How a North Carolina Candidate’s Home Affects Control of the State Legislature

As Republicans and Democrats have battled for control of the North Carolina state legislature in recent years, they have repeatedly weaponized a residency law that requires candidates to live in districts that their opponents might view as are not eligible to apply.

Context: Year after year, the parties have sought to show that some candidates do not meet that requirement and live outside their district, despite claims to the contrary.

  • It is an argument that is difficult to prove, and many challenges ultimately fail. But Republicans are giving him another chance this year, and this time he could help them tighten their grip on the state legislature.

Driving the news: Republicans allege that Democrat Valerie Jordan, a candidate for State Senate District 3, lives in Raleigh, rather than Warren, where she registered to vote in 2020. Jordan registered there in December 2020, after voting in the 2020 election. Wake County from 1998 to November 2020.

  • The State Board of Elections plans to consider the case on Friday.
  • If Republicans are successful and the board disqualifies Jordan, Democrats will need to nominate someone else to run in his place.

Why it matters: If Jordan’s opponent, Republican state Rep. Bobby Hanig, wins this seat in November, Republicans will likely have a large majority in the Senate, giving them enough votes to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes.

  • Republicans need to win just two seats for a supermajority in the Senate, and Jordan’s race is one of the key seats the party has set out to change.
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What we are seeing: This case will measure the degree to which voters care about residency requirements. Republicans argue they have an advantage whether or not Jordan is on the ballot, given the media attention the case has generated.

  • “Republicans might be better off if she stays on the ballot,” a Republican agent working on the race, Nathan Babcock, told Axios.

The panorama: Challenges and residency requirements are right up there with barbecue in terms of things North Carolinians love to debate and rave about. Not living where you say you live can have consequences ranging from public scorn to jail time.

  • Consider this: High school football teams regularly lose entire seasons to a player who doesn’t live in his assigned district. But congressional candidates are technically free to live where they want and represent any district they want.

Details: Babcock argues that the case is clear. For weeks, the party was watched at Jordan’s Raleigh home, which she has owned since 1998. Photos provided by Babcock show her car was parked in the driveway for 23 days straight.

The other side: In a statement to WRAL, Jordan said he lives in Warren County.

  • “Warrenton is my home, where I pray on Sundays and where I host our family dinners,” Jordan said. “Anyone who suggests I don’t live in Warrenton clearly doesn’t know Warrenton, which is exactly what happens to Raleigh politicians like Bobby Hanig.”

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