After months of anticipation, piles of money spent, endless TV commercials watched and too many visits from candidates to count, the 2020 election is finally here.  Several of my colleagues and I will be offering  election return coverage on North Carolina News Network and their flagship station WPTF 680 AM as the returns come in. I’ll be on from 10:30 until it’s over.

You can listen to my analysis at 680 AM in the greater Triangle, online at, or download the WPTF app in the Google Play store.

I’m watching everything, all the races are important and interesting in their own way. To coin a Roy Cooper phrase: none are “non-essential”.  But here’s the most competitive races and my notes on what I’ll be looking for.  Let me know if I missed anything, any observations/predictions you’d like to share.

 The road to the presidency and control of the US Senate runs through NC. Obviously I’ll be watching the top of the ticket with President Trump/Joe Biden and the US Senate race between Sen Thom Tillis/Cal Cunningham.  I’ve been surprised that polling has not shown as much disfavor for Cunningham’s character as I would have expected.  Will the final votes reflect that?

US Congress:

8th: Republican Incumbent Richard Hudson v former NC Supreme Court Justice Democrat Pat Timmons-Goodson.  Issues? military and covid-19 response

11th: 25 year old Republican Madison Cawthorn v retired Air Force colonel Democrat Moe Davis.  This one has turned ugly.

The make up of the General Assembly currently sits at 65 Republicans/55 Democrats in the House and 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats in the Senate.  Democrats need 6 more seats in the House and 5 in the Senate to take control away from the Republicans.  What’s at stake?  Just to name a few: Medicaid expansion and further control of government over health care with a 6$ B price tag the first two years; likely $1B tax increase on NCians, redistricting 2020-30 which could begin as early as April 2021, unions creeping in with NNU at Mission Hospital, NCAE, a rule making petition before the Dept of Labor and repeal of collective bargaining ban.

NCGA Senate Races:

#1 Incumbent Republican Bob Steinburg v. Democrat Tess Judge in Chowan/Dare County

#7 Incumbent Republican Jim Perry v. Democrat Donna Lake in Lenoir/Wayne County

#9 Former Republican state Senator Michael Lee v Democratic Incumbent Harper Peterson in New Hanover County

#11 Republican House member Lisa Barnes v. former Democratic Senator Allen Wellons in Johnston County

#19 Former Republican Senator Wesley Meredith v Democratic Incumbent  Kirk DeViere in Cumberland County

#24 Republican Amy Galley v. Democrat J.D. Wooten in Alamance County

#31 Incumbent Republican Joyce Krawiec v Democrat Terri Le Grand in Forsyth County

Possible Upset:  #37 Republican Sonja Nichols v Democrat Incumbent Jeff Jackson in Mecklenburg County

NCGA House Races:

# 1 Republican Incumbent Ed Goodwin v Democrat Emily Nicholson in Chowan

#9 Republican Incumbent Perrin Jones M.D. v Democrat Brian Farkes in Pitt County

#20 Republican Incumbent Ted Davis v Democrat Adam Ericson in New Hanover County

#45 Republican Incumbent John Szoka v Democrat Frances Jackson in Cumberland County

#59 Republican Incumbent John Hardister v Democrat Nichole Quick in Guilford County

#63 Republican Incumbent Stephen Ross v Democrat Ricky Hurtado in Alamance County

#82 Republican Incumbent Kristen Baker, MD v Democrat Aimy Steele in Cabarrus County

#95 Former Republican Member Grey Mills v Amanda Kotis in Iredell County

#98 Former Republican member John Bradford v Democratic Incumbent Christy Clark

#103 Former Republican member Bill Brawley v Democratic Incumbent Rachel Hunt in Mecklenburg County – the David and Goliath race.

#119 Former Republican member Mike Clampitt v Democratic incumbent Joe Sam Queen in Swain/Haywood County

Possible Upset: #37 Republican Erin Pare v Democratic Incumbent  Sydney Batch in Wake County

Council of State:

Dept of Labor: Republican House member Josh Dobson v Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes

Dobson is staunch supporter of NC’s Right to Work protections; Holmes is a champion of unions.

Superintendentent of Public Instruction: former McCrory advisor, Superintendent of Western Governors’ School Republican Catherine Truitt v UNC-G professor Democrat Jen Mangum.

Truitt is very pro-school choice; Mangum very pro-NCAE

State Treasurer: Republican Incumbent Dale Folwell v Democrat Ronnie Chatterji

Folwell fought for clear pricing and transparency to lower medical bills for state health plan; Chatterji supported by Hospital Association who prefers the status quo.

Insurance Commissioner” Republican Incumbent Mike Causey v Chair NC Democratic Party and former Ins Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.

Can the Chair of the State Democratic Party sway independent voters to bridge the gap and win over Causey who assisted an FBI investigation to put a felon convicted on corruption charges behind bars.

Just because a law is enacted doesn’t mean that’s the final word.  North Carolina Supreme Court can and has overturned duly enacted laws – Voter ID, Redistricting, Seperation of Powers questions, how we hold elections, Opportunity Scholarships, funding for education are just a few examples.  Current court is 6 democrats and 1 Republican.  Three seats are on the ballot. If Republicans win all three, the Court is 4 Democrats; 3 Republicans. If they lose all three the Court is 7 Democrats.

Chief Justice: Republican Justice Paul Newby v Incumbent Democratic Chief Justice Cheri Beasley

The Chief Justice oversees the operations of the Supreme Court, hearing and deciding cases with the other justices and oversees the judicial system and the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Republican Court of Appeals Judge Phil Berger, Jr. v Democratic Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman

Republican former state Senator and UNC Business School Professor Tamara Barringer v. NC Supreme Court Justice Mark Davis

Raleigh Housing Bond:  will the vote be a referendum on Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin and the city council’s leadership and the issue of safety and security, the downtown riots, looting and destruction of personal property and support for the Raleigh Police?


Jackson, Hyde and Caswell Counties – each of these counties voted the same way NC as a whole did in the last three presidential elections.

Robeson County has voted for the candidate who won the White House in the last three presidential elections.