After Democrats flipped swing states like Colorado and Virginia all blue in 2018 and 2019, the biggest target for a wholesale flip in 2020 is North Carolina.
In fact, you could say North Carolina has already flipped blue — its representatives just need to reflect it. Democrats won a majority of votes statewide in 2018, but thanks to one of the most egregious gerrymanders in the country, Republicans were able to keep control of the state legislature and pass horrible anti-LGBTQ laws; only an end to their supermajority, earned in 2018, sustained a veto of a terrible anti-choice bill.
Last fall, the State Supreme Court ordered legislators to redraw the maps to even out the worst parts of the gerrymander, which gives Democrats a strong chance to win back both chambers in Raleigh this year as well as the state’s electoral votes in the presidential election. Democrats need to win just five seats to flip the State Senate and six seats to do the same in the State House of Representatives. Here’s a look at some of the best flip opportunities — hat tip to FlipNC for help with analyzing the redistricting.
State Senate District 39: You never want to say an election is in the bag, but this one is about as close as it gets without a candidate running unopposed. This Charlotte-area seat had its lines redrawn in the redistricting, going from a GOP gerrymander to a district that favors Democrats by a whopping 25 points. Even better, Democrats nominated a rising star named DeAndrea Salvador, a 29-year-old who founded her own renewable energy nonprofit and was a TED fellow in 2018.
State Senate District 18: Though not quite as big a slam dunk as District 39, this Wake Forest-area district now leans Democratic by six points. Running for Team Blue is Sarah Crawford, who has made a career out of working for nonprofits focused on education, healthcare, and economic stability.
State Senate District 31: Another Wake Forest-area district, this one shifts from being gerrymandered for Republicans to running about even. In 2018 Terri LeGrand, a lawyer and financial aid administrator at Wake Forest University, came close to beating the district’s very anti-abortion senator anyway, and now she’s got an even better shot. We interviewed LeGrand a few months back — check it out!
State Senate District 1: After keeping a very red State House district within 10 points in 2016, Tess Judge is now running to flip a larger State Senate district that’s much closer to dead even. It’s pretty ridiculously gerrymandered, but it should still be a down-to-the-wire race.
State House District 63: In 2018, this central North Carolina district was decided by less than 300 votes. This time around, Democrats have a decisive advantage thanks to the redistricting tweaks and another great candidate, Ricky Hurtado. A first-generation American, Hurtado has also had a career in non-profits, largely focusing on expanding access to education to working people and immigrants.
State House District 9: The now-defunct gerrymander of this district was so egregious, Democrats are going from getting swamped by 20 points in 2018 to being favored to take the seat. The party’s candidate, Brian Farkas, grew up in the Eastern Carolina area and is just 33-years-old, making him another one of the young stars running this year.
State House District 45: Another district that’s going to see a big swing thanks to gerrymandering being straightened out. GOP Rep. John Szoka won by 17 points in 2018 but now will have to face a fair race against a great candidate: Frances Jackson, a long-time community leader, teacher, and county magistrate.
State House District 59: Similar story in this northwestern Carolina district, which voted Republican by 13 points in 2018 but is now much more competitive. Nicole Quick, an occupational therapist and advocate for children with autism, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
State House District 82: Democrat Aimy Steele ran a strong race in 2018 as a first-time candidate, losing by less than six points, and now she’s back to finish the job in this western North Carolina district. She is a former public school principal who is very focused on education policy, a hot-button issue in North Carolina.
State House District 74: Terri LeGrand ran in this district in 2018, while Dan Besse ran in the neighboring 75th House district, where he overperformed recent Democrats and lost by just seven points. The 74th district has been redrawn to be less gerrymandered, and those two factors combined make this a very good flip opportunity.