By Jim EllisDec. 15, 2020 — On Saturday, North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) conceded defeat to Associate Justice Paul Newby (R) in a political overtime electoral contest that dragged on for more a month. Though a state election, the result will undoubtedly affect some future congressional elections.
After a full machine recount and a partial sample hand recount, Justice Newby had a 413-vote lead from greater than 5.4 million votes cast, representing another photo finish election victory decided in the 2020 election cycle.
The result almost assuredly affects future national elections because the North Carolina chief justice, even when in a minority as are the Republicans on this particular high court, will set the special judicial panels like the ones that would decide future disputed congressional redistricting cases.
This tangential effect is particularly important because North Carolina is a lock to gain one new congressional seat in national apportionment and appears on the cusp of possibly gaining two considering the rate of growth in this southern state.
Ten years ago, North Carolina missed adding a new seat by approximately 15,000 people, the population figure that allowed Minnesota to retain its eighth district, which became the nation’s 435th CD.
Therefore, being so close to a seat gain in the 2010 census apportionment suggests that North Carolina could be in position to actually gain a pair in the current calculation. If so, the state judicial race decided Saturday would carry even greater importance because the courts will almost assuredly make the final decisions in the coming North Carolina redistricting battle. This is particularly evident when remembering that the state has endured three different congressional district delineations during the current decade.