Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Barringer to Berger Jr.: "Not So Fast There, Scooter!"

Sen. Tamara Barringer, 2016, calling for
repeal of HB2 ("bathroom bill")
WRAL photo

Musical Chairs on NC's Highest Court
Republican Chief Justice Mark Martin announced he was stepping down this month, and Governor Cooper gets to appoint his replacement (who'll have to run for the seat in 2020). Republican Associate Justice Paul Newby immediately announced he would be giving up the Newby seat to run for Chief Justice next year. Soon after, Republican Phil Berger Jr. announced he would run for the Newby seat (as did Democratic Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman).

Yesterday former NC Senator Tamara Barringer announced she will also be running in 2020 for the Newby seat.

My first thought: "D'oh! Tamara Barringer saying (in effect) to Phil Berger Jr., 'I don't care who your daddy is! I'm running for the same thing you think you're entitled to!' "

Interesting, since, as a state senator, Barringer was always under Father Berger's thumb, though she's been capable of a streak of independence (see the photo).

Contrary to what I initially thought (and hattip to Gerry Cohen), there will be judicial primaries in North Carolina in 2020. The elimination of primaries for partisan judge races applied only to 2018, which was one of those Berger/Moore schemes supposed to sow chaos among Democrats. Didn't work that way, and we now have a 5-2 Democratic majority on the Supreme Court likely to move to 6-1 when Cooper appoints Martin's replacement.

If there's a Berger Jr. - Barringer primary, that'll be interesting to watch. If. Many other factors could change that: If Cooper appoints one of the sitting Democratic justices as Chief, that'll open another named seat, and Barringer could elect to run for that rather than going head to head with Berger.

Barringer had been a four-term state senator, representing the Wake County District 17, until last fall when Democrat Sam Searcy flipped the seat. Wake County has been trending away from hardline conservatism, but in announcing yesterday, Barringer sounded pretty hardcore conservative:

“In the last week, I received many calls encouraging me to run for the Supreme Court,” Barringer said in a press release Tuesday. “All of you know my love for the law and the importance of maintaining a strict Constitutional interpretation of the laws passed by the General Assembly. It is imperative that we have justices who refrain from legislating from the bench” (emphasis added).

But in 2016, she was the first Republican lawmaker to call for the "substantial and immediate" repeal of House Bill 2 due to the measure's "unintended consequences" (WRAL).

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