RALEIGH — A North Carolina state Supreme Court hopeful who has been accused of being a Democratic "plant" said Thursday that even if he is barred from being listed as a Republican on November's ballot, he's proven his point to fight what he considers constitutional abuses by GOP state lawmakers.
Raleigh attorney Chris Anglin, a former Democrat, turned in paperwork with the state elections board by Wednesday's deadline asking it to end his candidacy if his lawsuit seeking to be listed as a Republican on the ballot is unsuccessful.
If the courts strike down his lawsuit and he ends up withdrawing from his race, Anglin said his candidacy still has served a purpose.
"No matter what, I have gotten my message across," said Anglin, who has previously said his case is an example of Republican lawmakers "changing the rules in the middle of the game."
Anglin sued two days after the GOP-controlled General Assembly overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of a bill that removes a judicial candidate's party affiliation if it was changed less than 90 days before filing as a candidate. The restriction affects four candidates, but it clearly targets Anglin, who switched his Democratic affiliation to the GOP three weeks before filing in late June.
Republicans have accused Anglin of trying to split the GOP vote in the state's top court race and help Democratic candidate Anita Earls, labelling him a Democratic "plant" in July. Anglin denies that, calling himself a "constitutional Republican" unhappy with other efforts by the General Assembly to diminish judicial independence.
Anglin's lawsuit seeks the law declared unconstitutional and his GOP designation retained. He says the law gives unfair benefit to the incumbent Republican opponent, Associate Justice Barbara Jackson, who will have a GOP label. Earls will have a Democratic label.
A trial judge presiding over the lawsuit and a similar filed by a District Court candidate earlier this week blocked Wednesday's deadline for candidates to drop out of the race until the cases are resolved. The judge also ordered elections officials to hold off finalizing statewide ballots. The lawsuits are scheduled back in court early next week.
It's not immediately clear if Anglin's conditional withdrawal would be accepted if the affiliation law is allowed to stand and the Aug. 8 deadline reinstated. State elections board attorney Josh Lawson said Thursday officials would evaluate Anglin's request after the lawsuit is resolved.
North Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said Anglin's withdrawal shows his candidacy as a Republican is not sincere.
"I think this tells you all you need to know," Woodhouse wrote Wednesday in a tweet. "If he can't go on as a Republican he wants his money back." Candidates must pay filing fees.
In a phone interview Thursday, Anglin said his decision to withdraw shows commitment to the reasons he entered the race in the first place — to challenge what he calls GOP abuses.