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NC Supreme Court


Delusional Never-Trump Republican? Or American Hero?

Since I don’t think it’s been discussed much here and seems to have flown under the radar a bit, let’s talk about the North Carolina Supreme Court election. I heard about this race from a politically connected North Carolinian, and have seen fairly little coverage and discussion elsewhere. Here’s the basic sequence of events: The North Carolina Supreme Court currently has a 4-3 Democratic majority. Up for re-election this year is one of the three Republicans, Barbara Jackson, who has proved a reliable vote for whatever shenanigans the NC GOP is up to. She was widely understood as vulnerable, and a number of high profile Democrats were considering a run against her. In an attempt to aid her re-election chances, the state legislature passed a bill to eliminate primaries for judicial elections. The hope was that the Democrats would fail to solve the collective action problem and end up splitting the Democratic vote. The North Carolina Democratic party sued, but to no avail.

Happily, it appeared that Democrats did manage to solve the collective action problem; as the filing deadline approached the only candidates were Jackson and Anita Earls, a founder and director of a Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice, civil rights non-profit organization. Her organization had a history of fighting gerrymandering and voter suppression in the courts, and she seemed to be one of the stronger potential Democratic challengers. Then, on the afternoon of the day of the filing deadline, a third candidate filed–Chris Anglin, a largely unknown 32 year old private attorney, who filed to run as a Republican. Anglin had actually been rumored to have been considering a run in the Democratic primary, and indeed had been registered as a Democrat until about a week before he filed to run. (North Carolina had previously had a rule that one couldn’t run as a Republican or Democrat unless you had been registered in that party for at least 90 days; in their repeal of the primary election they had, perhaps carelessly, repealed this rule as well.) For the next five months, Anglin played it straight, dismissing Republican charges that he was a Democratic plant, and presenting himself as a principled anti-Trump Republican, in the race to give a voice to “constitutional Republicans” who “stand up for the rule of law.” On election day, Earls won comfortably, with 49% of the vote; the incumbent Jackson only got 34%, and Anglin 16%. The Democrats now control the North Carolina Supreme Court 5-2, and the only justice up for re-election in 2020 is one of the remaining two Republicans.

In conclusion, if you’re in North Carolina and you see this guy in a bar, either mock him for his delusional dreams of a principled anti-Trump Republicanism, or buy him a drink.

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