North Carolina’s politics have been a national spectacle for most of the last decade. To understand why, you need to understand some recent history.
After winning control of the state General Assembly in 2011, Republicans in NC moved swiftly to insulate their political control from democratic accountability. Their infamous gerrymander of both our Congressional and state legislative voting districts were arguably the most aggressive in the country. North Carolina Republicans literally drew themselves a supermajority of the legislature in a single stroke of a pen.
While the state of North Carolina has been locked in litigation over those maps for most of the 2010s, the Republican majority has pretty much had a free hand to do as they please. They immediately passed a same-sex marriage ban. They passed HB2, the nationally infamous “bathroom bill” that overrode local anti-discrimination statutes to insist on sex-specific bathrooms. They banned local minimum wage laws. They tried to shred state gun regulations. Refused Medicaid expansion. Slashed taxes for corporations and the wealthy (of course). They literally tried to steal a Congressional election. Their executive director was sent to jail for bribery. And that’s not even the half of it.
Tellingly, the Republican majority’s most aggressive moves were aimed at entrenching their political power even further. The did this through a raft of voter suppression measures: voter ID. Eliminating same-day voter registration. Purging registration lists. Shortening early voting periods and closing poll sites (in majority black areas).
When Democrat Roy Cooper won the governorship in 2016, the entrenched Republican majority responded by stripping the governorship of many of its powers. (In particular, the governor’s oversight of the state elections board!) This prompted a number of lawsuits between the executive and legislative branches that are still on-going today.
The bottom line, however, is that representative democracy as we’re accustomed to in America is under direct assault by the North Carolina Republican Party. I know that sounds dramatic, but it really is true. There’s no both-sides about this. The North Carolina legislature has not accurately represented its people for much of the last decade. Ours is mostly a purple state, with a fast-changing, quickly diversifying and urbanizing population and all the fluid politics that go along with that.
But wait – there’s good news, too!
In 2018, with some new court-ordered districts and the “Blue Wave” turnout, Democrats flipped seats across the state and broke the Republican supermajority in both the House and Senate. With Roy Cooper in the governorship, Democrats could now sustain his veto, forcing Republicans to negotiate. It was a breakthrough.
This year, North Carolinians will vote with yet another set of legislative maps. They are still tilted towards Republicans (after all, Republicans drew them). Yet this time, Democrats have a real chance.
In this cycle, Democrats must flip just 6 seats in the NC House or 5 in the Senate to win a majority in either chamber. And Democrats are ready. They have managed to recruit strong candidates in every single competitive race in the state. With dedication, hard work, resources and a bit of luck, Democrats now face the real possibility of winning back control of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Enter, the Long Leaf Pine Slate.
“The Slate” is not another PAC; just a website, connected to an ActBlue dashboard, profiling the small group of Democratic candidates challenging the must-win GOP-held districts we need to flip. These, right here, are the races that will determine whether Democrats win a majority or not.
North Carolina Democrats need your help to put the adults back in charge of our state and return democratic control to the voters. Control of North Carolina’s legislature will have far-reaching implications far beyond the Old North State over the next ten years. Can you help?
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