The filing period for candidates in Guilford County races – as well as for all political races in the state – was underway earlier this month when the North Carolina Supreme Court brought the filing period in Guilford County and elsewhere to a screeching halt.
On Friday, Dec.10, Guilford County government sent out an explanation of the situation as well as instructions for the candidates-in-waiting.
The press release stated that, on Wednesday, December 8, the NC Supreme Court suspended candidate filing in the 2022 primary election for all offices. The release also noted that the NC Supreme Court’s decision came after a Court of Appeals panel initially blocked filing for legislative and congressional candidates on Monday, December 6 – just to have that decision reversed by the full Court of Appeals.
“The state’s Supreme Court’s preliminary injunction comes as lawsuits challenge the new election maps passed by the General Assembly,” the county’s press release states. “Litigation is pending, alleging the new redistricting maps are illegal partisan gerrymanders. This decision includes filing for rescheduled municipal contests, and any separate filing period in January for those contests and means candidate filing is now suspended until the litigation is resolved.”
The Supreme Court ruling ordered the trial court to “provide a written ruling on or before Tuesday, January 11, 2022.” The ruling also gives the parties two business days to file an appeal to that ruling and the appeal would go directly to the NC Supreme Court bypassing the NC Court of Appeals.
One clue that this will take a while is that the NC Supreme Court moved the date of the state’s primary election and municipal elections to Tuesday, May 17, 2022. That’s more than two months after the original Tuesday, March 8 primary date.
Election officials are also in the dark, and, for the time being, they’re just waiting and doing their Christmas shopping like everyone else. Last week, Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said he had no indication as to when the matter would be settled and the filing period reopened.
In the meantime, the county is telling those who’ve already filed that they won’t need to do so again. For any candidate whose filing has been accepted by the State Board of Elections or the Guilford County’s Board of Elections, that candidate is already considered to be duly filed in the May primary for the same office – though the county notes that is “subject to any court rulings that would impact that candidate’s eligibility.” A court ruling that could impact a candidate’s eligibility would be redrawing the current districts, so the candidate no longer lives in the district and would be ineligible to run.
Those candidates will also be able to withdraw their candidacy during the new filing period when it opens up.
Also, during the reopened filing period, any candidate who withdraws candidacy will be free to file for any other office they’re eligible to run for.
At the time that the state’s highest court shut down the filing period, more than 1,400 candidates had filed statewide, with 53 of those from Guilford County.