A law passed by the General Assembly would result in one of two Republicans running for the state Supreme Court would no longer be labeled a Republican on the ballot.
“This was a real fraud on the people of the state of North Carolina that we could fix while we were here,” said Sen. Ralph Hise (R-47th).
During Tuesday’s special session, which was called to address the constitutional amendments on the fall ballot, Republicans also took up a new law impacting this year’s judicial races.
Chris Anglin had been registered as a Democrat before switching to Republican in early June. A few weeks later, he filed to run for Supreme Court. He’s up against Republican incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson and Anita Earls, the lone Democrat in the race.
The bill passed Tuesday would make it so that Anglin’s name would have no party affiliation next to it on the ballot this fall because he hadn’t been registered with the party 90 days prior to running for office. It also allows judicial candidates to remove themselves from the ballot by August 8.
Republican legislative leaders accused Anglin of trying to split the Republican vote in an effort to get a Democrat elected.
“We really didn’t fully expect somebody to try to game the system in this way by changing their registration at the last minute,” said Senate leader Phil Berger.
Anglin is an attorney in Raleigh. According to his law firm’s website, he specializes in personal injury, real estate closings, wills and estates as well as civil litigation.
Anglin said he was not available for an on-camera interview Wednesday. However, CBS 17 spoke with his campaign consultant, Perry Woods.
“He’s absolutely a Republican. He ran intentionally as a Republican,” Woods said.
Woods said Anglin changed his party registration “because he wanted to stand up for those Republicans who believe that these assaults on the rule of the law, the checks and the balances of our constitutional republic, are not something that they’re comfortable with.”
Woods denied accusations that Anglin ran in an effort to split the Republican vote.
“I’ve stayed away from anything having to do with the election process,” Jackson said in a Wednesday phone interview. “I’m really focusing on my race and the work of the court, reaching out to citizens.”
Jackson said she did not know before Tuesday about Republican legislators’ plan to pass the bill impacting the election.
In an email, Democrat Anita Earls wrote: “For over thirty years, I have worked in our legal system to ensure all voters have fair representation and equal justice under the law. The politicians in the legislature continue to attack the independence of our courts and try to rig the system so they can stay in power. North Carolinians deserve a fair election free from partisan games and meddling.”
Democrats questioned whether the bill passed Tuesday is constitutional.
“It’s targeting a single individual, and I don’t believe that’s constitutional,” said Sen. Ben Clark (D-Cumberland/Hoke).
Democrats also indicated that, if the bill becomes law, it likely will be challenged in court. They also said the issue could have been avoided if Republicans had not canceled judicial primary elections this year, a point some Republicans conceded during Tuesday’s Senate debate on the new law.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has not acted on the bill passed Tuesday. Republicans have planned to vote to override his veto if he chooses to do that.