RALEIGH (November 10, 2022) – In the aftermath of Tuesday’s elections, partisan balance in North Carolina hangs by a one-vote thread.
Republicans won the 3/5 supermajority they need in the NC Senate – 30 of 50 seats – to override vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. They also won both seats on the NC Supreme Court that are currently held by Democrats to take a 5-2 majority on the Court, which will likely reinforce Republican policies.
But they fell one seat shy of the 72 needed to claim a 3/5 supermajority in the 120-seat state House.1
That one vote could prove crucial to upholding Cooper’s vetoes of legislation that goes too far, as well as the balance of power among our three branches of government.
COOPER HAS VETOED more bills than any governor in state history, though North Carolina only granted its governors veto power in 1997. During Cooper’s first two years as governor after his election in 2016, he vetoed 28 bills – and Republicans with supermajorities in the House and Senate overrode 23 of them.
Democrats broke those supermajorities with their gains in the 2018 election. Since then, Cooper has vetoed 57 bills and none of those vetoes has been overridden.2
Of course, Republican legislative leaders could still “buy off” House Democrats in override votes, dangling favored capital projects in their districts or consideration of a bill important to that particular legislator.
They don’t teach that in civics class. But yes, it’s been known to happen.
“We have a handful of Democrats who work with us,” Republican House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters Wednesday. “We have some new members coming in, and I feel completely confident that should we need to override vetoes, we’ll be able to so our part (in) the House as well.” 3
That’s how fragile partisan balance in North Carolina looks after Tuesday. North Carolina has been characterized as a purple state, but the results Tuesday appear a deep shade of red.
The new dynamics will likely open the door to highly charged decisions on redistricting – the governor can’t veto district plans – as well as abortion access, voting rights, gun control and public education.
DESPITE THE SHARPER partisan tilt of the General Assembly after Tuesday, we hope Republican and Democratic legislators and Cooper find ways to work together over the next two years to fortify public education in North Carolina – starting with better pay for our teachers at every level.
Because our children aren’t Republican children or Democratic children.
They are children. And they are this state’s future.
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