North Carolina County Commissioner Switches from Republican Party to Libertarian Party

On April 18, Brian Berger, a New Hanover County, North Carolina County Commissioner, switched his voter registration from “Republican” to “Libertarian.” County Commission is a partisan elected office. See this story.

It is believed that Berger intends to resign soon from the Commission. The law says a vacancy should be filled by the party that the ex-member was a member of. The law is vague as to whether this means that the Republican Party, or the Libertarian Party, has the opportunity to suggest a new appointee. The article quotes the head of the county election board as saying that he believes the Republican Party should make the decision, but there is no clarity in the law about that.


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North Carolina County Commissioner Switches from Republican Party to Libertarian Party — No Comments

  1. The article says that he is expected to be removed from office soon.

    § 153A?27 covers filling of vacancies. The condition for replacement is “if that member was elected as the nominee of a political party”, then the replacement should come from the party the former commissioner was a member of. It is nonsensical to interpret this to mean that if an independent were elected, and then joined the Libertarian Party that the commission was free to appoint any person; but if they were the nominee of the Libertarian Party and became an independent, that there could be no persons eligible to fill the vacancy.

    If this were to go to trial a court would probably attempt to harmonize this with section § 163?106 which is the pledge of affiliation by a candidate seeking nomination.

    The remainder of the board has a 3-1 Republican majority, and it requires them to consult with the county executive committee of the “appropriate party” before filling a vacancy, but are not bound to follow the recommendation.

    They could decide to consult with the Republican Party, and force the Libertarian Party to challenge the interpretation. Even if the Libertarian Party were to win, anybody who the Republicans wanted to nominate could registration with the Libertarian Party, be appointed, and then switch their registration.

  2. #2 From the article you referenced:

    “The commissioners voted to begin the amotion process April 8 – a North Carolina common law practice that deals with a private corporation removing an officer because he was unfit.”

  3. #2. The county commission censured him on a 4-1 vote, and set an amotion hearing for May 20.

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