In Washington, efforts by this state’s Republicans to cement their political dominance have taken a drubbing this month. On May 15, the Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina elections law that a federal appeals court said had been designed “with almost surgical precision” to depress black voter turnout. A week later, the court threw out maps of two congressional districts that it said sought to limit black voters’ clout. And it could get worse: Gerrymandering challenges to other congressional and state legislative districts also are headed for the justices. But if North Carolina Republicans have been chastened in Washington, there is scant evidence of it here in the state capital. Quite the opposite: Hours after the court nullified the elections law, for example, party officials said they would simply write another.
Republicans have largely dominated state offices since 2010, when a conservative wave helped them wrest control from Democrats, who had regarded incumbency as a birthright for a century. But since November, when Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, reclaimed the governor’s office from the incumbent Republican, Pat McCrory, Republicans have redoubled their efforts to keep the levers of state government and state courts in their control.
Politics in North Carolina have long been barbed, and Republicans say Democrats regularly twisted the rules when they were in power.
“We have an enormously powerful legislature, and this state has a long history of suspicion of executive power,” said Dallas Woodhouse, the state Republican Party’s executive director. “It’s often that we have reined in appointments when one side controls the legislature and the other doesn’t.”