Blaine says Republican dominance may be coming to an end

Published August 6, 2020

By Jim Blaine

A decade of Republican dominance of North Carolina politics may be coming to an end in November, according to one of the state’s best-known GOP political operators. There are nearly 100 days left until the Nov. 3 election, but Jim Blaine told a Raleigh group this week that the GOP may face a 1972-type tsunami similar to the year that Richard Nixon won 49 states in the presidential election.

If an election was held this week, N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, who has been in office since 2005, might be the only Republican statewide elected official standing in 2021, Blaine said at a John Locke Foundation event. That would mean the GOP would lose its claim on a U.S. Senate seat and N.C. labor, school superintendent, treasurer and insurance offices, and possibly its majorities in the N.C. Senate and House. Business NC followed up later with Blaine, who moderated his view a bit, saying this year’s election may be more like 2008 when Barack Obama won in North Carolina and three Democrats scored upsets: Kay Hagan whipped incumbent U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole; Larry Kissell upset longterm U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes; and Democrat Beth Wood ousted State Auditor Les Merritt. Even so, Republicans still added seats in the N.C. Senate that year, he notes.

How Gov. Roy Cooper and President Donald Trump handle the virus will be critical, says Blaine, a former chief of staff to N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger. He now is a consultant. “If any candidate is talking about anything other than how to respond to that issue and how it affects schools and the economy, they are completely off message and off base,” says Blaine. “Everything is about the coronavirus.” Blaine says the ActBlue fundraising effort, which channels millions of dollars from progressives mostly in Democratic-dominated areas into competitive states, is putting N.C. Republican candidates at a huge fundraising disadvantage. Still, much can and will happen over the next 90-plus days that could change the results, he notes.