The happiest man on Election Night, at least here in North Carolina, was Senate pro tem Phil Berger.
Why? Not only did his son win a coveted seat on the Court of Appeals, Senate Republicans actually managed to gain a seat, against all odds, in a district drawn to elect a Democrat.
Who is Danny Earl Britt? No one seems to know, but he’ll be serving in the General Assembly next year, having managed to knock off Democrat Jane Smith in District 13 – Columbus and Robeson counties. And it wasn’t even close; he won by double-digits. (And speaking of Robeson County, who would have thought that it would go for Trump, Burr, and McCrory this year? And who imagined a scenario where McCrory would win Robeson County and lose statewide? Not this observer.)
With Britt’s win, we can now say definitively that Republicans have reached their ceiling in the State Senate. Then again, that’s what people were saying two years ago. The next-most Republican seat is Senate District 16 in the Cary/Raleigh area, won by Democrat Jay Chaudhuri with 65% of the vote. Somehow I doubt it will flip anytime soon.
Then again, maybe Senate Republicans will keep gaining one seat for perpetuity. If that’s the case, the body will be unanimously Republican in 2046. (And NC Senate Democrats will be in the same shape as Hawaii Senate Republicans are today – extinct.)
Finally, HB 2 proponents can point to Britt’s victory as a win for their cause. Senator Smith did not vote for the controversial legislation (she had an excused absence). Britt, as a rural Republican hailing from one of the most socially conservative areas of the state, is almost certainly a supporter.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.