NC Supreme Court: Martin wins chief justice seat; Levinson trailing

Veteran North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin won the chief justice’s seat, but Mecklenburg Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson trailed in his bid to make the state’s highest court.

Martin was garnering more than 70 percent of the vote in his race against Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis of Southport. Levinson, meanwhile, was trailing Justice Robin Hudson, who was garnering 52 percent of the vote.

Levinson, a Cornelius resident, has served on the N.C. Court of Appeals. He cited his breadth of experience as a judge and touted his reputation for judicial independence and as a “constitutional conservative.”

In a three-way primary earlier this year, Levinson, a Republican, finished second to Hudson, a two-term incumbent Democrat.

At least $1 million poured into the primary fight for Hudson’s seat. The largest chunk – $650,000 – came from the Washington-based Republican State Leadership Committee. The money helped pay for an ad campaign that claimed Hudson is soft on child molesters.

This year’s Supreme Court races were the most expensive judicial elections in the state’s history, attracting more than $4 million, according to the Institute for Southern Studies and the N.C. Voters for Clean Elections. The campaigns are the first since the Republican-led General Assembly ended public financing of court elections in 2013.

In races for two other Supreme Court seats, Sam Ervin IV was leading incumbent Bob Hunter, and challenger Mike Robinson was leading incumbent Cheri Beasley in a tight race.