Both Democrats and Republicans in the state can genuinely spin that they're happy with how candidate filing went. Democrats, particularly on the House side, can boast that they minimized retirements, recruited good candidates where there were retirements, and will be able to play offense even in this tough political climate with credible challengers for a number of Republican seats. Republican can take credit for significantly reducing the number of seats where Democrats are running unopposed and getting candidates who came close to winning in the strong Democratic year of 2008 to give it another shot in a better environment for the party.
Here's a full rundown-
On the House side:
-The good news for House Democrats is that they only had two incumbents in really tough districts retire- Ray Warren and Bob England. Given the political climate that's a small number of defections and much better than the party is seeing at the national level. House Democrats also did a good job on recruitment- Walter Church Jr. is running to reclaim the seat his dad lost to Hugh Blackwell, Ann Newman is running for the open seat created by Jim Gulley's retirement, and the party also drew serious challengers to Sarah Stevens, Nelson Dollar, David Lewis, Paul Stam, and Tim Moore who represent the top tier of vulnerable Republicans.
-The good news for House Republicans is that they got candidates in numerous districts where they didn't field anyone in 2008, including some that are not overwhelmingly Democratic. They have candidates running this time against Bill Owens, for Russell Tucker's open seat, against Arthur Williams, William Brisson, Douglas Yongue, Nelson Cole, and Ray Rapp. Those folks all went unopposed last time and they all represent districts that have shown a willingness to vote Republican at least at the Presidential level. Whether the GOP can covert those federal level Republican votes to state level Republican votes remains to be seen.
Republicans also set up rematches in 4 of the 6 closest races they lost in 2008. Norman Sanderson will again take on Alice Graham Underhill, Stephen LaRoque's back for another try against Van Braxton, Rayne Brown will take another shot at Hugh Holliman, and Tim Moffitt will again face Jane Whilden.
-For Senate Democrats the good news is that while they did see a number of retirements in competitive districts, they also got highly credible candidates to run as replacements. The toughest Democratic hold is likely to be David Hoyle's seat, where Gaston County School Board chair Annette Carter is running. The next tier is the seats of Julia Boseman and RC Soles- former UNCW Chancellor Jim Leutze and former House leader David Redwine are running in those districts. And in the third tier of districts where Democratic retirements could give Republicans a chance- the seats of Tony Rand and Charlie Albertson- former House member Margaret Dickson and District Attorney Dewey Hudson are running. Those last two would likely only go Republican if this year's election was a wave of much greater than 1994 proportions.
-On the Senate Republican side, they have the same candidate running this time in the five districts where they came closest to winning but came up short in 2008. Louis Pate and Rick Gunn have clear primary fields as they try to upend Don Davis and Tony Foriest respectively. Bettie Fennell will try against at RC Soles' seat but faces Bill Rabon in the primary, Michael Lee is giving Julia Boseman's seat another try but will first have to get by Thom Goolsby, and Kathy Harrington has another chance at David Hoyle's seat if she can escape from a crowded primary with four candidates. All of these districts have pretty significant black populations and turnout patterns could be better for GOP prospects without Barack Obama on the ballot.
In the other three best Republican pickup opportunities- the seats of Steve Goss, Joe Sam Queen, and John Snow- there are 2, 3, and 2 candidates respectively seeking the GOP nomination.
It is going to be an unusually spirited election for a midterm in North Carolina this year.