GOP adds two to NC Supreme Court, sweep Court of Appeals races

Republican judicial candidates Jeff Carpenter, Paul Newby, Phil Berger Jr., April Wood, and Chris Dillon are featured at a campaign event in Davidson County.

RALEIGH — Republicans will have at least two seats on the N.C. Supreme Court in 2021 with victories by former state Sen. Tamara Barringer and N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Phil Berger Jr. on Election Day.

Barringer defeated appointed Democratic incumbent Justice Mark Davis by over 130,000 votes to win an eight-year term on the court.

Barringer, who previously represented Wake County in the state Senate, lost her seat in 2018.

In the N.C. Supreme Court contest for Justice Paul Newby’s former seat, Berger Jr. defeated fellow Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman, a Democrat, to win the eight-year term.

Berger, a former Rockingham County district attorney who was elected in 2016 to the Court of Appeals, will vacate that seat to join the state’s highest court.

In the final totals on election night, Berger led by over 74,000 votes.

Berger told North State Journal that Tuesday night was a big night for conservative judges.

“The people of North Carolina said no activist judges, and yes to the rule of law,” said Berger. “I’m thankful that the voters of this state have put their trust in me to serve them.”

In a statement, Inman said, “Last night did not bring the result we worked so hard to achieve. We have run a strong campaign in a most challenging year. I appreciate your investment in our shared cause of justice.”

The contest for chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court, between current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and Justice Paul Newby, is separated by less than 3,000 votes and won’t be decided until Nov. 13 at the earliest.

The state’s highest court currently has a 6-1 advantage of Democrats to Republicans. If Newby prevails over Beasley, Democrats would still hold a 4-3 advantage but control the administration of the court system.

Republican judges also took all five available seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals on Tuesday night. The new balance of power would be 11 Republicans over 4 Democrats on the state’s appellate court.

The five Republicans are April Wood, a Davidson County district court judge; Fred Gore, a Brunswick County District Court judge; incumbent Court of Appeals Judge Chris Dillon; Jeff Carpenter, a Union County Superior Court judge; and Jefferson Griffin, a Wake County district court judge.

“North Carolina chose the right judges on Election Day. Republicans swept all eight statewide judicial races, helping set the courts in a more conservative direction,” said NCGOP press secretary Tim Wigginton.

Each of the judges elected to the Court of Appeals will serve eight-year terms.