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After swearing-in, North Carolina judge switches from Democrat to Republican

A northeastern North Carolina judge changed her voter registration from Democrat to Republican the day after she was sworn in to the job for which Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper appointed her.

District Court Judge Jennifer Karpowicz Bland switched her registration Sept. 3, according to Dare County elections records. The former assistant district attorney was sworn in Sept. 2, the week after Cooper announced Bland would succeed now-Superior Court Judge Eula Reid, The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City reported.

There’s no requirement that someone of the governor’s or departing judge's political party is picked by the governor. Historically, however, governors have often favored someone of their own party to fill vacancies.

Bland said her political views never came up during two pre-appointment interviews with Cooper. Bland said she didn’t contact Cooper’s office about her party switch before completing it.

“I’ve always been conservative,” Bland said recently. “It’s the party that best represents my values.”

In response to the switch, Cooper's office focused on criticizing the GOP-controlled legislature for passing laws in the 2010s to make judicial elections officially partisan again.

“It’s still wrong now,” spokesperson Jordan Monaghan said. “The governor expects judicial appointees to run and serve with integrity and to follow the law.”

Copyright 2021 North Carolina Public Radio

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