The top five political stories in NC
With the new year, the time has come to reflect on an exciting year in North Carolina politics. So as we ring in a new year, here are my top five political stories from 2012 in North Carolina.
Perdue declines to run for reelection
Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, became the first governor not to seek a second term since North Carolina's governors were first able to run for reelection in the 1970s. Perdue had poor poll numbers but still seemed poised to campaign for reelection. Her decision not to run was a surprise in and of itself, but the fact that she announced her decision in late January, just weeks before candidate filing opened, left Democrats scrambling.
Any Democrat was going to have a tough time beating former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory in 2012, but Perdue's late decision only exacerbated the situation. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton would end up winning the Democratic primary, but the weeks between Perdue's announcement and the end of candidate filing was mostly a story of which big-name Democrats were passing on the race instead of running.
Amendment One passes
North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage with more than 60 percent of the vote on May 8. Both sides spent a lot of money and battled to swing voters to their respective sides in what was otherwise a pretty uneventful primary. The day after the vote in North Carolina, President Barack Obama voiced his support of same-sex marriage and multiple states voted to approve such marriages in the November elections.
Democratic National Convention in Charlotte
In September, Democrats from across the country and media from around the world descended on North Carolina as President Obama was officially nominated for a second term in Charlotte. The convention marked the first time ever that a major political party held its national convention in the Tar Heel State, and by most accounts the city and state acquitted itself quite well. Obama's acceptance speech was originally supposed to be in Bank of America Stadium, but was moved inside due to weather. The Obama campaign promised a make-up visit for those with tickets to the stadium that couldn't get inside for the relocated speech, but his convention appearance would be the last time Obama set foot in North Carolina during the campaign.
Republican governor elected
For the first time in more than 20 years, North Carolina voters sent a Republican to the governor's mansion. Pat McCrory won with almost 55 percent of the vote against Democrat Walter Dalton. Prior to this year, the last time a Republican won an election for governor was Jim Martin in 1988.
GOP redistricting success
When Republicans swept to power in the state legislature in 2010 they assumed control of redistricting for the first time in the modern era. After decades of Democrats drawing congressional and legislative districts to favor their party, Republicans would have the chance to do the same. Judging by the results of the 2012 elections, the GOP was very successful. The congressional delegation went from seven Democrats and six Republicans to an astounding nine Republicans and four Democrats. In the state House and Senate, not only did Republicans hold on to their majorities in both chambers, but they expanded those majorities as well with a pickup of two seats in the Senate and nine seats in the House.
This was a big year for North Carolina politics. To those who won elections in 2012, congratulations. To those who lost, take comfort in the fact that elections will come around again before we know it. Happy New Year!
• Brent Laurenz is the executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education, a Raleigh-based nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping citizens fully participate in democracy.