General Assembly and statewide judicial candidates file for ’24 elections

The State seal in front of the North Carolina General Assembly is shown. North State Journal

RALEIGH — Candidate filing for the 2024 election cycle closed at noon on Friday, Dec. 15, with the majority of General Assembly seats seeing candidates from both sides of the aisle.

Democrats this cycle have fielded 118 candidates out of the 120 seats in the House and candidates for all 50 Senate seats.

In 2022’s election cycle, over 40 Republican-held seats went unchallenged by Democrats.

Ten House members and six Senate members are either not running again, retiring, or seeking another office.

Republicans did not file candidates in 25 House races, mainly in Durham, Mecklenburg and Wake counties. Republicans are missing a candidate in six Senate races and Republican incumbents in the Senate do not appear to have picked up any primary challengers.

In a surprising last-minute development, former Rep. Michael Speciale and New Bern attorney Bob Brinson have filed to run for current Sen. Jim Perry’s current seat. Perry said shortly after filing he was not seeking any office in 2024.

Perry issued a statement that seemed to indicate family reasons for not running, saying in part, “I am entering a season of life where I will need more time to support those closest to me.” Perry had served three terms in the Senate.

Wake County Water & Soil Supervisor Scott Lassiter is running as a Republican to challenge Democratic Sen. Lisa Grafstein. Lassiter had filed an “alienation of affection” lawsuit against House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) for an alleged affair with Lassiter’s wife which was settled just weeks after it was filed. Lassiter faces Republican Vicki Harry in the GOP primary.

Rep. Terence Everitt, who had said he was not seeking reelection to the House, will run for a northern Wake County Senate seat after Mary Willis Bode opted not to run for reelection. He will face Republican Ashlee Bryan Adams.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) did not face a primary challenge as some had thought was possible based on a poll showing him trailing Rockingham County sheriff Sam Page, who ultimately filed for the Lt. Gov. Race.

A number of Senate Democrats had primary challengers file against them including Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, Durham Sen. Mike Woodard and Forsyth County Sen. Paul Lowe.

A three-fifths majority of the members present is required to override a veto by the governor. In a full convening of the House, that means 72 votes, and in the Senate, 36 votes. Currently, Republicans hold a comfortable supermajority in the Senate of 30 but a single vote majority in the House after Mecklenburg Republican Rep. Tricia Cotham switched parties.

Democrats Nicole Sidman, Yolanda Holmes and Terry Lansdell have filed to run for Cotham’s seat and Cotham has filed for reelection as a Republican.

Rep. John Bradford had been expected to file for state treasurer, however, North State Journal caught up with him during candidate filing and broke the news he instead would be running for Congress in the 8th District. His current House seat is considered a tossup. The winner of the Democratic primary between Beth Helfrich and Lisa Jewel will face Republican Melinda Bales.

Elsewhere in the House, one primary to watch is between Rep. Allen Chesser of Nash County and Yvonne McLeod. Lingering tensions in the county over a proposed casino development look to drive turnout in March. The same scenario is playing out in Rockingham County with incumbent Rep. Reece Pyrtle facing a challenge from Joseph Gibson.

In Cumberland County, longtime Rep. Marvin Lucas announced his retirement, setting off a four-way Democratic primary for a seat anchored in Fayetteville.

Another crowded primary will be for a Guilford County seat. Former Rep. John Blust, a longtime fixture in the chamber, looks to make a return to Raleigh. He faces four other competitors including Michelle Bardsley, who has made a strong impression among party leaders.

A total of four seats will be up for grabs on the N.C. Supreme Court and N.C. Court of Appeals.

The race for the Supreme Court seat will have a Democratic primary with the winner facing Republican Jefferson Griffin in November.

Appointed incumbent Allison Riggs, who joined the state’s highest court in September, will face off with Guilford County Superior Court Judge Lora Cubbage for the Democrats’ nomination.

On the Court of Appeals, three seats will be contested.

Democrat Carolyn Thompson, who was appointed following the elevation of Riggs to the Supreme Court, faces off with Republican Tom Murry.

Republican Valerie Zachary looks to hold her seat and will face Democrat Ed Eldred.

The final race features an incumbent Republican, Hunter Murphy, facing a primary challenge from Rockingham County District Court Judge Chris Freeman. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Martin Moore in November.

Both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals have Republican majorities. In the two statewide election cycles, Republicans have swept the races.

North Carolina’s primary elections will be held on March 5, 2024, with the general election to follow on Nov. 5.