Despite Republican majority in N.C. Senate, Democrats hold onto seats in Chatham

Reives, Murdock keep N.C. House, Senate posts


Despite North Carolina Republicans performing well across the state in this year’s midterm election — gaining enough seats for a supermajority in the state Senate to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto — both legislative seats representing Chatham stayed blue, with Democrat incumbents claiming clear wins.

In the race to represent District 20 in the N.C. Senate, incumbent Sen. Natalie Murdock won the seat with 57.58% of the vote in the county, compared to her opponent Alvin Reed’s 42.42%. With 22,238 votes across Chatham’s 16 precincts, Murdock had 5,855 more ballots cast in her favor than Reed. A portion of Durham County is included in District 20, meaning with the votes from Chatham’s neighbor, Murdock’s victory was by a wide margin — close to 73% of the total vote. 

Murdock spoke with the News + Record on Tuesday between attending election night watch parties in Chatham County and in Raleigh. In reflecting on her victory, Murdock thanked voters and volunteers who assisted at the polls.

“First and foremost, I just want to thank the people of Chatham County, even those that did and did not support me, I just want Chatham County to give themselves a hand,” she said. “They just had such strong turnout, to be number one in the state through early vote, to exceed 40% of the vote — it is a phenomenal model that we need to replicate across the state. And it shows that people in Chatham County are very invested in their future and their communities because we all should be voting and so I was just really, really excited that that vote was so strong.”

Reed, her challenger, expressed disappointment in the results, and particularly that Democrats swept contested seats across the county. But the retired software writer also said he was pleased he had the opportunity to disseminate ideas from his book “The Theory of Biblical Patterns,” which he claims proves that God wrote the Bible. 

“That's why I ran, for an opportunity to talk to people,” Reed said. “And for me, it wasn't so much a vote. It was how many souls I saved. And I think I saved a few souls.”  

In Chatham County, incumbent Rep. Robert Reives II won 56.99% of the vote to once again represent District 54 in the N.C. House of Representatives. His Republican challenger and former Chatham Commissioner Walter Petty gained 43.01% of the vote; Chatham voters cast 5,434 more ballots for Reives than for Petty. 

District 54 encompasses part of Randolph County — Petty gained the majority of the vote among Randolph voters, with around 74% of ballots in his favor. But across the district, Reives maintained a majority with 55% of the vote. 

Reives, who serves as House Minority Leader, expressed gratitude to voters in securing the seat to represent District 54 again, saying he felt like the community responded overwhelmingly in a manner that reflects what they want out of their public servants.

“What I hoped, whether I won or lost, is that people saw what the power of community actually is,” he said. “The district did not get severely gerrymandered, as gerrymandered as it could have been, because the community made it clear that's not what they wanted through their participation in the redistricting process.”

The race for the N.C. House in Chatham has been, at times, eclipsed by concerns about mailers sent to voters during the campaign season, with both candidates claiming they contained personal and inappropriate attacks. Reives said he doesn’t believe there’s a place for such tactics in politics, and he felt like many Chatham voters did not put stock into the attack ads in this race. 

“If you're really a public servant, you know your people,” he said. “And these are people that you go to the grocery store with, you go to church with, you’re in civic organizations with. And so when they [elections] start getting very personal, that's just something that is sad that that's where politics has gotten, but I was very thankful that the community as a whole, consistently, whether they would vote for me or not, understood that that's not who I was and I appreciated that.”

Petty did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Reporter Maydha Devarajan can be reached at mdevarajan@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @maydhadevarajan.

Natalie Murdock, Alvin Reed, Walter Petty, Robert Reives, midterm 2022