John Hood: "the state’s Republican Party is stronger in the suburbs — and statewide — than ever before."
In the following “Daily Journal” column, John Hood, President of the John Locke Foundation, assesses the recent NC local elections and provides insight on what the outcomes mean for NC politics going forward.
What the Local Elections Revealed
By John Hood
Nov. 7th, 2013
RALEIGH — Not too long ago, North Carolina Republicans competed effectively with Democrats in urban elections.
In fact, there was a moment in the 1990s — a fleeting moment, as it turned out — when the mayors of four of North Carolina’s five largest cities were Republicans. Pat McCrory, the future Republican governor, was mayor of Charlotte. Tom Fetzer, the future chairman of the state GOP, was mayor of Raleigh. Durham and Winston-Salem also had Republican mayors. And Republicans were regularly competitive in mayoral and city council races in other major cities, including Wilmington, High Point, Cary, and Asheville. (Only in Charlotte and Winston-Salem were municipal elections officially partisan, but the officially nonpartisan elections elsewhere were anything but.)
In the aftermath of the 2013 election cycle, the situation looks vastly different. Moderate Republican Edwin Peacock did about as well as anyone from his party could in contesting the open mayoral seat in Charlotte, but still lost to Democratic Patrick Cannon. Democrats or left-leaning nonpartisan incumbents weren’t even seriously challenged in most other cities. Only in Fayetteville did a Republican candidate, Nat Robertson, win a major-city mayoral race in traditionally Democratic or competitive territory. And Robertson’s margin was razor-thin.
In fact, in several cities local Republican or conservative activists actually preferred Democratic candidates to nominally Republican ones. The clearest case was in Greensboro, where the conservative weekly Rhinoceros Times endorsed Democrat Nancy Vaughan over Republican incumbent Mayor Robbie Perkins. He lost.
North Carolina Democrats are spinning these developments, as political parties tend to do. They argue that the 2013 elections portend political difficulties for the Republican legislature in 2014 and Gov. McCrory in 2016. That is a fundamental misreading of what is really going on, at least with regard to local politics in our state. Read more…
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