A guide to key down-ballot North Carolina races

Published 10:51 am Tuesday, November 3, 2020

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RALEIGH (AP) — North Carolina’s general election will determine the power balance in the state’s legislature, the shape of its congressional delegation and the makeup of a group of key statewide offices.

Much attention has been focused on contests for president, U.S. Senate and governor in the key battleground state. Down-ballot races are also closely contested in the state, which already has seen a record-setting early voting period.

As of Monday, more than 4.5 million ballots had been cast, representing nearly 62% of the state’s registered voters, well in excess of the 2016 early voting period.

A look at key down-ballot races for the U.S. House, state legislature, top statewide offices and the state Supreme Court.


Democrats are hoping that U.S. House district boundaries redrawn in 2019 will help them reshape the state’s 13-seat congressional delegation.

The court-mandated redrawing is expected to allow Democrats to pick up two districts currently held by Republicans who declined to run for reelection after the boundaries tilted left. That includes the Raleigh-area 2nd District and the Greensboro-area 6th District.

Picking up two more seats would give Democrats five of the state’s 13 congressional districts.

Meanwhile, two more districts that have traditionally leaned Republican have also proved competitive. That includes the 11th District in western North Carolina, a seat vacated by Mark Meadows, who became President Donald Trump’s chief of staff.

The 8th District, which runs along several counties in the southern part of the state, is the site of a close contest between Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson and Democratic challenger Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who previously served on the state Supreme Court.


Fifteen closely contested races in the North Carolina General Assembly are likely to determine whether Democrats or Republicans will control the legislature.

Republicans have held both chambers since 2011. Democrats would need to win six additional seats to flip the House and five more Senate seats to ensure a majority in that chamber. Democrats could also flip the Senate by winning four more seats if the party’s nominee is elected lieutenant governor, because that office holds the right to cast tie-breaking votes in the 50-seat chamber.

Democrats won enough seats in 2018 so that Republican margins were no longer veto-proof.

Democrats and Republicans have poured millions of dollars into the races this cycle. Democrats say expanding Medicaid would be their top priority if they were brought to power. Republicans are seeking to preserve their conservative policies of the past decade.


Races for lieutenant governor, attorney general and insurance commissioner are among a slate of top statewide contests.

All 10 offices that comprise the group of top elected officials known as the Council of State will be decided in the general election.

Whichever candidate wins the lieutenant governor’s race will be the first African American to hold that position. Republican Mark Robinson of Greensboro, who earned notice following a viral video of a gun rights speech he gave, faces Democrat Yvonne Holley, a state legislator.

In the attorney general’s race, Democratic incumbent Josh Stein faces Republican Jim O’Neill, the district attorney for Forsyth County.

The race for state insurance commissioner is a rematch of the 2016 contest. Republican incumbent Mike Causey faces Wayne Goodwin, the Democrat he unseated four years ago who currently leads the state Democratic Party.


Three of the seven seats on North Carolina’s highest court are being contested. Republicans are hoping to erode Democrats’ six-seat majority on the court.

The balance of power on the court could help determine the outcome of looming battles over Republican voter identification initiatives, how capital punishment is applied and a taxpayer-funded scholarship program for K-12 children to attend private schools.

The state’s first Black female chief justice, Cheri Beasley, is being challenged for the chief’s spot by fellow Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby, a Republican.

Current state Court of Appeals judges Democrat Lucy Inman and Republican Phil Berger Jr. are running to fill the seat that Newby currently holds.

Current Associate Justice Mark Davis, a Democrat, is running for reelection against Republican Tamara Barringer, a lawyer and former state senator.