From the WS Journal:
Historically, the wins were epic. They also could play a bigger-than-usual role in the state’s political future. After this year’s census, the General Assembly must redraw voting districts for the next 10 years, and putting the lines in the right place could cement Republican control of the legislature for some time.
According to incomplete results at press time, Republicans held leads in at least 30 races for the 50 state Senate seats. Republicans, including the House minority leader, Rep. Paul Stam, R- Wake, who will likely become the speaker of the House, said that Republicans won at least 68 seats in the 120-seat House.
That is a huge shift, exceeding all but the most optimistic Republican expectations.
Republicans will have to work with Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, who has veto power over legislation. It takes a three-fifths majority in both chambers to override a governor’s veto. The GOP was right at the three-fifths number in the Senate, but it did not appear to approach the 72 seats it needs in the House to override vetos.
But majority control means that Republicans will have far more power over the state budget and its expected $3-billion-plus deficit. Republicans could do little more than call for new cuts this year while Democrats put together the budget.
“We knew that this was going to be a difficult year no matter who was running the General Assembly,” Rep. Pete Brunstetter, a Republican from Lewisville, said last night at a GOP victory party in downtown Raleigh.
There are a lot of moving parts to the state budget, making predictions difficult. But Brunstetter noted Perdue’s recent calls to restructure state government, saying that Republicans have “been calling for that for probably a couple of decades.”
Still, he stopped short of predicting large-scale layoffs to balance the budget, saying that legislators will have to monitor state revenues and other indicators. Stam said he hopes the state won’t need large-scale layoffs or furloughs, but “there may be some attrition.”
According to Brunstetter and Stam, the election likely dooms any plans to re-up temporary tax increases put in place in 2009 to help balance the budget. Those tax increases are set to expire next year.
Sen. Linda Garrou, D-32nd, easily defeated tea-party activist and Republican Nathan Jones, winning by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1. Rep. Earline Parmon, D-72nd, beat Republican John Magee, and Rep. Dale Folwell, R-74th, beat Democrat Cristina Vazquez, both by greater than 2-to-1 ratios.
Running unopposed were Brunstetter, R-31st; Rep. Larry Brown, R-73rd; Rep. Bill McGee, R-75th; and Rep. Larry Womble, D-71st.
Going into the election this year, Democrats held 68 seats in the House to the Republicans’ 52. In the Senate, Democrats held 30 of the 50 seats. The GOP effort to flip those numbers was helped by some high-profile Democratic retirements, particularly in the Senate, where six Democrats stepped away, compared with two Republicans.
But state Republicans also put on a full-court press, particularly in the Senate, where the GOP recruited candidates for all 50 seats for the first time in years. Republicans also closed or narrowed fundraising gaps, particularly by recruiting statehouse candidates willing to bankroll many of their own races and by embracing campaign-finance changes that, at the federal level, did away with caps on some donations.
The last time Republicans controlled the state Senate was the session of 1869-70, when the dynamics of the post-Civil War era won them control of the entire legislature, according to the General Assembly’s legislative library. But that was short-lived and Democrats — then called the Conservative Party — retook control the next session.
Except for a brief union between the Republican and Populist parties in the 1890s, Republicans were banished to the cheap seats for the next 150 years or so. Republicans briefly took the House in the mid-1990s, but the Senate stayed in Democratic hands.