Candidate filing for the 2018 North Carolina General Assembly elections ended this week, and both parties will field enough candidates to ensure all 170 seats will be contested this year. It’s making Democratic Governor Roy Cooper very happ - and confident. Cooper has been in office for 14 months, but his legislative power remains quite limited. That’s because Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly allowing them to override any vetoes from Cooper, something they did nine times last year. But the Governor is confident that will change next year, in part because his party was able to field candidates in all races this year. In the general election two years, nearly 45% of all General Assembly races were unopposed. Democrats will need to pick up four seats in the House or six in the Senate to break the supermajority, and the Governor – speaking in Asheville - predicts one of those will happen. “It will be broken. We'll just see by how much.”
And while Democrats made a very vocal push to ensure they had candidates for all seats this year, the 100% contested election mark would not have been reached had Republicans not fielded enough candidates. That’s especially true in Democratic-rich Asheville and Buncombe County, where five GOP candidates filed this week to challenge four Democratic incumbents, three of whom did not face a Republican challenger in 2016.
The governor was visiting Asheville to make an announcement about jobs. G.E. Aviation will add 146 jobs at its two Western North Carolina locations, with 131 of those jobs coming to its Asheville facility. The company's other WNC site is in Ashe County. G.E. says the new jobs are apart of $105-million investment into the two factories, which manufacture engine components. The jobs in Asheville will have an average salary of just over $48-thousand per year.
COOPER SUPPORTS GRAHAM STATUE AT U.S. CAPITOL
Cooper this week also wrote a letter to the Joint Committee of the Library of Congress to ask that a statue of the late Reverend Billy Graham replace that of one of North Carolina governor Charles Aycock at the U.S. Capitol in D.C. Each state gets to have two statues of famous residents in the Capitol. In 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a measure to make a statue of Graham one of those upon his death. Currently, two former governors who pushed white supremacist policies are North Carolina's statues at the Capitol - Aycock and Zebulon Vance (who's also honored with the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville). Graham died last week at his home in Montreat at the age of 99. His funeral will take place Friday at his museum and library in Charlotte. His casket lied in repose at the Capitol this week, making him only the 4th private citizen given that honor in U.S. history. Mourners filed past the casket for two days this week in Charlotte as well after it was moved there from the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville.