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Dems on verge of ending GOP dominance in N Carolina Senate

November 17, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Democratic challengers expanded vote advantages Friday in some tight North Carolina Senate races as counties wrapped up final ballot counting. That puts their party on the verge of eliminating the Republicans’ veto-proof majority in the chamber.

Democrats won one more Senate race and led in two others that were all very close after election night counts. Should all three Democrats win, the party would hold 21 of the chamber’s 50 seats — a six-seat increase compared to the past two years and the number necessary to uphold Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes if they are united.

House Democrats already succeeded ending the GOP’s supermajority there on Election Day by winning 53 of the 120 seats, above the 49 seats required and the 45 they’ve held since 2017. They won a 54th seat Friday in a district where the margin grew outside the 1 percentage-point threshold for the Republican to request a mandatory recount. And Democrat Rachel Hunt, the daughter of former Gov. Jim Hunt, also led Friday in another Charlotte-area House seat by 70 votes over an influential GOP leader.

Ending the GOP’s veto-proof majority in one or both chambers will give more legislative leverage to Cooper and the Democrats’ agenda for the next two years.

County elections boards were required by Friday to tally totals including absentee ballots that had arrived over the past several days and provisional ballots, where the eligibility of the voter was uncertain, and certify results.

In the Senate, Michael Garrett of Guilford County saw his lead over Sen. Trudy Wade expand to 937 votes, according to the state elections board web site. The margin is slightly above 1 percent, so the results stand barring something unusual.

Former Wilmington Mayor Harper Peterson, a Democrat, saw his 38-vote election night lead over Republican Sen. Michael Lee grow to 231 votes, while Democrat Kirk deViere of Cumberland County expanded his lead over Sen. Wesley Meredith to 433 votes. Lee and Meredith both trail by less than 1 percent of the vote.

In the House, Hunt saw her slim lead over Republican Finance Committee chairman Bill Brawley increase by a few votes compared to late last week. Hunt, a first-time candidate, declared herself the winner, but Brawley asked for a recount, which will be held Tuesday. The campaign was one of the state’s most expensive legislative races, with Hunt’s campaign alone raising $1.3 million.

In northern Mecklenburg County, Democrat Christy Clark was now 415 votes ahead of Republican Rep. John Bradford. The margin is now outside the 1 percent threshold, so Clark is the winner.

Republican Stephen Ross held on to his Alamance County House seat, with final totals showing his advantage over Democrat Erica McAdoo growing slightly to 298 votes. While the margin is slightly under 1 percent, McAdoo conceded the race Friday.

In one close congressional race, Republican Mark Harris’ lead over Democrat Dan McCready dwindled from about 1,850 votes on election night to 905 votes when absentee and provisional ballots from eight south-central counties were added.

Although the margin remains within the recount threshold, McCready conceded the day after Election Day. The Associated Press called the race for Harris two days later. McCready tweeted Friday night that he wouldn’t change his mind despite the narrowed vote difference: “We’ve looked hard at the numbers, and the margin is too large to justify a recount.”

With a Harris victory, Republicans next year would retain 10 of the 13 seats in the state’s congressional delegation.

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