By GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press
RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — Republicans in North Carolina were aiming for oversized control of the legislature for the next two years in Tuesday’s election, while Democrats led by Gov. Roy Cooper sought to retain enough seats to retain veto power over issues such as Abortion.
Republicans are seeking at least two more Senate seats and three House seats from their current tallies to give them veto-proof majorities in every chamber in January for the first time since late 2018.
Since then, none of Cooper’s nearly four dozen vetoes — mostly bills that conform to favored GOP policies on issues like guns, immigration, taxes and abortion — have ‘has been cancelled. Republicans could overcome vetoes on these matters without help from Democrats if they win at least 30 of 50 Senate seats and 72 of 120 House seats.
The results of around 15 highly competitive races will likely determine the outcome.
Democrats and their allies have spent millions of dollars in fall General Assembly campaigns warning voters that Republicans could pass tough abortion restrictions if they overpower Cooper’s vetoes.
Republicans are poised to consider additional abortion restrictions next year in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, but say there is no consensus on specifics yet. Abortion is illegal in North Carolina after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions.
Cooper’s vetoes foiled abortion-limited changes in 2019 and 2021. Veto-proof majorities would severely weaken Cooper in his final two years as governor, causing him to lose leverage for negotiations on a host of issues, including the state budget.
Abortion in particular surfaced in races for a pair of state Senate seats in Wake County, where major party candidates had spent a combined $6.9 million through the end of October. according to campaign finance reports. There, Democratic Senator Sydney Batch and Senate candidate Mary Wills Bode accused their respective GOP rivals Marc Cavailero and EC Sykes of seeking to ban abortion outright if elected. Sykes and Cavaliero say the abortion ads against them are misleading and false.
Republican candidates have tried to take advantage of the national economy and 40-year inflation spikes under President Joe Biden to win more legislative races. GOP candidates ran ads blaming Washington for the price hikes and talked about what Raleigh Republicans have done to counter them, such as cutting income taxes.
GOP legislative leaders saw opportunities for pickup in eastern and rural North Carolina, where district boundaries were expanded to new areas in this year’s redistricting.
They include the 5th House District seat, where Democratic Rep. Howard Hunter III of Hertford County is running against former Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Ward, and for the 24th District, where Rep. Linda Cooper-Suggs, a Democrat of Wilson County, faced a tough challenge from Republican Ken Fontenot.
The Republican-friendly midterm environment also put more Democratic-leaning seats within reach.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.