Friday, July 20, 2018

More Democrats Making Money Waves in North Carolina

Slogging through Second Quarter candidate finance reports on the state Board of Elections site isn't my favorite form of entertainment, though I've spent some hours looking at the Democratic candidates for the General Assembly that I'm most interested in -- and at their Republican opponents (see various posts, down-column) -- so I'm relieved that the News and Observer today saves me some work on candidates I hadn't yet gotten to. The NandO spotlights some I've already written about on WataugaWatch, but here are a few new ones:

In House District 104, Democrat Brandon Lofton has $95,500 cash-on-hand to first-term Republican incumbent Andy Dulin's $50,900. The 104th is a dense wedge pretty much in the south-central middle of Mecklenburg County.
Democrat Brandon Lofton first came to our attention back on January 14 of this year as one of the potential stars of this cycle (full disclosure: I'm a contributor to his campaign). 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." He's got volunteers door-knocking for him and volunteers calling for more volunteers to door-knock. That's what we light to see!

In House District 23 (Alamance County), Democrat Erica McAdoo is up over Republican incumbent Stephen Ross, a member of House leadership seeking his fourth term, $58,700 to Ross's $20,300.
Democrat Erica McAdoo was also written up on WataugaWatch on January 14. Love seeing this in her Twitter feed today: "Last weekend's stats: 951 doors knocked, 60+ volunteers. Join us as we canvass again this weekend on July 22nd." And I applaud this stand on redistricting: "It's time for creation of an independent redistricting commission!" McAdoo is the 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."

In Senate District 18, Democrat Mack Paul has outraised incumbent Republican John Alexander by an astonishing $305,100 to Alexander's $36,100. District 18 takes in all of Franklin County, the northernmost tier of Wake County, and a very weird descending hook of land that invades the northern suburbs of Raleigh.
Democrat Mack Paul was another of those Democrats I wrote about on January 14 who were making me "anticipate November like Christmas morning." Paul is a Raleigh real-estate attorney and former Wake County Democratic Party chair. He 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. Back in the middle of June, he posted a Facebook ad for interns in communications, finance, and field operations. He can certainly afford to pay a big team of young people.

In House District 103, Democrat Rachel Hunt is up over four-term Republican incumbent Bill Brawley $132,700 to $88,600. District 103 lies in the southeasternmost part of Mecklenburg County and hugs the Union County line.

Democrat Rachel Hunt waited until the last week of filing to jump into the race, but she has plenty of Democratic juice supporting her. She is one of former Governor Jim Hunt's daughters, so she is already networked in a helpful way. Like her father, Rachel has been and will continue to be a champion for public education. She is a board member of the NC Foundation for Public School Children, and she started two companies that help parents and students, including those with disabilities, find a good school and quality education. “I’ve spent my life helping North Carolina grow into a beautiful, inspiring state that looked out for the little guy and put strong public education above everything else, but lately, that shared vision has been threatened. I am running because I can no longer stand back and watch this great state that my family and so many other families like ours worked so hard to build be undermined by politicians in Raleigh.” She has served as the chair of Generation Nation and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Youth Lead and Youth Councils. She trained as a lawyer. Governor Roy Cooper recently appointed her to the Education and Workforce Innovative Council.

In House District 62, Martha Shafer has outraised four-term Republican incumbent John Faircloth $96,700 to $10,700. District 62 is a big wedge of Guilford County along the Forsyth County line.

Democrat Martha Shafer is one of the new Democratic women running in 2018 who've been endorsed by Emily's List of North Carolina. She's a native of Charlotte but has lived in Guilford County for some 25 years. She's a retired hospital administrator, trained in health administration at Duke University, so she's particularly sharp on health-care issues: "Having spent her entire career working in healthcare, Martha knows first-hand that many North Carolina families are struggling to cover basic health needs. Unfortunately, the General Assembly has decided NOT to expand access to Medicaid to 500,000 North Carolinians who would benefit under the Affordable Care Act. Not only is this immoral, it is fiscally irresponsible. Expanding Medicaid would create 43,000 jobs by 2020, both in health care and other sectors, and the state’s economy could gain tens of billions in business revenue. Most of the cost would be paid by Federal dollars, which are currently funding expanded care in thirty-one other states that have made the rational and caring choice to expand Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid will lower the amount of charity care that hospitals provide, which will put downward pressure on insurance premiums for insured patients, making expansion a win for everyone." Shafer also highlights the shabby way public education has been treated since a Republican super-majority took over in Raleigh: "Public education is not being adequately funded; per pupil spending is down since 2008, putting us as one of the states that spends the least per student in the country. Laws that directly affect our children in the classroom are rushed through without open debate and fair hearings, leading to bad decisions."

In Senate District 17, Democrat Sam Searcy looks to be overpowering three-term incumbent Republican Tamara Barringer, $373,500 to $48,800. Senate District 17 takes in the biggest chunk of southern Wake County including Cary, Fuquay-Varina, and Holly Springs.

Democrat Sam Searcy has a law degree, but he's gotten people's attention through his entrepreneurial activities. In 2016 Searcy teamed up with some of his previous business partners and a new guy with an old-world recipe for long-grain rice distilled vodka, and they formed Graybeard Distillery in Durham, which now touts its success as "the largest grain-to-glass distillery in North Carolina." Searcy's life story to get to that success was no bed of roses. “I’ve seen first-hand what happens when North Carolina families struggle to make ends meet,” said Searcy. “My family lost our home when I was in 7th Grade, and I began working to help support my family when I was fourteen. Too many families in North Carolina are facing the same challenges we did." "Sam Searcy grew up in the small town of Hendersonville, NC. His mother was a teacher’s assistant in public schools and his dad worked in the factories. Sam became the first person in his family to graduate from a four-year college. With the help of student loans and on-campus jobs, he put himself through Appalachian State University. Sam worked a few different jobs until the Great Recession hit. He, like many North Carolinians, found himself laid off. He took a job at Lowe's garden center to support his family. Eventually, he helped start two local companies which continue to employ people right here in North Carolina." One of his campaign issues that should resonate with struggling North Carolinians: "Having worked in the healthcare industry and helped build a successful medical services company, I believe we can and should do more to lower costs. But, Republicans in Raleigh have put the health of thousands of North Carolinians at risk by refusing to expand access to Medicaid. I will work to ensure that every person in North Carolina has access to quality, affordable healthcare."

In House District 37, Democrat Sydney Batch is outraising her Republican opponent for this open seat, $91,900 to $68,000. The former Republican incumbent in this district (which is pretty much entirely inside Sam Searcy's Senate District 17 in southern Wake -- see above) waited until near the end of candidate filing to decide not to run.
Sydney Batch with husband J. Patrick Williams
and their two sons
Democrat Sydney Batch got written up on WataugaWatch way back on January 2nd, when she was among the first wave of new Democrats announcing their plans to run in 2018. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, with both a master's degree in social work and a law degree. She and her husband J. Patrick Williams opened their own law firm in 2005. She has wide and intense experience in child welfare advocacy and family law. She says on her website, "I fight every day for families across Wake County who are worried about their future. Whether stressed about sending their kids to a good public school, paying back their student loans, or affording quality health care and finding a good, well-paying job, too many people feel the deck is stacked against them. Despite these struggles, I also get to see the many common values that bind us. People want affordable, accessible health care, quality and affordable education, safe air to breathe, clean water to drink, and a fair paycheck. Most of all, they want their children to live a more prosperous life than they have. I’m running because I want to make a difference for those people who feel stressed, and to work with them through our common shared values to make a better Wake county. There’s no doubt that the challenges facing us are great. However, so is our will. I humbly ask for your support.” Glad to see that Batch has been teaming up with the Sam Searcy campaign for direct voter contact in their overlapping districts.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

More Good Fundraising News from NCGA Candidates

In House District 6, Democrat Tess Judge outraised Republican Bobby Hanig in both the First Quarter and the Second Quarter for what is now an open seat. (Hanig beat out incumbent Republican Beverly Boswell in the May primary.) In the Second Quarter especially, Judge raised $63,583.23 to Hanig's $13,050. The 6th District was redrawn this year to encompass Dare, Currituck, Hyde, and Pamlico counties on the North Carolina coast.

Democrat Tess Judge was helping her husband Warren Judge run against Beverly Boswell in 2016 when he tragically died in the last week of that campaign, practically on the eve of the election. Democratic leaders wanted Tess to replace her husband on the ballot, but it was too late for making that change, and even deceased, Warren Judge got 48.17% of the vote against Boswell. Tess is back this year running in her own right. Tess Judge has worked in hospitality management her entire career and is well known in the coastal community for serving on the Board of Directors of the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce. She and her late husband Warren were named Co-Citizens of the Year by the Chamber in 2011. “As someone who has operated small businesses in our community for years, through good times and bad, I know how to manage a budget while also creating jobs .... Our people are our greatest resource – it’s time to listen and invest in them. We need to make public education a priority again. For years we have been asking our great teachers to do more with less and our schools and community colleges are underfunded. I’m running to ensure that our investments in public education result in more opportunities for our students and a workforce trained for the jobs of the future,” she said. She also currently serves on the Board of the Outer Banks Hospital and is Chair of the Outer Banks Hospital Development Council. She's been outspoken in opposition to off-shore drilling.

In House District 98, Thom Tillis's old seat in north Mecklenburg County, now held by Republican incumbent John Bradford, spunky Democrat Christy Clark has outraised Bradford in combined First and Second Quarters $70,890.47 to $17,165.62.

Democrat Christy Clark currently works as an intellectual property and business law paralegal at the law firm founded by her husband in Charlotte. She received her undergraduate degree in English at Roanoke College and her Certificate in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. She's been particularly involved with gun violence prevention, serving as the North Carolina Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action. In that role, she says, she has spent many hours lobbying lawmakers in Raleigh, attending both committee meetings and House/Senate sessions. As a paralegal she's very familiar with the Secretary of State's office and is well informed on what's required for entrepreneurship in North Carolina. "Working with a wide range of individuals and businesses from all across the state has given me the insight into what is needed to grow a business." She lists education at the top of her issues page (as do 99.9% of the Democrats running in North Carolina this year), and she's for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (as are ditto). Her campaign is organizing neighborhood canvasses (sometimes in 90-degree heat), which speaks volumes about energy in that district. Not to forget the fundraising.

In House District 93, "weatherman" Ray Russell, the Democrat, is leading incumbent Jonathan Jordan in total fundraising ($92,961.81, over both quarters, to Jordan's $46,152.42), but has also spent a lot already (signing on with the House Democratic Caucus has some steep costs). Still, Weatherman Ray still has more cash on hand at the end of the Second Quarter -- $27,426.08 to Jordan's $21,476.63. The 93rd District consists of Ashe and Watauga counties. The last time it was in Democratic hands = 2010.
Democrat Ray Russell is not your standard Democrat (non-standardization is the standard of 2018!). He used to be a Republican. He's also a preacher who attended a Bible college and has pastored several churches. But he's also a climate scientist with a deep reverence for scientific truth. He launched Ray's Weather, the on-line forecast site for the mountains of western North Carolina, in 2000, using his higher training as a computer scientist and a keen hobbyist's enthusiasm. He now employs four meteorologists and stretches his weather coverage from Asheville to Wytheville, Va. Russell announced his candidacy early in 2017 and went to work, and he's got solid campaign infrastructure: a manager and an army of volunteers and Facebook, Twitter, and website presence. He's raising money and sharpening a message and presents an energetic contrast to the lethargic Jordan: Russell, among other qualities, is a marathon runner. In 2016 he ran the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, 469 miles, to raise money for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

In House District 119, Democrat Joe Sam Queen has outraised incumbent Republican Mike Clampitt by a good country mile. Queen has cash on hand of $56,683.66 to Clampitt's $17,491.14 (Clampitt only raised $21,850 during the Second Quarter). Queen used to own this seat, and Clampitt ran against him unsuccessfully at least twice before taking the seat in the Twitterman Wave of 2016. District 119 takes in a lot of mountain landscape -- from Waynesville, Cherokee, and Bryson City, down through Sylva and Cullowhee and south through Cashiers to the lowlands along the South Carolina border.
Democrat Joe Sam Queen is an architect in Waynesville. He provides color, and politically,  he's got plenty of grit. His family speaks to his values: "My wife, Dr. Kate Queen, is a rheumatologist for Haywood Regional Medical Center. My daughter Sara is an outstanding young architect and professor at NCSU, as well as a new mom to my first grandson Cole. My son Charlie, a chemist, is the Lab Director for Panacea, a North Carolina start up company in the field of personalized medicine. Both are graduates of the University of North Carolina system. As a united Methodist, I've taught Sunday school for over 20 years, led Boy Scouts, and coached youth soccer. And, like my granddaddy before me, I call the Appalachian Square Dance." He's served in both NC House and Senate. He won the 47th Senate District in 2002, lost it in 2004, and came back and won it again in 2006 and kept it through the election of 2010. That's grit. After he lost the Senate seat, he ran and won the House seat in 2012 and kept it through reelection in 2014. He was a vocal leader in the call to expand Medicaid in North Carolina and raise teacher pay. He is strongly against fracking in North Carolina and has made strong public remarks against it.

In House District 1, Democrat Ron Wesson, a county commissioner in Bertie County, is running against Republican Eddy Goodwin, a county commissioner in Chowan County, for an open seat on the Carolina coast. In a low-dollar campaign, Wesson has outraised Goodwin and has a cash-on-hand advantage, $17,765.43 to $7,361.50.

Democrat Ron Wesson is impressively qualified to win the seat. He's been elected and then reelected as a Bertie County commissioner, and he's served as both the chair of the board of commissioners and currently as vice-chair. He was born and raised in Bertie County, and he's married to a psychiatrist in private practice, Dr. Patricia W. Wesson. Ron completed his undergraduate work at UNC-Chapel Hill and his graduate studies at The Sloan School of Business, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then joined the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation where he served for more than 31 years, retiring as a senior vice-president and Global Leader. In 2004, Black Enterprise Magazine named Wesson one of the 50 most Influential Minorities in Business. Returning to Bertie County after retirement, he threw himself into community service, became chair of the Bertie County Chamber of Commerce, joined the Rotary Club, the Bertie County Community Foundation, and the Bertie County Schools Foundation. He moved into public service in 2012, running for and winning his seat on the county commission. He was actively recruited for this race by the Democratic House Caucus. He says on his website, "Any success that I have had in business and in life, can be directly traced to the investment that others have made in me. I have always been encouraged to look beyond one’s self and seek to support others in ways that I have been supported. My Mother once said to me…'Son, God has blessed you with enough sense to do pretty much anything you set your mind to do. You will find that there are a lot of much smarter people out there, but never let anyone out work you to achieve your goals.' I have endeavored to live by this advice, and if given the opportunity, I look forward to working hard for the citizens of North Carolina’s 1st House District."

Republicans on Watauga BOE Refuse

At the meeting of the Watauga Board of Elections yesterday, Republican members Nancy Owen and Eric Eller refused to move three election day precinct polling stations out of local churches and relocate them more in the center of population.

Democratic member Jane Anne Hodges "spoke about the challenges of having polling locations at churches, noting that the elections board office has a handshake agreement with the churches not to campaign on their property" (Watauga Democrat).

The worst church is Mount Vernon Baptist, the polling location for New River 3. It's parking lot is actually in Blue Ridge precinct, and it's far away from the center of population in the precinct. But you probably already know that.

Republicans obviously think that having polling places in churches gives them an advantage in those precincts ... since God is so obviously, indubitably in their pocket.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Democrats on Forsyth County Board of Elections Cave to Republicans

Democrats on the Forsyth elections board wanted an early voting site at Winston-Salem State University (where one has been in the past, until Republicans took over elections in 2013). Republicans were dead set against it.

Had the Forsyth board failed to reach unanimous agreement, the decision would have gone to the state Board of Elections, where there would have been a good chance of getting early voting on the campus of WSSU.

But the Democrats gave up and voted for a "compromise" plan that was actually a retreat, and WSSU will not have early voting this fall.

That's too bad.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Dems #ncga Candidates Catching Fire All Across the State

I wrote about Democratic NC House candidate Terri LeGrand showing some fundraising strength in Forsyth County yesterday. Today brings plenty more fundraising news in that same vein. If campaign fundraising is a barometer -- and it is -- then these General Assembly candidates below are looking gooder and gooder for this November.

In House District 52, Lowell Simon out-raised Republican incumbent Jamie Boles $11,987.68 to $8,450 during the Second Quarter of 2018. Those are low numbers on both sides but still interesting. Boles may be suffering from over-confidence, since he's had no opponent at all for ten years. But he's lugging some serious baggage -- evidence of self-dealing and other corruption.
Democrat Lowell Simon looks viable. He is a recently retired high school math teacher, a profession he came to late in his career after many years in business. First in New York state and then in North Carolina, he managed chains of convenience stores. He was vice president of operations for Quick Chek, a chain of about 30 convenience stores based in Troy, which brought him and his family to Seven Lakes to live. He later bought into Southern Pines based Fuel Mate, which had six BP stores. During his time teaching math at Union Pines High School, the superintendent tapped him to start an entrepreneurship program for students. "Simon has served on the boards of Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust. A political appointee of three different state House speakers from both parties, he has helped draft key legislation, including the formation of the NC Lottery .... He currently serves on the boards of Moore Regional Hospital and Moore Forward, and is president emeritus of the Sandhills Jewish Congregation" (

In Senate District 1, Democrat D. Cole Phelps raised $73,788.04 to Republican opponent Bob Steinburg's $48,417.50 during he Second Quarter. Senate District 1 hugs the coast in the northeastern corner of the state. Steinburg is currently a member of the NC House looking to move up in the world. Tea partiers consider him a cuck.
Democrat Cole Phelps is a young lawyer. How young? When he was elected to the county commission of Washington County at 24, he was the youngest member of any county commission in the state. He's serving his second term now at the age of 29. He was the first in his family to go to college, first to East Carolina for a degree in Family and Community Services and then to NC Central School of Law. He got a leg up to get that good education, and it says something about him that he immediately turned around and established a scholarship program for deserving first-generation, college-bound students in several east Carolina counties. From his very first campaign for county commission, he was pumping education and the need to keep kids in school and make college more possible. He's been named a William C. Friday Fellow. That's a prestigious group of 200 citizens deemed crucial leaders in their local communities. For the record (and this particular issue looks decisive on the coast), he's an outspoken opponent of Twitterman's scheme to drill for oil in North Carolina waters.

In Senate District 25, Democrat Helen Probst Mills outraised Republican incumbent Tom McInnis $87,933.80 to $64,642.52 in the Second Quarter. McInnis is propped up by PAC money. He was also propped up by the Republican leadership in the House during a destructive primary in May against Tea Party opposition. When you're propped up that much, you run the risk of becoming a prop.
Democrat Helen Probst Mills has been on our radar since the second week of February. She's an attorney from Pinehurst and entered politics this year, she says, in part to simply provide an option. “The reality is that I walk in on Election Day to the polling booth here in Pinehurst and there are no Democrats for me to check. We need a choice,” Mills said. “There needs to be an opportunity for an individual to stand up and to make him crystalize his position on issues and policies and to defend the votes he has taken.” Mills says she grew up a daughter to a single mother and is herself the mother of three and a cancer survivor who moved to North Carolina with her husband, Stuart, in 2006. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois. Last year, Mills was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees. She also serves on the college’s Foundation Board, where she helped develop a program allowing high school graduates to attend for two years tuition-free. She serves as development chair for the Northern Moore Family Resource Center in Robbins, which has opened a preschool and is developing a community center. She credits the overcoming of breast cancer to having health insurance: “Everyone, no matter their background or how much money they make, should have access to affordable, quality health care. Yet too many politicians in Raleigh put petty partisan politics over policies that would help thousands. That is wrong for my community and for North Carolina.” (Republican incumbent McInnis opposed, like most other Republicans in Phil Berger's senate, the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.)

In House District 36, Democrat Julie von Haefen outraised Republican incumbent and powerful chair of the House Budget Committee Nelson Dollar $70,281.64 to $38,800 in the Second Quarter. Rep. Dollar, in terms of what his pelt will fetch, is a rhino, a bull elephant, and a giraffe all in one. This is a Wake County district that was spitefully redrawn to cut out Democratic stars who had wanted to run against him, leaving the current Democratic challenger to screw up her courage and step forward to the challenge.

Democrat Julie von Haefen is president of the Wake County PTA Council and has three school-age children in the Wake County public schools. She scorched Dollar in her filing announcement for what his state budgets have done to public education: "From the expansion of school vouchers and charter schools to the failure to pay our teachers and principals what they deserve, Representative Dollar and his legislature have harmed our students and our schools. Most recently, their reckless and unfunded K-3 class size mandate caused unnecessary stress for school districts across the state. It is time to put our teachers and our children ahead of partisan politics. North Carolina's students deserve better than they are getting from our legislature. They deserve increased funding for school counselors and nurses. And they deserve a public school system with the funding and resources it needs to prepare them for the future. We owe it to our students, and to the economy, and to the state." Von Haefen is married to an NC State professor, and they have lived in Apex for the last 13 years. She trained as a lawyer and practiced law for 10 years.

In House District 51, Democrat Lisa Mathis has seriously outraised Republican incumbent John Sauls during both quarters of 2018 -- $24,963.53 to $3,500 in the First Quarter, and $49,495.26 to $5,050 in the Second Quarter.
Lisa Mathis was a "military kid" who says that repeatedly moving all over the country taught her "courage, adaptability, and a deep respect for the sacrifices of our service members and their families." She trained as an artist and graphic designer and opened a small graphic design business in Sanford, N.C. Deeply involved in community and profoundly appreciative of putting down deep roots in a single place, she started a second small business in 2003, ArtStudio in downtown Sanford, "a place for children and adults to explore their creativity." Especially children. She is a strong advocate for education spending and for expanding Medicaid. She talks on her website about helping working families and encouraging small businesses, especially in areas previously devastated by the Bush recession. She's got boots on the ground -- a good following of willing volunteers -- and a field organizer. Always a good sign.

In Senate District 9, Democrat Harper Peterson raised $52,316.03 to Republican incumbent Mike Lee's $36,300 in the Second Quarter. Lee had 20 Second Quarter donors, 11 of which were special interest PACs.
Democrat Harper Peterson has been a leader in the reaction to the GenX pollution crisis and helped start the community watchdog group Clean Cape Fear. He's also a former mayor of Wilmington and city councilman. He announced that he was running for this seat back last September. He says, "Unfortunately, in recent years, the basic needs and guaranteed rights of North Carolinians have taken a backseat to the interests of politicians and their big donors. Specifically, they have spread distrust among North Carolinians while trading to their donors our excellent public schools, quality healthcare and natural resources for tax giveaways. The games at our expense have to stop. I now have the time and energy and the full support of my family and friends to serve and be a voice for common sense in our state legislature." Peterson is critical of current Republican legislative priorities: "Too many of our representatives ignored the governor’s request for $2.6 million in emergency funds for the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health and Human Services to vigorously address GenX and other cancer-causing compounds that have been dumped into our river. Additionally, tax giveaways to corporate interests have been paid for through slashed budgets and staffing for the state agencies who could have been proactive in defending us from this poison in our water." He also wants to bring back the film industry, which the General Assembly essentially ran out of North Carolina in one of its budget bills.

In Senate District 41, Democrat Natasha Marcus raised $113,802.53 from 375 donors during the First Quarter, while the Republican incumbent Jeff Tarte raised $35,456.34 from 53 donors. In the Second Quarter, Tarte went ahead of Marcus by $7,300, but for the year Marcus is still ahead of Tarte. She has hundreds of donors. Tarte has far fewer, many of which are special interest PACs.
Democrat Natasha Marcus has been on my radar since early in February. She made an unsuccessful bid for the state House in her Cornelius neighborhood in 2014, when Republican John Bradford III defeated her 55 to 45 percent. “The policies that touch our lives most closely often come from the state level,” Marcus told WUNC. “Federal politics is important, but what happens at the General Assembly in Raleigh – from public school funding, to healthcare, to whether we’re going to have to pay tolls here in the North Mecklenburg area is also important." According to Ballotpedia, Marcus earned her B.A. in public policy from Hamilton College and her J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1994. Her professional experience includes working as a lawyer for Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard; as Judicial Clerk for the Honorable Frank W. Bullock, Jr. of the U.S. District Court in Greensboro; and as a founding member of DavidsonLearns, a non-profit providing senior citizen learning and enrichment. Marcus intends a fight for the seat: “Cuts to public pre-K through higher education, unconstitutional laws, politicians who put polluters over our clean air and water, policies that make healthcare more expensive and less accessible, and expensive toll lanes on I-77 have taken us backwards. Like many people in our community, I am fed up with being ignored by Raleigh Republicans and am ready to take a stand.”

Two of the candidates above -- Lisa Mathis and Cole Phelps -- are new to this blog. I've written about the others before and -- full disclosure -- I have cannibilized those earlier postings for the one above.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Terri LeGrand, Igniting in NC House District 74

NC House District 74 is a wrap-around. It packs itself into the northern nooks of Forsyth County and forms a vise around the urban core of Winston-Salem. It's reportedly 82.34% white. It nevertheless contains plenty of what gets defined as suburbia. It has a three-term Republican rep in the NC House, Debra Conrad, who is the kind of well groomed, country club Republican that Forsyth tends to elect and reelect over and over.

Then comes Democrat Terri LeGrand in 2018, just one of the large group of energized Democratic insurgents storming the Bastille of the Raleigh General Assembly. I wrote about LeGrand's prospects way back in March.

Terri LeGrand
How's she doing? You might say ... just fine! She's outraising Debra Conrad by a country mile. According to a press release from the LeGrand campaign, she raised $86,497 in the second quarter compared to $23,015 raised by Conrad. And she's gots boots on the ground, demonstrating once again that in 2018, newly minted Democratic candidates are out-raising, out-hustling, and out-door-knocking the matrix.

When I wrote about this race back in March, my impression of District 74 made it one of the hardest nuts to crack in this year's insurgency. Actual statistics soften that view (ht, KR): 18,616 Dem, 23,949 Reps, and 17,505 Unaffiliateds. In other words, and quite obviously, the winning margin for LeGrand in District 74 = the independents. Not to mention that when the Dems get energized, that 5 thousand voter-registration advantage of the Rs can deplenish itself quickly.

One cautionary note on LeGrand's fundraising superiority: We know from the Jonathan Jordan example in District 93 that outside groups -- third parties and super pacs -- always step in for their favored Republican incumbents. Jonathan Jordan is a lazy fundraiser, but his Dem opponent always seems to get plenty of nasty negative abuse. That'll likely be the same for LeGrand.

Bottomline this year: money is no advantage over enthusiasm anyway, and boots on the ground. Money's essential, but it's the army of volunteers who'll always take down the castle.

Phil Berger Looking for Something -- ANYTHING! -- To Use Against Jen Mangrum

Very obviously, NC Senate overlord Phil Berger -- or someone closely allied with him -- has hired the opposition research specialists at America Rising to dig up any dirt they can find on his Democratic challenger Jen Mangrum.

Mangrum just got reaffirmed as Berger's legitimate challenger by the state Board of Elections last Thursday, so Berger's team is upping its game.

America Rising was started by Mitt Romney's campaign manager after Romney's failed 2012 presidential run. It specializes in opposition research on Democrats its clients consider annoying. For example, it recently conducted research on career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency who had criticized Trump's policies and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's behavior.

Jen Mangrum got notice from the provost at UNC-Greensboro that the university has received a Freedom of Information Act request for a long list of documents relating to Mangrum's employment at the university. Can a demand for all her email be far behind?

You can rest assured that this is only the beginning of the fishing. Probably isn't even the beginning but somewhere in the middle.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

WataugaWatch's List of US Congressional, Statewide Races We're Following

This list is infinitely expandable and will be expanded as time passes before November:

Georgia ... Stacey Abrams
Oklahoma ... Drew Edmondson

Arizona ... Kyrsten Sinema, for Jeff Flake's seat
Mississippi ... David Barria, for Roger Wicker's seat
Mississippi ... Mike Espy, for Thad Cochran's seat (special election)
Tennessee ... Phil Bredesen, for Bob Corker's seat
Texas ... Beto O'Rourke, for Ted Cruz's seat


Mallory Hagan ... 3rd CD
James Lee Auman ... 4th CD

Gil Cisneros ... 39th CD
Mike Levin ... 49th CD

Donna Shalala ... 27th CD

Abby Finkenauer ... 1st CD
J. D. Scholten ... 4th CD

Paul Davis ... 2nd CD

Amy McGrath ... 6th CD

Kathleen Williams ... at large

New Jersey
Mikie Sherrill ... 11th CD

North Carolina
D. D. Adams ... 5th CD
Ryan Watts ... 6th CD
Kyle Horton ... 7th CD
Dan McCready ... 9th CD
Kathy Manning ... 13th CD

Danny O'Connor ... 12th CD

Scott Wallace ... 1st CD
Susan Wild ... 7th CD
Denny Wolff ... 9th CD
Conor Lamb ... 17th CD

South Carolina
Joe Cunningham ... 1st CD
Brandon Brown ... 4th CD
Archie Parnell ... 5th CD

Lizzie Pannill Fletcher ... 7th CD
Veronica Escobar ... 16th CD
M. J. Hegar ... 31st CD

Ben McAdams ... 4th CD

Elaine Luria ... 2nd CD
Leslie Cockburn ... 5th CD
Jennifer Lewis ... 6th CD
Abigail Spanberger ... 7th CD
Anthony Flaccavento ... 9th CD
Jennifer Wexton ... 10th CD

West Virginia
Richard Ojeda ... 3rd CD

Randy Bryce ... 1st CD

WataugaWatch's "2018 Candidates Worth Watching for #ncga"

In no particular order...

These are the Democratic candidates in NC House and Senate races that I've got my eye on in 2018. I call them the Democratic A Team. (Wanna make sumthin of it? Get your own list!) WataugaWatch has covered all of them -- you know how to search, top left corner above.

Gail Young in NC House District 83
Christy Clark in Dist. 98
Joe Fowler in Dist. 76
Steven Buccini in Dist. 59
Dan Besse in Dist. 75
Marcia Morgan in Dist. 19
Terence Everitt in Dist. 35
Brandon Lofton in Dist. 104
Rhonda Schandevel in Dist. 118
Joe Sam Queen in Dist. 119
Lowell Simon in Dist. 52
Ashton Clemmons in Dist. 57
Natasha Marcus in Dist. 41
Leslie Cohen in Dist. 20
Kandie Smith in Dist. 8
Sam Edney in Dist. 113
Rick Foulke in Dist. 68
Dan Whitten in Dist. 15
Darryl Moss in Dist. 2
Linda Bennett in Dist. 26
Erica McAdoo in Dist. 63
Wendy B. Sellers in Dist. 80
Wesley Harris in Dist. 105
Susan Maxon in Dist. 109
Albeiro Florez in Dist. 45

Ron Wesson in Dist. 1
Kim Bost in Dist. 96
Zack Hawkins in Dist. 31
James D. Gailliard in Dist. 25
Tess Judge in Dist. 6
Charles Dudley in Dist. 3
Sydney Batch in Dist. 37
Rachel Hunt in Dist. 103
Julie von Haefen in Dist. 36
Cathy von Hassel-Davies in Dist. 64
Ray Russell in Dist. 93
Barbara Yates-Lockamy in Dist. 46
David Brinkley in Dist. 111 (Tim Moore's seat)
Aimy Steele in Dist. 82
Terri LeGrand in Dist. 74
Martha Shafer in Dist. 62

Mack Paul in NC Senate District 18
Harper Peterson in Dist. 9
Eleanor Erickson in Dist. 8
Ginger Garner in Dist. 2
Helen Probst Mills in Dist. 25
Ric Vandett in Dist 42
Caroline Walker in Dist. 35
Sam Searcy in Dist. 17
Cheraton Love in Dist. 29
Bobby Kuppers in Dist. 50
Jen Mangrum in Dist. 30 (Phil Berger's seat) 
Wiley Nickel in Dist. 16
J. D. Wooten in Dist. 24
Michael K. Garrett in Dist. 27
Kirk DeViere in Dist. 19
Mujtaba Mohammed in Dist. 38
Ann Harlan in Dist. 39

The talent, commitment, and drive manifested above keeps me from despair, mandates my working harder and more efficiently, because our future is hanging by a thread.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Watch This One on August 7

Danny O'Connor in red shirt, canvassing.
Photo Maddie McGarvey, for the NYTimes

The 12th Congressional District of Ohio hasn't elected a Democrat since 1980.

A special election there for the US Congress is now rated a tossup by the Cook Political Report. The Democrat, Danny O'Connor, could be the next indication that the 2018 blue wave ain't no mirage.

Apparently, Democratic turn-out in early voting in heavily Republican areas bodes well. Early voting numbers always signal political energy -- who has the edge, which team can't wait to get in the game?

The Republican candidate for the open seat tries to paint O'Connor as a puppet of Nancy Pelosi, which hardly works at all any more, especially since O'Connor has already announced that he won't be voting for Pelosi as Speaker, should the Dems take control of the House.

Read This Spy Novel Now!

Forget your "beach reading"! Put down that latest issue of US Weekly. The published indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers offers 18 pages of thrills and chills straight out of the truly frightening world of computer hacking.

Seeing in black and white that the Russians could impersonate official email from Google, ordering a user to log on and fix this or that "on your account" -- I recognize that I've received those "spearphishing" messages myself. I bet most people reading this have too. That's only one way into your secrets. If they can gain access to one of your best friends, they can gain access to you too. It's chilling.
On or about April 6, 2016, the Conspirators created an email account in the name of a known member of the Clinton Campaign (with a one-letter deviation from the actual spelling).  The Conspirators then used that account to send spearphishing emails to the work accounts of more than thirty different Clinton Campaign employees. In the spearphishing emails, LUKASHEV and his co-conspirators embedded a link purporting to direct the recipient to a document titled “hillary- clinton-favorable-rating.xlsx.” In fact, this link directed the recipients’ computers to a GRU [Russian Military Intelligence]-created website.
Once they're inside, look what they can do:
The keylog function allowed the Conspirators to capture keystrokes entered by DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] employees. The screenshot function allowed the Conspirators to take pictures of the DCCC employees’ computer screens.

One Obvious Reason Twitterman Is So Cowed by Putin

The indictments released yesterday drop this tidbit: They stole "opposition research" off Democratic Party and Clinton campaign computers. Opposition research. Get it? The Russians know everything bad about DJT that the Democrats were able to dig up -- not to mention, obviously what the Russians themselves already have on him.

Russians Subvert Actblue

"On or about June 14, 2016, the Conspirators registered the domain, which mimicked the domain of a political fundraising platform that included a DCCC donations page. Shortly thereafter, the Conspirators used stolen DCCC credentials to modify the DCCC website and redirect visitors to the domain."

What the Russians Did with the Stolen Documents

Oh, you know about Wikileaks ("Organization 1" in the indictment) and their publication of stolen material. But did you know about this "candidate for the U.S. Congress"?
On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.
Asked for and received stolen documents. That's a new detail, and doesn't that suggest that other indictments are sure to come? Receiving stolen property. Asking for stolen property.

Aaron Nevins.
Butter won't melt in his mouth
Not only a sitting member of Congress but also an enterprising lobbyist:
On or about August 22, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, transferred approximately 2.5 gigabytes of data stolen from the DCCC to a then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news. The stolen data included donor records and personal identifying information for more than 2,000 Democratic donors.
"State lobbyist." Puzzling over what that means, Google sends me to a Florida newspaper. That "state lobbyist" appears to be one Aaron Nevins (according to the Sun-Sentinel), "a state and local lobbyist and operator of the political news website 'Mark Miewurd's HelloFLA!' (The name is a play on 'mark my words.') "

We also learn that the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, contacted a U.S. reporter with an offer to provide stolen emails from Hillary Clinton’s staff. "The Conspirators then sent the reporter the password to access a nonpublic, password-protected portion of containing emails stolen from Victim 1."

We've known since at least February of this year that the Russians attempted to penetrate the computers of 21 state boards of election, but "an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated" (NBC News). The indictment specifies just one, "SBOE 1." Was that Illinois, which admitted in 2016 that its system had been breached? Or some other state, like North Carolina?

"With Others Known and Unknown"

Other shoes are yet to drop. Obviously.

In the section of the indictment that specifies which American laws have been broken, there are a couple of references to "others known and unknown" as having participated in theft and conspiracy with the Russians. Some -- most? -- of those persons -- especially the known ones -- are likely American citizens, aren't they? And aren't we likely to see yet a cascade of additional indictments of persons who don't enjoy the protection of Vladimir Putin?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Jen Mangrum Gets Okay from SBOE To Run Against Phil Berger

I was in that hearing room yesterday in Raleigh, but because of the state Board of Elections weird policy blocking WiFi access for the public, I was unable to post live updates. Here's the bottomline news, courtesy of the NewsandObserver:

RALEIGH -- Jen Mangrum, a former teacher and first-time candidate, turned back a challenge to her district residency on Thursday, opening the way for her to continue her campaign against state Senate leader Phil Berger of Rockingham County — one of the most influential politicians in North Carolina.

The state elections board, in a 5-4 vote, overturned a decision by a local panel which decided against Mangrum, a Democrat, in a party-line vote in May.

Billy Cushman, a Republican travel agent from Rockingham County, challenged Mangrum’s residency, claiming she had not moved permanently from Greensboro to Reidsville, a town in Berger’s district. The state election board’s four Democrats and its unaffiliated member voted in Mangrum’s favor, while the board’s four Republicans voted against her.

Mangrum said she was happy with the result, but disappointed that the vote wasn’t unanimous.
“The facts are, I moved,” she said. Mangrum said Berger had been challenged only three times in nine elections, and she felt it was important for voters to have a choice. “I decided that someone needed to stand up to Sen. Berger, and I was going to be that person,” she said....
The local panel used a standard to judge Mangrum that it would not apply to a man, said Stella Anderson, a state board member. One of the local panel members, according to the record, was not convinced that Mangrum and her husband wouldn’t reconcile. 
“That is irrelevant as it relates to the law,” Anderson said. “This panel chose to impose on her a requirement that is not a requirement of the law.”
Jen Mangrum's a fighter, and the attempt to get her disqualified because she moved in order to run, has given her greater name recognition and a growing army of willing volunteers. Phil Berger has every reason to be nervous.

Question remains: Will the man who challenged Mangrum's eligibility (Billy Cushman of Eden) now appeal to the NC Court of Appeals. My understanding is that he has just two days to do that, once the action yesterday is finalized in a formal order. Considering Berger's nervousness and the ample money that seems to be available to pay Cushman's team of high-priced lawyers, I'm betting he will appeal.

If so, they will not have learned that every hurdle thrown in Jen Mangrum's path just makes her stronger.

Full disclosure: I am now a repeat contributor to her campaign.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Ye Shall Know Them By Their Fruits

When the top Republican bosses in the General Assembly were asked by the News and Observer if they planned to take any more powers away from Governor Cooper, Senate leader Phil Berger laughed cynically and said, "Does he still have any?"

House Speaker Tim Moore chimed in, “If you have any suggestions, let us know.”

We intend to wipe those sarcastic grins off those repulsive faces in 118 days. The voters of this state will have the last laugh.

Sign of the Times

Thank you, James Protzman!

Jen Mangrum -- Strong Today, Stronger Tomorrow

Jen Mangrum, the former Republican who has become overlord Phil Berger's nemesis this year, will see her eligibility to run against Berger litigated by the full state Board of Elections tomorrow. I intend to be there as a witness.

You may recall that Mangrum, a professor at UNC-Greensboro, announced her intention to run against Berger back in 2017. She was a Republican-turned-Democrat who decided she was fed up by the ruthless power-grabbing of Berger and his boys in the General Assembly. She attracted a lot of positive attention from supporters and a lot of negative energy from Republicans.

So what did the Republicans in the General Assembly do? They redrew Berger's district and cut out Mangrum's residence. What did Mangrum do? She leased property and moved so that she could be in Berger's district again. You don't put Jen Mangrum in a corner.

But Berger's allies weren't done. They challenged Mangrum's residency, and a 3-2 panel of Republican and Democratic elections officials ruled against her on party lines. Their need to protect the empire of Phil Berger was palpable.

Her appeal to the state Board of Elections comes tomorrow in Raleigh. She will win on the facts, and the concerted effort to keep her off the ballot and out of Phil Berger's face has only served to make her stronger.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Republican 2018 Voter Suppression Already Working in North Carolina

First step: reduce access to early voting.


And do it under the cover of mandating uniform hours -- 12-hour days -- at all early voting sites.

The Overlords in Raleigh knew all along exactly what they were doing.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Jennifer Lewis, Another US House Candidate to Watch in Virginia

The 6th Congressional District of Virginia looks about as hopelessly Republican as they come. The incumbent Republican congressman, Bob Goodlatte, is retiring, so the seat's open, but the Democratic track record there doesn't suggest a lot of hope. Democrats didn't even field a candidate against Goodlatte in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. In 2008, a Democrat was on the ballot, got 36.6% of the vote, the most any Democrat has ever polled against Goodlatte in his 26 years in Congress.

But the seat's open. The new Republican who won the primary, Ben Cline, has served eight terms in the Virginia House of Delegates and is among the most conservative. He's also young, 46. He earns a living as a lawyer in private practice, which must be a pretty good living because he has offices in Lexington, Harrisonburg, and Amherst, Va. He was co-chair of the Virginia chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which speaks volumes in this high volume age.

Ben Cline should be a shoo-in. Easy peasy.

The Democratic Insurgency of Jennifer Lewis

Because the 6th CD seat was open, several Democrats wanted the nomination, but a "bold progressive activist" Jennifer Lewis won it, and she's attracting attention. She's 36, a mental health professional and prominent opponent of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, supports Medicare for all, a $15 per hour minimum wage, legal marijuana, tougher bank regulations, and an end to corporate “personhood.”

She comes by her populist impulse honestly: "I grew up with that feeling that things aren’t fair in our society. Financially speaking, we were not well off at all. I grew up getting free lunches at school. I grew up with the sense of always seeing the rich getting richer and the poor staying stagnant or getting worse .... We’re speaking about equality for all, health care for all, good education for all, rural broadband for all. We are this very inclusive campaign that resonates with a lot of people who are ready for bold, progressive change in their lives and in their district .... Being a farmer’s daughter is obviously helpful in breaking down some of those walls of farmers thinking they can’t talk about some of those issues" (HuffPost).

Does she talk about Trump? Yes, like this:
I understand why people voted for Donald Trump. I really do. People were sick of the establishment candidates, sick of the establishment politics, and they unfortunately believed Donald Trump that he was gonna drain the swamp, that he was an independent candidate who wasn’t attached to special interests. Unfortunately, that hasn’t panned out.
She says she will not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, if and when there's a change and assuming Jennifer Lewis can be a part of it.

She's on the board of the Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation district of Augusta County, an elected position, and she earned press coverage for her opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which put her at odds with the Democratic Governor Ralph Northam. She's against the pipeline because of the use of eminent domain to benefit private industry, because of the environmental threat to water resources, and because of "the political corruption of it all," says Lewis. "You see Dominion [Energy Virginia] writing these checks to Republicans and Democrats, and then they get friendly legislation. The running joke is Dominion owns Virginia. It’s not a funny joke. It’s very sick and it’s very wrong. It’s not how democracy is supposed to work."

Jennifer Lewis will give Ben Cline a race to remember. She'll do it with an army of willing and enthusiastic volunteers. Her ground game for the Democratic primary was intense, and there's reason to believe she'll amp it up this fall. She's intent on registering non-voters -- of which there are a lot in the 6th district -- and she knows the importance of door-knocking. She's an organizer of volunteers from way back, and an inspirer of volunteers.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

We Love You, Howard Dean, And Always Will

Howard Dean taught us modern campaigning. He pioneered social media outreach and fundraising. As chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009, he preached and enacted the "50-state strategy," an effort to put staff and resources into every state to bolster the grassroots. Which worked. Which lives on today in North Carolina as "a candidate in every single House and Senate district" -- all 120 House seats and 50 Senate seats, contested -- no matter how improbable the prospects, and the literally hundreds of new candidates in every state that are running strong right now, with clear positive platforms, and who owe absolutely nothing to the political establishment.

When he led the Democrats, he encouraged county parties to return to retail politics, one-on-one voter outreach, and he taught everyone the importance of social media for fundraising and for message propagation -- where boomlets happen like lightning. Howard Dean was leading the DNC when Watauga Democrats flipped the county commission from red to blue in 2006, and Cullie Tarleton and Steve Goss won House and Senate seats. We learned so much.

Dean's tenure at the DNC coincided with Jerry Meek's chairmanship of the NC Democratic Party, a renaissance of grassroots activism and retail politics. Jerry Meek came to Watauga and participated in the biggest ever "kickoff canvass" in 2006. Unfortunately, Jerry Meek passed the torch after two terms, and we didn't hardly see his like again, until recently.

Howard Dean made the right kind of enemy. Rahm Emanuel hated his guts. Emanuel favored a different political model that ignored some states -- actually, many -- and poured all the money into boosting the presidential candidate rather than building local parties. Emanuel got rid of Dean as soon as Obama became president. Senator Chuck Schumer participated in that purge. He didn't like Howard Dean either. As far as I'm concerned, Rahm Emanuel was everything that was wrong with Barack Obama's first term, and Chuck Schumer is everything that's wrong with sucking up to money-pimping Democratic donors today, particularly the ones with Wall Street addresses.

Howard stirred excitement among punked-out Democrats and bored independent voters during his presidential run in 2004. It was such excitement. If you were a part of it, you remember it. I see the same vibration around many new Democratic candidates this year. They're rewriting the Party and rewiring the Party brain, just like Howard Dean did.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Republicans on Watauga Board of Elections Want Polling Places in Churches

Of course they do.

Mount Vernon Baptist Church currently serves as the election day polling place for New River 3, the second largest precinct in Watauga County. It was chosen as the polling place by Bill Aceto and Four Eggers (via Luke Eggers) obviously because...

a. It's as far away from the urban-suburban center of population in that precinct as you can get and still stay in the precinct. It's in the middle of the countryside, miles from the population center and without any public transportation to reach it.

b. It's a hotbed of Republican Party activists who make no bones that you can't be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time. This was the church marquee on the eve of the 2016 election. Voters either drove or walked by it on the way to vote.

Aside from the obnoxiousness, the inconvenience, the absence of logic, Mount Vernon Baptist Church is the perfect polling place for the 3,989 voters registered in New River 3.

Watauga Board of Elections Chair Jane Anne Hodges proposed moving that polling place back to where it used to be, the National Guard Armory, but Republicans Nancy Owen and Eric Eller weren't having it. In fact, Hodges proposed moving all three polling places currently in churches to non-church sites which would also be more convenient for voters, with easier access and plenty of parking:

New River 3
from Mount Vernon Baptist Church ... to National Guard Armory on State Farm Rd.
Brushy Fork
from Oak Grove Baptist Church ... to Caldwell Community College
Blue Ridge
from Laurel Fork Baptist Church ... to Deer Valley Racquet Club

Those moves aren't going to happen as long as both Owen and Eller, the Republican members, oppose. Precincts can be moved by majority vote, and both Chair Hodges and the other Democratic member, Richard Rapfogel, want this for the sake of convenience to the public and avoidance of conflict-of-interest or partisan intimidation.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Other State-Wide Judicial Race With Two Republicans Running

NC Court of Appeals, Calabria seat:

On June 13, Wake County District Court Judge Jefferson Griffin won the endorsement of the NCGOP for the Calabria seat on the NC Court of Appeals. He's been running for a solid year.

Sandra Alice Ray, second from left,
with her three children
On June 25th, near the end of the filing period, Sandra Alice Ray, Republican, also filed for the Calabria seat. (And, if you've been paying attention here, ditto the elimination of judicial primaries this year, so there are two Republicans and one Democrat running for the Calabria seat.)

Sandra Alice Ray is not endorsed by the NCGOP. She's a District Court Judge, first elected in 2004, and she's apparently always been a Republican. She's a graduate of NC State University and the Campbell University School of Law. A single mother, she has specialized in juvenile justice in Pender County.

She has both a website, and a Facebook page. She joined Twitter in April.

Who's the Democrat in the Race?

Toby (Tobias) Hampson is the lead attorney in Wyrick Robbins' Appellate Litigation Practice Group. Wyrick Robbins is a large Raleigh firm specializing in the growth of entrepreneurial businesses.

Hampson is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Legal Specialist in Appellate Practice with extensive experience in appellate litigation, particularly in the North Carolina Court of Appeals (the court he is running to join) and the North Carolina Supreme Court "in all areas of the law."

He's a 1994 graduate of the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham, earned his BA
Toby Hampson
from American University School of International Service, and graduated from the Campbell University School of Law in 2002. He currently serves on Campbell Law’s Board of Visitors. He clerked for three different NC Court of Appeals judges, so he knows the appellate level of legal practice very well. He certainly appears to be the most qualified of the three candidates running.

He has a website and a Facebook group