The Best News of the Night for North Carolina Democrats

Cheri Beasley gives her concession speech late Tuesday night. (Michael McElroy/Cardinal & Pine)

By Michael McElroy

November 9, 2022

And other takeaways from a tough election (again) for the left in North Carolina. 

While Republicans fell far short of the “Red Wave” some in the media predicted, the party had a pretty good day in North Carolina, winning a Senate seat and control over the state Supreme Court.

Here’s a round-up of the biggest election news and what it means moving forward. The voting results are unofficial until the NC Board of Elections certifies the results in a few days. 

The Best News of the Night for North Carolina Democrats

NC Republicans in the General Assembly needed to pick up only three seats in the House and two in the Senate to win a supermajority, which would have allowed them to override any and every veto from Gov. Cooper, a Democrat.

They fell short of that mark. By one seat in the House.

So Cooper’s veto survives, but it’s still vulnerable. As The News Observer points out, several Democrats have voted with Republicans on contentious issues, and only one of them would have to cross the aisle to be able to serve as a temporary supermajority.

So now every vote on abortion rights, school funding, Medicaid expansion and legislative maps, to name only the biggest, will come with the added suspense.

Still, for Democrats this was the best news of the night.

The Best News of the Night for North Carolina Democrats

Abortion rights remain legal in North Carolina because of Cooper’s veto and because Democrats held a majority on the state’s highest court. Only one of those protections remains.

Republicans won both NC Supreme Court races yesterday and are now in firm control of the court. 

Judge Richard Dietz beat Judge Lucy Inman by nearly 200,000 votes. Both are judges on the NC Court of Appeals.

And Trey Allen, who has no judicial experience but is the general Counsel for the NC Administrative Office of the Courts, defeated Democratic incumbent Justice Sam Ervin by virtually the same margin.

While it can be hard to pin down how a judge will vote in a given case, each of the new justices has supported judicial philosophies that strongly suggest that abortion rights may be in danger in the state.

Budd Defeats Beasley

Polling in the US showed that Congressman Ted Budd held a small but sustained lead on Cheri Beasley, a former chief justice of the NC Supreme Court, and in this case anyway, the polls proved true. 

Budd won by more than 130,000 votes, or 3 percentage points, and late last night Beasley called Budd to concede.

The race to control the US Senate now moves to Georgia, where Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker are headed for a run-off election in December.

In North Carolina, not much will change in the short term. The Senate seat in question was held by Republican Richard Burr, who is retiring. 

But the Rest of the Congressional Delegation Looks Much the Same

Incumbents held sway in North Carolina. All US House members up for re-election in 2022 kept their jobs. 

And the party balance remains essentially the same as well.

Though Democrats David Price and G.K. Butterfield did not seek elections, the Democratic nominees won the races to replace them: NC State Senator Valerie Foushee will take Price’s seat; and NC State Senator Don Davis will fill Butterfield’s.

And in newly created District 13 in Wake County, Democrat Wiley Nickel handedly beat Bo Hines, a Trump favorite who moved to this area so he could run in the election. This race was expected to be razor close, but Nickel won by 3 percentage points.

Other High Profile Races

NC House Rep. Ricky Hurtado of Alamance County lost his re-election bid to Republican Steve Ross. Groups tied to Ross sent mailers to voters in the weeks before the election with blatantly false information about Hurtado, the first male Latino to be elected to NC’s General Assembly.

The mailers photoshopped “Defund the Police” on the Hurtado’s shirt

While he has called for various police reforms, he never pledged to defund the police, and voted for several pieces of legislation that increase resources to state law enforcement groups. 

Democrat Terence Everitt, who’d faced similarly photoshopped mailers, won his race in Wake County’s NC House District 35.


  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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