The dust hasn’t quite settled yet on the 2020 election — Michigan certified its election results Monday evening; Pennsylvania and Georgia have already certified; yet the Trumpers are still not quite cognizant of the results.
But here in North Carolina, where we are still owed a recount in the state Supreme Court chief justice race, savvy Republicans have already cut their loss at the top of the ticket and are now eyeing Richard Burr’s US Senate seat, which will not have the benefit of an incumbent in 2022.
Burr announced he wouldn’t run for re-election four months before he won in 2016 — perhaps the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee sensed a change for his party in the wind. Or maybe he just wants to be a lobbyist.
Either way, Rep. Mark Walker announced his intentions to run for the seat shortly after he got drawn out of his congressional district — the 6th, redrawn after several proclamations by three-judge panels called out the state GOP’s efforts to disenfranchise black voters with “surgical precision.”
Kathy Manning won the congressional seat this year, by the way, which now covers Forsyth and Guilford counties, including their biggest cities.
But a Senate seat is not something on which someone can call dibs. Walker will feel pressure from all the North Carolina GOP luminaries for this coveted post: current White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has expressed interest. Former governor Pat McCrory’s name has come up. Last week, some suggested that President Trump’s daughter in-law Lara, a native of Wilmington, might consider a run for the seat, though she has said she’s flattered, but not interested.
We haven’t always elected the best in North Carolina, where our list of past senators includes Liddy Dole, who never spent much time in the state after winning the seat vacated by Jesse Helms, a racial demagogue who tainted NC politics for 50 years, 30 of them in the US Senate. On the other side we’ve got John Edwards, whose extramarital dalliances destroyed his political career.
It’s possible the seat could go to a Democrat, even in a midterm election with a D in the White House. Erica Smith has already announced her intention to run; she lost her bid for Thom Tillis’ seat this year in the primary, falling to Cal Cunningham by more than 20 points.
And we all know what happened with Cal: In the middle of the most expensive Senate race in US history, he began an affair with a staffer that may have paled in comparison to Edwards’ exploits, but almost certainly cost him the election.
All this goes to show that we need better Senate candidates in North Carolina, and we’ve got a couple years to find them.