It doesn’t feel like it’s time to vote again already, but North Carolina’s primary election is coming up in about two weeks. Early voting starts March 3 and ends March 12 and I’m probably going to knock this out when I go to the library.
March 15 from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. is Election Day.
Why does it feel so early? Because this is the first time our state is holding its primary in March instead of May.
Here’s what’s on the ballot. Reminder: If you’re a registered Democrat or Republican, you have to vote in the primary of your party. If you’re an independent, you get to choose which one.
I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. Primaries are weird and early primaries are even weirder and tend to favor incumbents. I don’t see great chances of any major upsets happening. If you want your party to win in the general election (especially down the ballot), you should probably vote for the more established candidate, which I’ve tried to lay out.
Few other notes:
- The U.S. congressional primaries will not be happening March 15 because of everything happening with the redistricting. The original boundaries were challenged, and the state legislature drew new lines. It’s all still tied up in court. This primary will be June 7.
- Yes, you will have to show ID this time. Driver’s license, passport and state ID card work. Full list.
- Plan ahead. Look up your sample ballot here.
North Carolina wanted to be relevant in presidential elections, hence the changed primary date. And wouldn’t you know it, we are relevant. I won’t go too much into the choices here because you already know them.
If you really haven’t been paying attention, your only viable choices at this point are Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders on the D side, and Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz on the R side.
You’re still going to have a ton of choices here even though a ton of them have already dropped out of the race. My sample ballot still shows people like Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore(???) on the Republican side and Martin O’Malley and Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente(???) on the Democratic side.
This one is new and different and bears explaining. It’s technically at the bottom of the ballot but it’s important so I’m going to get to it now.
Gov. Pat McCrory has proposed a $2 billion bond package — which basically means the state borrows money to spend on a lot of construction projects. Most of it is for colleges and universities. UNC Charlotte would be in line for a new science building which it definitely needs. State parks get a decent chunk of money, too.
North Carolina has a good bond rating and a good track record of handing debt well, so this should pass. Vote for it.
McCrory is running for re-election and will probably win this primary though it will be closer than usual, especially in this part of the state.
Former N.C. Rep. Robert Brawley is running against him. He’s from Mooresville and is attacking McCrory on his refusal to do much with the I-77 toll lane project. But he has a really odd political past and got kicked out of the Republican caucus.
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper will clean up on the Democratic side. He’s been the guy the Democratic party has been wanting for higher office for a long time and is finally taking the leap.
N.C. Attorney General
This will be the first time since 1996 that Roy Cooper won’t be on the ballot for this position.
Democrats have held this seat for forever (former N.C. Gov. Mike Easley was AG before Cooper) but this year is an interesting opportunity since nobody in the field has outstanding name recognition.
Buck Newton and Jim O’Neill are both pretty qualified on the Republican side. Newton is a N.C. senator from Wilson County (eastern N.C.) and O’Neill is the district attorney for Forsyth County (that’s Winston-Salem). Newton jumped into the race super early and has more Facebook fans so if I had to guess, he will win.
On the Democratic side, Josh Stein is the best known and is probably going to win. He’s a N.C. Senator representing Wake County and was one of Cooper’s deputy attorneys general.
Richard Burr is on the ticket for re-election (he’s a Republican) and will almost certainly win. His best known opponent is Greg Brannon, a Tea Party-identified candidate who lost big in the Senate primary to now-U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis a few years back.
On the Democratic side, Deborah Ross is a former state representative (10 years) and Chris Rey is mayor of Spring Lake and good at social media and they seem to be the best bets.
Burr won 55 percent of the vote against a fairly strong candidate (Elaine Marshall, N.C. secretary of state) in 2010 and Burr is still pretty well-liked so I’m pretty sure he’ll win again.
Mecklenburg County commissioners
You only have a primary in the at-large race if you’re a Democrat, and three incumbents are running: Ella Scarborough, Trevor Fuller and Pat Cotham. Don’t expect much to change here.
A few of the districts have primaries but not many.
Vilma Leake has two challengers in District 2 (west Charlotte). Lula Dualeh is 28 years old and would be the youngest to serve. Angela G. Edwards is a community advocate. Both will have trouble against the incumbent.
Two of the board’s three Republicans have challengers. Expect Bill James and Matthew Ridenhour to win their primaries.
I find it kind of silly that district court judges have to go through an election process, but here we are. Mecklenburg County is District 26 and it has two seats that will be on your ballot in March.
I tend to go with who the North Carolina Bar Association recommends because I am not really qualified to rate the performance of a judge.
Seat 1: Hon. Charlotte Brown-Williams is retiring and does not appear on the ballot for her judge position that she’s held for a long time.
Challengers for the seat: Paulina Havelka does criminal and family law. Tracy Hewett is a public defender and has run for the seat once before. Faith Fickling works for Legal Aid. Aretha Blake has been at Parker Poe and Charlotte School of Law.
Faith Fickling and Tracy Hewett get the highest ratings from fellow attorneys. Fickling has the higher score. Hewett has more overall ratings and has picked up a lot of endorsements in past elections.
Seat 2: Christy Mann is the incumbent judge on the other seat and has way higher scores than the other judges.
A bunch of other stuff
N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture — Republican primary only. Steve Troxler is incumbent.
N.C. Commissioner of Insurance — Republican primary only. Joe McLaughlin is the highest profile and only to have held elected office. Winner will go up against incumbent Wayne Goodwin (Democrat).
N.C. Secretary of State — Republican primary only. A.J. Daoud has 50 times more Facebook fans. Winner will face incumbent Elaine Marshall (Democrat).
N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction — Two primaries. June Atkinson is a Democrat and the incumbent. On Republican side, Mark Johnson is Forsyth school board member and former West Charlotte High teacher. Rosemary Stein is a doctor and probably has the most statewide support.
N.C. Treasurer — Democratic primary only. Janet Cowell is not running for re-election. Dan Blue III is active in Wake County politics and seems most likely to win.
N.C. Commissioner of Labor — Democratic primary only. Charles Meeker is former Raleigh mayor and will probably win the primary. Winner will face Cherie Berry (elevator lady).
Mecklenburg County register of deeds — Democratic primary only. David Granberry is incumbent.
N.C. Lieutenant Governor — Democratic primary only. Linda Coleman seems to have the best chances here. Coleman only barely lost last time around. Holly Jones (from Asheville) also has a decent bit of support. Winner will face to incumbent Dan Forest.