Despite U.S. Senate Race, Lots of Good News In Election Results

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It’s okay for North Carolina progressives to be disappointed by the midterm election results, but cheer up -- there’s plenty of good news to focus on in state and local election results.

A Victory for Education

  • In legislative races across the state, voters showed that public education is still a big priority in North Carolina. Sitting state lawmakers such as Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey in Buncombe County lost their re-election bids after putting tax breaks for millionaires and big corporations ahead of funding for our students and teachers.
     
  • In Wake County, GOP NC House Rep. Tom Murry tried to fool pro-education voters by paying temp workers to hand out fake endorsement cards from the NC Association of Educators. The NCAE had actually endorsed Murry’s opponent, Gale Adcock, and thanks to some rapid-response last-minute pushback by ProgressNC Action, Murry's 11th hour misinformation campaign was exposed on local television. Adcock went on to win by a little more than 700 votes. 
  • This isn’t the end of the push to renew North Carolina’s focus on public education -- it’s only the beginning. When the new General Assembly returns to Jones Street in 2015, it’s extremely important for progressives to hold lawmakers to their promise to support teachers and students or face defeat in 2016.

A Clean Sweep in Wake County

  • Despite overwhelming support for increased public transportation options in Wake County, the Republican-controlled county commission blocked progress on transit for almost a decade.
     
  • That all ended on Tuesday, when progressive Democrats John Burns, Matt Calabria, Jessica Holmes, and Sig Hutchinson swept out all four incumbent GOP commissioners -- including Paul Coble, the nephew of Jesse Helms. 
     
  • Burns, Calabria, Holmes, and Hutchinson have all pledged to improve public transit and education in Wake County, which will create huge economic benefits for the entire region as their leadership takes shape.

Big Gains in Lee County

  • Progressives also made great strides in Lee County, where anti-education lawmaker Mike Stone was soundly defeated by challenger Brad Salmon.
     
  • Control of the Lee County Commission was wrested away from the GOP after Democrats won two seats. Controversial Tea Party commissioner Steve Womack did not seek re-election, which will come as a relief to all progressives familiar with his anonymous blogger antics.
     
  • Even in rural counties such as Lee, more and more voters are coming to appreciate the positive impact of a healthy public education system -- and the negative effects of underfunding it. Expect those strides to grow even larger in future elections.

The Bottom Line:

There are plenty of things to be happy about in last night’s election results, and even more reason to look forward to improving things in 2016. In the meantime, it is critical that progressives keep the focus on improving public education, holding our current public officials accountable and continuing to fight to get North Carolina back on track and moving our state forward.

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