D-Day has finally come for both the $810 million Wake County school bond issue and the four school board seats on the ballot.
Based on the campaign spending gap between the two sides, former school board chairman Ron Margiotta has said that a victory by bond opponents would be bigger than David beating Goliath. On the other hand, bond supporters will take any win they can get.
The four school board seats won’t change who is in the majority. But it could have more of a long-term impact than you think.
At least in the minds of some Republicans, this year’s school board contests have been treated like a mulligan. Knowing they can’t win the majority this year, eyes have been focused on 2016 when new GOP-friendly lines go into effect and all nine school board seats are on the ballot. It’s enough of a change that backers of the new lines were willing to extend by a year the terms of the Democratic-backed board members who had been set to face re-election in 2015.
But the wild card is the federal lawsuit filed by supporters of the current Democratic board majority. If they win, one of the things they’ll ask the court to do is to reinstate the 2011 election maps and put the 2015 school board elections back on schedule.
If the 2015 elections take place under the existing lines, Democratic candidates would have to be considered favorites in three of the five seats. This means that if the new lines don’t go into effect in 2016 and Republican-backed candidates don’t capture three of the four seats today, Democrats would have the edge in 2015 to extend the majority to 2017.