Two of the three incumbent judges on the N.C. Court of Appeals won re-election, according to results with all but two counties reporting.
With 3.5 million votes counted, Linda McGee and Wanda Bryant claimed substantial leads, but Cressie Thigpen lost to challenger Chris Dillon.
Linda McGee defeated David Robinson, and Wanda Bryant beat Marty McGee.
Although the positions are nonpartisan, the three incumbents were all well-connected Democrats. They campaigned together in public appearances and in TV ads and mailers.
The challengers were backed by Republican Party state chapters; in campaign appearances and in mailers they stressed GOP themes, often mentioning that they understand the obstacles that small businesses face.
Bryant has been on the court since 2001. She was challenged by Marty McGee, a district court judge in Cabarrus County.
Bryant, who lives in Durham, was a senior deputy attorney general and a federal prosecutor. Marty McGee, who lives in Concord, campaigned on the premise that he had more trial court experience than anyone else on the Court of Appeals.
Thigpen, of Raleigh, was appointed to the court by Gov. Bev Perdue in 2010 to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Judge James Wynn, who was named to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Thigpen faced Dillon, a Raleigh lawyer who unsuccessfully ran for the office in 2010.
Dillon has said his work as an executive at a community bank gave him the small-business experience lacking on the court. Thigpen is a former superior court judge and served as president of the N.C. State Bar.
Linda McGee, a resident of Currituck County, has been a member of the court since 1995, and is the second-longest serving judge there. Before that, she was in private practice with a law firm since 1978. She was opposed by Robinson, a Raleigh lawyer in private practice. Robinson, who moved to North Carolina in 1990, is a business-transaction lawyer and self-described conservative candidate.
There are 15 appellate court judges who hear cases in rotating panels of three.