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Democrat turned Republican says he’s no stalking horse in Supreme Court race

July 7th, 2018

— One of the two Republicans running this year for state Supreme Court was a registered Democrat just a month ago.

Raleigh attorney Chris Anglin changed his affiliation in early June. Three weeks later, he put in for the Supreme Court race, joining it on the last day of filing.

Republicans figure him for a Democratic plant, meant to siphon votes away from incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson, the endorsed Republican in the race.

Anglin says it isn’t so; that no one associated with the Democratic Party or with Anita Earls, the endorsed Democrat in the race, approached him to run.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to gig Republican leaders, who enabled this scenario with recent changes in the law.

On the day he announced, Anglin said he was running for two reasons: to give voice to “the many constitutional Republicans” upset with the GOP legislative majority’s “assault on the rule of law” and “to point out the mistake this legislature has created with doing away with the primary elections.”

That decision was made last year, as the GOP majority considered a statewide judicial redistricting effort that never came to fruition. Legislative leaders said they canceled judicial primaries this year to give themselves more time to discuss redistricting but didn’t explain why they needed to do away with primaries in the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court races, which are statewide and thus unaffected by changes to district lines.

The change also did away with a requirement that candidates be registered with the party they hope to represent for at least 90 days. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the change, but the GOP majority overturned his decision. The state Democratic Party went to court to block it, but failed.

One of the arguments against the change was this scenario: someone changing his or her party affiliation just before filing.

Anglin said Friday that he became a Republican “to give Republican voters an opportunity to vote for someone who believes in the independence of the judiciary and conservative constitutional values.”

State Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said that’s obviously not all that’s going on.

“Somebody that was legitimately going to file would have come to us, said they wanted to compete for an endorsement,” Woodhouse said.

That endorsement was decided before the filing period even began. Woodhouse said he still expects Jackson to win. The party will tell Republican voters what Anglin did, and “they won’t like it,” he said.

As for the reasons Republican leadership canceled this year’s primaries, Woodhouse said there was never any plan to boost Jackson’s re-election chances by loading up the ballot, something Democrats suggested during debate, but which never came to pass.

“There was never any kind of master plan to do anything but continue to work on redistricting,” Woodhouse said.

Anglin said he understands why people think he’s a Democratic plant, but he’s not.

“I used a process that the Republican-controlled supermajority put into place,” he said. “I did something that was put in place over Roy Cooper’s veto and a lawsuit.”

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