Rockingham County NC Senate candidate back on ballot after successful appeal of residency ruling

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jennifer Mangrum just won the battle of her political life.

Mangrum is the Democratic nominee for state Senate in district 30 – the same district in which Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger will be running for a 10th term in November. Many consider Berger the most powerful politician in the state.

Mangrum’s issue is that the Board of Elections in the district ruled that she was ineligible to run, because it believes she rented a home in the district for no other reason than to run against Berger. State law requires her to, as the law states, “establish a domicile” in the district, meaning truly live there.

Mangrum says that’s exactly what she did after recently separating from her husband.

So she appealed to the state Board of Elections which ruled in her favor, five-to-four, along party lines with the one unaffiliated member voting with the Democrats. Despite being pleased with the win and ability to remain on the ballot, Mangrum wasn’t completely happy with the outcome of the vote.

“I did want it to be unanimous,” she said, after the hearing in Raleigh. “I’m very disappointed that it went down party lines – I won because of the unaffiliated vote. That’s part of why I entered this race. I’m a public servant, I don’t call myself a politician.”

The Rockingham County Republican Party officer who challenged Mangrum’s eligibility said it wasn’t personal and that he just wanted to, “make sure (her candidacy) was on the up-and-up.”

The Republicans can still appeal to the court system, but Mangrum’s attorney, Michael Crowell, doubts they will.

“I would hope that they would not appeal,” Crowell said. “In my experience, the courts pretty consistently uphold the Board of Elections.