By Joshua Paladino

North Carolina’s Republican-controlled General Assembly voted in 2017 to eliminate primary elections for judicial races and allow candidates to declare their party affiliation upon filing for office.

But now the reform will likely hurt the Republicans in the 2018 North Carolina Supreme Court election.

Until last week, incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson, a Republican, was set to face Democrat Anita Earls in the general election. At the last minute, however, attorney Chris Anglin filed to run as a Republican.

Anglin was a registered Democrat until June 7. His last-minute affiliation change has roused suspicion in the GOP that he plans to split the Republican vote and give Earls an easy victory.

Dallas Woodhouse is executive director for the North Carolina Republican Party, rejected Anglin’s candidacy, adding that the party supports Jackson’s reelection effort.

“The party has endorsed somebody, and he will be treated like the enemy he is.”

Anglin called himself a “constitutional Republican” and denied intent to undermine Jackson’s campaign, saying “I filed as a Republican to stand up for the independence of the judiciary.”

The North Carolina Democratic Party denied any involvement with Anglin’s candidacy.