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Republicans could flip 2 Wake Co. Commissioner seats under proposed legislation
HB99 would eliminate at-large elections for Wake County Commissioners
Update: Paré has announced a compromise with the current Democratic Commissioners, which would involve an additional two at-large seats, in addition to the current seven seats which would be elected by district. The analysis remains unchanged: District 2 and District 6 could be competitive races, the other five districts and the two at-large seats will not be competitive.
State Rep. Erin Paré (R-Wake) has proposed a bill which would change how elections for the Board of Commissioners take place in Wake County. Although the county is currently split into seven districts for residential requirements for the commissioners, every candidate is elected “at-large” by the whole county electorate. HB99 would change that, and require each commissioner to be elected by the citizens of the district they reside in, as well as by making the elections non-partisan. Paré described her arguments in favor of the bill in an interview with me last month.
HB99 has passed it’s first hurdle last week when the bill passed it’s first committee vote. Since this bill applies to less than 15 counties, it’s exempt from the governor’s veto under Article II, Section 22 (6) of the North Carolina Constitution.
I estimate if this bill passes, Republicans will have the chance to flip two of the currently drawn districts, District 2 and District 6. The other five districts will remain as safe Democrat races, as all seven districts currently are under the at-large election system:
District 1: safe D
District 2: toss up
District 3: safe D
District 4: safe D
District 5: safe D
District 6: leans D
District 7: safe D
This analysis is based on precinct level election day data from the 2022 election, adjusted for the difference between election day results and the total election results.
District 2 is in the southernmost end of the county, including Holly Springs and Fuquay Varina. This district also largely overlaps with House District 37, which Representative Paré represents. Paré is currently the only Republican in the Wake County delegation to the North Carolina General Assembly.
Although HB99 would give the Republicans a chance at unseating incumbent Commissioner Matt Calabria, this would still be a toss-up race at best for the GOP.
District 6 contains the northern end of the county, including much of Wake Forest. However, this district also reaches down into Raleigh, making it a lean Democrat race at best for anyone looking to unseat Commissioner Shinica Thomas, the current chair of the board.
Even under a best case scenario, HB99 would only give the GOP a plausible shot at two of the seven Wake County Commissioner seats. However, neither of these races would be even close to guaranteed for any candidate wishing to challenge the current unanimous Democrat status-quo.