As people pore over election results, trying to make sense of a year that has baffled many, some in North Carolina are trying to decipher the reasons for Wake County Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan’s resounding victory over Justice Bob Edmunds for the only open seat on the state Supreme Court.
The victory for Morgan, a Democrat, over Edmunds, a Republican, means the ideological balance of the state’s highest court swings back to favor the Democrats, who will hold four of the seven seats.
Morgan won by more than nine percentage points even though Republicans won the state’s votes for president, Senate, five state Court of Appeals seats and six other statewide races. Democrats lead narrowly in three more contests, including for governor, but Morgan and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall were the only Democrats with decisive statewide wins….Some wondered, too, whether the attempt to create retention elections hurt Edmunds’ chances for re-election….
The race between Morgan, 60, and Edmunds, 67, this year would not have come about had it not been for Sabra Faires, a Raleigh attorney who successfully challenged a 2015 law that would have changed how sitting justices stood for re-election. A Superior Court judge panel found the law, which would have shielded sitting justices from opposition on the ballot unless they lost a “retention election,” to be a violation of the state Constitution. Because the Supreme Court split 3-3 on the question, with Edmunds abstaining, the lower court ruling forced a competitive race.