BEASLEY AND NEWBY SWAP LEADS BACK AND FORTH, ONLY 100 VOTE MARGIN: The race for Supreme Court chief justice was going down to the wire Friday as county boards of election continued to count absentee ballots into the night. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, and Justice Paul Newby, a Republican, traded leads multiple times Friday. Newby led most of the afternoon and into the evening. Around 8 p.m., Beasley took back the lead over Newby with just 100 votes, after Guilford County’s canvass had been reported. State law allows a candidate to request a recount in statewide races if they are trailing their opponent by less than 0.5% or 10,000 votes, whichever is less. The Republican Party announced last week that leaders already had met to start fundraising for a recount in the Supreme Court race.
DARREN JACKSON STEPS AWAY FROM LEADERSHIP ROLE IN NC HOUSE: House Minority Leader Darren Jackson won't seek re-election next year to his leadership post in the House Democratic Caucus, he confirmed Friday. Jackson, D-Wake, won re-election last week to his seventh term in the General Assembly, and he plans to continue representing Wake County in the House. But he won't remain in leadership after Democrats failed to eat into the Republican majority in the House in the recent elections. "I do take responsibility, of course, for us not picking up seats," he said. "We've got a lot of leaders in our caucus, and it's time to give somebody else a chance." Jackson said he's gotten encouragement from many in his caucus since last week's disappointing election, when Republicans picked up a handful of House seats despite heavy spending from Democrats trying to flip control of the chamber and the Senate. Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham, who has been a deputy leader for the caucus, confirmed Friday he will be a candidate for minority leader. It's not clear how many others will run.
TRUMP WINS NC, BUT IS (WAY) TOO FAR BEHIND FOR IT TO MATTER: After a long wait, President Donald Trump has won North Carolina, beating out Joe Biden to claim the state’s 15 electoral votes. With all precincts reporting, Trump currently leads President-elect Biden by 73,600 votes. The president has 49.9% of the votes while Biden has 48.6%. His victory means Republicans have won 10 of the past 11 presidential elections in the state. However, this win will largely be symbolic as Trump's electoral vote tally now sits at 232. With 290 electoral votes, Biden has already surpassed the 270 vote-threshold he needed to assume office in January. Yet to concede, the Trump campaign sent out a statement Thursday celebrating their North Carolina victory. The message asked supporters to donate to the campaign’s Election Defense Fund, as the president, without evidence, has alleged that widespread voter fraud has cost him the election. His campaign has filed lawsuits in multiple states. “I think the president is probably on solid footing to question the processes and to go to court, if necessary, to make sure things are done properly,” said Mitch Kokai, a senior political analyst at the conservative-leaning John Locke Foundation in Raleigh. “But the rhetoric that he’s used as he has proceeded with this has not been helpful because it’s painted a picture of widespread abuse when we haven’t seen evidence that there is any.”
TRUMP IS LOSING (MISERABLY) HIS LEGAL BATTLES TO CHALLENGE ELECTION RESULTS: Over the past two days, two prominent law firms have sought to withdraw from representing the Trump legal effort in Arizona and Pennsylvania. And Friday, the campaign was forced to reverse course in an Arizona case, acknowledging that the lawsuit, even if successful, wouldn’t overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s lead in the state. Those high-profile developments come as more of Trump’s arguments fizzle in court. In Arizona on Thursday, Trump attorney Kory Langhofer conceded that he was “not alleging fraud” or “that anyone is stealing the election” — in direct contradiction with Trump’s repeated public claims that this was indeed what has happened in multiple states. Langhofer said the Trump legal team was simply raising concerns about a “limited number of cases” involving “good-faith errors.” It was not the first time that Trump’s attorneys have declined to allege fraud in the same way Trump personally has, with the same thing happening earlier this week in Pennsylvania. Similarly, witnesses for the Trump side in the Arizona case acknowledged something else that previous cases have revealed — that they weren’t even sure the irregularities being alleged were true. Adding insult to injury Friday, a judge in Michigan rejected the Trump campaign’s effort to delay the certification of votes in Detroit, saying that allegations of misconduct were “not credible” and that granting the request “would undermine faith in the Electoral System." The question is increasingly how long the Trump campaign, which has conveniently used its legal effort to retire debt and raise money for Trump’s other political efforts, can keep the charade going.
WHILE TRUMP FLOUNDERS AND RAGE-TWEETS, JOE BIDEN IS ALREADY WORKING TO FIX AMERICA: Mr. Biden, who spent much of the week working from the Wilmington, Del., area, held calls with Pope Francis and the leaders of many of the nation’s closest allies, taking initial steps toward his goal of repairing the country’s standing on the world stage following a campaign in which he emphasized his relationships with world leaders. After spending months stressing the need to follow science, he named a group of experts to advise him on the coronavirus pandemic, and on Friday he issued a statement calling for “urgent action” as virus cases continue to surge. And he named Ron Klain, a veteran Washington figure who served as the Ebola czar in the Obama White House, as his chief of staff, a pick that was well received across the ideological spectrum within the Democratic Party. “It’s a reflection of the president-elect’s desire to project stability at a time of great instability,” said former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, who served as agriculture secretary for President Barack Obama and was an early Biden supporter. What was not typical — far from it — was the reaction of Mr. Trump, who continued to refuse to concede, and to make false claims about election fraud. But Mr. Biden pressed on and passed up the chance for aggressive confrontation, treating the president of the United States as if he were a heckler shouting from the bleachers who would eventually tire and go home. Mr. Biden himself suggested Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede was more of a stain on the president’s name for the history books than an imminent obstacle for the Biden transition, telling reporters on Tuesday: “How can I say this tactfully? I think it will not help the president’s legacy.” Asked how he expected to work with Republicans if they would not even acknowledge him as president-elect, Mr. Biden responded with a smile: “They will. They will.”