RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Republican state lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would delay North Carolina’s primary election a second time, but that bill is facing a potential veto by Gov. Roy Cooper (D) as Democrats were united in their opposition to it.
The bill would move the primary from May 17 to June 7. It’s already been pushed back from March by the state Supreme Court due to ongoing litigation over the new districts Republicans approved for Congress and the General Assembly.
“We don’t want to keep coming back here, pushing it back. So, I think this just creates a lot of headroom for the election so it shouldn’t need to be moved back anymore,” said Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Burke).
The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the redistricting case for Feb. 2. Republicans raised concerns that if the court, which is majority Democratic, rules that the districts are unconstitutional then the legislature would not be left with enough time to redraw the districts in time for candidates to file to run for office on beginning on Feb. 24.
“We just don’t believe that that gives candidates enough time to figure out am I going to run or am I not going to run,” said Sen. Daniel.
Democrats said in advance of Wednesday’s session they all planned to vote against the bill, saying if further delays are needed then the court could address that.
“They’re trying to pre-empt the Supreme Court action on this,” said Sen. Mike Woodard (D-Durham County). “I believe that this bill just adds to the chaos for voters.”
Sen. Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg County) said she Republicans were “jumping the gun.”
“I’m just concerned that we’re pushing elections and filing and everything out even farther when maybe we don’t need to,” she said. “I’m still a little confused about why we’re trying to get ahead of the court.”
The bill moved quickly through the Senate and House Wednesday passing both chambers on party-line votes.
Gov. Cooper has not said whether he would veto the bill, but a spokesman for him said Tuesday that the move would “undermine the voting process.”
Sen. Daniel said, “We’re confident the Supreme Court should uphold our maps. It was upheld by a bipartisan unanimous panel,” referring to a trial court’s decision last week that the maps are not unconstitutional. The same court did describe many of the districts as examples “intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting.”
Under state law if the maps are struck down, the General Assembly is supposed to have at least two weeks to redraw them.
“I don’t have a lot of confidence that we’ll come up with maps. We had it first. We didn’t draw a very good set of maps. In the decade I’ve been here we haven’t drawn good sets of maps,” said Sen. Woodard.