I just learned that NCDOT will be putting in bike lanes on the new 10th St overpass from Evans St. all the way to the...

Republican gambit imperils Supreme Court seat

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Incumbent N.C. Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson is probably going to lose her seat, and her own political party is at fault.

In a normal year, Jackson would benefit from her experience — she's a well-respected judge who's been in office for eight years. She'd likely be in a tight, one-on-one race with a Democrat.

But Jackson's fellow Republicans in the legislature decided to change the rules of the game this year, canceling the primary that would have crowned a single candidate from each party. They claimed the cancellation was needed because lawmakers were still tweaking district lines for local judges. That redistricting wouldn't have impacted Supreme Court and Court of Appeals candidates who run statewide, but their primaries got canceled too.

This move initially seemed like an effective, if sneaky, scheme to help Jackson. Few Republicans would challenge their party's incumbent, while multiple Democrats would be eager for a shot at the state's highest court. If five Democrats and only one or two Republicans were on the ballot, Jackson would surely win.

That scenario didn't happen. Democrats out-maneuvered the GOP, quickly anointing Anita Earls as their party's preferred candidate. As the leader of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, her often-successful lawsuits over gerrymandering and other Republican laws have made her a heroine on the left.

Other Democrats realized that running against her would be a waste of time and money, so even the efforts of a GOP-aligned dark money group to recruit more Democratic candidates failed.

Enter Chris Anglin, a little-known Raleigh attorney. Shortly after the primary was canceled, the registered Democrat became a registered Republican. He filed to run for Supreme Court a few weeks later, with help from longtime Democratic consultant Perry Woods. Neither Anglin nor Woods have been willing to say who — if anyone — recruited him.

Republican legislators tried to correct their mistake by passing a law to remove the Republican label from Anglin's name on the ballot. But that law was thrown out in court, and now voters will see two Republicans on the ballot.

GOP leaders are doing their best to bash Anglin. He's been labeled the "enemy." Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, tweeted that he's "a completely incompetent candidate who can't even tie his tie."

Unfortunately for Republicans, a lot of voters aren't hearing the message. They're not paying attention to judicial races, and they'll be confused when they encounter two listed "Republicans" on the ballot.

A recent Spectrum News/SurveyUSA poll showed Anglin actually leading Jackson (22 percent to 15 percent) as they split the GOP vote and trail Earls (43 percent). It's not that voters prefer Anglin over Jackson. It's just that when voters have to make a quick decision between two names with no other information, some will choose a man's name over a woman.

Jackson's campaign is working hard to establish her as the real Republican in the race. Gone are the catchy, generic jingles from past campaigns about being a "fair judge." Instead, her ads urge voters to "stop the liberals" and their immigration agenda.

So much for being a "fair judge" who stays above the political fray. The liberal-bashing calls Jackson's impartiality into question. But Earls' history with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice — which will continue to have frequent cases before the N.C. Supreme Court — could also create a conflict of interest, or at least a perceived one.

Republican legislators made Supreme Court races partisan, so it's no surprise the court might become more political. That shift could erode North Carolinians' faith in the court, but it will mostly be the GOP crying foul.

A victory for Earls will mean Democrats will have a 5-2 majority on the court through at least 2022. Thanks to their botched efforts to tilt the scales in favor of Jackson, Republicans will have only themselves to blame.

Colin Campbell is editor of the Insider State Government News Service. Follow him at NCInsider.com or @RaleighReporter. Write to him at ccampbell@ncinsider.com.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

November 17, 2018

I covered a lot of campaigns this year and none was more exciting than Beto O'Rourke's race for a U.S. senate seat in Texas. Richard Ojeda, an old-fashioned blue-collar Democratic House contender trying to persuade West Virginians to return to their political roots, was compelling, too. I was…

albert hunt

November 17, 2018

Republican Gov. Rick Scott leads Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by 12,562 votes in the Florida Senate race. A margin of victory that large has never be overturned in a recount. According to FairVote, the average vote shift in statewide general election recounts is a meager 282 votes. "The biggest…


November 17, 2018

College campuses will more closely resemble the rest of American society under the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed rules for handling sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her administration unveiled a series of draft regulations…

DeVos For-Profit Colleges

November 17, 2018

As a young boy I remember hearing the stories about that first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims and Indians feasted together. The romanticized fable pictures everyone around long tables sharing food and friendship and even smoking a pipe of peace, but we know the reality was that those Pilgrims had…

Tom Campbell

November 16, 2018

U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Wednesday announced new measures regulating the sale of products that seem to reduce the negative health impacts of nicotine addiction — in the name of protecting children from those health impacts.

Oddly, Gottlieb also…


November 16, 2018

In mob movies they call it "going to the mattresses" — getting ready for war.

One day after voters put an end to unaccountable, strongman-style, one-party rule in Washington, Trump moved to cover his flank. He shoved out Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed a replacement, Matt…

Eugene Robinson

November 15, 2018

When French President Emmanuel Macron denounced populist nationalism this week and called on world leaders to support institutions such as the United Nations that defend "the common good of the world," liberal elites cheered. The speech was seen as a rebuke of President Trump, whose opposition to…


November 15, 2018

The 2018 election is finally and mercifully over and now is no time for progressives to rest on their laurels. Having taken some promising initial steps in the struggle to overcome Trumpism and build a better, fairer, freer and more sustainable nation and planet, now is the time for caring and…

Rob Schofield

November 15, 2018

Bad news for North Carolina is official: Amazon decided to split its east coast headquarters between two cities — and neither one is in our state. New York City and Alexandria, Va., will split the estimated 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment from the Seattle company’s…

Mark Johnson

November 14, 2018

The Washington Post

One of American elections' biggest vulnerabilities can be found in one of the most obvious places: the voting machines themselves. The country's voting infrastructure may not have been tampered with this time around, but experts say outdated systems and an overreliance on…

304 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 31
        Next Page»   Last Page»