The 2020 Election: What’s Going on Down the Ballot?

No one is coming to the North Carolina Criminal Law blog for late-breaking election news. And I have no insight into whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will garner the 270 electoral votes necessary to serve as the next commander in chief. Nevertheless, I’m writing this post for posterity – and to highlight some down-ballot election results that may impact courts and criminal justice in our state. The election results described below were taken from and the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.

NC Governor. Incumbent Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, defeated his Republican challenger Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest, by a 4-percentage point margin. Candidates from the Libertarian and Constitution parties secured less than 2 percent of the vote combined.

Lieutenant Governor. Mark Robinson, a Republican, defeated Democrat Yvonne Holley by four percentage points. Robinson, a Greensboro native, will be the state’s first Black Lieutenant Governor. Robinson has said he wants to focus on funding for police and ensuring that NC veterans are cared for.

NC Attorney General. The race between incumbent Josh Stein, a Democrat, and challenger Jim O’Neill, a Republican, is still too close to call. Stein, who leads by more than 10,000 votes in the current count, won a nail-biter four years ago, defeating his then-opponent Buck Newton by less than one percent of the vote. O’Neill currently serves as the district attorney for Forsyth County, a position he has held since 2009.

NC Supreme Court. The race for who will serve as the state’s next Chief Justice is too close to call. Challenger Paul Newby, a sitting North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice and a Republican, leads incumbent Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, who was appointed Chief Justice by Governor Cooper in 2019, by about 3,700 votes in the current count.

Republicans also hold narrow too-close-to-officially-call margins in races for Associate Justice positions on the state’s highest court.  (Appellate judgeship elections were once again made partisan by S.L. 2016-125, after more than a decade of non-partisan elections.)

Court of Appeals Judge Phil Berger, Jr. leads Democrat Lucy Inman, also a sitting Court of Appeals Judge, by two percentage points in their race to serve as Associate Justice.

Republican Tamara Barringer likewise holds a two percentage point lead over incumbent Supreme Court Associate Justice Mark Davis for Davis’ seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court.

NC Court of Appeals. All of the races for North Carolina Court of Appeals judgeships are too close to call.

Current NC District Court Judge April Wood, a Republican, holds a four-point lead over Democrat Tricia Shields in their bid to serve as a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Current NC District Court Judge Fred Gore, a Republican, holds a two-point lead over challenger Lora Cubbage, a Democrat and current Superior Court Judge.

Court of Appeals Judge Chris Dillon, a Republican, has a four-point lead over challenger Gray Styers, a Democrat, in the race to hold onto his appellate judgeship. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jeff Carpenter has a four-point lead over sitting Court of Appeals Judge Reuben Young for the seat Young currently occupies.

Current District Court Judge Jefferson Griffin, a Republican, holds a two-point lead over Court of Appeals Judge Chris Brook, a Democrat, for the appellate judgeship that Brook currently holds.

New Superior Court Judges. Several new superior court judges were elected to eight-year terms that begins January 1, 2021. They are:

Clinton Rowe, Republican, District 3B

Tiffany Peguise-Powers, Democrat, District 16B

Pat Nadolksi, Republican, District 20A

Jonathan Perry, Republican, District 20B

Will Long, Republican, District 22A

New District Court Judges. Several new district court judges were elected to four-year terms that begin January 1, 2021. They are:

Mario Perez, Democrat, District 3A

Paul Delamar, Republican, District 3B

Andrew Wigmore, Republican, District 3B

Robert Gilmore, Republican, District 4

William Shanahan, Republican, District 4

Walter Bateman, Republican, District 4

William Solomon, Jr.,  Democrat, District 7

Tony Brown, Democrat, District 7

Julie Bell, Democrat, District 10B

Tim Gunther, Democrat, District 10F

Jim Black, Democrat, District 10F

Terry Rose, Republican, District 11

Barron Thompson, Republican, District 19B

Steve Bibey, Republican, District 19D

Matt Smith, Republican, District 20D

Whit Davis, Democrat, District 21

Andrea Chiz Plyer, Republican, District 25

Donald Rice, Republican, District 27A

Gene Johnson, Republican, District 29B

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