State Politics

Obama endorses Mike Morgan in NC Supreme Court race

President Barack Obama has endorsed Mike Morgan, the Wake County Superior Court judge campaigning to unseat Justice Bob Edmunds from the state’s highest court.

In a YouTube message, Obama mentioned the 27 years that Morgan has served as a Superior Court judge, a District Court judge and a state administrative law judge.

The race between Morgan, a Democrat, and Edmunds, a Republican, has the potential to swing the ideological balance on the state’s highest court, which currently leans 4 to 3 Republican.

“As a dedicated community member with a strong commitment to his church, Mike understands what ordinary families are going through and he has a track record of administering fair and impartial justice,” Obama said in his YouTube message. “He’s got the experience, temperament and judgment to serve the people of North Carolina on the Supreme Court.”

Obama, who plans to make redistricting reform a mission of his post-presidency, according to media reports, is expected to endorse roughly 150 candidates across 20 states in the next two weeks.

Edmunds was one of four on the state Supreme Court panel that upheld a 2011 redistricting plan, along partisan lines, that eventually was ruled an unconstitutional racial gerrymander by the federal courts.

The president’s endorsement comes days after North Carolina Republicans decried a new TV ad criticizing Edmunds for the decision.

The ad, funded by a left-leaning group called N.C. Families First, said Edmunds “wrote the decision supporting his party’s discrimination.”

The ad states that the former 12th Congressional District is “called the snake” and was intended “to segregate African-American voters.”

The state Republican Party has described the ad as “race-baiting” and asked for the chairman of the state Democrats to denounce the ad.

The ad was not authorized by the N.C. Democratic Party or the campaign of Morgan.

Democrats shot back at Republicans on Friday after GOP leaders described the ad as “racially charged.”

“The United States District Court – in two separate cases – effectively ruled that Justice Edmunds incorrectly applied the law by finding that gerrymandered districts were constitutional when in fact they were clearly unconstitutional,” U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, said in his response. “... Justice Edmunds’ opinion aided the Republicans in their efforts to further disenfranchise African-American voters.”

Anne Blythe: 919-836-4948, @AnneBlythe1