicans’ power something less than absolute.
State Senate, District 14: Dan Blue
Dan Blue, the only African American to ever be speaker of the state House, has served in the Senate since 2009 and has been the minority leader since 2014. An accomplished and respected lawmaker, Blue has served Wake County with distinction. His opponent, Sandy Andrews, is half of a married couple running to unseat legislative Democrats. We don’t know much about Andrews beyond that she is a media specialist for McClatchy and got a DUI in 2005. Blue deserves another term.
State Senate, District 15: Jay Chaudhuri
Jay Chaudhuri was elected to the state Senate in 2016, when he ran to replace Josh Stein, now the attorney general. In his first two years, Chaudhuri has distinguished himself as a champion of public education and abortion rights. He also voted against HB 142, the halfhearted effort to replace HB 2 that still prevents local governments from passing antidiscrimination ordinances. His Republican opponent, Alan David Michael, isn’t mounting much of a challenge.
State Senate, District 16: Wiley Nickel
We didn’t endorse Wiley Nickel in the Democratic primary, but we were impressed with his background working in the Obama administration and for former Vice President Al Gore, his ability to raise money, and his thoughtful approach to policymaking. His Republican opponent, Paul Smith—whose campaign Facebook page has nine “likes”—is a self-proclaimed “Christian conservative” and antiabortion activist. Nickel is going to win, and he’ll do so with our support.
State Senate, District 17: Sam Searcy
There are worse Republicans in the legislature than Tamara Barringer, who has served in the state Senate since 2013. Her work on behalf of the foster care system has been admirable, and in 2017 the American Conservative Union rated her the worst Republican in the Senate, which should be a badge of honor. But she’s also voted to allow magistrates to discriminate against gay couples, and though she was the first Republican to call for a repeal of HB 2, that doesn’t change the fact that she voted for it in the first place.
Democrats view this southwest Wake County seat as critical in their campaign to overcome the GOP supermajority. Their candidate is Sam Searcy, who cofounded Greybeard Distillery. Searcy stakes out progressive positions on school funding, forming a nonpartisan redistricting commission, and expanding Medicaid. He also wants to restore the cap on charter schools, hold Duke Energy responsible for its coal ash spills, and better regulate the pork industry. In this race, he’s the better choice.
State Senate, District 18: Mack Paul
Senator John Alexander currently represents District 15, but redistricting moved him into District 18, which includes northern Wake County and a piece of Raleigh. The newly carved district has a small but not overwhelming GOP lean, and Alexander is the kind of pro-business but also pro-transit Republican who won’t turn off voters in the suburbs.
Even so, we’re supporting Mack Paul, a real estate attorney and former head of the Wake County Democratic Party. In his questionnaire, Paul takes typical Democratic positions on education, gun reform, and the minimum wage, and he’s especially knowledgeable of planning and development issues. More to the point, he’s a means to an end: ending the supermajority.
State Senate, District 20: Floyd B. McKissick Jr.
In District 20, five-term Democrat Floyd McKissick Jr. is seeking reelection against Republican Tom Stark and Libertarian Jared Erickson. He deserves reelection, both because he’s been effective and because his opponents are unacceptable.
Stark, an attorney who serves as general counsel for the state Republican Party, told the People’s Alliance he disagrees with having protected classes under antidiscrimination laws and thinks local governments “must cooperate” with ICE. Erickson wants to expand the state program that funnels tax dollars to private, often religious schools. He also thinks local governments shouldn’t be able to pass antidiscrimination laws.
McKissick served on the Durham City Council before joining the legislature. He’s sponsored bills to fund school psychologists and counselors, promote a living wage, encourage affordable housing, and expand what can be expunged from criminal records (this one became law). He was also instrumental in bringing Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project back from the dead. Regardless of how you feel about light rail, it shows he can be effective even in a Republican-dominated legislature. We endorse McKissick.
State Senate, District 22: Mike Woodard
Two years ago, we caught hell for endorsing Woodard’s Republican challenger, Never-Trumper T. Greg Doucette. We did so not because we have anything against Woodard but because we believe the legislature needs more Republicans like Doucette. (Doucette left the GOP after the election.) This election presents no such dilemma: Republican candidate Rick Padgett is full MAGA.
Woodard, a former Durham City Council member, is a three-term state Senator and administrator at Duke University. He’s extremely visible in his district—he seems to be everywhere all the time. In his three terms, he has pushed for voting rights, net neutrality, rural broadband, and more teacher assistants, to name a few initiatives. We support him for a fourth.
State Senate, District 23: Valerie Foushee
Valerie Foushee has been a household name in Orange and Chatham Counties for years, having served as a school board member, Orange County commissioner, and a representative in the legislature.
The Democrat faces Republican Tom Glendinning, a landscaper and founder of the N.C. Composting Council who has held several appointed seats in Chatham County, including positions involved in economic development and planning. His platform centers on economic growth, property rights, and “making the world safer and cleaner” in light of a “breakdown of society.” He advocates for self-defense to protect God-given life until “common decency” is restored. We’re fans of composting, too, but not so much paranoia and religious zeal.
Foushee, on the other hand, is well-versed in issues facing families and education in North Carolina. Along with Woodard, she sponsored a bill in the Senate to move UNC’s Confederate statue. She’s pushed for paid sick leave and vows to repeal the HB 2 replacement bill as soon as possible. We endorse her for another term.
State House, District 11: Allison Dahle
This spring, Allison Dahle all but backed into the Democratic nomination—and, given the district’s Dem-heavy composition, the General Assembly—after a last-minute #MeToo scandal hit Representative Duane Hall. But we think she’ll make a good state rep regardless. She’s a staunch advocate for expanding Medicaid, better funding schools, and ensuring equal protections for the LGBTQ community.
Her Republican opponent is Tyler Brooks, a “constitutional and civil rights attorney” who boasts on his website of taking on the ACLU and promises to be “an ardent defender of the rights that are currently under assault throughout the country, including free speech, religious liberty, and the right to keep and bear arms.” He’s also an antiabortion zealot.
We’re supporting Dahle.
State House, District 29: MaryAnn Black
MaryAnn Black was appointed to a vacant seat in the legislature in February 2017. The Democrat is now seeking election to that seat against Republican candidate Charles Becker, an economics professor at Duke, specializing in real estate and urban economics. Becker isn’t a typical Republican; he’s said he voted for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and supports free basic health care for all, a nonpartisan redistricting commission, and holding gun manufacturers liable for the damage caused by their products.
Still, we believe Black—a former longtime Durham County commissioner and an official with the Duke University Health System—would be a stronger advocate for public education, environmental regulations, and health care. She introduced legislation to promote living wages and paid leave, as well as to repeal the death penalty. She counts Medicaid expansion and environmental protection among her priorities. Most important, she won’t be a member of Phil Berger’s caucus. We endorse Black.
State House, District 30: Marcia Morey
Marcia Morey joined the state House in April 2017, having been appointed to a vacant seat. Before that, she served Durham well as chief District Court judge, a role in which she helped establish the county’s misdemeanor diversion program, the first in the state.
Drawing on her experience as a judge, Morey has advocated for the protection of elections and voting rights, changes to the juvenile justice system, and gun regulations. Morey reflects Durham’s values and deserves a full term.
State House, District 31: Zack Forde-Hawkins
The District 31 seat is being vacated by Mickey Michaux, Durham’s representative for twenty terms. Michaux handpicked the candidate he hopes will be his successor: Zack Hawkins, who works in student affairs at UNC. He’s running against Libertarian Erik Raudsep and Republican Torian Webson, neither of whom is particularly remarkable.
Hawkins has never held elected office, but he has been in politics for ten years working on campaigns for the likes of U.S. Representative David Price and holding leadership roles in the state Democratic Party. He’d advocate against tax breaks for the wealthy and funding the courts on the backs of those who can least pay, and for public education and sensible gun laws.
State House, District 33: Rosa Gill
Rosa Gill, a retired teacher and school administrator who served on the Wake County school board, is seeking a fifth term in the state House, where she’s been one of the foremost advocates for schools in the state. Her opponent, Republican Anne Murtha, is an army veteran and teacher who also says she’s a champion of education. But there’s no reason to change horses now.
State House, District 34: Grier Martin
In the fourteen years since his first election to the state House, Grier Martin has been a consistent progressive voice, fighting for better school funding, environmental protections, and improved infrastructure. His opponent, Catherine Whiteford, is national committeewoman for the North Carolina Federation of Young Republicans. Predictably, she espouses low taxes and fiscal responsibility; less predictably, she wants to cap the amount of tuition colleges and universities can charge. It’s possible Whiteford could provide much-needed youth and vigor to a stale Republican caucus. It’s also possible she’d be just another reliable vote for Tim Moore. Either way, Martin has proven himself an effective lawmaker, and he deserves another term.
State House, District 35: Terence Everitt
Two years ago, Terence Everitt lost to Representative Chris Malone by six percentage points. This year, with the wind at Democrats’ sails, the party hopes he’ll be able to take down the incumbent, a self-proclaimed “gun enthusiast” who believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned, voted for HB 2, and backed Duke Energy on coal ash. We hope that happens. Everitt argues for better education funding, a more equitable tax code, and Medicaid expansion. He deserves your vote.
State House, District 36: Julie von Haefen
Attorney and past president of the Wake County PTA Council Julie von Haefen is running as a pro-education, pro-environment, and pro-equality candidate against Nelson Dollar, a long-serving state rep. A few years ago, Dollar ruffled Republican feathers by speaking against Medicaid privatization, but that principled stand doesn’t overcome the fact that he’s mostly been a rubber stamp for Republican ambitions. Vote for von Haefen.
State House, District 37: Sydney Batch
Like other suburban Wake districts, Democrats think they’ve got a good shot at winning this open seat. To do that, they’ll have to defeat John Adcock, a former Wake County commissioner candidate running as a fiscal conservative and champion of better road-building. Democrat Sydney Batch, meanwhile, is a family law and child welfare attorney who was endorsed by President Obama. Her detailed campaign platform lays out smart positions on affordable housing, health care, wages, broadband access, and other issues. Batch is the better candidate.
State House, District 38: Yvonne Lewis Holley
The Republican in this race is IT consultant Ken Bagnal, whose wife is challenging Senator Dan Blue. He faces an uphill climb against Democratic incumbent Yvonne Lewis Holley, who has served this district since 2013. Holley, an advocate for education and the environment, has earned another term.
State House, District 39: Darren Jackson
The sacrificial lamb Republicans have put up against Darren Jackson, the House minority leader, is Rhonda Allen, a self-proclaimed “gun girl.” Jackson, of course, is a proponent of commonsense gun reform, along with typically progressive positions on taxes, education, and Medicaid expansion. He gets our endorsement.
State House, District 40: Joe John
In 2016, former N.C. Court of Appeals judge Joe John defeated Republican incumbent Marilyn Avila by fewer than four hundred votes. This year, Avila wants a rematch. The last go-round, we endorsed John, noting Avila’s cosponsorship of HB 2 and proud support of voter ID. Nothing that’s happened since has changed our opinion.
State House, District 41: Gale Adcock
Gale Adcock, a nurse practitioner and chief health officer at SAS, is seeking her third term in the House on a platform of better teacher pay, Medicaid expansion, and improved mental health and substance abuse care. She has been an advocate for abortion rights and sensible gun reforms and a reliable progressive. Her opponent, Emmanuel Wilder, would be the only Republican African American in the legislature should he win. He’s also tech-savvy—he asked elections officials to allow him to accept cryptocurrency for his campaign, but they said no—and is committed to criminal justice reform. Wilder would be a fresh voice for North Carolina Republicans, and in a different year—against a different opponent—he might have our endorsement. But we’re sticking with Adcock.
State House, District 49: Cynthia Ball
David Robertson is an accomplished engineer whose website tells us that he’s traveled a lot. His campaign is focused on infrastructure, the environment, and education—all worthy causes, to be sure. But that doesn’t equal a successful case for denying Cynthia Ball a second term. Ball is a smart, progressive leader fighting for better school funding, quality health care, and against the Republicans’ power grabs. She has our endorsement.
State House, District 50: Graig Meyer
In District 50, incumbent Democrat Graig Meyer faces Republican Kenneth Rothrock, a traffic lawyer. It’d be hard to go against Meyer’s record as an outspoken and ardent representative for Durham and Orange Counties. Meyer is a social worker and advocates for funding for public schools via taxes on the wealthy and corporations, as well as stronger antidiscrimination protections and access to health care. He is a leader in his party and an active recruiter of new candidates for office. We endorse him for another term.
State House, District 54: Robert Reives Jr.
Robert Reives has represented Chatham County in District 54 since 2013, but the district was recently redrawn to include parts of southern Durham, so he may be a new name to some of you. He’s seeking reelection against Republican Jay Stobbs, an engineer whose platform—centered on road improvements, supporting veterans, and recruiting businesses to Chatham County—is better suited to a county commission race. Reives’s priorities are supporting public education, expanding Medicaid, and protecting natural resource. Those values are reflected in his voting record.
State House, District 56: Verla Insko
The District 56 race sees longtime Democratic incumbent Verla Inkso against Libertarian Matthew Clements and Republican Matthew Cooke.
Clements’s website says he is for school choice, lower taxes, decriminalization of drug possession, and privatization of the ABC system. Cooke, according to a speech he gave at at a recent Second Amendment rights rally in Hillsborough, is a research scientist with the EPA. He didn’t share much about his platform but highlighted the nearby Confederate monument and the Alamance Regulators militia that are “so much a part of our history.” Yep, we just rolled our eyes, too.
By contrast, Insko was the primary sponsor (along with Meyer) of a bill in May to remove the Confederate statue at UNC known as Silent Sam that has offended students of color for decades. A retired health program administrator, she has also sponsored a host of health-related bills, supporting contraceptive education and telemedicine, as well as a driver’s license designation for the deaf and hard of hearing. Insko has served eleven terms, and we endorse her for number twelve.