Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Bob Rucho Slap-Down in NC Senate District 34?

I mentioned pugilist Republican Bob Rucho in the last post down-column. Rucho had been a gerrymandering and hot-tempered dynamo in the NC Senate (District 39) after 2010. He dropped out of running in 2016, apparently spent the next two years saving up rent money, because one day before filing to run in Senate District 34 (Statesville-Mooresville area), Rucho rented an apartment and declared residency. It was an open seat, see, because safe incumbent Republican Andrew Brock quit last July to take a seat on a board of review that decides unemployment claims.

Dan Barrett, the Republican appointed to Brock's seat, is not running for it this year. Four other Republicans are, including Rucho.

Republican Primary Contender Vicki Sawyer --
Member of the Iredell County Planning Board and treasurer of the Iredell County Republican Party. Sawyer and her husband own Sawyer Insurance & Financial Services in Mooresville. She seems civic -- served on the Iredell County School Facilities Task Force, co-chaired the successful 2014 school bond referendum committee, and has been president of Lakeshore Elementary and Middle School Parent Teacher Organizations. She is a Methodist.
From her press release: “I want to couple fiscally-conservative principles with a collaborative approach that ensures economic and educational prosperity for Iredell and Yadkin counties, as well as communities across North Carolina,” Sawyer said. “I want to work with my fellow senators to strengthen our education system, enhance our attractiveness to new businesses and find new ways to make sure those who work in our areas of public safety have the resources they need to meet today’s challenges.”
No cultural war stuff there. She's not obsessed with power. She likes public education.

Republican Insurgent Bob Rucho --
The combustible carpet-bagger from Charlotte ... Rucho, as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, had a hissy-fit disagreement over the budget with Senate President Phil Berger in 2013 and abruptly resigned his chairmanship. Berger never accepted the resignation, so eventually, after a few months, Rucho slinked back and took his chairman's gavel again. He gets hot fast.
Rucho sees Vicki Sawyer -- "the woman" -- as his chief stumbling block in slinking back to the NC Senate, and he's already caused a public fuss by denigrating Sawyer's gender. At a candidate forum in Statesville, Rucho looked at Sawyer and told the crowd, "This shouldn't be a beauty contest," and the sarcasm was lot lost on the voters. John Deem listened to the forum tape and reported, "Audience members can be heard reacting immediately, with some groaning, some laughing and others just saying, 'Wow.' There’s little doubt that those folks thought Rucho was referring to Sawyer."
So Rucho's a dick, and Republican primary voters have proven fond of dicks in recent years. But if this is "the year of the woman" for Democrats, maybe the same dynamic will work for sane, middle-of-the-road Republican women candidates too.
[Grateful to Jonathan Kappler for pointing out that the race between Sawyer and Rucho bears watching]

Two Other Republicans in This Senate Primary


A.J. Daoud, funeral business owner -- 
Daoud describes himself as "an activist," and indeed he is and has been. Active with Habitat for Humanity and United Way, served as the chair of the Pilot Mountain Planning and Zoning Board, worked on the Mayor's Downtown Task Force, been a loyal booster of the NC GOP as chair of the 6th Congressional District Republican Committee. He ran for Secretary of State in 2012 and didn't make it out of the primary. He tried again in 2016 for Secty of State, and again didn't make it out of the primary. In 2013, Republican Governor Pat McCrory recognized Daoud's service and appointed him to the NC Lottery Commission, his highest office so far.
Daoud is a bit of a carpet-bagger himself. Last November, Daoud moved from where he lived in Pilot Mountain and established himself inside the funeral home he owns in East Bend, to qualify as a resident of Senate District 34.
He's affable. 

Bill Howell, Iredell-Statesville School Board -- 
A retired NC public school teacher, coach, and athletic director. A veteran of the US army, and he says he worked for Homeland Security. He gets specific about the bad public education policies that have come out of Raleigh:
"The legislature has been given poor information about our schools and teachers of NC. I feel the decisions being made have hurt and continues to hurt our schools. It is time that someone in Raleigh stands up for our children and those who serve them. NC schools are receiving less than 30% of state lottery funds. We were told if we approved the lottery funds would go to the schools. Interstate 77 is a disgrace; why do we get a toll road and Greensboro gets 12 lanes?"
He has a Facebook page, but that's all she wrote!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Last Gasp of Moderates, Or a New Dawning? NC Senate District 39 and Its Republican Primary


Beth Monaghan is proudly a "moderate Republican." She announces it on the home page of her website. She's also running for an NC Senate seat against one of the most un-moderate Republican incumbents, Dan Bishop, in Dist. 39. By May 9th, we should know if GOP moderation triumphs, or can even survive.

Senate District 39 is entirely in Mecklenburg, on the southeastern border with Union County. Takes in Matthews and Mint Hill and a lot of ex-urban Charlotte. FlipNC rates District 39 as D -5, which ain't great but ain't impossible either. But NC Free Enterprise Foundation rates the district as a brighter red. Down five points? Down 20 points? This is the year when a Democratic deficit doesn't mean what it used to. How many times have we seen huge Democratic deficits simply vanish this year (like pimples on a teenager who's suddenly growing up).

The Republicans have a primary in the 39th and so do the Democrats (see below). The outcome on the Republican side could signal trumpian pugnacious intractability, which is what I expect and which is why I think Dan Bishop is going to win that race.


Challenger Beth Monaghan, the Moderate --
She's "country club," baby, and tough. Sensible, smart, well turned out. She thought what the General Assembly did to Charlotte via the "bathroom bill" was crap and set about absolutely ruining business for the business class she's comfortable with. She's perfectly logical and commendably blunt about incumbent Dan Bishop: "We need to rebuild our North Carolina brand and rebuild our relationship between Charlotte and the General Assembly. I don't think that will happen until we have different people representing Charlotte in the General Assembly."
She's an accountant by profession. She founded the Monaghan Group and led the accounting business for 20 years before selling it. She's quoted in The Charlotte Weekly: "My senator is not representing my values and I don’t think he is representing the values of the district, individual dignity, equal rights, equal justice, free enterprise, limited government. Those are all North Carolina Republican values. My senator didn’t represent those values when he wrote HB2 [bathroom bill]. ”
Monaghan's son came out as gay in college. She correctly interpreted the bathroom bill as a slap against people like her son. "For my home state to pass legislation that said, in effect, my son is ‘less than,’ saddened and infuriated me,” Monaghan told the Charlotte Observer.
WFAE profiled her: She supports LGBT rights, independent redistricting and says it's time to refocus the General Assembly's attention on core Republican issues like personal liberty. "And I think I'm just the woman to bring some accountability to the General Assembly."
Her campaign mantra (or it should be): "Republicans like Dan Bishop: Government Overreach and Bad for Business."
Exciting as she seems, I don't see her beating Bishop, unless those suburban Republican women rise up in great numbers to overwhelm the trumpers. If she could beat Bishop, she'd probably win the General. 


Incumbent Republican Senator Dan Bishop --
Bishop has a Chapel Hill law degree and a full legal career behind him. He served two terms in the House before opting to run for the Senate seat in 2016 when incumbent Bob Rucho gave it up. (This is the district that elected Bob Rucho, the Jersey Bomber, for several terms, and he often ran unopposed, so this is a district that likes their authoritarians.)
(Incidentally, Bob Rucho has moved to Mooresville and is now running again in a crowded Republican primary in Senate District 34.) 
Bishop's known in Raleigh as abrasive. And obnoxiously conservative. He's best known for the bathroom bill, as chief sponsor and main author. The passage of HB2 led to a national boycott of North Carolina by major employers, conventions, sporting events, and entertainment figures. According to RealFactsNC, "Bishop has been unrepentant." He even sought to criminalize peaceful protests with a five-year minimum sentence after former Gov. McCrory got chased down the street by LGBT protesters at the Trump inauguration. Bishop had faced protests too, and he was fed up. (Can you spell a-u-t-h-o-r-i-t-a-r-i-a-n?
Bishop fingers the usual suspects behind all his troubles: "There is a hostile media and a special interest or two that are interested in creating controversy instead of prosperity for all of North Carolina. That is what the election is about.” If people would only just shut the hell up about being discriminated against!

In late March of 2017, the General Assembly passed a compromise retreat that repealed most of HB2, and Governor Cooper signed it, but Dan Bishop lashed the compromise on the Senate floor. “This bill is at best a punt. At worst it is a betrayal of principle,” Bishop argued. The Senate passed the compromise anyway, 32-16.

Democratic Challenger Ann Harlan --
District 39 has a higher-than-average level of educated voters. Will they take to Ann Harlan, the single working mother of five (four of them adopted through the foster parent program) but also an academic egghead -- I mean no disrespect -- who holds a doctorate from Michigan State University and teaches college-level sociology and social work.

Will Democratic voters take to her? Dunno (but the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg endorsed her). At the moment she has a severely under-developed web presence and little presentation of personality. Her campaign seems curiously up-tight and buttoned down. Too buttoned down.


Democratic Challenger Chad Stachowicz --
Stachowicz is CEO of Cloverhound, an IT company he founded that has employees in North Carolina, Colorado, and Ohio. He described himself as "socially liberal but fiscally conservative." "A fiscal conservative to me means spending money in the right way and making sure we get a return on our investment," Stachowicz says. The public investment needs to be in education, sure, but there are different kinds of educations that deserve our support: “I come from a generation where they preach that college is the only way to make it. That is a way to go for some, but an electrician is a job here in North Carolina where there is a great need. An electrician will make close to $70,000 once they finish their apprenticeship, which is two years."
The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) has endorsed Sachowicz. So has Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic. And the New South Progressives. And Moms Demand Action.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Words, the Attitude, the Hat -- But Is It a Winning Look for 2018?


So far, the Republican candidates trying to out-Trump Trump have not been doing so well with voters. Roy Moore in Alabama wanted to be the Bama Basher in the style of his hero in the White House. Rick Saccone liked to say "I was Trump before Trump was Trump" in his Pennsylvania race for the US House, but he lost badly to Conor Lamb.

They're often Trump's parrots (see below), and often decked out in that scarlet hat and claiming to be more like Twitterman than their Republican opponents. Ex-Massey Energy Co. boss Don Blankenship, once he got out of prison and decided he wanted to be US Senator from West Virginia, became a Twitter sensation himself, emulating his idol (who's endorsed not one but both of the Republicans running against Blankenship in the primary. There's no end to irony).

Todd Rokita (pictured above in his MAGA hat) is running as the trumpster who wants to represent Indiana in the US Senate. "Not to be outdone, one of Mr. Rokita’s opponents, Luke Messer, tarred Mr. Rokita as 'Lyin’ Todd,' an echo of Mr. Trump’s epithet for Senator Ted Cruz, 'Lyin’ Ted.' Mr. Messer’s gripe? Mr. Rokita falsely claimed to have received the president’s endorsement" (Jeremy W. Peters). Rokita got the endorsement not of Corporal Bonespurs but of the corporal's head Indiana campaign persons back in 2016.

The poker bluff of 2018: "I see your strut, and I raise you a fuss."

“We don’t need to investigate our president. We need to arrest Hillary,” thunders Don Blankenship in a campaign ad in West Virginia.

“I proudly stand with our president and Mike Pence to drain the swamp,” declares Rokita in his own TV spot in Indiana.

"Let’s get this ‘@#$% thing’ done,” Martha McSally, candidate for US Senate from Arizona, said at a campaign rally about The Wall, and was quoted in the press.

“Someone told me the other day that I was the first Trump, the Trump for Mississippi,” said Chris McDaniel, a candidate for Senate in Mississippi.

The obvious question: Is any of this strut and fuss playing well beyond his base? And what's his base, anyway? Maybe 35% of the voting public, which is only a fraction of the whole public which can and might actually vote.

Like Twitterman likes to say on all occasions, "We'll see what happens."

Friday, April 20, 2018

Corruption of the NC Court System Becomes an Issue in 2018


Take a look at this mailer being sent out in several NC House districts (at least) by a group calling itself "Fair Courts Now." It's designed to put pressure on Republican lawmakers who, under the leadership of  Phil Berger and Tim Moore, have been messing with the judicial system in an effort to avoid having their unconstitutional laws thrown out by the courts.

This particular example is aimed at Rep. William "Bill" Brawley, who represents District 103 in the NC House. Brawley's got the race of his life on his hands this year, with Democrat Rachel Hunt, the daughter of former Governor Jim Hunt, filed to run against him.

This same mailer is showing up in other House districts with other Republican members pictured on the front: "Call Rep. Whosit Today." (So far I've seen one other aimed at Rep. Ted Davis in District 19. Indebted to Jonathan Kappler for collecting political mailers from all over the state and posting them for our edification.)

We're glad to see the issue of a judiciary under attack surfacing in this year's General Assembly races.







Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Next Special Election in Arizona Has GOP in a Cold Sweat


Or a hot panic.

Twitterman is cutting robocalls, warning that if the Democrat wins the special election to replace Trent Franks in the 8th Congressional District of Arizona next Tuesday, then “illegal immigrants will pour right over your border.” That kind of talk sounds like part of a comedy routine, seriously, but maybe it works in Arizona. Dunno.

The Arizona 8th takes in the suburbs to the north and west of Phoenix and a good deal of open ranching country. Republican presidential contestants carried the district by at least 20 points in all three of the last three elections. Heavily Republican -- the district includes Sun City -- and wouldn't you know it? Current absentee balloting in this special election has been lop-sidedly Republican -- 49% of requests to the Democrats' 28%, which means that the Unaffiliated are voting at a respectable clip -- 23%.

Those stats can give Republicans bragging rights -- “When you look at the number of Republicans who’ve requested absentee ballots, I don’t know how you conclude that this is a race” -- meaning, why would you even think that a Democrat could win this seat? That's what Corry Bliss said, the executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund -- which is also incidentally pumping in hundreds of thousands to shore up the Republican candidate.

You've heard of whistling through the graveyard, right?

Some polls show the race as a "dead heat," so certainly some Republicans are worried. Why else would they stoop to the desperation of a Corporal Bonespurs robocall?

Historical note: What happened to Congressman Trent Franks: resigned in 2017 after revelation that he had offered a female staffer $5 million to carry his child.

The Republican candidate, Debbie Lesko --
She was until recently an incumbent state senator, representing at least some of CD 8. She resigned her seat to run for Congress. She ran unopposed in her last election. Her greatest accomplishment in the state legislature appears to have been a law allowing Sun City residents to drive golf carts on the road. When the bill was passed, the community feted officials including Lesko with a 100-golf cart parade.

Curiously, if you go to her website, where usually a candidate will write a short autobiography -- "This is where I come from. This is what I've done. This is who I am as a human being" -- there is nothing personal about Debbie Lesko. Zero. Just a bullet-point list of service/work/activity, like you'd do if you were applying for Who's Who.

She's a doctrinaire conservative, with a distinct Tea Party aroma, and the question in this year of the Twitterman 2018 is whether that message is selling any more, even in Sun City. Especially in Sun City. Wikipedia sez, "Lesko has said she opposes universal health coverage and favors repealing the Affordable Care Act." You have a history of wanting to take away people's health insurance, at the same time that the Party in Power has repeatedly and deliberately destabilized the insurance marketplace and driven everyone's costs up, then maybe you're looking and sounding a little like very old fish wrap.

Her big issue is "build the wall." Sun City has been an enthusiastic consumer of any anti-immigrant rhetoric you cared to peddle. Those folks were Joe Arpaio's base, so how in the world would someone who opposed the wall -- as the Democratic candidate (below) does -- expect to win a race for Congress?

But because Lesko has actually lagged behind the Democrat in fundraising, outside Republican and conservative PACs have dumped a million or two into District 8 to change Lesko's persona.

Why would her persona need work? Lesko is “everything you hate about politics,” said Lesko's Democratic opponent, Hiral Tipirneni, a first-time candidate in her first-ever TV commercial. That line hurt because it's true.


The Democrat, Hiral Tipirneni --
From her website: "Hiral came to America from India with her family at the age of three. Her parents were seeking the American dream because they knew the United States was a place where, if you worked hard and lived by the rules of democracy, you could be successful no matter where you came from."

Hiral finished public school in Ohio and went on to a medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University. She's spent the last 20 years as an emergency room physician. Her introductory video is another compelling presentation, in a year of great political video. You should go watch it.

According to Ballotpedia, Tipirneni outraised Lesko between February 8 and April 4, 2018, with $434,000 in contributions to Lesko's $367,000. “If you look at that national wave of momentum, Arizona is no different,” Tipirneni told the Guardian. “Our Democratic base is energized. And what’s amazing is that we didn’t realize how many Dems were there just waiting for somebody to step up and represent them.” She acknowledges that Democrats alone can't elect her. She'll have to win Republican votes. How many Republican votes she needs depends on how those Unaffiliateds are voting.

Tipirneni is running on health care and saving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, programs that Tipirneni points out the Republicans want to slash to pay for the deficit that was created by the tax cuts. She advocates a plan that would allow anyone, of any age, to buy into Medicare, the most sensible fix and the one that gives conservatives the ultimate vapors.

She's against The Wall. That may kill her in Sun City -- probably will -- but it's otherwise a clear contest and a choice in the Arizona Eighth: An Immigrant v. an Immigrant Basher. If Tipirneni even comes close, it proves the sponginess of Republican enthusiasm this year.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Dan Forest, Alarmed (And Annotated)



N.C. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, "a likely candidate for governor in 2020," was among the headline speakers this weekend during the Civitas think tank’s Conservative Leadership Conference at the Crabtree Valley Marriott.

In a short speech Friday night, Forest argued that government can’t — and shouldn’t be expected to — fix all of society’s ills. But, he said, small-government conservatives are in a dangerous place in history because “the left” marches and lobbies for bigger government with “religious fervor.”

“It’s the thing that wars used to be fought over,” Forest said.
Wars? Onward, Christian soldiers?
“You see it on issues like climate change or the Me Too movement or Black Lives Matter or gun control,” he continued. “Name the issue today, the fervor has reached a religious pitch in America. Why? Because it really is the religion of the left.”
Penis envy. Dan Forest is furious that the Republicans aren't showing the same fervour as Democrats. Personally, I pray to the earth and the sky, in that order, and I don't tend to think the exercise of the rights in a Republic to protest and to be heard is in itself a threat to the Republic.
Real societal and cultural change comes with changes in character, Forest argued. Referencing a push for more gun restrictions, Forest at one point noted that God punished Cain — and not the rock — when Cain used a rock to kill his brother Abel in the biblical book of Genesis.
At the root of everything wrong is character. True dat!
The left, however, “they don’t have a hope in God," Forest said. "They have no hope in a higher power. They are hopeless."
No, not hopeless, Your Holiness.
"They truly do believe that, but for the government, but for the work they do, there’s no hope for America. So, it’s a dangerous place to be.”
Don't get run over by the Welcome Wagon!
Republicans are guilty of relying too much on government too, Forest added. He noted that the recent omnibus spending bill in Congress raised America's debt, didn’t block funding to Planned Parenthood and didn’t repeal Obamacare.
Virginia Foxx, call your office.
Government isn’t the answer, he said.

So what is? “Before we can change government, we must change men’s hearts,” Forest said.

He suggested that people don’t help each other enough because they expect government to step in. “Why would we help our neighbors if government is going to do it for us?” he said. “Why would we help the poor if government’s going to do it for us? Why would we feed the hungry, help the sick, take care of mom and grandma in their old age if government’s going to do it for us?”
Send this child to camp! Does he know anything about what goes on every day in this state?
The U.S. Constitution and founding documents were crafted through a “God-ordained framework,” Forest said.

But, he argued, America‘s culture is no longer God-centric. “We need to teach character education in North Carolina,” he said. 
Again with "character." Totally agree! Teach kids not to lie, not to grab each other by the pussy simply because they can get away with it, not to boast and then insult lesser human beings as stupid, ugly, fat, lying slobs, etc.
“If you want to make a huge dent in the breakdown of society, then make a dent in fatherlessness.”
Hmmm. Father figures we can respect. There's a plan!
Forest laid out these numbers: 43 percent of children live without their father, fatherless children are four times more likely to live in poverty, 70 percent of children in state-operated facilities come from fatherless homes and fatherless kids are twice as likely to die by suicide.

“If you want to make a dent in all these issues, don’t make a policy, don’t get government involved,” Forest said. “Start to do something about fathers in homes.”

He didn’t elaborate on what that might look like.

This Is Something


The writer of what is copied here (Watauga Conservative) wears the collar of an Anglican priest, taught some sort of psychology at ASU for years, and runs a website that the local Republican Party under Anne Marie Yates cut off from communion.
Those of you who have followed the blog over the years, know that when Trump announced his candidacy and was coming down the escalator, God spoke to me. He informed me Trump was to be president.
I was not surprised that God would take a personal interest in America. After all we are the pivotal country in His work to establish His Kingdom.
As I always do, I asked God what part I was to play. And even though I have had many miracles in my life, I was totally unprepared for what followed. Although he had no idea of who I am, one of the most famous prophets in the world , not only called me out by name on TV, but so I would know he was speaking to me, he told me exactly what I was doing at the moment I heard his broadcast. The prophet then told me specifically what God wanted of me.
I was to be an intercessory prayer warrior for Trump.
And as St Paul said before " King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." I immediately joined one of the many intercessory prayer groups–Potus Shield. We all pray for hours daily. We have prayer conference calls with thousands around the world and we hold large meetings national and international meetings..
I need to cut this article short. So, back to the disheartenment. Every personal attack on my president is painful. In my long life I have never seen such over-the-top virulence. Trump has sacrificed so much to bring his enormous talents to save our country and also the church. I understand Trump and his family are taking these hits precisely because God called him and anointed him to be president. The hatred is directed more toward God than to him. This is a spiritual battle which can only be won spiritually
Trump also understands this as well as the blowback he receives from the corrupt swamp creatures he is driving out.
But with so many in my own party working to destroy him, it is dispiriting.

Unchained (But Can't Skip Away from Judgment)


Stuck inside during yesterday's deluge followed by today's snow showers and cold wind, I've entertained myself by reading Katy Tur's "Unbelieveable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History," her account of the over 500 days she spent with Donald Trump in 2015 and 2016 as he was running for president.

She's a very good writer, and I finished the book in two sittings, reliving at a safe remove what I already lived in the lobster pot of breaking news during that year and a half.

Tur was at every Trump rally and became a favorite Trump target, called out by name by Trump and offered up to those screaming crowds as a sort of symbolic sacrifice standing in for all the hated "fake news" media. She was literally spat upon and threatened. This passage from the book resonated, detailing how the rally crowds fed off Trump and got their "patriotic" license to act out. This passage follows the release of a certain notorious tape:
The enthusiasm for Trump isn't waning. The crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the night after the [St. Louis] debate, three days after the Access Hollywood tape, is just as big as ever and even rowdier than others have been. When I walk in, a man and his wife are leaning over the bicycle racks of the press pen. At first it looks like they're trying to talk to a CNN reporter. When I get closer, though, I realize they're actually yelling at her.
You need more makeup, the husband advises. Keep piling it on! On second thought, don't bother, he adds. You're so ugly it won't help. He is going on and on, heckling this reporter as his wife stands there, laughing. They are trying to break her concentration, to draw a reaction, but the reporter is a rock. They're about four feet from her, but she is completely ignoring them.
I wish I could have done the same. Instead I start yelling at the man. I tell him to stop it and I congratulate his wife on being married to such a great guy. After they walk away, the reporter walks over to her camera. A couple of minutes later she is on live TV. The couple is standing off to the side still staring at her, hoping she'll mess up or give some hint that they rattled her. I'm staring, too, hoping she doesn't give them the pleasure. She doesn't miss a beat.
The thing is, they don't look like cruel people. They look like they're in their forties. They're wearing designer jeans and nice boots. They seem healthy and comfortable, and it's hard to imagine them acting this way at home or in the office. Hillary Clinton recently called Trump's supporters a "baset of deplorables," and while some might be easy to single out like that, most aren't. A lot of your coworkers and your neighbors. They're your taxi driver, your fireman, and your supermarket cashier. They're the mom in riding boots and a Barbour coat helping her cute daughter with her school science project. You would never know that they're Trump supporters, quote unquote deplorables.
But inside a Trump rally, these people are unchained. They can drop their everyday niceties. They can yell and scream and say things they'd never say out loud on the outside.
"Obama is Muslim!"
"Hillary Clinton is a cunt!"
"Immigrants need to get the hell out!"
"Fuck you, media!"
On the outside, this kind of behavior is disreputable. But inside a Trump rally, they can tell a woman she's ugly and needs more makeup. They aren't deplorables. They are patriots. And they're waiting to see their hero for the first time after a three-day fight for his political life.
He won the fight. We're living the outcome, which has been no less bizarre, no less dangerous to the body politic, no less abnormal that the campaign that preceded it, and I'm grateful to Katy Tur for her bravery, her stamina, and for her appreciation for the judgment of history:
Every day on the campaign trail Trump's actions test the definition of normal. He calls for jailing his opponent. He openly admonishes sitting generals. He singles out minority groups for blanket condemnation. He goes after the spouses of his rivals. He questions the integrity of the election itself. He is endlessly hostile toward the media. All of this Trump does so often that it's a struggle to remember what's old news, by the stadard of his behavior, and what is big news, by the standard of history.
We're coming up on an election in 2018 which will be the American voting public's first chance to pass judgment since that dark night in November 2016. It will be a judgment, finally, on disreputable behavior. If it is not, then we are truly doomed. If we are salvageable as a democratic Republic, it will also be a judgment on those in a political party which have condoned, facilitated, and applauded the father of lies.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Maverick and Unpredictable Republican Candidates Embroil Senate Races


The US Chamber of Commerce has entered the fight in the Mississippi special election in November: Will the appointed woman with no pizzazz keep the seat, or will the more charismatic but extremely conservative upstart push her aside?



We profiled Cindy Hyde-Smith's Republican upstart opponent, Chris McDaniel, back on March 1, when he was thought to be a likely Trumpian primary opponent to Sen. Roger Wicker this year, but then Cochran resigned and Cindy Hyde-Smith got appointed, and well, opportunity smells.

Anyway, the US Chamber of Commerce seems worried enough about the rise of McDaniel, and the loss of the seat to Democrat Mike Espy, that they're spending millions on that 30-second TV ad.

In West Virginia, something similar is happening, with the scary upstart being a recent felon who presided over a coal company that lied about the deaths of 29 coal miners, one Don Blankenship, who's notorious in West Virginia without necessarily being electable. So the Republican funding base is rallying against Blankenship, while state polls show Rep. Evan Jenkins in the lead and with Twitterman on stage in the state appearing to endorse both Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, while very publicly dissing Blankenship. Everyone thinks Blankenship would be a disaster running against Democrat Manchin, who might otherwise be uniquely vulnerable this year.

"Non-Native" Could Spell Trouble for the NC GOP


Some 20 years ago, in the elections of 1998, when Watauga County elected its first Democratic majority County Commission in many years, we had noticed a shift -- non-native voters were growing in numbers while pure North Carolina natives were shrinking. In a second-home and tourism-dependent scenic mountain county, what else would you expect?

Yesterday I heard from Rob Christensen that the shift is now state-wide: People born out-of-state now outnumber native North Carolinians among all registered voters.

Hmmm.

Speculation always leads to stereotyping, including here. Some 33 percent of the non-native voters are Democrats, 30 percent are Republicans and 37 percent are unaffiliated. They tend to vote in lower percentages than the native-born, who are still the majority of "active voters." So non-natives are sometimes a deep mystery. Will they turn out? Which way will they go? Will it even matter?

One caveat: Christensen says, "There are 5.9 million registered voters whose birth state is listed in State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement records, out of the state's 6.9 million total registered voters." Meaning that there's a million voters of unknown origin -- because they've been registered a long time or they left the question blank on the form -- so who knows who the real majority is? And does it even matter?

Christensen is cautious: "The politics of those born out of state seem to be a little different from North Carolina natives." Cautious for good reason. Christensen doesn't want to make too much out of the numbers, because is that even really a voting bloc? Or a heterodox invasion of people looking to blend in with the local communities as quickly as possible.

Does "non-native" signal anything about political leanings or outcomes? I think so, especially as voters born out of state have paid attention to what's happened since 2010 in Raleigh. An outsider might justifiably see the direction the state has taken as off a cliff.

Something's already happened in other states, too, especially Southern ones. You've noticed the swings in deep red Alabama, in Virginia, in Pennsylvania, right? And in a bunch of other states, like Wisconsin and even Oklahoma. Those swings swung because suburban Unaffiliateds (and some suburban Republican women) had had a bellyful of sky-diving conservatives, and, along with fired-up Democrats, swept aside Republican candidates in special election after special election. That's without even uttering the given name of Corporal Bonespurs. Every demographic blip potentially drives an electoral wave.

The suburbs of North Carolina are full of non-native recent arrivals.

Could be coming a judgment on Raleigh, and Washington, this November, that might be largely the doing of the Unaffiliated, a majority of whom ain't from around here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

You May Be Seeing an RNC Operative in Your Neighborhood Soon


A Friday headline to go with your second breakfast: "GOP breaks the glass as House outlook darkens; The party is scrambling to shore up seats deep in Trump country, where incumbents won by double digits in 2016."

And this paragraph, deep in the article:
The RNC [Republican Nat'l Committee] has established an elaborate field program in North Carolina, where [George] Holden, [Ted] Budd, and [Robert] Pittenger are running — and where there are otherwise few voter turnout mechanisms in place. With North Carolina in a “blue moon” election cycle, meaning that there are no statewide races on the ballot other than Supreme Court contests, the committee has dispatched six full-time field staffers to the state.
Presumably those hotshot Republican operatives will be fixating on Congressional districts 2, 9, and 13, where Holden, Budd, and Pittenger have been dragging their heels with fundraising, while their likely Democratic opponents (Ken Romley, Dan McCready, and Kathy Manning, respectively) have had no trouble attracting enthusiastic support.

(Yes, I'm aware that Romley, McCready, and Manning all have Democratic primary opponents, and anything might happen, but Romley, McCready, and Manning are far ahead in fundraising and national recognition. Just saying.)

Anyway, where will the RNC station those six full-time field staffers? In urban centers, that the Republicans in the NC General Assembly have been shitting on for five long years?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

EARTHQUAKE: Paul Ryan Won't Run Again

I didn't think he'd bow out, but it's all over Twitter that Paul Ryan has told his closest associates that he won't run for reelection.

Ryan's expected to make a formal announcement to House Republicans later today.

Maybe it was the #ToxicTrumpEffect or maybe it was the prospect of losing reelection to the #IronStache. Either way, this opens the door wide for either steelworker Randy Bryce or schoolteacher Cathy Myers. A Democrat can win this congressional district.

No sudden Republican retirement from Congress will hit the GOP harder than this one.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Twitterman's Chaos Could Engulf North Carolina's Farmers

Fun fact: China -- at least prior to trade war threat and counter-threat -- bought a fifth of North Carolina's tobacco crop. More people smoke cigarettes in China than there are people in the United States.

Pork? North Carolina pork goes to China, too, along with all that nicotine. North Carolina farmers sold more than $250 million in those two commodities to China last year alone.

And what does Twitterman do but destabilize that income expectation for some 48,000 of the state's farmers. If there's one thing that farmers hate more than the weather, it's the expectation that expectations can't be counted on any more.

Former Congressman Bob Etheridge, who's become the point man on this issue for the NC Democratic Party, said, “Farmers today are scared to death. They’re frightened because they depend on predictability from their government. ... And what are we getting? This is what we’re getting from Washington today. Chaos. This administration continues to force chaos and confusion on people.”

Well, that's actually the least of what this administration is forcing.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Archie Parnell in the South Carolina 5th Gets an Opening


Ralph Norman
Republican Ralph Norman has been the congressman from the 5th Congressional District of South Carolina only since June of 2017, when he won a special election there to finish out Mick Mulvaney's term. (Mulvaney had gone to glory in the Twitterman's White House.) In that special election, Norman beat Democrat Archie Parnell by less than 3,000 votes.

For behavior alone, Ralph Norman is a dick. He was meeting with constituents at a diner in Rock Hill last Friday when he noticed a gaggle of women in the room wearing red T-shirts, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. So what did Ralph Norman do? He pulled a handgun out of his jacket pocket and placed it on the table, where it remained for the next several minutes.

Lori Freeman, who was wearing one of the red T-shirts, "said Mr. Norman told the group his gun was loaded. He asked many times if they felt safer," she said.

Democrat Archie Parnell is running again. In that special election in 2017, Parnell closed the Democratic deficit from 16 points down to three. Parnell was virtually unknown outside the 5th District and surprised many, because, you see, on the same day that Parnell was doing so well against Norman, Jon Ossoff was losing his special election in Georgia's 6th CD to Karen Handel. Everybody had been watching Ossoff's campaign. Nobody was paying attention to Parnell.

That neglect has changed.

Parnell's announcement video is funny and presents a sharp contrast to the bombastic Ralph Norman:





Parnell earned his law degree from the University of South Carolina and worked as a tax attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and for the House Ways & Means Committee under Democratic leadership. From his website:
Archie is running for Congress because Washington is not solving the real problems that are hurting middle class families. As a tax expert, he will work with both parties to close loopholes that allow giant companies to keep untaxed profits overseas – and use that money to cut taxes for families, repair and improve South Carolina infrastructure, and create jobs. He believes that cutting taxes for families and simplifying them for businesses will attract jobs to South Carolina again.
Something to keep in mind: The SC 5th District bumps up against the North Carolina border and actually takes in some of the southern suburbs of Charlotte. Suburban Republican mothers aren't necessarily enamored of fool congressmen who brandish weapons in front of moms concerned about gun violence.

Politico called his first run against Ralph Norman "the best political campaign of 2017" and Vice.com said, "It’s hard to look at Parnell’s performance in the special and conclude that he can’t win."

Sunday, April 08, 2018

A Very Stable Genius at Work and at Play


It takes a genius, dudn't it, to inspire the Chinese to hit back and hurt one's own rural base? Cutting off your nose soybeans to spite your face chances of surviving to Tuesday. (Pick a Tuesday.) Just another brick thrown through tomorrow, by a president who never ever considers the end result of what he says and does.

Trade wars are good and easily won, said the man on Twitter.

"China’s aggressive response to Mr. Trump’s tariffs is aimed squarely at products produced in the American heartland" (Stolberg and Swanson). He couldn't foresee that? What, no one in his earshot predicted the Chinese response? Pig farmers and soybean and corn producers -- virtually all of Iowa and much of Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, the Dakotas, and much of North Carolina too -- guys, your lives are about to get a lot more complicated. Nearly two-thirds of United States soybean exports (alone) go to China.

It was a campaign promise, see, like the Great Wall of Mexico, and the man fixates on acting on those promises. Doesn't want to look weak or ineffectual, like he did on Obamacare repeal, so by gawd those tariffs fly and that wall gets built, even if he has to lie about it.

You might have thought that the man on Twitter would have backed off his tariff threats, once he began to hear the outcry (Stolberg and Swanson say that members of Congress from corn and soybean country have had the loud vapors about Chinese retaliation), but instead of backpedaling or hemming, Trump said in a radio interview on Friday," I’m not saying there won’t be a little pain, but the market’s gone up 40 percent, 42 percent — so we might lose a little bit of it — but we’re going to have a much stronger country when we’re finished."

When you're finished, you might not have a golden throne to plop your genius ass down on.

The Chinese hold how much of our debt? Really, that much!
Mr. Trump has directed the Department [of Agriculture] to implement a plan to help farmers cope with the damage from tariffs. But few details have been forthcoming about how such a program would work or how much it might cost. And it is not clear how much the Agriculture Department could do to remedy the damage done to key trading relations in a global economy.
Deficit spending by the Commodity Credit Corporation will soar. Trump's government will have to prop up the crops and producers with subsidies and rob Peter to pay Paul.

The genius foresight of this man on Twitter.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Paul Ryan's Rocky Road


House Speaker Paul Ryan has until June 1 to file to run for reelection to the US House from Wisconsin. So far he hasn't, and he continues to say that he hasn't made up his mind. Some think he won't run again, considering the forecast of heavy weather and considering how there have already been two surprising blue flips in Wisconsin this year (here and here, just this week).

Some think he will run again, and I'm one of those. Look, he's a nice guy, and a nice guy wouldn't leave his party without a credible successor waiting in the wings. If he were going to vacate the seat he would have let everyone know months ago, wouldn't he? He's running again, and it may be
Randy Bryce
his most difficult race ever.

"The Iron Stache"
Wisconsin ironworker Randy Bryce announced his campaign to unseat Ryan all the way back in June of 2017 with an announcement video that got the attention of national Democrats including the DCCC. Bryce has since raised almost $5 million, so he's definitely going to be a playah.

He calls himself IronStache on Twitter for obvious reasons -- that horseshoe of facial hair and his laboring life as a union ironworker. He's also a veteran of the army and a cancer survivor, and he fits that Wisconsin district now perhaps better than Paul Ryan does, especially as Ryan has spent less and less time there and stopped holding public town hall events. Bryce says on his website, "My values are my neighbors’ values, and we know that Washington has gotten way off track. Whether it’s healthcare or jobs, national security or education, our democracy or the environment – there’s not one issue where Paul Ryan and Donald Trump are headed in the right direction."

The Iron Stache now has a primary opponent, a school teacher and member of the local Janesville school board named Cathy Myers. (Janesville is Paul Ryan's hometown.) She's also running as a blue collar warrior: "So if you think now is the time for a Member of Congress to represent the truckers, the teachers, the factory workers, and the small business owners, I am asking you to join this campaign." She's perhaps the more orthodox progressive.

Myers also has an effective announcement video:





Bryce can probably overpower her with his impressive war chest plus his long head start, though Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported in yesterday's NYTimes that Myers is gaining support. We'll have to wait until August 14 to see how this Democratic primary turns out.

In the meantime, Paul Ryan -- assuming he runs -- will have his own repeat primary contest with a white nationalist and anti-Semite, Paul Nehlen, who lost to Ryan by 68 points in 2016. He'll easily beat Nehlen again, but the fall showdown may not be so easy, whether it's Randy Bryce or Cathy Myers facing him.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Republican Fratricide in NC Senate District 25


Helen Probst Mills
I wrote about Helen Probst Mills, the Pinehurst lawyer recently appointed to the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees, back early in February when the only Republican in that race for NC Senate District 25 was the incumbent, Tom McInnis.

A lot has happened since then.

Helen Probst Mills is still the strong Democratic candidate, in a race no one thinks she can win. But that's the enduring narrative of 2018: impossible odds, overcome suddenly and without much warning.

Senate District 25 has been seriously redrawn in court-ordered redistricting, and the crowd that elected Tom McInnis in 2014 no longer exists. Less than half of the voters in the new District 25 have ever seen McInnis's name on their ballot before. Mainly because the new district now contains all of Moore County, by far the center of population for the district, and Moore County pulsates as a hotbed of rabidly conservative politics (home of the Daily Haymaker) -- Republican voters who'll throw out a Republican incumbent at the drop of a bumpersticker.

So naturally, Tom McInnis has a Republican primary opponent, the mayor of Whispering Pines, Michelle Lexo.



Michelle Lexo --
She pins herself with neon words. From her website: "Mother. Christian. Conservative." Those periods are assertive, let alone the words. Ready for a fight.

Michelle Lexo
She spent her career in health-care services. Her last job was the assistant director of radiology at a large trauma hospital. She retired to Whispering Pines (pop. 3,000) and was soon tapped for the village council. She's known, apparently, as a know-it-all, being the one official in the room sure to have read every scrap of information available on a subject and to have developed a strong opinion about the whole shooting match. A strong opinion in synch, that is, with "Mother. Christian. Conservative."

She's strongly endorsed by Brant Clifton's "common sense conservative" website, "The Daily Haymaker."
Lexo ... is regularly attacked by incumbent senator Tom McInnis and his supporters as a “lightweight.” Never mind her advanced training in the medical field and her career as a senior hospital executive. Never mind that her hometown has experienced some of its most dramatic growth on her watch as mayor. McInnis supporters have worked overtime to paint Lexo as mentally unstable and not very smart.
Mentally unstable and not very smart?

Meanwhile, Lexo has compared and contrasted herself and McInnis on the issues: He supported the HB2 “repeal” / “compromise.” She didn’t like it. He supports the tier system in economic development. She does not. He supports government subsidies for solar and wind energy companies. She does not.
Got it.


Incumbent Republican Tom McInnis --
Tom McInnis
McInnis is a good ole boy auctioneer not above cutting deals. (Lexo is the deal. She doesn't cut them. Meanwhile, have you ever met an honest auctioneer, strictly speaking?)

According to VoteSmart.org, McInnis never took a college class, and his only education above the  high school level was auctioneer school. He's got native smarts, especially for sharp dealing, and he knows how to go along for a ride and how to milk a moment. Curiously, he lists no religious nor denominational affiliation, which might be an opening for Mother. Christian. Conservative.

Clearly, Lexo is making insurgent gains against him, because the Republican establishment has rushed in mailers for McInnis -- both the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and the NC Chamber of Commerce. Jonathan Kappler tweeted that McInnis was taking Lexo very seriously indeed: "I hear he's been in Moore county a lot and I saw lots of signs and billboards for him in the area."

McInnis campaign photo
Jonathan Kappler also dubbed McInnis "the pop heavy-weight" in the primary race, but if Brant Clifton at The Daily Haymaker thinks you're a fake, then you might be in trouble with other Moore County Republicans likely to vote in a primary.

So McInnis is going heavy on the crypto gun lover bit in his social media and posing as devoutly Christian in a kind of Trumpian way, tweeting out the text of John 3:16 on Easter Sunday.

If the Republicans of District 25 throw over McInnis for the mentally unstable and not very smart Michelle Lexo, then indeed the blue wave could crash there too.

The Foxx Gets Jiggy

Indebted to Jule Hubbard from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot who took down Virginia Foxx's words at the Wilkes Republican Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner last Saturday night. Annotations are mine.
Speaking to crowd of about 180 people at the annual political fundraiser, Foxx said Republicans can maintain a majority in the U.S. House, “but it won’t be easy because they [Democrats] are going all out against the president and against us…. North Carolina has a bullseye on it this fall.”
True dat. 
She added, “If we allow them to get the majority, we will lose our rights. All of our rights, starting with a few” such as the Second Amendment.
All. Including especially the right to demagogue it.
She noted that when Republicans gained a majority in the N.C. House and N.C. Senate in 2010, GOP leaders were able to draw state and federal legislative boundaries. “And they did exactly what the Democrats have done for 140 years, which is making districts that gave the advantage to our party.”
True dat too. The politics of sweet revenge.
She said former President Barack Obama and Eric Holder, attorney general under Obama  [a.k.a. The Blacks], are working fulltime to get Democrats elected to four to six more N.C. House seats and four more N.C. Senate seats. This would end the GOP supermajority of the state legislature.
She said Democrats plan to spend millions to win enough seats in 2020 to be the majority again. “You are going to see the most expensive legislative races in North Carolina that you’ve ever seen.” 
The meat of the speech is a warning about keeping Republican control in Raleigh. A Republican primary for an NC Senate seat is happening right now in Wilkes (and adjacent counties) between two incumbents: Shirley Randleman, a queen bee, and Deanna Ballard, Franklin Graham's aide. Wonder if one or both of them were in that audience.
"A strong Democratic turnout in North Carolina would also impact congressional candidates," she added.
Because it's really all about me.
Foxx said North Carolina may gain a congressional seat if the 2020 Census only counts people with citizenship instead of still counting all residents. Opponents say only counting citizens would benefit Republicans. Several states have stated plans to sue to block President Donald Trump’s administration from adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census, arguing that it violates the Constitution. Foxx said she supports including the question and only counting citizens.
Makes our skin crawl. Foxx depended for years on immigrant labor at her landscaping business and also in her home in Foscoe. (Incidentally, NC Attorney General Josh Stein has joined the Census law suit on the side of the plaintiffs.) And untrue to boot. NC would gain more if all those workers in the landscaping industry were counted.
She said the liberal left’s plans include tying up Republicans with lawsuits “because they cannot win at the ballot box. The only place they can win is with Carter, Clinton and Obama-era judges. That’s why they’re trying to slow President Trump down with getting his judges in place.”
Take a bow, Watauga! We've sued -- proud of it! -- but not because we're afraid of losing in a free, fair, and open election.
Foxx said she believes Republicans “literally are doing the Lord’s work. I think we represent a majority of the American people through our values. Our values and their values are the same.”
Doink! Put a coin in the purse.
The media doesn’t want Republicans to be successful, she said. “You’ve got to keep that in mind, in everything you hear. It’s their job to tear down Republicans. And they’ll do it every way they can, including out and out lies.”
Foxx said even Fox News sometimes is wrong, which she said was the case with the 2018 omnibus bill. She said the $1.3 trillion, 2,232-page spending plan, signed by the president on March 23, was among the most misconstrued and misunderstood pieces of federal legislation in a long time. The House approved the bill 256-167, with 145 Republicans (including Foxx) and 111 Democrats voting for and 90 Republicans and 77 Democrats voting against it. Foxx said legislators were criticized for hurriedly passing the omnibus bill without reading it....
Foxx defensive about voting for that omnibus spending bill.
She said Fox News reported that the omnibus bill funded Planned Parenthood. “That is just an out and out lie. There aren’t many times I can say something is an out and out lie, but it is. I want you to know that there are no funds in that omnibus bill directed to Planned Parenthood,” said Foxx.
Numerous news outlets reported that the omnibus bill included over $500 million for Planned Parenthood.
The omnibus spending bill included not what conservatives wanted, language explicitly banning Planned Parenthood from the Federal family, rather a continuing open pathway for Planned Parenthood to apply for some $500 million in government grants mandated for women's health. Foxx's answer: Trump's people in the Department of Health and Human Services will never give grants to Planned Parenthood. Trust me.
Foxx said it was incorrectly reported that the omnibus bill didn’t fund the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. “There is a lot of funding in there for the border wall and I think you’ll hear the president talk more and more about that.
The New York Times reported that the omnibus legislation has nearly $1.6 billion for border security. This include $641 million for about 33 miles of new fencing, but it prohibits building a concrete structure or other prototypes the president considered, the newspaper reported.
Annotation by the reporter. 
Foxx said the media incorrectly says Republicans control the House. “We have a majority, but we are not in control. The way for us to be in control would be to have about 290 votes. We have got 238.”
Tyranny needs cooperation, dammit! 

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Amy McGrath, Fighter Pilot, Running in Kentucky


I've been following the political trajectory of Amy McGrath in Kentucky (here, for example), who's one of the most exciting new candidates to arise this year. She's running to unseat a Republican incumbent in the 6th Congressional District.

Since I wrote about her, she's drawn a Democratic opponent in a primary, Mayor of Lexington Jim Gray, who lost a race for the US Senate in 2016 to Rand Paul. Oddly (IMO), the DCCC is supporting Gray over McGrath, but the voters may well rebuke that choice on May 22.

McGrath is a former Marine fighter pilot, and this really well done TV ad combines fighter pilot with fighter mom, and it alone (again, IMO) could win this race for her. Check it out.




Another Flip: Wisconsin Supreme Court Seat Goes To a Democrat

Gov. Scott Walker
Milwaukee Judge Rebecca Dallet easily won election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court last night (56% to 44%) over incumbent Republican Judge Michael Screnock who had portrayed himself in TV ads as a “rule of law” conservative endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

Screnock had been appointed to the high court by Governor Scott Walker.

In a March debate with Screnock, Dallet hit him for advocating "on behalf of gerrymandering, rigging our maps in our state, which has been found to be unconstitutional.” She also pointed out that he had a history of physically protesting abortion clinics: “He has stood in front of women’s ability to access their lawful rights, and he’s been arrested twice for doing that.”

Democrats have not won a state Supreme Court seat since 1995, and even with Dallet's win last night, there is still a 4-3 Republican majority on the court.