Just a few weeks before members of the North Carolina General Assembly are set to return to Raleigh for the start of the short session, the legislature’s Fiscal Research Division and the Office of State Budget and Management released their 2022 consensus revenue forecast. The consensus forecast update expects revenue to increase by $6.20 billion, or 10.8%, over the 2021-2023 biennium. The forecast also shows stronger than estimated job growth, greater than expected sales and use tax revenues, does not foresee a near-term recession, and notes that inflation reached a 40-year high back in March at 8.5%.
Just a few days after the consensus revenue forecast was released, Governor Roy Cooper (D) unveiled his budget recommendations for the second year of the budget enacted last fall. In his proposal, Governor Cooper includes Medicaid expansion, over $140 million for clean energy and environmental needs, provides an additional 2.5% salary increase for law enforcement and health professionals, and provides retention bonuses to teachers, state employees, and local education employees. The proposal also includes $166 million to help address the state’s economic development needs, over $120 million to address labor shortages across various industries, and provides $525.8 million to fully-fund Year Three of the Comprehensive Remedial Plan to increase access to a sound, basic education for North Carolina’s students.
Key Legislative Primaries
In last week's edition of Week in Review, our team did a deep dive into North Carolina's congressional primary races. This week, our team breaks down several key legislative primaries for the North Carolina State House and Senate races. Several of these districts look dramatically different after the 2020 census and subsequent redistricting efforts, as a large population shift occurred where rural population shrank and, simultaneously, the urban population dramatically increased. Given this shift, the rural-based districts got larger in land mass and the urban-based districts got smaller. This ultimately led to multiple members of both parties being double bunked in the rural areas.
Senate District 1 – This northeastern North Carolina district includes Dare, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Chowan, Washington, Hyde, Pamlico, and Carteret counties. Due to the redistricting process, five-term (five in the Senate, one in the House) Senator Norman Sanderson and two-term (two in the Senate, three in the House) Senator Bob Steinburg face off in the Republican primary. With no other candidates filed to run in this district, the primary election will determine the winner of this seat.
Senate District 5 – This eastern North Carolina district includes Wilson, Wayne, and Greene counties. Sitting Democratic Senator Toby Fitch faces a challenge from current state Representative Raymond Smith. Representative Smith was drawn into a district with current House Majority Leader John Bell and opted to run in the new Senate district instead. On the Republican side, former Senator Buck Newton is running for this seat following his unsuccessful bid for Attorney General in 2016. The other Republican candidate in this race is Joe Democko, a former school board member in Wayne County.
Senate District 10 – Due to the rapid growth seen in Johnston County over the last decade, the census afforded them a Senate seat entirely within Johnston County. Attorney and party activist Benton Sawrey is up against another longtime party activist, Jill Homan, as well as Matt Ansley, a licensed architect. The winner will face Democratic nominee Gettys Cohen Jr., who is running unopposed in the primary.
Senate District 13 – This newly created district will be made up of the northwest portion of Wake County. Democratic Raleigh City Councilman and attorney Patrick Buffkin is facing a challenge from civil rights attorney Lisa Grafstein. On the Republican side, retired engineer David Bankert is facing business consultant Jeff Werner.
Senate District 18 – This district is in part of northern Wake County and encompasses all of Granville County. E.C. Sykes, 2020 Republican Secretary of State nominee, is running against cybersecurity platform owner, Dimitry Slabyak. The winner will face Democratic nominee Mary Wills Bode, a non-profit executive director and attorney, who is running unopposed in the primary.
- Senate District 19 – This district covers most of Cumberland County. On the Democratic side, Governor Roy Cooper endorsed former Fayetteville City Councilwoman Val Applewhite who is running against incumbent Senator Kirk deViere. On the Republican side, former Senator Wesley Meredith, who is seeking re-election after losing to deViere, is facing veteran Dennis Britt.
- Senate District 23 – This district is comprised of all of Orange, Caswell, and Person counties. Orange County’s four-term House member, Representative Graig Meyer, is up against Jamie DeMent Holcomb, a local entrepreneur, farmer, and cookbook author. The two Republicans facing off in the primary are Landon Woods, owner of a solar energy company, and Bill Cooke, a construction professional.
- Senate District 36 – This district is made up of Surry, Wilkes, Yadkin, and Alexander counties. There are four republicans running in this primary: former Senator Shirley Randleman, current House member Representative Lee Zachary, Commissioner and businessman Eddie Settle, and retired NC State Trooper and licensed private investigator, Vann Tate.
- Senate District 47 – This northwest North Carolina district includes all of Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey, and Madison counties, and part of Caldwell and Haywood counties. Running in the Republican primary is six-term incumbent Senator Ralph Hise and three-term incumbent Senator Deanna Ballard. The two incumbents found themselves in the same district following the redistricting process.
- House District 43 – This eastern Cumberland County district has a contested primary for both parties. On the Democratic side, former Representative Elmer Floyd, Fayetteville State professor and longtime party activist Kimberly Hardy, and health advocate, Prince Christian, face off in the three-way primary race. For Republicans, incumbent Representative Diane Wheatley faces a repeat challenger in Clarence Goins, who she defeated in the 2020 primary.
- House District 45 – This southeastern Cumberland County district has been represented for a decade by Republican Representative John Szoka, but he is not seeking re-election. Three Democrats are competing in the primary for this seat: Fayetteville City Councilman Chris Davis, Dr. Frances Jackson, educator, and the party’s nominee for the district in 2020, and retired U.S. Army officer Keith Byrd. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican nominee Susan Chapman, party activist and 1st Vice Chair of the Cumberland County GOP, who is running unopposed in the primary.
- House District 47 – This Robeson County district has been represented for six terms by Representative Charles Graham, who is now running for the 7th Congressional District. For Republicans, former Lumbee tribal councilmember Jarrod Lowery is running against law enforcement officer and teacher Mickey Biggs. On the Democratic side, Aminah Ghaffar, a Lumbee community activist, will face Charles Townsend, a former two-term mayor of Fairmont.
- House District 50 – This district includes the rural parts of Orange County outside of Chapel Hill and all of Caswell County. Town of Hillsborough Commissioner Matt Hughes is running against Orange County Commissioner Renee Price in the Democratic primary. The winner will face Republican nominee Charles Lopez, a licensed realtor, human resource manager, and small business investor, who is the sole Republican candidate running in this district.
- House District 52 – This district encompasses all of Richmond County and the southern portion of Moore County. As a result of redistricting, the Republican primary includes two sitting House members: seven-term Representative Jamie Boles of Moore County and Representative Ben Moss, who is in his first term and is a former Richmond County Commissioner.
- House District 56 – Two civil rights attorneys are facing off in this Chapel Hill based district for the Democratic primary. Former Chapel Hill town councilman Allen Buansi is running against Jonah Garson, attorney and former Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, in this open seat currently held by retiring Representative Verla Insko (D-Orange). With no other candidates filed to run in this district, the primary election will determine the winner of this seat.
- House District 66 – This is a newly-created district in the northern part of Raleigh. This district has three candidates running in the Democratic primary: Senator Sarah Crawford, who decided to run for this House district instead of her current Senate district, Wesley Knott, a public company auditor and former Wake County Democratic Party leader, and businessman Frank Pierce. The winner will face Republican Ives Brizuela de Sholar, who has no primary opponent, this fall.
- House District 113 – This district includes all of Polk County and portions of Henderson, Rutherford, and McDowell counties. As a result of redistricting, this district double-bunks two House Republicans who will face off in the primary: Representative Jake Johnson, who is serving his first full term, and Representative David Rogers, who is serving his third term.