Alternative To Electing North Carolina Justices Challenged

North Carolina's new alternate method of choosing members of the state Supreme Court is being formally challenged as unconstitutional.

A lawsuit filed Monday seeks to overturn a law approved in June giving most sitting justices the option to be re-elected to additional eight-year terms in an up-or-down statewide vote.

The lawsuit says these so-called "retention elections" are not really elections but referenda that violate the state Constitution by failing to allow opposing candidates to run.

Associate Justice Bob Edmunds is the only incumbent up for re-election on the seven-member court next year. He intends to be in the retention race.

The plaintiffs want the idea struck down and a new schedule created to allow for a nonpartisan primary and a general election next November for Edmunds' seat.

Dates Set For TV Debates For Big North Carolina Races

Some televised debates are planned for North Carolina races for governor and U.S. Senate next year.

The League of Women Voters and Time Warner Cable News North Carolina said Monday a debate they're organizing for Democratic Senate candidates will be held Feb. 29, followed by a debate for Democratic candidates for governor March 1. Both will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held at High Point University.

The groups also said general election debates are Oct. 24 for U.S. Senate and Oct. 25 for governor, although locations haven't yet been determined.

At least three Democrats already have announced their candidacies for Senate, and two Democrats for governor. Some have already committed to those debates.

Republican Sen. Richard Burr and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory are seeking re-election.

Trump Schedules North Carolina Appearance This Week

Donald Trump is planning to visit North Carolina for a rally later this week.

Trump's website says the Republican presidential candidate is scheduled to appear Friday night at Dorton Arena on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

Trump spoke at the state Republican Party convention in June, just days before he announced he would be running for president.

Trump's website directed people wanting to see him to register for the scheduled 7:30 p.m. event, which is free.

The North Carolina presidential primaries are March 15.

Apodaca Joins North Carolina Republicans Not Running Again

One of the most powerful figures in the North Carolina General Assembly says he will not run again next year.

Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville announced his decision against seeking re-election Monday.

Apodaca is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, controlling the flow of legislation in the chamber. He's been Senate leader Phil Berger's closest political ally and a consistently strong fundraiser for GOP senators.

Apodaca joined the legislature in 2003 as Democrats held their decades-long control of the Senate. He became a top chamber leader when Republicans took over in 2011.

Apodaca told The Associated Press he's stepping down primarily because he thinks Republicans have completed what they set out to accomplish in the Legislature.

Groups To Announce Voter Engagement Campaign In NC

Progressive groups are announcing a plan for a voter engagement campaign on the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and Democracy North Carolina will hold a news conference about the campaign today at Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh.

Leaders of various religions also will participate in the news conference.

It was on Dec. 1, 1955, that Parks, a black seamstress, was arrested after refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus. The incident sparked a year-long boycott of the buses by blacks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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