Friday, January 19, 2018

The Supreme Court Surprises Precisely No One

As we predicted, the US Supreme Court yesterday put a stay on a decision by a three-judge panel ordering the NC General Assembly to redraw the 13 North Carolina congressional district maps. The order was issued January 9, and the three-judge panel earlier this week refused to stay their own order.

This means that the US congressional districts that were ruled unconstitutional gerrymanders will be used again this fall to elect representatives from North Carolina to the US Congress.

Sounds about right.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Why Trump Is Going to Southwestern Pa Today




















Take a good look at that map above, a rank example of partisan gerrymandering, the 18th US House District of Pennsylvania, which will be ground zero for electoral politics from now right on through March 13th, when a special election will decide who replaces Republican Rep. Tim Murphy in Congress. Murphy, as I'm sure you remember, resigned after it became known that he had urged his mistress to have an abortion.

The 18th District was gerrymandered in 2013 for a Republican, and up until now it's delivered. The map-drawers deliberately skirted around Pittsburgh, but they managed to include some very affluent suburbs south of Pittsburgh. Hmmm, suburbs.

Congressional Republicans are so worried about the district that they've got Trump going there today to campaign for the Republican, Rick Saccone. And Mike Pence will follow along on Ground Hog Day to campaign for Saccone. Will Pence see his shadow, or will he squeeze his eyes tightly shut in silent prayer? Everyone already knows it's going to be many more weeks of winter for the Party of Trump.

I wrote about the Democratic candidate, Conor Lamb, weeks ago. He's another of those rising stars, a candidate who "fits his district," an assistant US attorney, and an ex-Marine. (Have you noticed how many retired military are now running for office as Democrats?) Lamb has said that he would not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, a position that used to be the kiss of death for party support and a position I happen to agree with. If anything is clear about the BlueWave of 2018, the Democratic party is in need of new, younger leadership.

What's funny is that "a group of well-financed outside Republican groups is planning to unleash a biting advertising campaign against Conor Lamb," claiming he'll be the stooge of Nancy Pelosi. Hahahaha! "We will explain why he is a Nancy Pelosi rubber stamp,” vowed Corry Bliss, who runs the Congressional Leadership Fund. Gosh. With political opponents as dense as that... (you finish the sentence.)

Rick Saccone
Photo Marc Levy, AP
Meanwhile, Republican candidate Rick Saccone looks like day-before-yesterday's politics. Even among Republicans, he's considered "lackluster." Which is why Washington politicians are rushing to prop him up and why Trump will be in the district today and Mike Pence on Ground Hog Day. Saccone is playing his part. He's bragged that "I was Trump before Trump was Trump," whatever the hell that means, but we assume it means he's a fool and an idiot. He was, after all, a public supporter of dearly departed Roy Moore in Alabama.

Saccone was picked in a nominating convention and on the second ballot, apparently because the Republicans in the room were drinking undiluted gall that day and Saccone was the most conservative candidate running. He's a state representative from Allegheny County.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Amy McGrath, A Democratic Star Rising in Kentucky

Wow. So many newly minted Democratic candidates across this nation are catching fire and beginning to get their message out: We can do better, and we will.

Very few of those new candidates are as impressive as 22-year Marine veteran Amy McGrath, who was also a Marine fighter pilot and who is challenging Republican Rep. Andy Barr in the Kentucky 6th.

Take a look at this interview with McGrath, which includes her introductory video:






McGrath's strength of purpose and personality have shot her to the top among congressional fundraisers. By October -- she announced last August -- she had raised more than $770,000. A majority of that money came from small donors — she raised more than $400,000 in donations of under $200. That's called catching fire.

Republican incumbent Andy Barr: Barr came very close to defeating incumbent Democrat Ben Chandler for the seat in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and did beat him in 2012 with 50.6% of the vote. The 6th District should nominally be a Democratic district, so far as voter registrations go (which obviously don't go very far these days), and it has a majority of women, 51.5% to 48.5% men. No Democrat has come close to beating Barr since 2012.

FiveThirtyEight rates Congressman Barr a super Trumpian, but he actually looks more like a super Foxxian to me, voting with Virginia Foxx to deny hurricane relief to the victims of Harvey and to the devastated citizens of Puerto Rico.

If you'd like to contribute to Amy McGrath's campaign, go to amymcgrathforcongress.com, where you'll find the DONATE button.

"Underdog" Becomes Top Dog: Long-Shot Democrat Wins Special Wisconsin Senate Seat

Patty Schachtner
AP reporting: Patty Schachtner defeated Republican state Rep. Adam Jarchow for an open state Senate seat Tuesday in an upset victory for struggling Wisconsin Democrats, signaling voter anger toward President Donald Trump that could cost the GOP more legislative seats in the fall elections.
...Schachtner, the St. Croix County medical examiner and a Somerset school board member, had entered the race in northwestern Wisconsin’s traditionally conservative 10th Senate District as the clear underdog.
The Republicans fought hard for the seat, nominating a young state representative to carry the Trumpian message. Plus Americans for Prosperity poured in the bucks along with the Republican State Leadership Committee. But nothing helped turn back the blue wave.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One More Reason We Need New Members of the NC General Assembly

November can't get here fast enough!

If you're not paying attention to the clown car in Raleigh, you may not know that the Republican overlords called another "special session" last week -- the seventh (?) or eighth (?) in a series since November 2016, when Republican Senate boss Phil Berger began knee-capping newly elected Governor Roy Cooper even before he was sworn in. Each special session costs taxpayers a minimum of $42,000, just for starts, and untold millions in tatters to North Carolina's progressive reputation.

The most recent special session on January 10 caused an uproar because the word got out that the Republicans were going to reorganize the judiciary to make it more congenial for them and their unconstitutional power-grabs. The session was called for a three-day legislating marathon which was also supposed to address the contamination of the Cape Fear River (see below), but lasted exactly one day when the best laid plans of Phil Berger crumbled under public pressure.

Phil Berger dismissed his senate in a snit without taking up the Cape Fear River pollution, but Tim Moore over on the House side decided that maybe they should do something -- some little thing -- about the Chemours plant (previously operating as Dupont). Chemours had been dumping GenX, an ingredient in Teflon coverings for cookware, into the Cape Fear River (until the state Department of Environmental Quality revoked their permit in November), along with other noxious chemicals. The Cape Fear supplies municipal drinking water for towns and cities from Fayetteville to Wilmington.

Chemours is possibly the worst corporate entity operating in North Carolina (and the competition for "worst" is pretty stiff). They had kept secret a lot of their dumping and had failed to report a spill on Oct. 6 that “caused a nearly 100-fold increase in the concentration of GenX” in the river.

Tim Moore and his House of Representatives passed a by-partisan bill that mandated several studies and provided $2.3 million to the DEQ for extra staff and equipment to research potentially dangerous chemicals. According to Colin Campbell, "The key problem with GenX and related chemicals is how little scientists know about them — they might give you cancer, but we don’t yet know for sure."

Safely back in Rockingham County, Berger felt empowered to throw stones at what the House did, without offering to do anything useful himself, and since you know that it takes action by both House and Senate to pass legislation, the Cape Fear River continues to be polluted, the state's judiciary remains unchanged (so far), and if it's not about power-grabbing and dismantling any claim North Carolina once had to being the most progressive state in the South, then Phil Berger wants nothing to do with it.

Could a Democrat Beat Texas Senator Ted Cruz?

Yes. Yes he could, especially if he is Beto O'Rourke.




O'Rourke will probably end up in a Democratic primary, but he's been energizing Texas voters since he announced 10 months ago and he's probably way ahead in any primary race.

If he ends up facing Ted Cruz in November, better watch out.

Monday, January 15, 2018

More New Hopes on the Horizon

Marcia Morgan, running in the 19th NC House District
Marcia Morgan
District includes Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach and parts of Wilmington, all within New Hanover County
Incumbent Republican: Ted Davis Jr., an attorney, originally appointed to the seat in 2012 and reelected to the office since then without Democratic opposition. The most that can be said about him is that he's a seat-warmer who votes as he's told by the bosses.
Democrat Marcia Morgan was an educator, became a career Army officer who retired as a colonel. She taught ROTC and did two tours at the Pentagon including a staff position with the Army Chief of Staff. She says, "I have thoroughly enjoyed retirement and the freedom to do as I please, but the current political environment has challenged me to step forward once again. I do not have a background in politics, but I DO have a strong sense of service to this community and a demonstrated ability to accomplish difficult tasks. I believe we have a commitment to improve our economy, provide equal opportunities for all and protect our environment – and one of the fundamental ways to accomplish those things is through quality education."
If you would like to contribute to Marcia Morgan's campaign: https://www.electmarciamorgan.com/contact


Terence Everitt, running in the 35th NC House District
Terence Everitt
District includes the town of Wake Forest and some northeastern suburbs of Wake County
Incumbent Republican: Chris Malone has served on the Wake Forest town board, the Wake County Board of Education, and was elected to his current seat in the GA in 2012. He was criticized for inventing a tax increase lie (rated by PolitiFact as "Pants on Fire") about his Democratic opponent in the 2016 election, Terence Everitt, who came very close to defeating Malone. Malone famously voted for HB2 and then famously sent out a mailer saying he didn't support it, and he even more famously had a notorious romantic affair with fellow Wake School Board member Debra Goldman which didn't end well
Democrat Terence Everitt is challenging Malone for the second time. He lost to Malone in 2016 by just under 3,000 votes. Everitt is a Wake Forest attorney. In 2016, Everitt's top campaign issue was school funding: "We need to fully fund our public schools and pay our teachers a salary that is at a minimum at the national average. Mr. Malone has voted time and again to underfund our schools. Many of our teachers are working two jobs to make ends meet or even leaving the state to find work for better pay. North Carolina has fallen to among the lowest in the nation in per-pupil spending and teacher pay. And yet, year after year, Mr. Malone has voted for budgets that do not adequately fund our local schools -- all while cutting taxes for large out-of- state corporations and millionaires."
Note: Everitt will have at least one Democratic opponent in next May's primary -- Adam Wright, a business entrepreneur (and may the best candidate come out on top!).
If you want to contribute to Terence Everitt's campaign, here's the link (https://act.myngp.com/Forms/8665933539777187328).


Ayoub Ouederni, running in the 105th NC House District
Ayoub Ouederni
District includes neighborhoods in south Charlotte and the towns of Pineville and Weddington
Incumbent Republican: Scott Stone, who was an unsuccessful Charlotte mayoral candidate and who got appointed to the NC House seat in May of 2016 and won his first election in November of 2016. In other words, Stone doesn't have much of a record in the House but appears to be a dutiful foot-soldier for the bosses.
Democrat Ayoub Ouederni is a Charlotte native and is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill where he was the president of the UNC Muslim Students Association. He would be one of the youngest members of the General Assembly. He became a very outspoken opponent of Trump's Muslim ban last year. Ayoub says, "Our great State has always been home. It has given me my happiest memories, provided me with unparalleled opportunity, and I am forever indebted to my fellow North Carolinians for striving to make this the best state in the Nation. However, we have slowly lost our status as the beacon of the South. Seeing the deterioration of our state institutions has been disheartening. From lowballing our public school teachers and refusing Medicaid expansion, to politicizing our judiciary and disenfranchising minority communities, the state legislature in Raleigh -- the General Assembly -- has refused to set aside partisanship to pursue policies that improve the lives of North Carolinians. I am running for the General Assembly because we need thoughtful leadership and an injection of fresh, new ideas into our politics. Our elected officials must embody our core values of dignity, equality, and respect, and carry the burden that is entrusted onto them with honor and a sense of duty. We need a General Assembly that works proactively to improve the lives of our citizens and strengthen our State."
If you would like to contribute to Ayoub Ouederni, here's your link: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ouederni


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Four More Reasons To Anticipate Next November like Christmas Morning

With new polling showing a 16-point "motivation gap" (67%-51%) between Democrats and Republicans itching to vote in 2018 elections for the North Carolina General Assembly, we shall proceed in this space with celebration of some of the first-time Democratic candidates who are announcing they'll run this year:


Brandon Lofton
Brandon Lofton, running in the 104th NC House District
District currently covers much of south Charlotte and has been "reliably Republican"
Incumbent Republican: Andy Dulin, newly elected in 2016 to replace Ruth Samuelson (who was sometimes a "moderate" R). Dulin's an Appalachian State graduate (1984), with a bachelor’s in travel, tourism, and marketing. He was previously on the Charlotte city council, 2005-2013, and he told the Observer in 2016 that he wouldn't support the repeal of HB2. Just yesterday, the Charlotte Observer pointed out that if the court accepts the redrawn GA district maps produced by the special master, Dulin's 104th becomes considerably less congenial to The Party of Trump.
Democrat Brandon Lofton is a lawyer and a partner at Robinson Bradshaw, concentrating on public finance. Quoting from the Robinson Bradshaw website: "He regularly serves as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel, borrower's counsel and bank counsel for tax-exempt and taxable financings. Brandon represents municipalities, counties, hospitals, universities, nonprofits and underwriters in the financing and refinancing of capital improvements. He also represents clients in a variety of public finance transactions, including general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, installment financings and limited obligation bonds."
Lofton graduated from Chapel Hill with his bachelor's in 2001 and then earned his law degree at New York University in 2004, trailing service awards and academic honors along the way. Lofton was honored by his law school as the featured representative and speaker for the class of 2004. He described "his childhood dream of being a lawyer, explaining how he wanted to be a source of positive social change and to emulate legal heroes such as Thurgood Marshall."
If you want to contribute to Brandon Lofton's campaign, click here: Act Blue Directory (scroll down). 

Erica McAdoo, running in the 63rd NC House District
Erica McAdoo
District covers Alamance County
Incumbent Republican: Stephen M. Ross, a Wells-Fargo banker (hiss!) and previously the mayor of Burlington, first elected to the General assembly in 2012. He recently voted to eliminate judicial primaries in the state (bad!), but some of his other ratings make him look like a squishy moderate: the American Conservative Union rated his usefulness at 42%, and the National Rifle Association put his slavishness to their special interests at 57%.
Democrat Erica McAdoo is "Firm Manager" for The Paynter Law Firm in Hillsborough and teaches at Guilford College and Meredith College (while simultaneously working on an MBA at ECU). She earned a Master's of Music from Appalachian State, a paralegal certificate from Meredith, and a B.S. in piano from Campbell University. According to the Paynter website, McAdoo previously "worked in the legal industry as a litigation paralegal where she was frequently responsible for legal research, document drafting, employee training, office and file organization, client recruitment and retainment, implementation of firm-sponsored community events, identification of marketing opportunities, and development of marketing materials."
If you want to contribute to Erica McAdoo, click here

Mack Paul, running in the 18th NC Senate District
Mack Paul
District 18 under the latest redistricting maps includes northern Wake County, Franklin County, and a small section of Raleigh
Incumbent Republicans: John Alexander and Chad Barefoot, double-bunked by those same redistricting maps. Barefoot, a conservative dick (his attempt to redistrict Wake's Board of Education was thrown out by the courts as unconstitutional), already announced his retirement, so holding the seat for the Republicans is all on John Alexander, the owner of a trucking company first elected to the GA in 2014 (barely) and reelected in 2016 with 50.01% of the vote. For a Republican he expresses hesitance at best and a dangerous moderation at worst on some issues like the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.
Democrat Mack Paul is a Raleigh real-estate attorney and former Wake County Democratic Party chair. Paul says his campaign will focus on economic issues affecting the middle class, and he says the Republican-dominated Senate has “been focused way too much on issues that divide us.” He was a founding member of Triangle Growth Strategies and the Triangle Smart Growth Coalition, two groups that brought together homebuilders and environmentalists on growth issues. As a partner at Morningstar Law Group, he has represented big developers who were defeated in their plans by local opposition, but Paul says he does not support recent legislation backed by developers to limit local governments’ planning and zoning powers. “I feel like it’s important that our local governments have authority to implement the policies that they need because they understand the issues at the local level,” he said. I want to believe him.
If you want to contribute to Mack Paul, go to Act Blue

Wendy B. Sellars
, running in the 80th House District
Wendy Sellars
District covers Davidson County
Incumbent Republican Sam Watford has announced that he'll move over and run for a senate seat, so technically this is now an open seat. (Republican Kevin Speight, the finance chair of the GOP's 13th U.S. Congressional District, announced last month that he will represent the Republicans on the ballot for the seat.)
Democrat Wendy Sellars is an adult probation and parole officer for the N.C. Department of Public Safety and was elected for her second, two-year term on the Thomasville City Council in November. She was previously a member of the Davidson County Board of Education. She criticizes the Republicans’ refusal to expand Medicaid and sufficiently address the opioid crisis: “For too long, Republicans in the General Assembly have failed to adequately address the issues facing our community. Our leaders should fight every day to make sure people have access to a quality education and affordable health care, including lifesaving answers to the opioid and mental health crises. It’s time we fight for those who are in need and stop catering to those at the top .… Everyone deserves a representative who will be their constituents’ voice and speak up for the voiceless among us – I intend to be that representative for Davidson County.”
If you want to contribute to Wendy Sellars, here's the link

Saturday, January 13, 2018

It's Not the Word, People

I keep seeing people on Facebook and in newspaper opinion pieces drawing back in horror that Trump said "shithole." Saying shithole was not the offense. Writing off huge segments of dark-skinned humanity as being unworthy of respect let alone empathy -- that was the gaping abyss in Trump's soul which suddenly opened up for all of us to contemplate. Is there any bottom to that hole?

It was not the word he uttered. It is the fact that this particular person -- putatively, the "leader of the free world" -- would express such racist contempt for millions of other people, out loud and in front of witnesses.

“This is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar,” said a Fox News host, as if Trump's "honesty" were his saving grace. A lot of things get said in bars, which does not necessarily elevate those sentiments to a place of privilege in our public discourse. Bars are where small men go to swagger in front of their friends and rivals. The utterance “shithole countries" is mere swagger, meant to short-circuit discussion and bully any opposition.

The United States of America is full of people who came from troubled places, mere shitholes you could say, but it was not their places of origin which defines them. It is the content of their aspirations that defines them as "American," their willingness to become contributing and productive citizens of our commonweal (despite any asshole bully currently ruling the joint).

This president has clearly grown more comfortable blurting his overtly racist attitudes, condemning whole countries and their people for not being more like Norway, one of the whitest countries on Earth. Did those Republican congressmen in the room who now profess a failure of memory about what Trump said, did they laugh nervously when he said it? Did they through their grunts and gestures, like a gaggle of masculinity at a bar, let the bully's opinion stand unchallenged? Did they study the floor of the Oval Office, wishing they were elsewhere but also secretly acknowledging that Trump was speaking their truth too?

Senator Lindsey Graham claims that “following comments by the president, I said my piece directly to him yesterday," and we wonder what that "piece" might have included. We'd love to believe that Senator Graham told the president to knock it off, to stop being the braggart racist in the bar, but we also know the senator for a suck-up, so we're hedging our bets on that one.