At a North Carolina Democratic Party event in Raleigh on Tuesday, candidates, politicians and party members gathered to celebrate Super Tuesday and get ready for the upcoming eight months.
News stations broadcasted primary results for the state early in the event. Large flat-screens adorned the walls, flashing former Vice President Joe Biden’s face as the projected winner for North Carolina. On Super Tuesday, Biden won 10 states, while U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont won four.
“Make no mistake, North Carolina is the most important battleground in the country hands down,” said NCDP chairperson and candidate for commissioner of insurance, Wayne Goodwin, in his opening speech. “No one else can say that they have the chance to take back the White House and the United States Senate.”
While Biden was an initial source of excitement, attention quickly turned to November and the party's goal of flipping the state legislature.
N.C. Reps. Scott Brewer (D-Richmond) and Julie von Haefen (D-Wake) stood on stage to encourage the Democratic Party that “flipping the legislature” is possible.
“We were able to sustain all fourteen of Gov. Cooper’s vetoes this year for the first time,” von Haefen said. “In our road to taking the majority this year in the General Assembly, Democrats from across the state banded together and helped us with 10 seats in the North Carolina House.”
Since his term in office began, many of Cooper’s vetoes of bills such as House Bill 100, which made judicial elections partisan, have been overridden by a majority-Republican legislature. The NCDP is vocal about its goal to “flip the seats” of the State House and Senate.
“In 2010, we got ourselves a legislature that gerrymandered themselves into a supermajority. And then in 2012, we got a governor who rubber-stamped every bad thing they did,” Cooper said in his speech.
He said he is proud to accept the party nomination for governor in 2020. This election follows his first term in office, in which he said he denied off-shore drilling on the coast, helped students get better jobs, ordered paid-parental leave for state employees and appointed a diverse and qualified cabinet.
"I believe the state government should look like the people that it serves,” he said.
N.C. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue stressed the importance of the days to come.
“This is March 3, which means we have eight months to turn everything about North Carolina politics blue, no pun intended,” he said.
In addition to these high profile General Assembly races, the state also can expect a competitive U.S. Senate race leading up to November.
Former N.C. Sen. Cal Cunningham made his debut at the event as the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate.
“After Sept. 11, I joined the Army Reserve, and I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” he said. “I am running to fulfill the oath that I took, to take on the corruption in Washington that is standing in the way of progress on the biggest issues of our time.”
Cunningham stressed the need to invest in education and healthcare, raise wages for working-class families and take action on climate change. He said he will continue to travel the state campaigning until the November election.
Goodwin said it is crucial that college-age voters continue to register and vote in November. He said the Republican Party doesn’t represent their needs.
“It is crystal clear that the political party that represents the wants and needs of our young voters is the Democratic Party,” Goodwin said. “The party is about hope, it’s about providing opportunity for all. I ask the students to think about which party would best represent them.”
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