Vote 2022: Big issues and high stakes in the battle for control of NC General Assembly

Joel Brown Image
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
NC Voters will decide who controls General Assembly
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A super-majority means lawmakers can pass laws and override any veto from the governor.

He's not on North Carolina midterm election ballots but President Joe Biden's low approval numbers here may play a big role in what happens November 8.

"The biggest issue right now is far and away the economy," said Stephen Wiley, NC House Republican caucus director. From his offices in the basement of NC GOP headquarters -- Wiley consults; helps fund-raise; and crafts campaign messaging for every state House Republican who wants his help.

His advice for winning back a GOP supermajority: lean in to voters' concerns about a recession and doubts about the top Democrat in the White House.

"Most politics are now national. They're driven by people's perceptions of the White House," Wiley said. "We want to address what voters are most concerned about. And the majority of voters are most concerned about the economy."

In the State House, Republicans hold 69 seats compared to the Democrats' 51. The Republicans need a net gain of just three seats for a super-majority.

On the Senate side, Republicans have 28 seats. Democrats: 22. Republicans need to net just two seats to gain a 30 seat supermajority.

A super-majority means lawmakers can pass laws and override any veto from Democratic Governor Roy Cooper.

With issues like abortion and voting rights on the table, the stakes are high for both sides.

"People have a better understanding of what midterms mean now than they did ten years ago," said Robert Rieves, the NC House Minority Leader. "And I think that works well for us."

Rep. Rieves is leading the charge for Democratic candidates in the legislature. Democrats are counting on outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of Roe vs. Wade and promises from the state's top Republicans to push new veto-proof abortion restrictions to ignite Democratic voters.

"On the issue of abortion, you're looking at a heartbeat ban," Rieves said, laying at the stakes as he sees them. "You're going to see what I would call an attack on voting rights. And what your congress coming from North Carolina looks like (redistricting) is completely on the ballot this time."

Wiley and Republicans downplay the Midterms impact of abortion.

"I don't know if (abortion) is going to drive as many voters to the polls as folks on the other side of the aisle would like for it to," Wiley said.

But Democrats are optimistic on another front. After big economic development deals including Apple, Google and Boom Supersonic Jets landed in North Carolina -- negotiated by Governor Cooper -- the Democrats hope the governor could play Midterms savior.

"When he had two years where (Cooper) did not have a General Assembly that would work with him, everything just came to a standstill. And you can't have that," Rieves said. "Once we got balanced government, that's when (North Carolina) took off."

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