Monday, January 30, 2023

Must Be Something in the Water in CD11 ... Blood?



A family friend of Mark Meadows has agreed to plead guilty to accepting an illegal campaign contribution during an ill-fated 2020 run to succeed the former Trump White House chief of staff in Congress, according to newly-released court papers.

Lynda Bennett, who lost in a 2020 Republican primary campaign to Madison Cawthorn, accepted a contribution from a family member exceeding $25,000, according to charging paperwork filed by prosecutors. That contribution was given “in the name of another person,” according to the papers, signed by U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves and Corey Amundson, chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section....

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Tim Moore: 'We Don Need No Freaking Mass Transit'


In the New York Times this morning, a lengthy article by Michael Wines about how Republican-dominated state legislatures seek to punish big-city governments in their own states because the majority rural Republicans feel mainly contempt for "urban" (read "Black") cultures and because most of those big-city governments are dominated by Democrats.

It's part of the incipient new civil war that conservatives seem to invite and love.

Here's a section about one of our own Republican legislative bosses who has an obvious cob up his ass about Charlotte:

In North Carolina, where Democrats and Republicans have warred for a decade over gerrymanders, voting restrictions and social issues, the Republican speaker of the State House, Representative Tim Moore, seemed prepared this month to scuttle a $13.5 billion initiative by the Democratic leadership in Charlotte to expand mass transit.

Charlotte leaders aim to move half of the city’s trips away from cars by 2040 through embracing light rail, buses and bike paths. But they need the Legislature’s approval of a local sales tax referendum to finance the effort.

Mr. Moore, who lives in the Charlotte exurb of Kings Mountain scoffed at the plan. “If you put more bike lanes in, that doesn’t mean more people are going to ride their bikes to work — that’s not going to happen,” he said at a political forum this month. “You need to build and expand roads because we are driving cars.” Charlotte’s mayor, Vi Lyles, later said she hoped to meet with Mr. Moore to explain the proposal.


Friday, January 27, 2023

NC House Speaker Tim Moore Has Hired an Avowed White Supremacist as His New Policy Advisor


Carlton Huffman, on Linked In

Carlton Huffman proudly lists a new job on his Linked In page. As of this month he's "Policy Advisor" to the Office of the Speaker of the NC House. He's also self-described as a "Patriot Conservative."

Carlton Huffman has a pretty colorful white history, most famous for us for when he was a staffer for House member Jonathan Jordan in 2011 and was forced to resign his staff position for the following activity....

An unsigned "poison pen" letter with nasty racist overtones was surreptitiously placed on the desks of NC Senate members on the day in March 2011 when the new Republican majority were to vote on an otherwise non-controversial act to symbolically pardon Gov. William Woods Holden for his 1870 impeachment. Holden was a Republican who called out the militia to put down Ku Klux Klan thuggery. He was impeached by a Democratic General Assembly as a n****er-lover, the first governor ever removed from office in the United States. The act introduced in 2011 to pardon him, albeit symbolically, would have been doing the right thing for a Reconstruction Republican who was unfairly and maliciously driven from office by backward, racist Democrats.

But the unsigned letter attacking Holden's biography appeared on Senate members' desks, quoting an un-reconstructed pro-slavery UNC history professor from almost a century ago, who accused Gov. Holden of "corruption." Spooked, the Republican leadership in the Senate immediately suspended action on the bill.

NC Senate rules forbid unsigned pieces of paper that advocate for or against legislative action. WRAL reporter Laura Leslie was the first to identify Carlton Huffman as the author, and he soon resigned from his staff position. 

Huffman batted around in other political jobs in North Carolina and Wisconsin after that, doing field work for Phil Berger and others (according to Linked In). Most recently, he was a regional field director for the Herschel Walker for Senate Campaign, sort of proving that Walker was always mainly a tool for white supremacy.

Because Carlton Huffman is pretty dedicated to the cause of making sure that white people are uber Alles. I received via email this partial list of Huffman's recent activities yesterday:

Huffman has been a regular correspondent and featured guest on The Political Cesspool Radio Program that proudly proclaims this about its principles: “What we are: Pro-Christian (God), Pro-White (Family), Pro-South (Republic).” The program’s host, James Edwards, has been widely panned as a dangerous white supremacist including by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Huffman has had leadership positions in both the North Carolina Council of Conservative Citizens and the national Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). The CCC was the radicalizing organization cited by Dylann Roof in his manifesto found after his 2015 massacre of nine Black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. In fact, the CCC released a statement after the fact that stated Roof had “legitimate grievances” against Black people.

Huffman, who went by the pseudonym The Unreconstructed Southern and posted under the username dixie1984 (the year of his birth, and linked with his personal email here), was the main individual posting for the NC CCC chapter and also claimed to have spent time writing for the national CCC page.

The topics covered on the NC CCC blog are wide ranging, but never deviate from being white supremacist in nature with regular claims that we must be “preserving European-American culture of the United States.” Huffman espouses anti-school racial integration beliefs, opposition to the Voting Rights Act, fear mongers that Barack Obama will bring about a “vicious anti-white campaign of terror,” regularly attacks the LGBTQIA+ community, regularly refers to minorities in derogatory terms, and seeks to stop the dilution of the language and culture of European-Americans by immigrants and minorities. He further calls for the infiltration of the Republican Party by white supremacists in order to further and more effectively push the message of white supremacy.


Well, day-um! Just as I posted the item above, I saw the news that Huffman has resigned. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

North Carolina OB-GYN Doc Sues Over Restrictions to Abortion Drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently got rid of restrictions that required patients to pick up mifepristone abortion pills in-person from their doctor. Now, according to the FDA, certified pharmacies can dispense the abortion medication to people who have a verified prescription -- just like many other prescription drugs. 

But hold on, say the anti-abortion bosses in North Carolina, "We're not going to let that happen so easily. Patient, meet hoops."

UNC OB-GYN specialist Dr. Amy Bryant has filed a Federal lawsuit against the state's restrictions. The lawsuit states, "Under the North Carolina restrictions, instead of seeing patients in an office setting (or remotely via telehealth), and having the option of either dispensing the medications or providing a prescription for a patient to fill from a pharmacy so that the patient may take the medication at the place of their choosing," N.C. doctors are being asked to provide the abortion pill themselves "in person and be present when it is administered in a specially certified facility." North Carolina also imposes a 72-hour waiting period.

Bryant claims those restrictions "interfere with her ability to provide medical care to her patients, according to her best medical judgment and in accordance with federal law."

Bryant's court filing states, "Medication abortion is inherently time-critical, and delaying such care can unnecessarily increase risk or even push patients outside the window for use of mifepristone, potentially forcing patients to have more involved and more expensive procedures (which will present heightened risks for some patients)."

Monday, January 23, 2023

GOP Asks NC Supreme Court To Go Ahead and Declare Its Partisanship


The eyes of Paul Newby

Just a month ago, with Democrats still a slim majority, the NC Supreme Court in Harper v. Hall ruled the redistricting of state Senate districts unconstitutional, and in Holmes v. Moore, the same court ruled the state’s 2018 photo voter identification law unconstitutional.

Following hard on November's elections which shifted the court's makeup to a 5-2 Republican majority (new justices Trey Allen and Richard Dietz were sworn in on Jan. 1), GOP leaders in the General Assembly have petitioned the new court to expose and flex its new partisan advantage by reconsidering the decisions in both Harper v. Hall and Holmes v. Moore.

It's what we'd call a command performance. "Show us you love us! Give us a sign that we're now free to do anything and everything that our heart desires -- small and shriveled as it is."

My prediction: the Paul Newby Republican majority will do as requested, and this will only be the beginning of regression, repression, and a growing lack of interest in the rights of North Carolina voters.


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Time for New Leadership at the NCDP


I wasn't gonna flap my fat lip about insider Democratic Party stuff -- at least not right now -- but Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein -- Democrats both -- force my hand by endorsing Bobbie Richardson for another term as chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. Following that disastrous election. Josh Stein just yesterday allowed Richardson to put his picture and his endorsement on her social media, and Gov. Cooper endorsed her a couple of days before that.

Meanwhile, Anderson Clayton of Person County has been endorsed (according to her own website) by over 90 Democratic leaders, particularly young electeds and Party activists in rural counties looking for a different kind of losing proposition, maybe even a winning formula.  (There are others in the race for Chair; see below.)

Why Cooper and Stein did their endorsements I don't know -- I'm planning to guess, by-'n'-by -- but it certainly brands the coming election of Party leadership as Establishment v. The Folks With Pitchforks and Big Jugs of Vinegar. The State Executive Committee (SEC), made up of over 800 voting members from all (?) the 100 counties, will elect the Party chair (and several other sub-chairs) at a regular Winter Meeting on February 11.

The last time the establishment candidate for party chair lost the SEC election was in 2005. That was the year of Jerry Meek, who was the insurgent reformer running against the establishment candidate Ed Turlington. Governor Mike Easley had endorsed Turlington. But Meek won. It was a surprise, apparently, and the Howard Dean-inspired upstarts made some real gains in 2006 and 2008. Jerry Meek was, in my long experience with the NCDP, the best state Party chair of this century. Whoever wrote his Wikipedia entry got it right:

As State Chair, Meek worked aggressively to rebuild the State Party’s grassroots network, to expand services and support to local party organizations, to make better use of technology, and to encourage new people – especially young people – to become active in the Democratic Party. He retired as party chair in 2009....

Meek got measurable results in the general elections of both 2006 and 2008, when Barack Obama and Bev Perdue and Kay Hagan all won the state. The general elections of 2006, in rural counties in western North Carolina, were a no less stunningly good year, because County parties that had been fading away got their gumption back, and fought back, and took local offices (don't ask me for exact numbers, except this one: In Watauga County in 2006, Democrats swept all the local races, from sheriff to county commission, and helped elect Steve Goss to the Senate and Cullie Tarleton to the House. During his tenure as chair, Meek came to Watauga more than once, learned how we do canvassing by going canvassing with us, and he convened the one and only -- far as I know -- round-table for progressive bloggers at Party HDQs in Raleigh, where I met some of the activists still kicking.

So the point is, an insurgent candidate like Anderson Clayton could surprise everyone. And do us a world of good.

Why Anderson Clayton?

Right off the bat I've got to admit that I've known her for years, and I know the tactical incubator that birthed her. Anderson was a rising leader in the AppState Student Government Assoc. at the same time Watauga Democrats were perfecting their staffing model for field and for mobilizing young voters. Anderson rose in the SGA Senate, won president of SGA in 2017, because she had the qualities of born leadership, and good political instincts, and she was key in galvanizing the college cohort to participate in our democracy. 

She's still young (25), vivacious, smart -- she majored in poly sci and journalism at AppState. Grew up in Roxboro in Person County (up along the northern border with Virginia), and when she got back there after AppState, she immediately took the reins of the Person County Democratic Party, "at a crisis point .... Within two years, Anderson led Person County to flip the Roxboro City Council and flip a seat in the NC House—one of just two red-to-blue flips in the House in ’22" (Clayton website).

On her Linked-In page, Clayton names Rural Innovation Network (RIN) as her current employer, working as a "broadband analyst," which captures some of RIN's focus on helping develop tech infrastructure in rural county cultures. RIN's website says the org has developed outposts in 34 different counties across the nation, including one in Wilkes County, where "local leaders are focused on educating and training local residents in tech skills (especially those traditionally excluded from the tech industry), employing them in new economy jobs, and empowering them to launch startups that will drive a prosperous 21st-century economy."

Anderson promises, "We can break the cycle of Democratic decline," a flash of both hopefulness and frankness that's required when the current Party leadership seems loath to admit anything could have been done differently or better in the future. I understand why gentlemen at the top of the ticket might want control of the State Party -- the so-called "coordinated campaigns" run by the state party have always been skewed to the messaging strategy and tactics of the Top Dog, usually the Guv, which Josh Stein is trying to be.

Stein's surprising, even electrifying preemptive attack on Mark Robinson in his announcement video earlier this week -- that rallied me for a Governor candidate who's going to be under vicious attack constantly. But Stein's endorsement of Richardson sends exactly the opposite message for me, that he's nervous about grassroots and progressive energy in this Party. Granted, the grassroots can sometimes grow stinky weeds. I'm willing to admit it. But a Party stuck in neutral, doing the same things again, that's not for me.

Others in the Race for Chair

Aside from incumbent Chair Bobbie Richardson (about whom I expressed an opinion back in December)....

Eric Terashima (website), a retired career Marine, former chair of the Brunswick County Party, and a losing candidate for the NC House.

LeVon Barnes ran for Durham City Council in 2017 and for the Durham County Board of Commish in 2020 and lost both times in the primaries.

Scott Huffman (2022 congressional candidate website) has become something of a perennial candidate, running for Congress in NC-8 in the Democratic primary in 2018, in the 2020 congressional election in NC-13, and in the NC-8 congressional election in 2022. He lost all of those.

Eva Lee, Wake County activist who toyed with running both a senatorial campaign and a campaign for state Labor Commissioner in 2020 (according to Ballotpedia) but never put her name on the ballot.

And there may well be additional candidates in the days ahead before February 11th.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Everything Happens for a Reason: NC House Committee Appointments


The Associated Press broke the story of Tim Moore's appointments for NC House committee leadership posts in the 2022 long session of the General Assembly. The Associated Press published certain highlights; but the full committee roster for standing and special committees is here. among which is this not very surprising appointment of a Democrat as vice chair of the Commerce Committee -- Rep. Garland Pierce (profiled here a few days ago as a possible Democratic weak link for overturning the veto of an abortion bill). He got a plum committee leadership post, and was only one of several Democrats who got that kind of recognition, some of them at least also suspected of being potential allies for Tim Moore in his quest to overturn every Cooper veto. 

US News made the same point in their coverage of Moore's committee appointments: duh. Awarding gavels to more than one member of the opposing party is an obvious, time-tested means of asserting influence, though we don't know fer shure that any of the additional appointments outlined below will get Moore the one Democratic vote he needs to rout the governor on a variety of veto overrides.

Rep. Shelly Willingham
of Edgecombe County is now one of three chairmen leading the alcoholic beverage control committee. Watauga County's Ray Pickett is a member. Willingham won his seat in the House 2016; Republicans didn't run a candidate against him in 2016; and he's gotten 58-60% of the vote in his other reelections. Represents a safe district.

WRAL reported

Willingham told WRAL News Tuesday that he wasn't asked to commit to anything in exchange for the chairmanship, and he noted that he has more than 20 years experience with the state's alcoholic beverages regulations, including two terms as a vice-chair of this committee.

"Speaker didn’t ask me to make any commitment to do anything and I haven’t committed to anything," Willingham said.

"[My vote] depends on what the bill is," he said. "I’m going to support any bill that will support my district and also the state. … Doesn’t matter who puts that bill forward.”

Democratic Rep. Michael Wray of Northampton County was elevated to one of four senior chairmen of the powerful House Finance Committee.


Sara Pequeno:

Wray is another 10-term state representative who represents Halifax, Northampton and Warren Counties. He had an excused absence the day of the first vote on the 2019 bill [Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act], and he voted to uphold Cooper’s veto when it went to the House floor. On the other hand, he voted for the Human Life Nondiscrimination Act [2021], which would have banned abortions based on gender, sex and disability. He has voted with the Democrats on other abortion bills aside from the 2021 legislation.

Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County will be one of three chairs of the K-12 education committee, joining two Republicans. Cotham served in the House for nearly 10 years through 2016 before returning as a candidate last year, and she's an established authority on state education policy. Cotham is never mentioned as a potential vote for a veto override.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Josh Stein Announces for Governor


This morning, slightly after 8, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced via Twitter that he's running for governor in 2024. 

Accompanying the tweet is an introductory video. I was very glad to see him go after the extremism of his likely Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. No holding back. (You can watch the video at the link above.)

Stein's announcement comes hard on the heels of an editorial by Ned Barnett published in yesterday's News and Observer, "To Win Statewide in NC, There's One Thing Democrats Should Change," a title that got my attention.

Barnett reprises the Senate race between Cheri Beasley and Ted Budd and sees similarities with a Stein vs. Robinson battle: "’s something of a replay of the Senate race: A prominent and politically cautious legal veteran vs. a very conservative firebrand. The result could be the same, too, unless Democrats address the voting intensity gap they have with Republicans. Democrats who water-down their progressive positions in hopes of cutting their rural and suburban losses also diminish their support among core Democratic groups" (emphases added).

Needless to say I think Barnett is right. Cheri Beasley always seemed politically cautious and watered-down, and we mos def had a voting intensity gap in that election. We saw it in the turnout of young voters in Watauga. We saw it in decreased turnout across the state in most other Democratic allied blocs, especially among Black voters.

Barnett concludes his essay:

A key message for Democratic candidates is that trying to reach unreachable rural and conservative-leaning voters invites failing to inspire core Democratic voters. In short, to win as a Democrat, run as one.

Good advice. And Josh Stein's announcement video this morning, with it's blistering take-down of Mark Robinson's crazy extremism, give me new hope.