Candidate filing resumes Feb. 24, unless NC Supreme Court says no

By RICK CURL
Senior staff writer
Posted 1/14/22

The political ping-pong ball filing season for the 2022 elections changed course — again.

Candidate filing is set to resume at 8 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24 after a ruling Tuesday in Wake County …

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Candidate filing resumes Feb. 24, unless NC Supreme Court says no

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The political ping-pong ball filing season for the 2022 elections changed course — again.

Candidate filing is set to resume at 8 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24 after a ruling Tuesday in Wake County Superior Court. But appeals could halt that action.

In a 3-0 decision, a bipartisan (two Republicans and one Democrat) panel upheld state legislative congressional district maps challenged in related lawsuits.

The order calls for the filing period for this year’s primary and municipal elections to resume in February and continue through noon on Friday, March 4.

“We are excited and ready for filing to resume on Feb. 24,” Harnett County Board of Elections Director Clarie Jones told The Daily Record.

The North Carolina Supreme Court could modify the filing dates again, though.

“Please call the office or check the website prior to filing,” Jones cautioned.

Candidates should also be aware of certain changes and requirements before they head to the Board of Elections office.

“For those planning to file, please be sure to check out the Harnett County Board of Elections or State Board of Elections websites to ensure you are registered in the correct county and are familiar with the rules and forms,” Jones said. “You must be registered with your party for 90 days prior to filing in order to run under that party and there are new requirements for sheriff candidates.”

As of last year, candidates seeking the sheriff’s office cannot file if they have been convicted of a felony, even if the felony was expunged. Candidates must fill out several forms and a disclosure statement verifying they have no prior felony convictions or expungements, according to Jones.

The only exception to this new standard is if a person receives an unconditional pardon of innocence for their felony. Forms and additional information are available for potential sheriff candidates at the Sheriffs Training and Standards Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice website.

“Due to COVID precautions please wear a mask and be prepared to wait,” Jones said. “Especially on the first day.”

Filing was suspended in December after the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, Inc. and Common Cause filed a lawsuit, prompting a preliminary injunction to halt the process. The group also sought a permanent injunction in an attempt to force Republican legislators into redraw congressional maps.

Both were denied by Tuesday’s ruling in Wake County.

“We are glad to see the filing process begin again in February,” said Rep. Howard Penny (R-Harnett). “It’s time now for candidates to move forward and for the people of Harnett County to begin the process of electing their representatives in Raleigh.”

Penny is cautiously optimistic of the new filing period.

“For now we are glad to see things moving forward,” he added, “with the caveat things could once again be delayed pending the supreme court’s decision.”

Democrats aren’t so happy.

State Democratic Party Chair Bobbie Richardson expressed displeasure with the court’s ruling and continued to emphasize the belief that GOP mapmakers acted inappropriately.

“I am disappointed by the three-judge panel’s decision to uphold the partisanly gerrymandered maps,” Richardson said. “The evidence presented demonstrates that Republicans lied to their colleagues when they promised a fair and transparent redistricting process. They cheated using secret maps and closed door strategy sessions, then destroyed the maps they used. They are trying to steal seats through illegal partisan gerrymandering and are choosing to proceed with costly litigation that hardworking taxpayers will pay for.”

Richardson accused the mapmakers of trying to turn the tables on voters.

“Throughout the process, I have said that voters ought to be able to select the individuals that represent them, not the other way around,” she said. “This is not the end of the fight for fair and transparent maps that reflect the diversity of our state.”

Republicans join Penny in calling the decision a positive step toward getting the primary process rolling.

State Senate Redistricting Committee Co-chair Warren Daniel, says he believes the decision validates the maps and opens the door for moving forward.

He also lobbed his own accusations at Democrats, who hold the majority on the State Supreme Court by a slim 4-3 edge. The groups responsible for the lawsuit delaying the process want to see the Supreme Court tackle the gerrymandering issues, he said. And he cites two justices who, he and other GOP legislators believe, should recuse themselves from any decision the Supreme Court could make.

“The sue-’til-blue organizations and their lawyers will probably appeal to the conflict-riddled state Supreme Court because its 4-3 Democratic majority was won with the help of a six-figure donation from the very organization funding this case,” Daniel said. “Eric Holder’s organization (National Democratic Redistricting Committee) donated $250,000 to elect Justice Anita Earls, who has not yet recused herself even though this case is funded by that same organization — her largest campaign backer. And another justice, Sam Ervin, is on the ballot but hasn’t recused himself even though this case will decide the rule and timeline governing his own reelection.”

Rick Curl can be reached at rcurl@mydailyrecord.com or 910-230-2038.

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