State Legislature: GOP keeps reins, adds to its majority

jfrank@newsobserver.comNovember 7, 2012 

Two years ago, Republicans won control of the state legislature and proceeded to draw new districts to favor their party. Two years later, on Tuesday, the new maps helped the GOP build its majority at the statehouse.

Republicans appeared to win 77 of 120 seats in the state House and 32 of 50 seats in the Senate – giving the party a supermajority in both chambers, according to early election results.

The tallies give Republicans nine more seats in the House and one more in the Senate. With the large majority, lawmakers can overturn any gubernatorial vetoes, though those appear less likely given Republican Pat McCrory’s victory in the governor’s race.

Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, called the elections a “mandate.”

McCrory’s victory and the GOP legislative wins give the GOP complete control of the lawmaking process for the first time in more than 100 years. The agenda is likely to include voter ID requirements, slashing government regulations and tax credits for students who attend private schools.

“I think we’ll move very quickly with this and by the end of this week and into the beginning of next week meet with governor-elect McCrory and plan for how we are going to go after the three main areas: tax reform, regulatory reform and education reform,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Democrats said they expected McCrory would govern in a bipartisan fashion as he promised on the campaign trail.

“I’m hopeful that if Mr. McCrory is elected governor he’ll be independent,” said state Sen. Josh Stein, a Raleigh Democrat. “If the Republicans in the legislature try to disenfranchise North Carolina voters, I’ll watch Mr. McCrory very carefully to see if he values the democratic process.”

Of the 170 legislative seats, about 40 percent were settled before Election Day because the candidates faced no serious opposition. Most other races favor one party over the other, leaving about 15 House and Senate races in the margins. Democrats took just one swing race each in the House and Senate, though a few close races remain uncertain.

Those close contests served as a referendum on the first two years of Republican control, with candidates across the state focusing their debate on the GOP record. But more than issues, Democrats suggest money and redistricting played a major role. Republicans had a huge fundraising advantage that allowed them send dozens of mailers and air TV ads in many tight races.

Combined with other retirements, this year’s election will produce 38 new House members and 13 new senators, one of the largest turnovers in recent years. The Democratic caucus in each chamber is now majority African American.

Democrats said the election night results are unsurprising given the GOP-led redistricting.

“When you redistrict so that you back all the Democrats into one district and there’s only a write-in opponent, it doesn’t take a lot to win,” Ross said.

Democrats and liberal groups are challenging the new maps in the courts. The case is pending.

Staff writers Jeanna Smialek and Matt Caulder contributed to this report. Frank: 919-829-4698

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service