Cooper, Stein Hang On, Others Up in the Air

As ballots rolled in Election Night, two critical environmental champions were re-elected in North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper, handily, and Attorney General Josh Stein, narrowly. 

Other statewide endorsees of our Conservation PAC fared less well. Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley lost her bid for Lieutenant Governor, and Jenna Wadsworth fell short in her campaign for Agriculture Commissioner.

It’s also clear the ambitious plan to build a Green Caucus majority in both chambers of the General Assembly fell short, with current leadership set to continue down an anti-environment path next year. Some races remain uncalled, however, because absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted, and the margins in a few races allow the second-place candidate to call for a recount if they choose. The official canvass of results by county Boards of Elections will take place this Friday, and will include ballots received by 5 p.m. Thursday, November 12. The state Board of Elections has estimated up to 166,000 votes could be added to the statewide count, though it is likely far fewer than that will ultimately be certified.

Enough of those ballots could make a difference in one statewide race of importance to the outcome of environmental policy: the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. On Election Night, incumbent Chief Justice Cheri Beasley trailed by fewer than 4,000 votes out of more than five million cast. The margin has narrowed since then as ballots begin to be counted again. If Chief Justice Beasley finishes closing the gap and pulls ahead, it will mean a state Supreme Court majority which continues to serve as an independent constitutional check on abuses by the pro-polluter General Assembly majority. The court plays an especially critical role in its review of the legislature’s actions on congressional and legislative redistricting, which is not subject to veto by the governor. Maps for both bodies will be redrawn sometime next year, as the current leaders will try to retain artificial power for another decade.

At least one Conservation PAC-endorsed legislator, our 2020 Green Tie Senator of the Year Harper Peterson of New Hanover County, could also hang on if enough late ballots fall in his favor.

Many of these outstanding ballots may not count because there is an issue with a witness signature or a voter’s eligibility. You can help more votes count and potentially decide the results of races like Chief Justice Beasley’s and Sen. Peterson’s. Sign up to phone bank to help voters “cure” their ballots! The deadline to address these issues is Thursday.

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