Candidates, party officials and voters gathered Tuesday night to watch results come in and discuss goals for the next two years.
The tone at the North Carolina Democratic Party Headquarters in Raleigh was cautiously optimistic and celebratory, with U.S. Rep. David Price and state Supreme Justice-elect Anita Earls giving victory speeches during the event.
"I don’t think anyone who’s been working the early voting or who was out at the polls today can mistake that there’s a great energy in the country," Price said in his speech. "There’s a great yearning for change.”
Wayne Goodwin, chairperson of the North Carolina Democratic Party, said his greatest hope for the evening was for Democrats to break the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly.
“North Carolina is a bellwether state in terms of our registration numbers and the opportunity we have for growth in terms of number of democratic leaders," Goodwin said. "We’ve had an unprecedented effort with Governor Roy Cooper to organize for this election, more than we’ve ever seen for a midterm election, and we have an incredible, diverse range of candidates that puts us in good position for victories tonight and to get ready for 2020 which starts tomorrow.”
Candidates and party officials were focused on breaking Republican majorities statewide and nationwide, and reported a desire to change the direction of the country.
"By working together over the past year, we have shown that we can stand up for the importance of an independent judiciary, stand up for the principle that no one is above the law and stand up for the importance of the people’s right to vote,” Earls said in her victory speech. “We can protect our democracy by our hard work, by our commitment to each other and by letting our voices be heard at the ballot box.”
Matt Hughes, second vice chairperson for the North Carolina Democratic Party, said this election's high voter turnout was a good sign for Democrats and their key campaign issues for North Carolina.
"Our major goals going forward are funding education and increasing teacher pay, expanding Medicaid and also focusing more strongly on middle class tax relief and job creation,” Hughes said.
Moving forward to 2020 was also a major theme, with many attendees expressing hope for the future.
“North Carolina had been a purple state for presidential elections historically, and we are hoping that the momentum we build in this election continues on to 2020," said Nida Allam, third vice chairperson for the North Carolina Democratic Party. "We can’t vote today and then give up. Tomorrow we still have to go back out and do the work.”
Attendees of the Orange County Democratic Party's event at Might As Well in Chapel Hill expressed hope for Democratic wins for the county and the state. Jim Bartow, chairperson of the Orange County Democratic Party, said he was excited to see the blue wave happen, but acknowledged a smaller red wave as well.
"We’ve had huge, huge, huge turnout in Orange County," Bartow said. "Huge early voting turnout and huge turnout today. I think people are energized and people want to win.”
The atmosphere at the North Carolina Republican Party headquarters in Raleigh was also celebratory, with Republicans there hopeful about retaining control of Congress.
"From what I saw at polling places today, I don’t think the Democrats had as much turnout as they were expecting," said Charles Dingee, campaign manager for N.C. House 34th District candidate Catherine Whiteford. "I was involved in all of the Wake County polling places and they were full of Republicans, energized Republicans, and they were packed."
Attendees were confident the hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had energized Republicans as well as Democrats.
“Both sides are really passionate, obviously Democrats are going to come out in full force because they’re not in majority, but Republicans are pumped as well," Whiteford said. "I think we’re going to lose some seats here and there, but nationally it looks like we could end up gaining some seats."
Hopes were high for the passage of the North Carolina Constitutional amendments as well.
“I feel very strongly that we need to have voter ID because voting is a privilege and to have someone have the opportunity to cheat on an election, I think that is an insult and an assault on democracy and we need to keep that in mind," said Sue Googe, former candidate for U.S. House of Representatives.
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