North Carolina Republicans aimed for super-sized control of the legislature for the next two years in Tuesday's election, while Democrats led by Gov. Roy Cooper sought to retain enough seats to keep his vetoes potent on issues such as abortion.

Republicans are seeking at least two additional Senate seats and three House seats compared to their current tallies to give them veto-proof majorities in each chamber come January for the first time since late 2018.

Since then, not one of Cooper's nearly four dozen vetoes — mostly on bills following the GOP's preferred policies on issues such as guns, immigration, taxes and abortion — has been overridden. Republicans could overcome vetoes on these topics without help from Democrats if they win at least 30 of the 50 Senate seats and 72 of the 120 House seats.

Results from roughly 15 highly-competitive races likely will determine the outcome.

Democrats and their allies have spent millions of dollars during the fall General Assembly campaigns to warn voters that Republicans could pass severe abortion restrictions if they gained the upper hand on Cooper's vetoes.

Republicans are prepared to consider additional abortion restrictions next year in light of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade but say there’s no consensus yet on details. Abortion is prohibited in North Carolina after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with some narrow exceptions.

Cooper's vetoes foiled limited abortion changes in 2019 and 2021. Veto-proof majorities would severely weaken Cooper during his final two years as governor, losing him leverage for negotiations on a host of issues, including the state budget.

Abortion in particular surfaced in races for a pair of state Senate seats in Wake County, where the major-party candidates had spent $6.9 million combined through late October, according to campaign finance reports. There Democratic Sen. Sydney Batch and Senate candidate Mary Wills Bode have accused respective GOP rivals Marc Cavailero and E.C. Sykes of seeking to ban abortion outright if they are elected. Sykes and Cavaliero say abortion ads against them are misleading and untrue.

Republican candidates have been attempting to take advantage of the national economy and 40-year inflation highs under Joe Biden’s presidency to win more legislative races. GOP candidates ran ads blaming Washington for higher prices and talk about what Republicans in Raleigh have done to counter them, such as cutting income taxes.

GOP legislative leaders saw pickup opportunities in eastern and rural North Carolina, where district boundaries have been stretched to new areas during this year's redistricting.

They include the seat for the 5th House District, where Democratic Rep. Howard Hunter III of Hertford County is running against former sheriff’s deputy Bill Ward, and for the 24th District, where Rep. Linda Cooper-Suggs, a Wilson County Democrat, faced a tough challenge from Republican Ken Fontenot.

The favorable midterm environment for Republicans has also put more Democratic-leaning seats in reach.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.