Christensen: 4 races to watch in N.C. on Tuesday

rchristensen@newsobserver.comNovember 3, 2012 

  • If you want to go Former President Bill Clinton will speak at an Obama rally Sunday around 4:30 p.m. at Pullen Park, 520 Ashe Ave., Raleigh. Event opens to public at 3:30. Public parking at Coliseum Parking Deck 201 Jeter Drive (enter from Cates Avenue).

A lot of the guesswork has been taken out of Election Day because of constant polling, redistricting and early voting.

Going into Tuesday’s election, we have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen. In North Carolina’s case – barring some history-making upsets – we can say with a fair degree of certainty that this is going to be a good Republican year.

It seems likely that the GOP will control at least two branches of state government – the executive branch and the legislative branch. The Republicans for the first time are likely to gain a majority of the U.S. House delegation.

But there is still some suspense. Here are four races worth watch Tuesday:

President: The conventional wisdom has been that the Tar Heel State has been Mitt Romney’s to lose – with 9.6 percent unemployment and a weakened Democratic Party. But most recent polls show the state is in play, and the Obama campaign has stepped up its efforts here in recent days. Jill Biden was here on Friday, Bill Clinton on Sunday and Michelle Obama on Monday. Campaigns don’t put valuable resources in play in the final days unless they think they have a decent shot.

N.C. Supreme Court: The question is whether the GOP will retain control of the third branch of state government. The Republicans are spending millions to re-elect Justice Paul Newby, whose victory will allow them to keep a GOP majority on the court. At a GOP rally in Smithfield last week, Newby talked a lot about God, but what is really at stake are more earthy concerns, such as upholding the legislature’s redistricting plan. All of this has echoes of the 1899 legislature, when the Democrats, after gaining control from the Republican-Populist coalition, impeached two Republican Supreme Court justices on trumped up charges, because they were afraid the GOP justices would overturn their laws. The Senate failed to find the necessary two-thirds majority to convict.

Lieutenant governor: There are interesting political implications regardless of whether Democrat Linda Coleman or Republican Dan Forest wins. With Republican Pat McCrory seemingly headed to victory in the governor’s race, Coleman could be the face of the state Democratic Party if she is elected. If Forest wins, he would be the voice of the tea party in GOP circles pressuring McCrory and Republican legislative leaders from the right.

7th U.S. House District: Another toss-up race with Democrat Mike McIntyre trying to hold on in a redrawn district. GOP state Sen. David Rouzer is running a well-financed challenge. If McIntyre loses, it will likely mean that only conservatives and liberals will be left in the North Carolina House delegation. Another death knell for moderates.

Christensen: 919-829-4532

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