The 2018 midterm elections are now history. It appears that both sides came away with wins and losses. The blue wave didn’t materialize but, as was expected, it was not a favorable election for the Republican Party, which controls the White House.
In North Carolina, it was a blue moon election with the only statewide races being judicial, and they don’t attract much attention. Voter turnout was 53 percent in Guilford County and 52 percent in North Carolina.
The results of most of the races on the Guilford County ballot, with the exception of the sheriff’s race (page 7) and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners races (page 6), are listed below. All the vote totals noted are the unofficial results from the North Carolina Board of Elections.
Congress District 6
Republican 6th District Congressman Mark Walker, as expected, didn’t have much trouble defeating Democrat Ryan Watts. Walker had 159,651 votes for 57 percent over Watts who had 122,323 votes for 43 percent.
With the massive amount of money spent next door in the 13th congressional district, the Walker versus Ryan race was relatively quiet.
Walker won his third term in Congress. His closest race was in the Republican primary in 2014, when he finished second in the primary but easily won the runoff election against Phil Berger Jr.
Walker is chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), which is a group of 154 conservative Republican representatives who wield quite a bit of power in the House. Former chairmen of the RSC include Vice President Mike Pence, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Congressman Jim Jordan and former North Carolina Congresswoman Sue Myrick.
For Walker to be selected as chairman in his second term is an indication that he is moving up the leadership ladder in the Republican Caucus. Of course, after this election the Republican Caucus becomes the minority caucus and the Democrats will be chairing all of the House Committees.
Congress District 13
The race between Republican 13th District Congressman Ted Budd and Democrat Kathy Manning turned out not to be nearly as close as the pundits predicted. Budd won with 145,962 votes for 52 percent over Manning who had 128,764 for 46 percent.
Winning by 6 percent isn’t a landslide but it’s not a squeaker either. This race was almost universally listed as “leans Republican.” No one seemed to be willing to put it in the Republican column until the votes were counted. But six points is considered a fairly comfortable victory.
The Manning campaign raised and spent over $3 million compared to about $2 million for Budd, that’s a bundle to spend on a losing race for a two-year term in the US House. When you add in the total of over $5 million that was spent by PACs and the political parties, the cost of the entire race is going to come in somewhere over $10 million.
The results in the Budd versus Manning race were entirely different in Guilford County, where Manning had 80,065 votes for 62 percent over Budd with 46,328 votes for 36 percent. So Manning killed Budd in Guilford County with totals that would be considered a landslide, and since Guilford County accounted for almost half the votes cast in the 13th District, Budd had a lot of territory to make up in the rest of the district, which he did.
Some pundit said that if Budd got 30 percent of the vote in Guilford County he’d be able to win, and it appears that’s pretty much right on the money.
Although Manning didn’t win, her campaign did get out the Democratic vote in Guilford County, which was particularly evident when the early voting totals came in and nearly every Republican on the ballot was losing. The heavy voter turnout by Democrats wasn’t enough to put Manning over the finish line, but it did result in some Democrats down the ballot winning races they otherwise would have lost.
North Carolina Senate
Guilford County has four state senators and six House members representing it in the state legislature, and Tuesday night the Democrats picked up one state Senate seat and one seat in the House.
In one of the closest races of the night, state Senate District 27 Democratic challenger Michael Garrett defeated three-term Republican state Sen. Trudy Wade.
Garrett won with 44,820 votes for 50.43 percent and Wade finished with 44,057 votes for 49.57 percent. The race was closer during the evening as precincts were reporting, but the last couple of precincts provide Garrett with the 763 vote margin, which is less than 1 percent and calls for an automatic recount. However, with electronic voting it is extremely rare for the totals to be off by more than a couple of votes. These are unofficial results, but the official results will almost certainly be within a few votes of the unofficial totals.
This was one of the highest profile races in the county with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on both sides. The district includes precincts along the outer edge of Greensboro and most of the western two-thirds of Guilford County minus Greensboro and part of High Point. It is a district that was drawn, not by the Republican legislature but by a special master hired by three federal judges to settle a lawsuit over the redistricting. So it is not a district drawn by Republicans for Republicans and, as the vote totals indicate, was extremely competitive.
Wade said, “It has been an honor serve the people of Guilford County for three terms and I appreciate all the votes I received in the election. I’m proud of our record in the Senate and what we have been able to accomplish. Now I look forward to getting back to work full time with all my little four legged friends.”
Wade is a veterinarian with her own practice in Jamestown.
Districts 24, 26 and 28
Watching the returns come in at the Old Guilford County Court House, it appeared that all the Republican state senators from Guilford County were going to lose, but both Republican District 24 state Sen. Rick Gunn and Republican District 26 state Sen. Jerry Tillman have large portions of their districts outside of Guilford County.
Gunn won a fifth term with 41,858 votes for 54 percent over Democrat J.D. Wooten who had 35,735 votes for 46 percent. State Senate District 24 includes much of western Alamance County, but the redistricting for 2018 also placed about a third of eastern Guilford County in that district.
In state Senate District 26, Tillman won with 39,009 votes for 65 percent over Democrat Bill McCaskill with 21,114 votes for 35 percent.
Senate District 26 includes the southwest corner of Guilford County and all of Randolph County. Tillman lost Guilford County with only 27 percent of the vote to 73 percent for McCaskill.
Fortunately for Tillman, he more than made up for his poor showing in Guilford County in Randolph County to win a ninth term in the state Senate.
Democratic state Sen. Gladys Robinson, whose district includes the majority of the City of Greensboro, had no trouble defeating Republican challenger Clark Porter. Robinson won a fifth term in the state Senate with 55,765 votes for 75 percent over first time Republican candidate Porter with 18,395 votes for 25 percent.
This is another district drawn by the special master to be a minority-majority district.
North Carolina House
There were no surprises in the North Carolina state House races in Guilford County. All the incumbents won by comfortable margins.
Perhaps the most interesting state House race was District 57, where Chairman of the Guilford County Republican Party Troy Lawson was defeated by Democrat Ashton Clemmons.
Clemmons won with 22,287 votes for 68 percent over Lawson with 10,716 votes for 32 percent. Both were first time candidates running in what is considered a minority-majority district. However, in this race the minority was Lawson, who is black, running against Ashton, who is white. Since black voters tend to vote heavily Democratic, Ashton clearly had the advantage from a partisan standpoint and that is what made the difference.
This seat was held by state Rep. John Blust who is retiring at the end of the term after 20 years in the state legislature. So Ashton’s win provided one of the Democratic gains that broke the Republican super majority in the state House.
All the state House districts in Guilford County were drawn by the special master, not by the Republican legislature.
Democratic District 58 state House Rep. Amos Quick had no trouble winning a second term in the House over Republican Peter Boykin.
Quick had 21,223 votes for 77 percent over Boykin who had 6,425 votes for 23 percent. Quick served on the Guilford County Board of Education for 12 years before being elected to the state House and is known as a Democrat who works across party lines to get things done.
Republican District 59 state Rep. Jon Hardister, with 22,037 votes for 57 percent, won a fourth term in the state House Tuesday night defeating first time candidate Steve Buccini who had 16,815 votes for 43 percent.
Hardister is the House majority whip. Both he and Buccini moved to Whitsett in order to run in District 59. Hardister had been the District 59 representative, but after redistricting he no longer lived in his district. The constant redistricting has pretty much everyone confused.
Buccini raised a good amount of money to run in a district that many thought a Democrat couldn’t win.
Democratic District 60 State Rep. Cecil Brockman was elected to a third term with 17,602 votes for 69 percent over Republican Kurt Collins who had 7,907 votes for 31 percent. As the vote totals indicate, it is a safe Democratic district and the race didn’t attract much attention.
Democratic District 61 State Rep. Pricey Harrison won an eighth term by defeating first time Republican candidate Alissa Batts. Harrison has made her name as an environmentalist in Raleigh and she won with 25,209 votes for 73 percent over Batts who had 9,207 votes for 27 percent.
Hardister was defeated by Harrison in his first run for public office.
Republican District 62 state Rep. John Faircloth won a fifth term by defeating Democratic challenger Martha Shafer. Faircloth had 22,454 votes for 57 percent while Shafer finished with 16,651 for 43 percent. Faircloth didn’t quite make it to landslide territory, but it was a comfortable win in a race that some had predicted would be much tighter.
Faircloth is a former High Point police chief and High Point city councilmember, but he grew up in Greensboro and got his start in the Greensboro Police Department, so in a district that represents parts of both cities he is hard to beat.
Board of Education
Guilford County Board of Education races looked bad for incumbents when the early voting totals went up, but in the end only one of the incumbents lost
In the at-large race, it turned out the voters agreed with the Guilford County Board of Education and the Democratic Party and elected Guilford County Board of Education member Winston McGregor to a full four-year term on the board with 60 percent of the vote. She defeated Republican Marc Ridgill who had 40 percent.
McGregor had been chosen by the Guilford County school board to finish the term of former longtime school board Chairman Alan Duncan, who resigned to serve on the North Carolina Board of Education. McGregor was also selected by the Democratic Party to replace Duncan on the ballot.
Ridgill is a retired Greensboro police officer who served eight years as the school resource officer at Grimsley High School, giving him a pretty unique view of education from the inside. McGregor is the executive director of the Guilford Education Alliance, a nonprofit that supports the schools.
The incumbent who was not reelected is Republican District 6 Guilford County Board of Education member Wes Cashwell, who was defeated by Democrat Khem Denise Irby who had 51 percent of the vote to 49 percent for Cashwell.
The other two incumbent Republicans on the ballot both won. Republican District 2 Guilford County Board of Education member Anita Sharpe with 53 percent of the vote defeated Democrat Greg Drumwright with 47 percent.
Republican District 4 Guilford County Board of Education member Linda Welborne with 52 percent defeated Democrat Desiree Best with 48 percent.
Tuesday night was pretty much a wash as far as Democrats and Republicans were concerned. Nationally the Democrats won control of the House the Republicans won a larger majority in the Senate.
Statewide the Republicans maintained majorities in both the state House and Senate but the Democrats won enough seats to end the veto-proof majority in the House.
But as far as statewide judicial races the Democrats shut out the Republicans and the Republicans have no one to blame but themselves.
Democrat Anita Earls was elected to the North Carolina Supreme Court, which will give the Democrats a 5-to-2 majority on the court. Earls won with 49 percent of the vote, which isn’t a majority, but she didn’t need a majority because she was the only Democrat running against two Republicans.
Republican Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson finished second with 34 percent of the vote and brand new Republican Chris Anglin finished third with 16 percent.
So more people voted for Republicans than Democrats, but with two Republicans in the race they split the vote.
What happened was the Supreme Court races were changed from nonpartisan to partisan, plus there was no primary. Although the Democrats haven’t admitted doing this, they might now that the race is over. But what almost certainly happened is that Anglin, who had been a Democrat, was talked into changing his party and running as a Republican to split the Republican vote and allow Earls to win. Anglin doesn’t have the experience that is usually found in Supreme Court justice candidates and didn’t seem to be trying hard to win. But because the Republican vote was split, Earls is now on the North Carolina Supreme Court for eight years.
If there had been a primary, or if the races were still nonpartisan, the clever move by Anglin wouldn’t have been possible.
In the North Carolina Appeals Court Seat 1 race, Democrat John Arrowood with 51 percent of the vote defeated Republican Andrew Heath with 49 percent.
But in the North Carolina Appeals Court Seat 2 race, there was a repeat of the Supreme Court race where two Republicans split the vote and the Democrat won.
Democratic candidate Toby Hampson with 49 percent of the vote defeated Republican Jefferson Griffin with 36 percent and Republican Sandra Alice Ray with 16 percent.
In judicial races many, if not most, voters know nothing about the candidates. With the party affiliation listed on the ballot the idea is that at least the voters will know that about the candidates. The Republicans who decided to add the party affiliation wrongly assumed it would help Republicans get elected. In this election it did the opposite.
In North Carolina Court of Appeals Seat 3, Democrat Allegra Katherine Collins won with 48 percent, defeating Chuck Kitchen with 47 percent and Libertarian Michael Monaco with 5 percent.
It is widely assumed that Libertarians take more votes from Republicans than Democrats. So although Monaco didn’t split the vote very much, it was enough to get Collins elected.
Soil and Water
The race for the soil and water conservation district supervisor is nonpartisan and one where a lot of people look for a name they recognize and, not seeing any, vote for a name they like.
This year two seats were up for election and eight candidates filed. The winners were Anna Gerringer Amoriello who had 18 percent of the vote and Josh Myers who had 14 percent. Myers campaigned for the job and had a lot of signs around town.
The other finishers in order are Michael Washington, Lewis Brandon, Mike Faucette, Kirk Perkins, Andy Courts, Dave Crawford and Gay Dillard.
It’s interesting that Perkins won this race some years ago when he wasn’t running. Someone else had filed to run as Kirk Perkins, who at the time was a Guilford County commissioner, and won. Evidently the person who filed to run as Kirk Perkins wasn’t counting on winning, because after the election he left town.
So Kirk Perkins won when he wasn’t running and lost when he was running. That has to be a first.
The Republican legislature put six constitutional amendments on the ballot with the hope that it would increase Republican voter turnout in a midterm election year where the party out of the White House usually dominates.
So much has happened since those decisions were made, it’s hard to say whether it worked or not, but four of the six amendments are now part of the North Carolina Constitution.
The voters of North Carolina didn’t have a lot of doubt about the amendments. The four that passed did so by significant margins and the two that failed did so by even larger margins.
The amendment that people seemed most interested in was to require photo identification to vote, and that passed with 56 percent of the vote.
The amendment to protect the right to hunt and fish and the amendment to set the maximum state income tax rate at 7 percent both passed with 57 percent of the vote. It’s hard to imagine people voting to have higher taxes but 43 percent of the voters did.
The amendment to strengthen victims’ rights was the most popular passing with 62 percent of the vote.
The two that failed were both attempts by the legislature to increase its power by taking away some of the power of the governor. They were not popular despite the fact that having a weak governor is a long standing North Carolina tradition.
The amendment to change the way judicial appointments are made failed with 67 percent voting against it. The amendment to appoint an eight-member board of ethics and elections did a little better with 62 percent of the people voting against it.
Some people seemed angry that the constitutional amendments were on the ballot and the Democratic Party recommended voting against all of them, but only the four that received a majority of yes votes become law, and what better way is there to find out if the people of North Carolina want something in their constitution or not than by giving them a chance to vote it up or down?