The Other Stuff on the Ballot

OP readers, I imagine most of you know who you are voting for by now for most races, but few of us have taken a hard look at the non-partisan races on the ballot for this fall. I apologize for the non-local nature of this particular thread, but (especially if you read all the way to the end) you will find that there is a local angle in here somewhere.

There are several non-partisan judicial races to take note of. Let me say this clearly- there are no party affiliations listed on the ballot in any of the following races. You will have to carry a list or work hard to remember the names of your candidates.

We have two Supreme Court races:

The first is Sarah Parker v. John Tyson. Sarah Parker is an incumbent Supreme Court Justice and was formerly a Court of Appeals Judge in North Carolina. She is also a noted Democrat. So the saying goes in Domcratic Party circles: "Wherever two or three are gathered in the Democratic name, there Justice Parker will be among them." John Tyson is a recently elected member of the Court of Appeals. Tyson went to Campbell Law School, which was clearly a strong influence on his legal thinking. Pick one of these two.

Now this is going to seem strange, but because Justice Robert Orr stepped down this summer, we are also having an eight way, winner-take-all race for another seat on the Supreme Court. This race is much harder to summarize because there are so many candidates. There will be no run-off, so the top place finisher will take the seat. The more interesting candidates include:

Betsy McCroden - Democrat, former Court of Appeals judge, UNC Law 1977, and the favorite of some in Chapel Hill from what I see in the way of yard signs.

Howard Manning- Republican, Wake Co Superior Court Judge with ten years on the bench - I want this to be noted: Judge Manning is the courageous soul who decided in the Leandro case that the NC Constitution MEANS WHAT IT SAYS regarding a free, public education for the children of North Carolina. The Leandro case holds that NC must find ways to fund schools in poor counties and that the current funding system is unconstitutional.

James Wynn - Democrat, Judge, NC Court of Appeals, Marquette Law School 1979, Army JAG, was highly thought of around here when running for Court of Appeals.

And the less interesting candidates include:
Marvin Schiller - perennial Republican (losing) candidate for Supreme Court or Court of Appeals, Duke Law 1975.
Paul Newby - Anti-choice-activist, would-be-jurist, should-be-avoided.
Fred Morrison - Democrat (barely), Wake Forest Law 1963, old-school NC Democrat.
Rachel Lea Hunter - Republican, Univ of Pittsburgh Law 1988, Political Hero: Margaret Thatcher, 'nuff said.
Ronnie Ansley - Democrat, Mississippi College Law 1991

Whew. Is anyone still with me here? We are not done! There are also three Court of Appeals races:
Wanda Bryant (Democratic incumbent Ct of Appeals Judge) v. Alice Stubbs (Republican District Court Judge),
Linda McGee (Democratic incumbent Ct of Appeals Judge, favorite movie is To Kill a Mockingbird) v. Bill Parker (Republican lawyer, Saving Private Ryan), and
Alan Thornburg (Democratic incumbent Ct of Appeals Judge, political hero: Terry Sanford) v. Barbara Jackson (Republican lawyer, Senator Elizabeth Dole).

Oh please let it end! But no, there are three more District Court Judge races in Orange and Chatham Counties! The good news (for your memory, but not for democrarcy) is that all three of these races are uncontested. Seriously though, all three incumbents, Pat Devine, Lonnie Coleman, and Charles Anderson are richly deserving of re-election.

Now, I don't want to go off the deep end with this whole thing, but there is actually one more election in Orange County: the much coveted position of Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor. You get to choose between Will Shooter and Roger Tate.

I bet that many of you may not know about the secret Libertarian plot to take over North Carolina through Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor elections, but you may want to click here and check it out. I am not entirely joking about this.

And, now that I do what little, little bit of research is possible on these two candidates, I find that Will Shooter is indeed a registered Libertarian! Democrats, will you have your Soil and Water Conservation agenda undermined?! You had better rally to the cause of Democrat Roger Tate if the Libertarian menace is to be turned back!

Oh yes, and there are actually two more Constitutional Amendments beside the oh-so-controversial Amendment One (quod viderat) . Amendment Two will allow the state to dedicate civil penalties and forfeitures to benefit free public education and only ToddTheBlog could be against that. Amendment Three sets initial terms of office for certain new court officials and sounds like such an unbelievably petty issue that it is truly hard to imagine why anyone (even ToddTheBlog) would be opposed.

Alright. Criminy. I am done. I am going to bed.



No one has yet given me a good reason to vote for anyone other than Judge James Wynn for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court. I generally trust the People's Alliance endorsements (the left of center PAC in Durham) and they have some great things to say about him. Check out his endorsement and others at

And remember, VOTE FOR PARKER, FOLLOW THE LAW (Linda, Alan, Wanda) AND WE WYNN!

Mark, thanks for the run down. Seems like voting straight Democratic is the easiest way to go this time around. Or did I miss something?

Thanks for the info on the other amendments too.

The thing you are missing (maybe) is that the ballot DOES NOT SAY who the Democrats are. You need to take a list.

Also, personally, I am voting for Howard Manning because I respect his courage in writing the Leandro opinion. And Judge Manning is Republican.

Hopefully UNC students will show the same enthusiasm as the thousands of NCCU did today.

Hooray for NCCU!

The Orange Co Democrats are endorsing Wynn, using Mark K.'s rationale that we need to rally round one candidate. It's a good rationale but one that my conscious can't support in this case. My vote will go to the very courageous and honorable Judge Manning.

Mark C.

Thanks for positioning me as the benchmark of reason!

I actually support Amendments II and III, but not I.

Thanks for providing the run down on the judges.

My picks for the judges:
Ct. of Appeals
McGee, Bryant and Thornburg.

Supreme Court:
McCroden and Manning are both good choices. I predict Newby will win though because the Repubs are organized strongly around him. Meanwhile the Dems are dividing between McCroden and Wynn with a significant number of progressive types voting for Manning. In addition to Leandro, Manning also showed great courage on a number of death penalty cases in recent years.
Ultimately, I decided on Wynn. He's been a great judge on the Ct. of Appeals. I believe that in order to beat Newby, the Dems need to rally around a single candidate. Statewide, Wynn's support seems deeper than McCroden. Therefore, in order to maximize the chances of having a very good Justice, I've resolved for Wynn.

In the other Supreme Court race, I actually chose not to cast a ballot. Tyson has been horrible on the Ct. of Appeals and has been running a very Brady-like campaign focused on repeating “conservative” as many times as possible. You'd think Parker would be the easy choice – the only woman, the only Dem. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. For years, Parker had a reputation for “resting her eyes” during oral arguments. I'm not saying she was sleeping, but she certainly gave that impression to many attorneys who regularly practice in that court. Moreover, and the biggest reason I'm not voting for her, is that she is one of the few remaining members of the Pulliam v. Smith majority that changed the law in NC about when a custody order can be reopened. She overruled a 30 year old case and 18 court of appeals decisions to make sure a man lost custody of his children because he was gay. The decision was intellectually dishonest and offensive. Lawyers often look to dissents to figure out what majority opinions really mean…

Mark, thanks for the clarification, and yes I did miss that, despite the BIG BOLD very clear information. Thanks for re-clarifying.

Manning sounds like a good choice, though it's hard to vote against a Democratic woman for a Republican man.

All the judicial races are important but on two that have created much cross-chatter, here's my 2 cents:

Manning (even tho' he is a - shudder - Republican) has shown, in his years on the bench, more courage, integrity, compassion and devotion to the law than all but a very small number of his brethern. While I understand the laudable motives of those of you who will determine your vote based on who's most likely to win, this is one where I feel very strongly we should get behind the absolutely best candidate. Howdy Manning is it.

And, as long as I'm making my ancestors roll over in their graves, another Republican gets my vote. Alice Stubbs has spent her career as a Judge deciding cases in conformity with the law, whether it pisses prosecutors off or not. She gets my vote, for her courage and consistency under fire in the trenches.

Barry Winston

I add my voice to those supporting Jim Wynn. He is an African American Court of Appeals judge seeking a seat on the all-white Supreme Court. I hired him and worked with him when he first started practicing in NC. He has a long distinguised record on Court of Appeals. He has been endorsed by NC Assoc of Women Attorneys and the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers. Diversity matters on the Supreme Court. (A vote for Wynn keeps Howdy Manning looking after the Leandro case in the trial court.)

I also support Sarah Parker. I am sure that those rightfully unhappy with some of her votes will have much more to be unhappy about if John Tyson replaces her.

Voted today--In Hillsborough when I dropped my college kid's absentee ballot off. (He didn't want to trust such an important document as his FIRST VOTE EVER to the USPS. Go figure.) was easy, fast, and no one asked to see my ID.


Not that Adam needs a witness, but I second his recommendation enthusiastically. Judge Wynn is a terrific judge. I can imagine voting for Howard Manning, for his work in Leandro has been heroic--but not in a race against Jim Wynn.

I too support Judge Wynn. Some may remember that he received national publicity in 1999 when President Clinton nominated him to the 4th Circuit, and he was enthusiastically endorsed by numerous groups and individuals from both parties. Senators Helms and Thurmond routinely blocked Clinton's nominees to the 4th Circuit, repeatedly claiming that the court did not need more judges. Of course, when President George W. Bush took office, both Helms and Thurmond switched their positions, with Helms claiming he was now "look[ing] forward to working with the Bush administration on matters regarding the 4th Circuit." The court did get new judges, including Durham native Allyson K. Duncan, a black female Republican.

Judge Wynn has more judicial experience than the other seven candidates combined. He is needed on the NC Supreme Court.

I'm less than savvy with financial/tax matters, and I'm curious about the potential pros and cons of the first proposed amendment on this November's ballot. Would someone with more knowledge be so kind as to elaborate? Is it really going to work to improve our communities, or will it create debt and open the door for abuses by developers? Or potentially both?

Jon T--see the thread on Amendment One:

Thanks, Terri... :)

Well, favorite movie, of course...

I didn't mean to sound so critical. As I said, this is a great thread. I got a lot out of it.

At the risk of going a little less local, any thoughts on some of the other races? Soil & Water Conservation District Manager (why hasn't there been a debate!)? Commissioner of Labor? Agriculture?

Is anyone else a little suspicious that we get an auto insurance rebate just before every insurance commissioner election? Does this smack of collusion to anyone else? Or at the very least, a blatant campaign ploy?

Ed, I think we should discuss the answer to your question on the 2004 General Election Guide thread. I am posting a comment there in just a minute.

This has been the most interesting thread. I've always gone to the polls with too little or no information about the judicial races to make in informed vote. Often, I just leave them blank. I'd hate to randomly vote for a skunk. I feel better armed this time around.

I don't, however, vote solely based on someone's party affiliation or whether they attended Campbell. In my opinion, a ballot is better left blank than relying on that information to make a choice. Information on specific rulings or other past experience is much more useful.

Well, I take your point, Ed. And I tried to share what info I could gather. I will say that information is hard to come by on these races. I don't think you were trying to criticize my efforts, but I did want to let everyone know that I am not saying you should vote based solely on party affiliation or law school. Favorite movie, on the other hand, seems like a great basis for decision making ;)

And for the record, I know many attorneys (Democrats at that) who are skipping over certain races because they say that there are NO reasonable choices (Dem or Rep).

I do want to say this loud and clear:

Linda McGee
Alan Thornburg
Howard Manning

and James Wynn

are all genuine legal-heavyweights. These four are all thoughtful and talented lawyers and judges. If you are a righty, then you might not like them, but short of that, I think they are all deserving of our support.

Unfortunately Manning and Wynn are running against each other and we have to make a tough call there. I'm siding with Manning, but I could not blame anyone for choosing Wynn. The good news is that no matter what happens in the eight-way supreme court race, Wynn and Manning will continue to be a part of the judiciary of the State of North Carolina, because Wynn (if he loses) will still be on the Court of Appeals and Manning (if he loses) will still be on the Superior Court Bench in Wake County.

I don't mean any of this as a slap at Sarah Parker or Wanda Bryant. I simply don't know anything about them really. They are being recommended by the State and County Democratic Party.

Thanks for this thread. I write to encourage you to vote for Alan Thornburg, who has been working VERY hard at both being a judge and running to keep his seat since his appointment in February.

His opinions and work ethic have been highly praised by the Bar, and he is, I think,a clearly preferable choice for Progressives over his opponent - the very nice and very capable, but very conservative attorney for Cherie Berry.

Full disclosure, I am his campaign manager.


Remeber - Vote for SARAH, Follow the LAW (Linda Alan Wanda) and we can WYNN.

There are several good candidates in the judicial races. I leaned toward voting for Manning, but have since watched the campaign of Rachel Lea Hunter.

She tells it like it is, folks. I would hate to come before her in court, but wouldn't have to worry about that at the Supreme Court level.

She seems to have a decent amount of relevent experience and unties herself from party politics.

Manning started bothering me when he went down east and was wining and dining with the good ole boys. Something then struck me wrong.

Yeah, Rachel Hunter says her political hero is Margaret Thatcher...and maybe that is a bit off the wall...

I did e-mail her campaign and she answered a question I had very thoroughly. That alone shows a lot as well.

Check her out online. Her web site is


It seems that the Democrats want to turn a non-partisan race into a partisan game. Yes, Mark, I am a registered Libertarian and am currently Orange County Chair of the LP. I am also an Irrigation contractor with 20 years of experience in water and soil management. Does that sound like a conspiracy to you?


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