We Flipped the Script in North Carolina This Year

There is a familiar post-election narrative that blames rural and small-town voters like us for regressive outcomes, especially in the South. We get scapegoated and city folks blame us for “voting against our own interests.” Or we tell people where we are from and they say a long exaggerated “ohhhhhhh…” as if they feel sorry for us. 


But that’s not our experience. On Election Day Down Home members showed the state what we can do. Rural North Carolina is here to win. 

We are going to say it plain: Last week, small town and rural voters saved North Carolina. We saved our state from the return of a one party supermajority and everything that comes with that…and it’s all thanks to our members.

We Prevented a Supermajority (for real, that was us)

Down Home has been organizing in Cabarrus County for the past two years. Republicans thought they had the House District 73 in the bag, but they didn’t count on our Cabarrus members showing up. Their candidate was a far-right newcomer who railed against CRT as part of his platform, but our member’s pick- Diamond Staton Williams – was the real deal. Our team hit the doors hard, knocking more than 35,000 of their neighbors doors and logging 7,757 conversations mobilize voters to the polls.

It was all worth it: Diamond Staton Williams, a Black working class nurse and mother, won by just 425 votes, keeping Republicans one seat short of a House supermajority and protected the governors veto power. Our members in Cabarrus County held the line and defended our public schools, our trans and queer youth, our undocumented neighbors, our right to protest, and our access to the ballot. Every time Governor Cooper uses his veto in the coming years, he will be wielding the power of Down Home’s members’ hard work.



What does preventing a supermajority and protecting the governor’s veto even mean? 

It means that our members just helped to preserve voting rights in North Carolina, protect personal reproductive freedom, increased the chances that our public schools will have more substantive funding, and protected our hope that Medicaid Expansion pass in 2023.

Huge Working Class Rural Wins Across the State

In rural Person County, Down Home members hit the doors and phones to elect a local Black farmer, Ray Jeffers, to the NC State House, defeating a 12-year Republican incumbent and contributing one more pickup to our successful effort to block the supermajority. Our Person County members were fighting entrenched, white, Republican power in an urban/rural district, and they pulled off a win– Ray is now going to be representing the whole district, including parts of Durham. We couldn’t be prouder to see this rural power in action. Listen to one of our members explain why they voted for Ray here.

In Granville County, which is 40% Black, our members delivered on a dream long-deferred by electing the first Black sheriff in the 276-year history of the county! This was a hard won effort and our local members turned out to make sure everyone in the county knew about Robert Fountain as a candidate and why they were voting for him. This team also won their critical state Senate race by turning out the vote for Mary Willis Bode, defeating a right wing Raleigh millionaire and edging the Republican supermajority down to a single vote in the state Senate. 

In Alamance County, long time Down Home fellow and member Reverend Donna Vanhook won her race for Soil and Water commissioner (You really need to watch the video of her winning here) and Watauga County our members are still awaiting the outcome in a deadlocked county commission race that we expect to win on provisional ballots. (Fingers crossed! Lets Go Angela!)

Our members also notched significant victories across the state that demonstrate the promise of our growing work to protect our public schools. We swept 6 school board candidates to power across three counties (Cabarrus, Ashe, and Watauga), effectively beating back and marginalizing far-right candidates and their extremist agendas. In 2023, we will be expanding our work to organize public school parents and stakeholders, kicking off the effort with a statewide gathering on public education on December 3rd in Greensboro.

One of the things we are most proud of at Down Home is the incredible campaigns of our Down Home members this year. Across the state, we had ten members run for office– a full quarter of our endorsed candidates. 


Our members running for office helps solidify something we have been saying all along: If we want to see change for rural and working people, then rural and working people are going to have to make the change ourselves.

At Down Home, we don’t just want to turn out the vote for candidates, we want to grow our own candidates, train up our members, and get real working people with real lived experience into office. That is going to be so much of our work in 2023.

Five years ago, Alamance was a sure-win for Republicans, but our members have  transformed it into a critical battleground that saps the resources of our opposition. This year, our members hard work and enormous field efforts continued this transformation by recruiting and supporting a Black candidate, Kelly White, to run against inveterate racist sheriff Terry Johnson, who hadn’t faced a challenger in 12 years. While we didn’t win, we expanded the electorate and grew our power through this race, and there’s no doubt that Down home will be back again. 

We are talking to our members and unveiling county by county recaps of the elections and nuggets of local wisdom our blog throughout this week. Find them here.

Looking Forward

Before we jump too far ahead, we have one more story to tell that underscores the promise of our people and our work and reaffirms our status as a battleground state.

In rural Johnston county, Down Home members contributed to one of the largest federal upsets of the night, defeating Trump-backed candidate Bo Hines and electing Wiley Nickel to US House-13. No one predicted this outcome, but our members always knew we could win.


Even if it weren’t for all the other wins and all the activation and mobilization our members did from the mountains to the coast, this victory in North Carolina’s fastest-growing countrypolitan district should tell us everything we need to know about our chances of delivering people powered, working class wins in 2024– from local races, to the governorship, to the presidency. 

That’s why when Trump announced his completely unsurprising announcement last night, we didn’t blink an eye. Our scrappy grassroots organization of working folks in the most rural places of the state DEFEATED a Republican supermajority, stemmed the red tide, and won a shocking US House race against a Trump analogue– and we are just getting started. While Cheri Beasley lost her campaign for US Senate, she fought hard and stayed within the closest margins despite underinvestment in her campaign compared to other states. We proved this year that Down Home’s people powered fights can change these sorts of numbers, can make a difference in these races.  North Carolina is absolutely a battleground state and you all, our members, have proven what they can do on the rural frontlines. We are here to invest in them.

What do we do next? Well, we don’t stop now, that’s for sure! Our members have built eight thriving chapters all across the state and reached out to thousands of their neighbors this year. This momentum makes us strong headed into the new year. 

But getting people elected is only the first step, now we have to support our candidates so they can make the changes we need and hold them accountable to their campaign promises. Currently, our members are reaching out to their newly elected officials to set up co governance meetings. If that’s something you want to get involved in, reach out to your local organizer or find a co-gov meeting here.

Then in 2023, we turn our attention to the local issues our members say need to be addressed– local chapters will determine this work. We also start to talk about who it is we need to run in 2024, and start getting trained up and ready for their wins. 2023 is absolutely not a year off– in fact, it’s when a lot of the real work begins.

We hope you all can come out to your next local chapter meeting, co-governance working groups, our Dec 3rd Public School Summit, or one of our many Medicaid Expansion meetings that are happening all across the state between now and the end of the year.


As always, you can follow our work and get updates on social media, or find an event near you here.

Come on in, y'all. We've got work to do.