A candidate for North Carolina Supreme Court who is suing the state government and legislative leaders over his party label says he will drop out of the election if he loses his lawsuit.
Chris Anglin is one of two Republicans running for a seat on the seven-member court in this November’s elections. The other Republican candidate is the incumbent, Barbara Jackson. The state GOP has endorsed Jackson and called Anglin “the enemy,” accusing him of being a Democratic plant.
Democratic challenger Anita Earls is the only other candidate.
According to a letter Anglin delivered to state election officials on Wednesday, which was first obtained by the conservative publication Carolina Journal, Anglin said he will withdraw from the race if he’s not allowed to be treated like the other two candidates in the race.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
“I will not allow my party designation to be misrepresented on the ballot,” he said.
Anglin’s legal complaint revolves around the fact that while the other two candidates in the race will have their party affiliations listed next to their names on the ballot, the Republican-controlled General Assembly returned to Raleigh recently and passed a new law making it so that Anglin won’t have anything next to his name.
Republican Party leaders believe Anglin’s campaign is really a secret Democratic plot to tip the scales in the race. Anglin has steadfastly maintained that he is a legitimate Republican, however, and should be represented as such on the ballot.
“This is another example of them changing the rules in the middle of the game,” Anglin said when the General Assembly first passed the bill affecting his campaign. “They will stop at nothing to hand pick their judge and undermine our democratic process.”
But Republicans have pointed to the fact that Anglin only switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party shortly before entering the race. His campaign consultant is longtime Democratic operative Perry Woods, and his lawyer is John Burns, a Democratic politician on the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
After winning a temporary victory in court Monday, Burns tweeted that the only matter at stake is whether Anglin’s rights have been violated.
“With respect, whether he is a ‘legitimate’ Republican is irrelevant to the question at issue,” he wrote. “That’s not for court, or legislature, to decide.”
In a brief legal hearing Monday, which resulted in a judge’s order temporarily blocking the law from going into effect, Burns argued that stripping Anglin’s party label from the ballot would essentially deceive voters into thinking he’s unaffiliated or independent — similar to what Anglin wrote in his letter Wednesday.
The deadline for candidates to drop out had been Wednesday, but the judge extended that deadline for Anglin and another judicial candidate who would be affected, who’s running to become a district court judge in Wake County. The judge also stopped the state from printing any ballots until the matter gets sorted out.
But the judge didn’t rule on the biggest issue at stake, regarding the validity of the law itself. That will wait until next Monday.