While much of the national attention focused on Tuesday’s election of former North Carolina Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis, to the United State Senate, scant attention has been paid to the composition of the General Assembly that Tillis used to lead.
Post-election, it appears that Tea Party support has become entrenched in the North Carolina General Assembly. Nearly all of the legislators who were supportive of the Tea Party will be returning to Jones Street in January.
In the recent report, The Tea Party In North Carolina: Threat to a New Birth of Freedom, the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR) rated all members of the North Carolina General Assembly based on their support or opposition to the Tea Party movement. It found that both chambers of the 2013-2014 General Assembly were dominated legislators supportive of the Tea Party.
An examination of election results from Tuesday’s general election finds that given the strong showing of Tea Party supporters in the legislature, the composition of the 2015-2016 session of the legislature looks to be just as bad for human rights as the last.
North Carolina House of Representatives
In report, IREHR found that the 2013-2014 session of the North Carolina House of Representatives was “dominated by Tea Party supporters, with nearly half (59 of 120 members) of its members having some level of support for the Tea Party.”
Heading into the 2015 session of the legislature, the percentage of members of the House who have been supportive of the Tea Party remains high at nearly 50%. Of the 104 North Carolina House members that were re-elected, 51 members have expressed support for the Tea Party, 21 have expressed opposition to the Tea Party, and 27 have not expressed support nor opposition.
Tea Party Support/Opposition in 2015 North Carolina House
Of the remaining 16 members of the House discussed in the report, 12 chose not to run in 2014, or ran for a different office (3 who expressed opposition to the Tea Party, 4 with no expression of support or opposition, 1 ALEC Only, 3 Mild Tea Party supporters, and 1 Tea Party supporter). Just 4 candidates lost – one mild Tea Party supporter (Thomas Murray, District 41), one Tea Party supporter (Michael Stone, District 51), and two Strong Tea Party supporters (Timothy Moffitt, District 116 and Nathan Ramsey, District 115).
North Carolina Senate
Unlike the US Senate where terms last for six years, state Senators in North Carolina serve two year terms, with all 50 senate districts on the ballot this year.
The report found that like the House, the 2013-2014 North Carolina Senate was dominated by Tea Party supporters. In the North Carolina Senate, 48 percent of members (24 of 50 members) were categorized as Tea Party supporters. This included ten Mild Tea Party supporters, ten Tea Party supporters and four Strong Tea Party supporters. The remaining twenty-six Senators were equally divided between those who have expressed opposition to the Tea Party, and those who expressed neither support nor opposition.
Expect the level of Tea Party support in the North Carolina Senate to remain high in the 2015-2016 session. Of the 50 state Senators in the 2013-2014 session, 44 ran for office again in 2014—43 were re-elected. Of those re-elected, the majority have expressed some level of support for the Tea Party.
Of the 43 state senators re-elected in North Carolina, 23 have expressed support for the Tea Party (10 mild supporter, 9 supporters, and 4 strong supporters), while 12 had expressed opposition to the Tea Party and 8 had expressed neither support nor opposition to the Tea Party.
Tea Party Support/Opposition in 2015 North Carolina Senate
Only one candidate failed to be re-elected, Gene McLaurin, a Democrat from the 25th Senate District, who had not expressed opposition or support for the Tea Party. Six chose not to run in 2014, or ran for a different office (1 who expressed opposition to the Tea Party, 4 with no expression of support or opposition, and 1 Tea Party supporter).