Democrats are optimistic and Republicans pessimistic about the biggest question to be answered Nov. 6 in North Carolina: Will the GOP hold on to its supermajority in the N.C. House and Senate?
That supermajority, regardless of which party has it, poorly serves our state — and Republicans have shown why in recent years. They’ve crafted bad legislation and ignored House and Senate rules and tradition in ramming measures through. The state needs dissenting voices that have leverage, and voters have a chance to deliver that in November.
Still, this editorial board has long been wary of a straight-ticket approach to the ballot. Voters should evaluate each candidate in each race. Here are our recommendations for contested N.C. House races in Mecklenburg:
House District 88
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It’s difficult for freshman lawmakers to have an impact in Raleigh or any state house, and that’s especially true for Democrats in the General Assembly. But Mary Belk has made a mark. She introduced a small business reform bill, gathered bipartisan support and got it passed. She’s begun a thoughtful and pragmatic conversation on opioids that lawmakers need to have.
Belk is running against Republican Ty Turner, a former Democratic Party official who has not mounted a serious campaign. Voters should give Belk another term.
Another freshman Democrat, Chaz Beasley, is facing Republican Deborah Ware in this west Mecklenburg district. Beasley, an attorney, has been a thoughtful legislator but not a particularly impactful one. He has, however, fought for his district’s interests, including joining Republicans on an anti-tolls measure, and his values align with his largely left-leaning constituents. He has earned a nod over Ware, who has not campaigned vigorously.
If Republicans want to maintain their House supermajority, they must hold on to this conservative north Mecklenburg district, where incumbent Republican John Bradford faces a serious challenge from Democrat Christy Clark. We recommend Clark.
Bradford faces the ire of some in the anti-I-77 tolls crowd who believe his early support for a private toll lanes contract matters more than the opposition he has since voiced. Just as important: Bradford was a co-sponsor of HB2, a discriminatory law that did great damage to North Carolina’s reputation before the legislature crafted a replacement.
Clark, a Huntersville paralegal, knows her way around the General Assembly thanks to five years of work with gun violence prevention groups. She’s a moderate Democrat who has helped entrepreneurs and small business owners launch their companies. She’ll represent all of her district.
Voters in this east Charlotte district will be sending a new lawmaker to Raleigh. Incumbent Rodney Moore, who is under investigation for campaign fund irregularities, was defeated by former Charlotte City Council member Nasif Majeed in the Democratic primary.
Majeed, a retired airline and combat pilot, has remained active in his community and local government after his eight years on the council. He knows this diverse district and the challenges it faces. He’s running against Republican Joshua Niday, the son of a teacher’s assistant, who believes the state needs to reform the teacher pay structure and devote more resources to educator pay. His views on taxes, social issues and other issues don’t align with his liberal district, however. We recommend Majeed.
Former Charlotte City Council member John Autry has continued to be a strong liberal voice since being elected in 2016 to represent his comfortably Democratic east Mecklenburg district. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Republican opponent Nancy Campbell has not run a viable campaign. We recommend Autry.
Two political newcomers hope to fill the seat vacated by retiring Rep. Beverly Earle, a Democrat who represented this northwest Charlotte district for 24 years. Democrat Carolyn Logan, who was North Carolina’s first black female Highway Patrol trooper, won Earle’s support in the Democratic primary. Logan wants to improve pay for prison guards, teachers and other state employees.
Republican Steve Mauney knows the steep hill a conservative faces in this liberal district, but the 30-plus-year paramedic is running to bring attention to EMS issues he believes lawmakers need to address. We recommend Logan.
Eight-term incumbent Democrat Becky Carney has been a strong representative for Mecklenburg County who has the respect of lawmakers from both parties in Raleigh. She deserves another term, but we hope Republican Tyler Norris pursues public service beyond this run for office, his first. He’s the kind of thoughtful young Republican — a fiscal, small-government moderate who supports LGBT rights — that this county and state need.
Republican incumbent Bill Brawley has long been a fierce defender of his south Mecklenburg district, but we’re not sure exactly whom he was defending when he introduced HB514, a charter school bill that has escalated the fight between suburban towns and CMS. That’s a relationship that needs nurturing from all sides, not poking, and Brawley’s combative posture doesn’t serve the many families in his district who are happy with their CMS schools.
Democrat Rachel Hunt understands the complicated dynamics in the suburbs-CMS battle, and she would advocate for the families in District 103. She also believes spending on public education isn’t what it should be, and that tax cuts have disproportionately benefited the wealthy.
Brawley also was a supporter of HB2 and the Republican-led effort to strip control of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport from the city of Charlotte. Neither was good for Mecklenburg County. We endorse Hunt.
Democrats have targeted this changing southeast Charlotte district, where freshman Republican Andy Dulin has been a rubber stamp for GOP leaders in Raleigh. He’s opposed by Charlotte attorney Brandon Lofton, a first-time candidate.
Lofton, who has been active in groups that include the Council for Children’s Rights, would bring a smart voice on urban issues to Raleigh. Dulin, a former City Council member, is running on his familiarity with his community and its people, but when asked, he struggled to provide one vote or bill he introduced that strayed from the GOP line. That’s no longer representative of a district that voted for Roy Cooper and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. We recommend Lofton.
Redrawn district lines and a strong challenger, Wesley Harris, have given Democrats hope against Republican Scott Stone in this conservative south Charlotte district. Stone, who is president of a local engineering firm, is a reliable low-tax conservative who says he represents not only voters but businesses in the burgeoning Ballantyne community. He has occasionally been a moderating voice in his party, including on issues surrounding the six constitutional amendments on the November ballot.
Harris is an economist who would bring a moderate approach to tax policy and a long-term progressive vision on issues like transportation and growth. We give the nod to Stone, who better represents the voters of his district.
Three-term incumbent Democrat Carla Cunningham has struggled to make an impact in the Republican-dominated House, not that she hasn’t tried. She’s attentive to important issues surrounding mental health and poverty, and she was able to get a bill on suicide prevention through the House.
Cunningham is running against Republican Geovani Sherow, who has not mounted a serious campaign in this reliably Democratic district in west and north Mecklenburg. We recommend Cunningham.
You can see all the Observer editorial board’s endorsements in one place here.