Two years ago when I was writing a weekly column for a local newspaper I talked about the lack of big picture coverage of the North Carolina legislative races. Each individual paper wrote about its local races, but even the McClatchy big boys never really wrote anything looking at competitive races across the state and how they could tip the balance of power in Raleigh.
So as we conclude the second week of filing, here are the things that have piqued my interest so far on the House side. If you know more about these races than I do please feel free to chime in on the comments:
-Incumbent House members facing primary challenges so far include Annie Mobley, Angela Bryant, Edith Warren, George Cleveland, Robert Grady, William Brisson, Joe Boylan, Laura Wiley, Kenny Furr, Curtis Blackwood, Fred Steen, Harold Brubaker, Jeff Barnhart, Karen Ray, Tricia Cotham, Jim Gulley, and Phil Haire.
Mobley, Bryant, Furr, and Cotham are all running for their seats for the first time after being appointed to vacancies.
Brisson and Boylan themselves got elected by defeating incumbents in the primary in 2006. Now they're the targets.
I know Cleveland is being challenged by an Onslow County Commissioner and Wiley's opponent sounds viable too. Mark Binker had some good background on that.
Beyond that I don't know much about whether these incumbents are really in risk.
-The two Republican seats most likely to flip this fall have strong Democratic candidates and no Republican filed yet. In the 116th District Charles Thomas won by just 420 votes in 2006 and is now leaving the seat. Jane Whilden, who has been the director of the Governor's western office and has good political connections throughout the district and the state, is a formidable candidate on the Democratic side. In the 25th District, being vacated because of Bill Daughtridge's run for Treasurer, Democrats Carnell Taylor and Randy Stewart have filed. Stewart is a former Nash County commissioner and Taylor was the Democratic candidate two years ago.
It seems inconceivable that there will not be Republican candidates for these seats but Democrats certainly seem to be in good shape in both cases.
-There are plenty of rematches on the docket. Republican Mark Hollo is trying to get back the seat he lost to Democrat Ray Warren two years ago. In the Triangle Democratic challenger Ed Ridpath, who had a surprisingly strong performance in 2006 and has just kept on running, is giving it another shot against Paul Stam. Further west Democrat Chuck Aldridge, who held Republican Mitch Gillespie to 54% last time out is trying again. In a neighboring district the scenario is reversed as Democratic incumbent Walter Church will have to fend off another challenge from Republican Hugh Blackwell, who he bested by three points the last time out.
-What of the other districts that flipped parties the last time around? So far Democrats Van Braxton, Jimmy Love, and Cullie Tarleton are without challengers. Ray Warren, as mentioned above, has another challenge from the guy he beat last time. And in the Triangle, Democrat Ty Harrell will face Apex commissioner Bryan Gossage. Gossage won't have the baggage of Russell Capps, who previously held the seat. But he won't have the name recognition either, and Harrell has done a pretty solid job. His road to reelection won't be as easy as Grier Martin's was two years ago after defeating a Republican incumbent, but if he runs the same strong grassroots campaign he did the first time around he's the definite favorite barring a disaster at the top of the ticket.
I'll write another one of these after filing ends but that's the picture for now. If I've missed anything or gotten anything wrong please let me know in the comments.