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  • Carolina Journal

Democrats back Riggs, Republicans drop Murphy in statewide judicial primaries

Voters set the table Tuesday night for this year’s four statewide judicial races. The two primary elections for North Carolina’s two highest courts produced the first electoral win for an appointed incumbent and a loss for another incumbent seeking re-election.

One seat is up for grabs in November on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Democrat Allison Riggs to the high court last September to replace fellow Democrat Michael Morgan, who came up short for the Democrat’s gubernatorial nomination against Attorney General Josh Stein.

Now Riggs is running for a full eight-year term. She defeated Superior Court Judge Lora Cubbage, 69% to 31%, in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Riggs now faces Republican Appeals Court Judge Jefferson Griffin in November’s general election.

Republicans currently hold a 5-2 majority on the state’s highest court. If Riggs wins re-election, that margin will remain unchanged. A victory for Griffin would shift the court to a 6-1 Republican advantage.

Republicans hold an 11-4 majority on the Court of Appeals, North Carolina’s second-highest court.

Three Appeals Court seats are on the ballot in November. Republican incumbents hold two of those seats. An appointed Democrat holds the third.

The only Appeals Court primary election produced an upset. Incumbent Judge Hunter Murphy lost to District Court Judge Chris Freeman, 62% to 38%, in a Republican primary. Freeman will face Democrat Martin Moore in November.

The other two Appeals Court races had no primary. Incumbent Republican Judge Valerie Zachary will face Democrat Ed Eldred in November. Democrat Judge Carolyn Thompson, appointed in September to replace Riggs on the Appeals Court, will face Republican Thomas Murry in the fall. Murry previously served in the North Carolina House of Representatives and initially filed to run in the North Carolina attorney general race, but withdrew from the primary and endorsed US Rep. Dan Bishop.

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