Publisher's note: This post, by Andy Jackson, was originally published in Civitas's online edition.
With candidate filing behind us, we can take a first look at what will likely be some of the more interesting state legislative races in the 2020 election. All of those races feature at least one of the three Rs (which, in this case, means "redistricting, retirements, and rematches).
Here are a half-dozen races that have the potential to be very intriguing:
- House 9: Republican Perrin Jones is the incumbent, but he has never been elected to the position, having been named as the replacement for Greg Murphey after Murphey won a special election to Congress. That means that Jones does not have the district connections and knowledge that elected incumbents enjoy. This is a real tossup district and either of Jones' fellow political neophytes on the Democratic side, Brian Farkas or Jacob Hochard, should be competitive in the general election.
- House 43: Incumbent Democrat Elmer Floyd's Cumberland County district became more competitive after redistricting and he could face stiff competition from former Cumberland County Commissioner and likely Republican nominee Diane Wheatley (Clarence Goins is also seeking the Republican nomination). Floyd must first survive a potentially strong challenge from Fayetteville State University professor Kimberly Hardy. If Floyds loses the primary, this race will be even more competitive.
- House 45: This is another redrawn Cumberland County district that could be very competitive in the fall. Republican incumbent John Szoka will face a relatively untested Democratic opponent in either Frances Vinell Jackson or Keith Byrd, but the polarized political environment will probably keep this one close.
- House 98: This rematch of the 2018 race features Mecklenburg County incumbent Democrat Christy Clark running against former representative John Bradford. This is a Republican-leaning district in a county that has been trending Democratic. Expect another close one.
- House 103: This is another Mecklenburg County rematch, this time between incumbent Democrat Rachel Hunt (daughter of former governor Jim Hunt) and the previous incumbent Republican Bill Brawley. There was some controversy over absentee ballots in Hunt's narrow 68-vote win last time and this is still a highly competitive district.
- Senate 37: Mecklenburg County Incumbent Democrat Jeff Jackson has won his last two races by comfortable margins. However, court-ordered redistricting shifted much of Republican Dan Bishop's old state senate district into Jackson's. The Republicans have also landed a potentially strong challenger in businesswoman and community leader Sonja Nichols. This could be a highly competitive race.
This is by no means a comprehension list of likely competitive General Assembly races in 2020; there are a few more potentially competitive races just in Mecklenburg County. We will be putting out a longer list soon. We will also put out the 2020 Civitas Partisan Index in the future. Here is how the 2018 CPI