'Politics will be hard to ignore': High-stakes election year opens next week

Jim Morrill, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Political News

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Never has North Carolina faced an election season like the one that begins Monday.

With the start of candidate filing, the state will hurtle into a whirlwind year marked by big changes, crowded races and its earliest primaries ever.

March 3 primaries mean absentee ballots go out in mid-January -- three weeks before Iowa voters hold their first-in-the-nation presidential contest.

"About the time people are taking down the Christmas trees is about the time politics will become part of their daily lives," said political scientist Chris Cooper of Western Carolina University. "Politics will be hard to ignore."

All this could take place against not only the backdrop of a Democratic presidential primary but a U.S. Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. For voters, it may seem like a political fire hose.

"It's going to be extremely busy," said Gerry Cohen, a former longtime legislative official.


Just consider:

--Millions of North Carolinians will find themselves in new voting districts for the General Assembly and Congress.

Lawmakers redrew the districts after judges ruled them partisan gerrymanders. Legislative districts are final. A three-judge panel meets Monday to consider whether to approve congressional districts or ask an expert to draw a new ones. That will delay filing -- and could delay congressional primaries.

A court challenge also could delay filing for Mecklenburg's district court judges.


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