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Local GOP scores big with Barnes’ victory

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Lisa Barnes signs a notice of candidacy in February at the Nash County Board of Elections in Nashville.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Republican Lisa Barnes' trouncing of an incumbent Democrat at the polls Tuesday for the state House District 7 seat is a triple victory for the local GOP.

“The blue wave crashed on the red hills of Franklin County and the sands of southern Nash County,” said Johnny Barnes, husband to the newly elected representative who will serve all of Franklin and a portion of Nash counties for at least the next two years.

While Democrats on Tuesday retook the U.S. House and broke the Republican supermajority hold on the General Assembly, Barnes defeated longtime Democrat Bobbie Richardson with 58 percent of the vote.

Barnes often said while campaigning from Youngsville to Middlesex that the district wanted a different voice, and voters agreed. She will soon add her conservative voice to the House din.

That's the first victory; The second is that her replacement on the Nash County Board of Commissioners will be another Republican.

“As you know, with Lisa Barnes’ victory last night, there will be a vacancy on the Nash County Board of Commissioners,” Nash County GOP Chairman Mark Edwards told the Telegram Wednesday morning. “The Nash County Republican Party Executive Committee will meet next Tuesday, Nov. 13, to discuss the procedures we will use in making our recommendation to the county board. Shortly after next Tuesday’s meeting, I should be sending you further information about our procedure.”

A county board must consult with the local political party of a departing elected official before making a selection to fill a vacancy, according to N.C. General Statute 153A-27.

The Nash County Board of Commissioners has three Republicans, who are automatically members of the Nash County GOP Executive Committee. While the board almost always votes unanimously, Republicans hold a 4-3 majority. Chairman Robbie Davis, Vice Chairman Wayne Outlaw, Commissioner Dan Cone and Barnes are Republican. Replacing Barnes with another Republican from southern Nash County will allow the GOP to maintain control of the county board — especially with Commissioner Mary Wells defeating her Republican challenger with 61 percent of the vote.

The county board has 60 days from the date of Barnes’ resignation to name a replacement.

The third victory lies in the effectiveness of Republican leadership's gerrymandering of the district.

After federal judges ruled many of the state's House districts were unlawfully drawn to reduce the influence of black voters, Republicans redrew those districts. The new maps weakened a longtime Democratic stronghold in Franklin County. The district had been gerrymandered years ago by Democratic lawmakers to be packed with black voters who tend to vote Democratic.

Under the Republican scalpel, the district went from around 70 percent Democratic to leaning Republican, according to The N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation, a pro-business organization partially funded by the Pope Foundation, a conservative public policy group.

Richardson's campaign didn't return messages about the matter.

It's time to end gerrymandering on both sides, said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action, a liberal political organization.

“We need to take partisan politics out of the redistricting process entirely,” Brenner said. “It’s time for leaders from both sides of the aisle to work together on an independent redistricting process that gives the people their voice.”

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