The possibility of a so-called “blue wave” nationally never materialized on Election Day. While Democrats did take back control of the US House of Representatives, Republicans expanded their majority in the US Senate.
In southeastern North Carolina, though, there were signs not only of a blue wave but an even bigger red tide, if you will.
Democrats took control of the New Hanover County Commission and won three of the four open seats on the school board. In the process, they forced out three Republican incumbents from the school board to narrow the GOP majority to 4-3.
Democrat Harper Peterson holds the narrowest of leads against Republican incumbent Michael Lee for the 9th District NC Senate seat. Meanwhile Republican House incumbents Ted Davis and Holly Grange held their seats.
But while New Hanover County leaned more to the blue end of the political spectrum, it’s neighbors are solidly red.
In Brunswick County, Deb Butler is the only Democrat to hold a partisan office, but her 18th House District also includes a big chunk of Wilmington. While she won 76 percent of the vote in New Hanover County, she actually finished about 600 votes behind Republican challenger Louis Harmati in Brunswick County, whom she beat overall 62 percent of the ballots cast.
In the countywide partisan races last night in Brunswick County, Republicans won each with at least 60 percent of the vote.
Pender County also saw a Republican sweep. A trio of incumbents held their seats on the county commission to keep the 5-0 majority.
This year’s election was the first time the Pender County School Board was a partisan race. Republicans won all three open seats to push out a pair of Democrat incumbents and claim the seat left open after the death of longtime board member Katherine Herring earlier this year. Along with incumbents Brad George and Don Hall, registered Republicans who won the last non-partisan race in 2016, they create an all-GOP board.
Republicans are also seeing gains in Bladen and Columbus counties, which for years were solidly Democratic strongholds.