Monday, August 10, 2020

Blame Sen. Thom Tillis for the Unemployment Insurance Crisis in North Carolina

 

Hat-tip to Paul Blest for his extensive and in-depth appraisal of the entire career of Sen. Thom Tillis, from his days as a town commissioner of Charlotte suburb of Cornelius, to his rise in the NC House, to his current insecure perch in the US Senate.

The following passage focuses on one of Tillis's worst policy initiatives while he ran the Republican super-majority in the NC House, crippling the state's unemployment insurance system:

One of Tillis’s highest priorities was knocking out one of the legs of the New Deal: unemployment insurance. The legislature, with Tillis in the lead, took just two weeks at the start of the 2013 session — the first time Republicans held a super majority and the governor’s mansion — to introduce and pass a draconian unemployment bill that cut the number of weeks the jobless could collect benefits from 26 weeks to 12, and slashed the maximum amount from $530 to $350. When the 2020 CARES Act added $600 a week to benefits for up to 13 weeks beyond a state’s benefits, the jobless in North Carolina were shafted. Where most Americans could claim up to 39 weeks of benefits, those in the Tarheel State were topped off at 25 weeks. Still, Tillis voted to strip those benefits from the CARES package. The vote was tied at 48-48, so Tillis came one vote short of succeeding.

The week of March 28, 172,745 people in North Carolina filed for benefits. Thanks to Tillis, they have long since exhausted their 12 weeks of state benefits, just as the job market is headed for a second nosedive, and Republicans in Congress are blocking efforts to extend the current assistance.

In the middle of this COVID unemployment crisis, it's only fitting and just that the Tillis history on the issue should come back to haunt him. 


Sunday, August 09, 2020

Un-Trumping North Carolina: Aimy Steel in HD82

 

We're grateful to the Long Leaf Pine Slate for supplying a clutch of new candidate videos for Democrats running in flippable NC General Assembly districts. We've also been writing about these folks for months. The Long Leaf Pine Slate has been successfully raising money for these races all year. Some of the results can be seen in the professional introductory videos -- quick hits of personality and vital biography highlighted by snazzy graphics, so that although the candidate talks directly to the camera, they never lapse into static "talking-head" mode. I'll be highlighting these videos one at a time over coming days/weeks.

Aimy Steele in House District 82 (Cabarrus County). An open seat following the decision to retire by former Republican Rep. Linda Johnson (followed by her untimely death). The Republican candidate on the ballot this year is Kristin Baker, a psychiatrist who has specialized in hospice cases. The district is rated "Lean Republican." Trump took the district with 54.94% of the vote.





"As a former school principal and mother of 5, Steele is passionate about educational quality and equity." (The Long Leaf Pine Slate)

"Cabarrus County has been trending blue over the past several election cycles. In 2018, Democratic challenger Aimy Steele came within 6 points of upsetting the Republican incumbent in NC-H82 [Johnson], greatly improving on Gov. Cooper’s 2016 performance in the district – and NC-H82 has since been redrawn to be 3 points more favorable for Democrats. And 2020 primary turnout increased 32% in Cabarrus County over 2016 – a great sign for Democrats! Steele is running again, this time with greater name recognition and a campaign organization already in place." (FlipNC.org)

Friday, August 07, 2020

The Man Who Is Manipulating the Mail Is From Greensboro


Trump's Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, at home:

Just across from the second fairway at the Greensboro Country Club is a house some call “The Castle.”

Built for the family that founded Cone Mills, the 15,000-square-foot home includes a pool house and a swimming pool with rock formations created by a designer from the N.C. Zoo. DeJoy bought the house in 2005 for $5.9 million, one of the highest prices ever paid for a house in Greensboro. It’s the house where he cooks gourmet Italian dinners for friends and hosts events for presidents. [NandO]

The DeJoy "Castle"


"Host events for presidents" meaning mos def for Donald J. Trump. "In 2017, Trump made his first trip to North Carolina as president for a fundraiser at [the DeJoy/Aldona Wos] home. Since 2016, DeJoy has donated $1.2 million to the president and nearly $1.3 million to the Republican Party" (Jim Morrill). (Paul Blest in his emailed IndyWeek Primer says it's more: "FEC records show he's given nearly $1.8 million to GOP campaigns since January 2019, including more than $1 million to the Trump Victory Fund.") That's just DeJoy's giving. He's coaxed even more out of other well-heeled donors by inviting them to his castle to meet famous people.

And just look what he got out of it! Postmaster General! Appointed a little over two months ago, and look at all the fun he's already having, carrying all that water for Twitterman and sloshing it all over that nice clean floor.

In recent weeks, at the direction of a Trump campaign megadonor who was recently named the postmaster general, the service has stopped paying mail carriers and clerks the overtime necessary to ensure that deliveries can be completed each day. That and other changes have led to reports of letters and packages being delayed by as many as several days.

Record numbers of North Carolinians have already requested their mail-in absentee ballots. Me too. No actual ballots will be mailed until the first week in September, and it's not that delivery that we worry about but rather the one where our filled-out ballot along with the signature of one witness heads for the local board of elections. What worries me most is human nature, the tendency to put off filling out that ballot and getting it back in the mail with that witness's signature, waiting until almost the deadline for finding a witness and getting a proper postmark, and that's when Louis DeJoy will spring his trap. 

Now, isn't that a legitimate worry?

Louis DeJoy, being escorted to a meeting in Nancy Pelosi's office.
Meeting didn't go well. Photo Carolyn Kaster for AP


DeJoy's cover for carrying the water is the claim that he's bringing good business practices to the delivery of the mail. To which Paul Blest replies, "The Postal Service is famously not a business. It's a public service, something that's exceedingly rare in this country, and that's why it's much cheaper to use than UPS or FedEx..." (Indy Week Primer for August 7). Virginia Foxx and other Republican conservatives have long bashed the mail service and advocated for privatization. Trump now has additional motives.


Louis DeJoy Is Married To Another Notorious NC Public Servant, Aldona Wos

When Pat McCrory got to be governor, he had cause to be grateful to the DeJoy household too, and he appointed Louis DeJoy's wife as the head of his department of health and human services. Long story short: Wos ended up resigning under fire, following a Federal subpoena delving into possible criminal misappropriation of public funds and no-bid payouts to close personal and political friends.

Prior to the turning of Pat McCrory's head, the DeJoy/Wos team had turned the George W. Bush noggin, and Aldona Wos got an ambassadorship to Estonia. These guys know how to pay to play. 

And if Louis DeJoy can help Donald Trump stay in power, it's sure to be good for business. 

Un-Trumping North Carolina: Brian Farkas in HD9


We're grateful to the Long Leaf Pine Slate for supplying a clutch of new candidate videos for Democrats running in flippable NC General Assembly districts. We've also been writing about these folks for months. The Long Leaf Pine Slate has been successfully raising money for these races all year. Some of the results can be seen in the professional introductory videos -- quick hits of personality and vital biography highlighted by snazzy graphics, so that although the candidate talks directly to the camera, they never lapse into static "talking-head" mode. I'll be highlighting these videos one at a time over coming days/weeks.

Brian Farkas in House District 9 (Pitt County). The seat is open because the former occupant, Greg Murphy, was elevated to the US House in a special election. The Republican candidate is Perrin Jones, a Greenville doctor who was appointed to fill out Murphy's term last September. District is rated "Toss-Up," though it deserves note that Trump actually lost the district to Clinton in 2016, 48.77% to 48.24%. East Carolina University could make a difference in 2000.




Brian Farkas is "a Pitt County native who works at a local architecture firm." "He’s also worked for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, where he specialized in emergency management measures." "He has a long record of public service and is a vocal proponent for independent redistricting reform."

"With the elimination of the extreme Republican gerrymander in Pitt County, a strong Democratic candidate is favored to win NC-H9 in Greenville. The district leans about 10 points further left than it did in 2018." (FlipNC.org)

Farkas has a slim resume -- he's young yet -- but the video bestows maturity and strength and brain-power, and he's been making a real campaign of it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Continuing Fallout From the Sudden Retirement of Rep. David Lewis (HD53)


Penny
Republican powerbroker and chair of the powerful Rules Committee in the NC House suddenly and unexpectedly announced his retirement a couple of weeks ago, and the Republican bosses in Harnett County just last night named his replacement on the November ballot, Harnett County Commissioner Howard Penny Jr.

Not much can be shown about Howard Penny Jr. yet, but we do know he was elected to a seat on the Harnett School Board in 2014, then ran and won a seat on the Harnett County Commission in 2016 and resigned his school board seat. He filed last December for a second term on the county commission but lost in the Republican primary in March by 14 votes. So he's serving out his term on the commission as a lame duck, and the party bosses obviously thought he could make a good showing as a replacement for David Lewis. That remains to be seen.

Sally Weeks Benson
Apparently, Maggie Sandrock, a pretty well known conservative and chair of the Harnett County Republican Party, wanted the ballot spot herself and lost out to the milder mannered Penny. Is there dyspepsia in Harnett GOP ranks this morning?

Penny will be up against Democrat Sally Weeks Benson, a retired veteran of the Navy, whose prospects perhaps just got brighter. (I'm waiting for someone who knows the politics in Harnett County to let me know that.)

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Better Pay Attention to Joyce Elliott, Running for Congress in Arkansas


Another benefit of President Obama's first wave of endorsements (see last post down-column) is his calling my attention to other impressive candidates in other places, like the 2nd CD of Arkansas. Democrat Joyce Elliott is running there to unseat three-term Republican French Hill, who squeaked back into office in 2018 against another Democratic candidate by only 2 percentage points.

Watch Joyce Elliott's introductory video and tell me you wouldn't want her in Congress -- with her smarts, her laser focus, her great poise.




Elliott is currently (and since the elections of 2008) a member of the Arkansas state senate, and before that, from 2000 to 2006 she served in the Arkansas state house. She, like the late Congressman John Lewis, was at the spearpoint of racial integration in the South. She was the second Black child to integrate her local public school; her big sister was the first. If elected, she will be the first Black lawmaker in Congress from Arkansas, ever.

She spent 30 years as a public school teacher and was influential on The College Board, becoming the director of its legislative outreach for the Southwestern Region. She credits her success in life to educational opportunities, and she's been a fierce advocate for equal educational opportunities for all.

"On the campaign trail in June, Elliott attended a demonstration against racism in White County, which is more than 90% White, and spoke to attendees in the shadow of a Confederate monument. The November election is a 'chance to change our history,' she told Reuters afterward. 'I really decided I needed to run because I could see a pathway to winning.' ”

The pathway to winning runs through the capitol city of Little Rock, which sits entirely in the 2nd CD.



Her boldness in taking her campaign into racist territory in White County speaks to her courage and recalls Howard Dean's gospel of flying the Democratic flag everywhere. Cook Political Report rates the district "Likely Republican" (R+7), but that obviously doesn't scare Joyce Elliott, and she's getting recognition and support from across the country as one of the record number of Black women running for office this year (many of those in North Carolina and in South Carolina).

President Barack Obama Endorses NC Candidates


President Obama released a first wave of endorsements across the country, but no state got more mentions than North Carolina (well, maybe Pennsylvania and Texas, but still). He said, "I’m proud to endorse this diverse and hopeful collection of thoughtful, empathetic, and highly qualified Democrats. Together, these candidates will help us redeem our country’s promise by sticking up for working class people, restoring fairness and opportunity to our system, and fighting for the good of all Americans — not just those at the top."

He might as well have gone ahead and said, "Let's un-Trump North Carolina!"

NORTH CAROLINA

Council of State
Roy Cooper, Governor

Yvonne Lewis Holley, Lieutenant Governor

Ronnie Chatterji, Treasurer

Jessica Holmes, Commissioner of Labor

Federal Races
Cal Cunningham, U.S. Senate

Pat Timmons-Goodson, U.S. House, NC-08

NC House
Brian Farkas, State House, HD-09

Adam Ericson, State House, HD-20

Terence Everitt, State House, HD-35

Sydney Batch, State House, HD-37

Kimberly Hardy, State House, HD-43

Frances Jackson, State House, HD-45

Ricky Hurtado, State House, HD-63

Dan Besse, State House, HD-74

Christy Clark, State House, HD-98

Brandon Lofton, State House, HD-104

NC Senate
Donna Lake, State Senate, SD-07

Harper Peterson, State Senate, SD-09

Allen Wellons, State Senate, SD-11

Kirk deViere, State Senate, SD-19

Terri LeGrand, State Senate, SD-31

Many of these NC House and Senate candidates are insurgent challengers of incumbent Republicans or first-time candidates for open seats (Brian Farkas, Adam Ericson, Kimberly Hardy, Frances Jackson, Ricky Hurtado, Dan Besse, Donna Lake, Allen Wellons, Terri LeGrand). Several are defending the seats they won in 2018 (Terence Everitt, Sydney Batch, Christy Clark, Harper Peterson, Kirk deViere). WataugaWatch has written about all of them, some of them multiple times. 

Monday, August 03, 2020

Un-Trumping North Carolina: Nicole Quick in HD59


We're grateful to the Long Leaf Pine Slate for supplying a clutch of new candidate videos for Democrats running in flippable NC General Assembly districts. We've also been writing about these folks for months. The Long Leaf Pine Slate has been successfully raising money for these races all year. Some of the results can be seen in the professional introductory videos -- quick hits of personality and vital biography highlighted by snazzy graphics, so that although the candidate talks directly to the camera, they never lapse into static "talking-head" mode. I'll be highlighting these videos one at a time over coming days/weeks.

Nicole Quick in House District 59 (Guilford County). Jon Hardister is the Republican incumbent and a majority whip. District is rated "Lean Republican." Trump took the district with 53.06% of the vote in 2016.




"Quick is a 20-year resident of Guilford County and former manufacturing executive. As a parent of a child with autism, she is passionate about education quality, the environment and voting rights .... This district in the Greensboro suburbs has leaned slightly Republican in the past, but with Democratic turnout likely to increase in 2020, is ripe for a strong challenger like Quick." (The Long Leaf Pine Slate)

"Under the new NC House map, NC-H59 is about 9 points more favorable for Democrats, making it an excellent target to flip in 2020 .... Republicans’ performance has only been possible because Democratic turnout has significantly lagged Republican turnout in the district. The great news is that 2020 primary turnout was up 20% in Guilford County over 2016, and there is ample room to reverse the slight Republican lean in this district in recent elections by building on that momentum to turn out sporadic Democratic voters here this fall. Democrats are fielding a strong challenger in NC-H59 in Nicole Quick. Born in southeastern North Carolina, she currently resides in eastern Guilford County. Quick’s history as a business leader includes time forecasting and budgeting at Guilford Mills. When her son was diagnosed with autism, she decided to undergo training to provide daily occupational therapy for him. Quick went on to lead teacher instruction and workshops focused on working with children with autism in inclusive classrooms." (FlipNC.org)

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Un-Trumping the NC House: Adam Ericson in HD20


We're grateful to the Long Leaf Pine Slate for supplying a clutch of new candidate videos for Democrats running in flippable NC General Assembly districts. We've also been writing about these folks for months. The Long Leaf Pine Slate has been successfully raising money for these races all year. Some of the results can be seen in the professional introductory videos -- quick hits of personality and vital biography highlighted by snazzy graphics, so that although the candidate talks directly to the camera, they never lapse into static "talking-head" mode. I'll be highlighting these videos one at a time over coming days/weeks.

Adam Ericson in House District 20 (New Hanover County). Ted Davis is the incumbent Republican. Michael Bitzer considers the district "Safe Republican." Trump won the district with 55.09% of the vote. The most recent remapping double-bunked two incumbent Republicans -- Holly Grange, who opted to run for governor against Dan Forest in the Republican primary, and Ted Davis, who's represented Dist. 19 for several terms. Holly Grange went down in her primary; Ted Davis remains on the ballot in a district which doesn't know him as well.





"Adam Ericson is a public high school teacher. He believes that the governed deserve real representation, but do not have it today in North Carolina. He is running a bold campaign to invest in North Carolina's education, fight for worker's rights, make health care affordable and ensure a livable climate for our state's next generation." (The Long Leaf Pine Slate)

"Gov. Cooper lost the newly constituted NC-H20 by just 5 points in 2016, and the NC House race was just as close in 2018. The pool of left-leaning voters who stayed home in NC-H20 in 2018 was about 14 points more left-leaning than the folks who came out to the polls, and the great news is that 2020 primary turnout was up 30% over 2016! This district is flippable if we can get enough left-leaning voters to the polls in November." (FlipNC.org)