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What Happens in North Carolina Won't Stay in North Carolina

As we approach, with hope and trepidation, the November 8 mid-term elections, voters in North Carolina find themselves in nothing less than a battle for the soul of the nation. Two North Carolina-centric events in particular could have a lasting effect on what happens in Washington over the next year and beyond. The election of a new senator from the Tar Heel State and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in a case brought by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature have significant national implications.

Beasley v. Budd

The Senate race — pitting Cheri Beasley , the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, against gun store owner Ted Budd — has not received the attention in the national press it deserves. The focus is on Senate races in states like Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia, where Democrats are in close contests with Republican nominees bearing Trumpian banners.

The outcome in those states will have a significant bearing on the makeup of next year’s Senate. But so will the outcome of the Beasley-Budd race.

Like his fellow travelers in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia, Budd is a Trump acolyte, an election denier and a captive of the hyper-conservative interests that have funded his political career (the same is true of our own congressional representative, David Rouzer, but that’s another story).

But Pennsylvania’s Mehmet Oz, Arizona’s Blake Masters and Georgia’s Herschel Walker are political rookies. Ted Budd, a three-term member of Congress, has a record that clearly runs against the grain for most North Carolina voters. Budd hasn’t just talked about his anti-choice views, he’s voted against the interests of women. He also flip-flopped on veterans issues, voted against the infrastructure and inflation reduction laws, and (surprise!) was in the minority in the vote for the commonsense gun law Congress approved earlier this year.

Perhaps most dangerous of all, Budd is more than an outspoken election denier — he voted in the House to upend the results of the 2020 presidential campaign and support the mob of insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021. His blind support of Trump at the expense of Democracy cannot prevail.

The choice between Beasley and Budd couldn’t be clearer. North Carolina voters must elect a Democrat to represent them in the Senate.

Moore v. Harper

Meanwhile, Republicans in the North Carolina legislature may have managed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to add a case to its docket which could end the review by state or federal courts of state laws governing federal elections.

The case, Moore v. Harper, could elevate a fringe legal doctrine and dramatically alter the balance of power in federal elections.

Known as the independent state legislature theory, the doctrine maintains that state legislatures, not secretaries of state or the courts, have the final say in state rules governing federal elections. In an article appearing in The Atlantic, a former U.S. appellate court judge has characterized the case as “the most important case for American democracy in the almost two and a half centuries since America’s founding.”

There is little ambiguity about the outcome of this case. The same Supreme Court justices who voted to abolish women’s rights to regulate their own bodies could well vote to uphold the doctrine. In doing so, they would deny citizens’ rights to free and fair elections in North Carolina and elsewhere, leading to the evisceration of already weakened voting rights laws. If that happens, a veto-proof, GOP-dominated state legislature could easily approve a gerrymandering law that perpetuates their majority and erodes equal access to the ballot box by all North Carolina voters.

Once again, our choices couldn’t be clearer. We can’t elect U.S. Supreme Court justices, but we can make sure we support the candidacies of Democrats like Eric Terashima for the state legislature. In so doing, voters will deny the GOP the opportunity to narrow access to our ballot boxes and — as in the Beasley-Budd race — preserve American democracy.


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