Tuesday was an election night for the record books. The American people, for the first time since Gen.Dwight D. Eisenhower won the presidency in 1952, elected a president who had never held elective office.
It was a long night because it was a close, but not that close, presidential election, and the North Carolina governor’s race is still up in the air.
Here’s a quick recap of what happened Tuesday night, starting with Donald Trump’s amazing victory. (The Guilford County Board of Commissioners races are covered starting on page 4.)
Seventeen months ago Donald Trump announced he was going to run for the presidency and win. Tuesday, Nov. 8, he did just that.
Trump wasn’t declared the winner until the wee hours of the morning, but the current predictions are he will end up with over 300 electoral votes when 270 are needed to win. Not a landslide, but not a squeaker either. It’s a good solid majority of electoral votes.
As we go to press, Hillary Clinton was slightly ahead in popular votes but that number is subject to change also.
The Republicans also maintained their majorities in both the House and the Senate and now will also control the White House.
Trump from start to finish ran an incredibly unusual campaign. He didn’t follow any of the rules, most likely because, having never been involved in politics, he didn’t know what the rules were and didn’t much care because he was going to run the way he wanted to run regardless of what people kept telling him he should do.
Trump thought he knew best and it turned out he was right.
He did something national candidates are not supposed to do: He said what he thought. Often those thoughts got him in trouble because they were not well-prepared statements about policies that a group of political wonks had spent weeks or months devising. He answered questions like a real person instead of like a politician.
The news media hated it and wrote him off time after time, but the American people saw something they hadn’t seen on the national political stage for years – someone who would talk to them.
Trump called the political talk shows and talked. He didn’t come on, answer one previously determined question with a prepared statement and then say goodbye. He answered everything they threw at him and talked and talked.
It worked in the primaries, and when he got into the general election against Hillary Clinton, the difference between the two was night and day. Everything Hillary Clinton did from pointing, to making a little joke, to pausing to wave, was scripted. By contrast nothing Trump did was scripted. He went around the country actually talking to the crowds that had gathered to see him.
He was an outsider’s outsider.
The election of Trump was a repudiation by the American people of the whole political insider system in Washington, DC.
He didn’t campaign like a candidate and the people loved it. Now the country gets to see how he governs.
US Sen. Richard Burr spent 10 years in the US House and won his third term to the Senate on Tuesday night.
Evidently, Burr knows a thing or two about politics. Reports were that his friends and supporters kept encouraging him to get back to North Carolina to campaign, but he didn’t start campaigning full time until the Senate adjourned in October.
Everyone else seemed to be worried about his reelection, but Burr wasn’t. It turned out Burr was right. Burr won reelection with 51 percent over Democrat Deborah Ross with 45 percent and Libertarian Sean Haugh with 4 percent.
Burr evidently kept telling people not to worry about his reelection, he’d be fine, and 6 percent is a good victory margin.
Burr is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and with the current state of the world it’s a key position, not just for this country but for the world. In addition, Burr having served two terms in the Senate, plus five terms in the House, is highly respected on Capitol Hill.
With two Republican senators and a Republican majority, North Carolina has some power in the Senate, power that would have been lost if the state had elected a freshman Democrat.
Ross ran a tough campaign, but, as the former North Carolina director of the American Civil Liberties Union, is far too left of the state, which despite what the media claims is largely conservative.
Burr says this was his last campaign and he will retire at the end of this six-year term.
US House District 6
Republican 6th District Congressman Mark Walker once again proved that although he was running in only his second political race, he understands politics.
Walker was running for reelection as the 6th District representative, but he was running in a newly drawn 6th District, which added a degree of difficulty. Having just gotten to know the old 6th District, he then lost a couple of counties and took on a couple where he had never run.
Still, Walker won over challenger Pete Glidewell in a near landslide. Walker received 205,973 votes for 59 percent while Glidewell finished with 141,480 for 41 percent. Anything over 60 percent is usually considered a landslide.
Tuesday night Walker said his team decided that with the airwaves packed with political commercials they wouldn’t spend money on television. When candidates say they decided not to use television it is often because they don’t have the money. Walker was well funded and could have afforded the commercials, but said he decided he would count on what swept him into office two years ago, a good ground game and grass roots campaigning.
Walker turned out to be right again and won.
When asked about the possibility of replacing Paul Ryan as speaker of the House, Walker said that no one else had put their name up to challenge Ryan and there was almost no time left to mount any kind of serious campaign. He said the idea that Ryan would be replaced as far as he could tell was mostly the media creating a story.
US House District 13
Republican 13th District candidate Ted Budd handily defeated Democratic candidate and former Guilford County Commission Bruce Davis on Tuesday.
Budd, who was running for office for the first time, received 196,736 votes for 56 percent to 154,158 votes and 44 percent for Davis.
Budd is a strong conservative who ran on an across-the-board conservative platform. Davis is a tax-and-spend liberal who has a long history of raising taxes and spending money as a Guilford County commissioner.
The Republicans drew this district for a Republican to win and there never seemed to be much doubt that Budd would come out on top. The only question was the margin, and Davis did far better than many people predicted.
At the end of Tuesday night, which was actually early Wednesday morning, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory was behind Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper by about 5,000 votes out of over 4.6 million cast. The difference is about 0.1 percent.
Cooper gave a victory speech, but McCrory hasn’t conceded.
McCrory’s campaign released a statement Wednesday stating that there were still “tens of thousands of outstanding absentee, military and provisional ballots across the state,” and every vote deserved to be counted before the outcome was decided.
The statement also notes that there were “potential irregularities in Durham County, including the sudden emergence of over 90,000 ballots at the end of the night.”
McCrory had been winning until Durham County, which is heavily Democrat, suddenly discovered the 90,000 ballots.
Reports are that this election is not expected to be called until Nov. 18 at the earliest, when the canvas of votes has been completed. It also seems likely that a legal challenge will be made to the 90,000 votes that suddenly appeared and were enough to put Cooper in the lead.
The question is, why was McCrory in such a close race when Republicans won just about everything else? One answer is that McCrory took the hit for House Bill 2 (HB2), the bathroom bill.
If that is true, it was a brilliant yet despicable move by Cooper, who was involved in getting the Charlotte City Council to pass the original ordinance that created gender-neutral bathrooms and forced the state to take action. Cooper was also behind the scenes working to prevent an agreement between the Charlotte City Council and the legislature from going forward.
McCrory, to his credit, made no attempt to distance himself from HB2, and Cooper had the support of the mainstream media, which refused to accurately report on what the Charlotte ordinance would have done or what HB2 did.
But McCrory had other problems. He ran as a moderate, but with a much more conservative legislature pulling him to the right, he was perceived as becoming more conservative after being elected. This may have cost him some of his base.
It doesn’t make sense that people in North Carolina went to the polls and voted for Trump, Burr and Cooper, but it may turn out to be the case.
Donald Trump got in huge trouble with the mainstream media for saying that he didn’t know if he would accept the results of the election. His supporters noted that candidates, such as Al Gore in 2000, refuse to accept the results of close elections all the time. And here we have another case.
With the vote totals so close, tens of thousands of votes uncounted and extreme voter irregularities in Durham County, it would be foolish for McCrory to concede until he is certain of the final tally.
It would also be foolish for Cooper not to have declared victory on election night. It’s how elections work, and Trump was right to say to accept whatever the total is on election night before you know what those totals are would be foolhardy.
By the way, Hillary Clinton didn’t make her concession speech until late Wednesday morning.
Council of State
Before the votes were counted, the mainstream media were talking about Donald Trump hurting Republicans all the way down the ticket. Except for the anomaly of the governor’s race, it appears that Trump helped Republicans all down the ticket.
Trump didn’t sweep everyone into office, but Republicans won more Council of State offices than they have in the past. Since these races get minimal press, voters often vote party instead of candidate.
The Republicans did lose the North Carolina Supreme Court seat, but it is a nonpartisan race where the candidate’s party is not listed on the ballot. Those who had concentrated on races further up the ticket may have had no idea who was the Republican and who was the Democrat.
In 2012, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest won by less than 7,000 votes in a squeaker over Linda Coleman. In 2016, Forest had an easier time in the rematch. Forest won with 52 percent of the vote to 45 percent for Coleman. Libertarian Jacki Cole received about 3 percent.
Forest has been an active and conservative lieutenant governor. He has spent the past four years traveling the state widely and has not been shy about taking conservative positions. He is a proponent of charter schools and was an early opponent of common core.
With this win Forest puts himself in the front of the line to run for governor in 2020, regardless of the eventual winner of that race.
Many may not consider the most important Council of State office on the ballot to be the state treasurer, but we certainly devoted more time to it than any other Council of State office.
Dale Folwell, with 53 percent of the vote, won a comfortable victory over Dan Blue III with 47 percent. Folwell is a CPA and Blue is an attorney. It made a lot more sense to us to elect a CPA as state treasurer than an attorney, and it seems the voters of North Carolina agreed.
Folwell also had great success as the head of the Division of Employment Security getting the state out of debt and building up a surplus. He plans to do the same at the treasury department and we wish him luck.
The attorney general’s seat was open because long-time attorney general Roy Cooper ran for governor (and may or may not have won). At the end of the night, Democrat Josh Stein had eked out a narrow win over Republican state Sen. Buck Newton. Stein received 2,277,340 votes for 50 percent and Newton finished the night with 2,256,562 votes also rounded to 50 percent.
So it looks like the long tradition of having a Democratic attorney general is going to continue.
In an even closer race it appears that state Auditor Beth Wood has the lead over former FBI agent Chuck Stuber. Wood had 2,234,034 votes for 50 percent while Stuber finished with 2,230,947 also rounded to 50 percent. That’s a margin of just 3,087 votes. So this is like the McCrory race – it’s really too close to call until all the votes are counted.
Commissioner of Agriculture
North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler from Brown Summit won another term in charge of North Carolina’s largest industry. Troxler won with 56 percent of the vote over Walter Smith with 44 percent.
Commissioner of Insurance
It turns out the fifth time was the charm for Republican Mike Causey. This was Causey’s fifth run for North Carolina insurance commissioner and the first time he has been celebrating on election night.
Causey won with 2,248,412 votes for 50 percent over Democrat Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin with 2,209,725 votes, also 50 percent. Causey said Tuesday night that he wasn’t even planning to run this year. He said he thought he was done with running for insurance commissioner, but when the candidate he had planned to support backed out, he decided to give it one more try.
Causey said that in traveling the state he constantly heard complaints about the high cost of health insurance and car insurance and that he planned to get lower rates for the people of North Carolina.
Commissioner of Labor
Riding elevators will still involve looking at a photo of Republican Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, who was reelected on Tuesday. Berry easily won reelection with 55 percent of the vote over Democrat Charles Meeker with 45 percent. It’s hard to compete with someone who advertises every day of the year in every elevator in the state.
Secretary of State
North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is evidently secretary of state for life. She has been in office since 1996 and will be there for four more years. Marshall with 52 percent of the vote defeated Michael LaPagilla with 48 percent. It was good safe margin.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Republican Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board member Mark Johnson pulled off quite an upset defeating Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson on Tuesday by enough of a margin to withstand a challenge. Johnson had 51 percent to 49 percent for Atkinson.
It may be that the people of North Carolina are tired of hearing the solution to every education problem is more money. It will certainly be different to have a state school superintendent who is on the same page with the legislature.
There were only three contested races for North Carolina state House and state Senate seats in Guilford County.
State Senate District 26
President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger’s district includes Guilford County in the state Senate, but he had no opponent and won with 100 percent of the vote.
State Senate District 27
The only one of the three contested races that was close was that of Republican District 27 state Sen. Trudy Wade, who defeated Democrat Michael Garrett.
Wade won with 54,156, for 53 percent, over Garrett, who had 47,398 for 47 percent. This was Garrett’s third run for office but his first as a Democrat. He was twice defeated in Republican primaries.
Wade was called the “lightning rod” of the state Senate for her penchant for taking on controversial issues, and she adopted that as her campaign motif. Wade had the News & Record solidly opposing her like they opposed no other candidate, with the exception of Donald Trump, who also won on Tuesday.
Wade is an up and coming power in the Senate and is expected to be chairing a major committee or two in the upcoming session.
State Senate District 28
Democratic District 28 state Sen.Gladys Robinson, with 73,566 votes for 84 percent easily defeated Republican Devin King with 14,166 votes for 16 percent. King lost to Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan in 2015 by an even larger margin. He appears to be one of those people who enjoys running for office and is already talking about the 2017 Greensboro City Council election.
State House District 59
Republican District 59 state Rep. John Hardister was the only state representative from Guilford County who had a general election opponent, and with 28,819 votes for 60 percent he defeated Democrat Scott Jones who had 18,949 votes for 40 percent. This was a rematch of 2014, when Hardister also defeated Jones, who has also run for office as a Republican.
The state House members who had no opponents and won with 100 percent of the vote were Democratic District 57 state Rep. Pricey Harrison and Democrat Amos Quick, currently a member of the Guilford County Board of Education, he will now be representing District 58 in the state House. Quick will replace former Democratic state Rep. Ralph Johnson, who died earlier this year. Democratic District 60 state Rep. Cecil Brockman, Republican District 61 state Rep. John Faircloth and Republican District 62 state Rep. John Blust were also elected without opposition.
Board of Education
After Tuesday night, it’s not going to be your same old Guilford County Board of Education.
For years there has been very little turnover on the school board and few competitive races. Election to the school board seemed to be an election for life, or for at least as long as someone wanted to serve.
This year there were more competitive races and the outsiders with new ideas won a number of seats. There will be five new faces on the nine-member board.
The state legislature changed the school board districts to align with the Guilford County Board of Commissioners districts and made the races partisan. The theory was that if the races were partisan more people would run for the school board and that seemed to have worked. The Republican legislature also wanted to create a path to elect some conservatives to the school board and that seemed to have worked also.
Board of Education At Large
Democrat Chairman of the Board of Education Alan Duncan easily won the at-large race with 61 percent over charter school proponent Alan Hawkes with 39 percent. Duncan has been on the school board for 16 years and chairman of the school board for 14.
He said he didn’t change his campaign style just because it was a partisan race. In keeping with that style, he didn’t put up any signs, but one of the attorneys he works with had her children create two signs for Duncan and they were by far the best campaign signs of the election. Two signs at one polling place turned out to be more than enough for Duncan.
Board of Education District 2
Republican former school board member Anita Sharpe won her bid to get back on the school board after an eight-year hiatus by defeating school board member Jeff Belton in District 2.
Sharpe received 15,769 votes for 55 percent to defeat Belton who had 13,084 votes for 45 percent.
Tuesday night after the Rhino Times had declared Sharpe the winner, she said that she wanted to concentrate on literacy and that something had to be done about classroom behavior. She said that in tutoring students she was surprised by the lack of reading comprehension, and improving that would be a priority for her.
Board of Education District 3
In District 3, Republican Pat Tillman with 17,360 votes for 50.49 percent narrowly defeated Democrat Angelo Kidd, a retired Guilford County Schools regional superintendent with 17,026 votes for 49.51 percent.
Tillman ran in the nonpartisan school board at-large race in 2012. He finished first in the primary but lost in the general election to school board member Sandra Alexander.
Tillman said that he planned to “rally around the students, parents and teachers.” In campaigning, he said that many of the people he talked to were surprised at the low literacy rate and he planned to focus on improving that, so he and Sharpe appear to be on the same page on literacy. He also said he was working on an idea for school nurses that would involve a public-private partnership and he wanted to better prepare students for the business world they will enter when they graduate.
Board of Education District 5
In District 5, Democrat Darlene Garrett won reelection with 15,712 votes for 47 percent in a three-way race over Republican Mary Catherine Sauer with 14,915 votes for 45 percent and unaffiliated Lois Bailey with 2,747 votes for 8 percent. Bailey, a former school employee, got in the race late so she did it through a petition and had to run as an unaffiliated candidate.
Sauer campaigned hard, but the name recognition of a long-time incumbent is hard to overcome.
Board of Education District 6
In District 6, Republican Wes Cashwell was picked to take the place in the race of school board member Ed Price, who decided he didn’t want to run for reelection. Cashwell, with 17,854 votes for 55 percent fairly, easily defeated Khem Irby, who had 14,820 votes for 45 percent.
Board of Education District 7
Running for an open seat in District 7, Democrat Byron Gladden, with 19,077 votes for 70 percent, overwhelmingly defeated unaffiliated candidate Bettye Jenkins, who had 8,303 votes for 30 percent. Jenkins was running as unaffiliated because she missed the filing deadline and got into the race by petition.
Neither unaffiliated candidate in the school board races cracked 10 percent, which may indicate that running as an unaffiliated candidate in a partisan race doesn’t work very well.
Board of Education
Districts 1, 4 and 8
Also elected to the school board were District 1 Dianne Bellamy-Small, District 4 Linda Welborn and District 8 Deena Hayes. All ran unopposed in the general election.
The biggest judicial race in the state was for North Carolina Supreme Court justice. It was an important race not only because it is the highest court in the state system, but also because the outcome of this nominally nonpartisan race determines which party has the majority on the state Supreme Court. Although it is nominally nonpartisan, meaning the candidates political affiliation are not listed on the ballot, both political parties spent heavily on this race.
NC Supreme Court Justice
North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds, a Republican received 46 percent of the vote, and was defeated by Wake County Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan, a Democrat, with 54 percent of the vote.
It was a long strange race for Edmunds, who started out having a retention election where he would have had no opponent. That election was ruled unconstitutional by the North Carolina Supreme Court, with Edmunds recused from the case. Then Edmunds had a nonpartisan primary and finally the general election.
The state Supreme Court will now switch from a Republican 4-to-3 majority to a Democratic 4-to-3 majority. Since the court usually votes along party lines on political issues, it means actions by the legislature, such as redistricting, are less likely to be found upheld.
Evidence that the voters didn’t know what party the Supreme Court candidates were in is evident in the results for the five North Carolina Court of Appeals races on the ballot where Republicans won all five races.
Court of Appeals Judge
For the Court of Appeals Republican Phil Berger Jr. with 2,212,256 votes and 50 percent defeated Democrat Linda Stephens with 2,186,548 votes also rounded to 50 percent.
Republican Hunter Murphy with 49 percent defeated Democrat Margaret Eagles with 46 percent and unaffiliated candidate Donald Buie had 6 percent.
Republican Bob Hunter with 54 percent defeated Democrat Abe Jones with 46 percent.
Republican Richard Dietz with 54 percent defeated Democrat Vince Rozier with 47 percent.
And Republican Valerie Zachary with 54 percent defeated Democrat Rickye McKoy-Mitchell with 46 percent.
District Court Judges
One thing that Tuesday proved is that Guilford County prefers women judges. In three out of four District Court races where women were running against men, the woman won.
The only woman to lose to a man was Miranda Reavis with 88,290 votes for 47 percent lost to Bill Davis who had 99,870 for 53 percent.
District Court Judge Angela Foster with 114,134 for 62 percent easily defeated Assistant District Attorney John Stone who had 71,403 for 38 percent.
Foster is, according to our interviews, not liked by her fellow attorneys but she is liked by the voters, and that’s what counts.
District Court Judge Randle Jones with 84,474 votes for 45 percent was defeated by Tonia Cutchin who had 104,466 votes for 55 percent.
Mark Cummings with 112,334 votes for 63 percent defeated Marc Tyrey who had 65,070 votes for 37 percent. With two men in this race a man had to win.
Assistant North Carolina Attorney General Lora Cubbage, with 102,907 votes for 54 percent, defeated District Court Judge David Sherrill, with 88,035 votes for 46 percent.
These are the District Court judges who ran unopposed so they won with 100 percent of the vote: Betty Brown, Susan Burch, Avery Crump, Michelle Fletcher, Angie Fox, Tabatha Holliday and Teresa Vincent.
So in this election the voters of Guilford County elected 10 women and two men.
Greensboro voters evidently want to see their property tax rates – already the highest of any comparable city in the state – to go even higher. They also want to give the Greensboro City Council $126 million to spend on whatever it sees fit.
The city voters overwhelmingly passed all four bonds on the ballot leaving no question that this is what the voters want. Now the City Council will be forced to sit down, try not to yell and scream at each other and decide how the money will be spent, because one thing is certain – the City Council will spend the money and has announced its intention to spend the money fast, which makes the whole proposition even a little more frightening.
The $25 million in Housing Bonds were approved with 68 percent of the vote.
The $38.5 million Community and Economic Development Bonds, which includes $25 million for the downtown, was approved with 71 percent of the vote.
The $34.5 million Parks and Recreation Bonds passed with 72 percent of the vote.
And the $28 million Transportation Bond passed with 73 percent of the vote.
City Councilmember Mike Barber said the bonds to repave streets would be the most popular and he was right. Not that it made any difference in this case since they all had such wide margins, but it’s always nice to be right.