Proposed constitutional amendments that would limit the governor’s power over state appointments have failed.
An amendment that would restructure the state elections board and limit the governor’s power to appoint its members, as well as another that would give the legislature a significant role in who is picked to fill judicial vacancies, were both losing by large margins, with more than 99 percent of precincts reporting.
These were the amendments Gov. Roy Cooper fought to keep off the ballot and those which the state’s five living governors, both Republicans and Democrats, opposed.
North Carolina voters were in favor of adding more rights for crime victims, an income-tax cap, protection for hunting and fishing, and a requirement for voters to show photo identification to the state constitution, according to early, unofficial election returns.
The amendments unleashed ad campaigns both for and against them.
The state Democratic Party, a coalition of organizations that included the North Carolina ACLU, the state NAACP and Democracy North Carolina, and a handful of grassroots organizations opposed all the amendments.
A political action committee called Stop Deceptive Amendments spent more than $7.7 million to oppose them, with most of its attention focused on the two that failed, campaign director Justin Guillory said in an email.
“Today is a victory for fair elections, fair courts, a healthy system of checks and balances, and for all North Carolinians,” Guillory said in a prepared statement. “Voters stood up and said NO to unnecessary partisanship in our courts and the Board of Elections. Tonight was a rebuke to the politicians in Raleigh that sought to undermine our democracy in an attempt to gain more power for themselves.”
Americans for Prosperity, an organization founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, announced last month it opposed the amendment on judicial appointments and would work to defeat it with digital and direct-mail ads.
Republicans in the legislature pushed all the amendments. The hunting and fishing protection and the victims’ rights amendments won broad bipartisan support, but all Democrats opposed the voter ID amendment. The state Republican Party supported all six amendments.
A new PAC supporting voter ID, which received $250,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee, announced in October it would air ads supporting the amendment.
Marsy’s Law, which would add more rights for crime victims to the constitution, was buttressed by television and digital ad campaigns. Henry Nicholas III, a billionaire entrepreneur from California, led the campaign and was spending millions to get such laws passed across the country, the Charlotte Observer reported. The laws are named after Nicholas’ sister, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.