Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Amy Block DeLoach Could Flip HD20

NC House District 20 in New Hanover County down on the coast ranks high on Carolina Forward's 2022 slate for potentially flipping a Republican district. Right now, the seat is held by old possum Ted Davis, who, I'm happy to remind everyone, when he was a county commish, he turned down aid from the state for free contraceptives for Hanover County teenage girls: "If these young women are being responsible and didn't have the sex to begin with, we wouldn't have this problem to begin with," he huffed. There's living in the real world, and then there's Ted Davis.

NCFree rates the district R+3. Dave's Redistricting puts it 48% D v. 49.1% R. Looks doable.

Incumbent Republican Ted Davis

Amy Block DeLoach (D)

That name Block stands for royalty of a sort, both civic and cultural. Amy DeLoach's grandmother, Hannah Block, became Mayor Pro Tempore of the Wilmington City Council in the '60s, had headed the local USO in the '40s (the building is now known as "Hannah Block Historic USO"), and became big in the early years of the Azalea Festival (started 1948) as a key mover. Amy’s father, Frank Block, owned the Block Southland shirt factory, served three terms in the North Carolina State Senate, and endowed the Charles and Hannah Block Distinguished Professorship in Jewish History at UNCW. "Named after their mother and father, the professorship serves to provide UNCW students the opportunity to learn from distinguished faculty about a culture and history that is near and dear to the Blocks" (Wrightsville Beach Mag). Amy’s mother, Wendy Block, served on the boards of Thalian Hall and the NC Battleship Commission. She led the efforts to raise money to build Wilmington’s Hospice facility as well as other charities. Both Grandmother Hannah and Mother Wendy were awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by the Governor for their lifetimes of service. Amy is active (as president) in the 120-year-old conservative B'nai Israel congregation in Wilmington.

Why, that's Junior League-level prominence.

Amy Block DeLoach

DeLoach belongs to a noble eleemosynary heritage and evidently practices it herself, volunteering on various non-profit boards (her website lists several, all in keeping with family tradition), but this is her first foray into elective office, following her grandmother's path. My problem has been with documenting her actual activities. Other than sitting on non-profit boards, she never got her name in the press on the World Wide Web for leading something, steering something, organizing for a cause -- no mentions of her passions, her organizational skills, her sweat equity in service to a particular cause. If she's been engaged in active politics in the recent past, I can't find the trail. Her one talking-head video posted on her website hits all the liberal sacred cows (pro-choice, for expanding Medicaid, pro-environment, against banning books). Her pitch is for "common-sense and moderation," which points vaguely at the far-out, extremist, radical nature of the new Trump Republican Party. DeLoach, despite the greenhorn patina, could appeal mightily to the suburban Republican and Unaffiliated women of  southeast Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach.

In addition to Carolina Forward, she's been endorsed by Lillian's List and Climate Slate. Her Twitter feed is lively, where she's establishing a platform, forming a progressive identity. 

Friday, July 01, 2022

BergerMoore's Wet Dream


The conservative super-majority on the US Supreme Court has already signaled that they'll be only too happy to take up next term the novel and radical theory that state courts have no right to overturn state legislatures (the ones dominated by Republican majorities, natch!) in the drawing of congressional districts. The case will come from North Carolina -- Moore v. Harper.

See, last March the North Carolina Supreme Court threw out BergerMoore's new congressional maps, which would likely have produced a 10-4 Republican dominance of the state's congressional delegation, saying the maps violated the state's constitutional promise of free and fair elections. BergerMoore appealed to the US Supremes, arguing an extremist version of state's rights, "the independent state legislature doctrine," which maintains that no state court can interfere in a state legislature's desire to seize partisan power and hold it by gerrymandering and other means. But at that time, and without explanation, the Supreme Court refused to reinstate BergerMoore's maps and allowed the election to proceed with new, slightly less horrendous maps for Democrats.

The independent state legislature "doctrine" originates (favorite word among extremist judges) from the U.S. Constitution’s election clause, which says that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” That last clause has previously been interpreted to mean "by the legislative process," which would include voter petition initiatives to establish independent redistricting commissions, for example, and suits in state courts. The independent state legislature doctrine could also give lawmakers control over issues such as voter qualification, voting by mail, and other election procedures, effectively taking voting procedures out of the hands of the State Board of Elections and giving them to BergerMoore.


Last March, even while the Court as a whole was rejecting the appeal to overturn the NC Supremes, justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch dissented and said they thought the theory advanced by BergerMoore was probably correct and that they were eager to consider such a challenge going forward. Kavanaugh expressed interest too but said it was too close to the May primaries to intervene.

Now with Amy Coney Barrett on the Court, the conservatives have already announced that they'll be hearing Moore v. Harper when the new term begins in October. If you don't think there'll be a radical outcome for North Carolina elections -- and for other states as well -- you haven't been paying attention.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Supremes Made Me a Single-Issue Voter


With the clarity we've come to expect from him, Sen. Jeff Jackson lays out the potential for November:

Next year in NC: 
1) Our state legislature will convene. 
2) The GOP will pass a bill banning abortion. 
3) The Governor will veto it. 
4) A veto override vote will be held. 
5) Either Dems will have enough members to sustain the veto, or not. 
Those are the stakes this November.

I think I just became "a single-issue voter." And I've got a candidate to vote for.

House District 93

(Watauga, excepting Blue Ridge Precinct, plus Ashe and Alleghany counties)

(Watauga's Blue Ridge Precinct is now in the 87th HD. Thank you, gerrymander. And the Gerrymanderer-in-Chief in the NC House, Destin Hall, is the incumbent Republican of HD87. Democrat Barbara Kirby is running against him)

I remember Ben Massey as the ever-present, early-bird, cheerful-but-firm manager of the Watauga County Farmers Market. That was a few years ago. I thought he did a good job. Then he left Watauga and became president of the Ashe County Farmers Mkt. He and his wife Darleen are fixtures there, selling their own farm produce. They live in Ashe County on a "rural homestead" reclaimed from its dispersal to nine heirs probably because someone died without a will. Ben Massey is running for the House seat, currently held by Republican of Blowing Rock, Ray Pickett.

I met Ben and his campaign manager last night. Formidable team with a clear plan. And with admittedly huge odds against them: NCFree rates the district R+11. That's due, of course, to Destin Hall Hisownself in Caldwell County, taking Blue Ridge Precinct off Ray Pickett's hands and adding very rural Alleghany County to counteract Watauga's Democratic voters. The district has see-sawed between parties when it was just Watauga and Ashe -- Democrats Cullie Tarleton and Ray Russell and Republicans Jonathan Jordan and now Ray Pickett. But the Republicans don't like a seesaw and propped up Pickett with a cinderblock of new Republicans. No more going blue for you, House Seat 93! 

Understanding that the 93rd is uphill all the way, Ben Massey nevertheless has cred already in Ashe, and a formidable Party org in Watauga, and a local history in Alleghany -- dependably Democratic, going back to the Civil War -- that might turn at least purple if Trumpist turnout sags. I know: Alleghany's potential is more of a used to be, but how can you stay in politics without hope?

Massey fits the district, and I like the writing on his website:

Ben is the guy on your road whom everyone depends on. He and his tractor are there to pull the log out of your driveway after a windstorm, and he always remembers to ask about your parent who is recovering from surgery.

...he knows what it means to be a good neighbor. His dad was a Mail Carrier and his mom owned a Dance School. His grandfather was a Deputy Sheriff shot and killed in the line of duty. Ben grew up barning tobacco and working at the local gas station. As a young man seeking to make his own way, he patched together grants, loans and part-time jobs to pay his way through college at UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated as a Physical Therapist.

He retired as the executive director of the state’s PT licensure board, administering the state laws for over 13,000 physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in North Carolina.

Here's a nugget: He got inducted into “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine” by Governor Pat McCrory "for significant contributions to the state and his community through exemplary services and exceptional accomplishments." Many of those accomplishments and awards are listed at the bottom of his bio page.

He talked last night about the importance of Roe and said he had actually decided to run way back in May 2021 when the Supreme Court first announced that it was taking the Mississippi abortion case, now known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Org. He will be an unflagging advocate for women's rights, as Republicans move toward taking charge of uteruses and mandating pregnancies.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Future Made Clear


The NCGOP Has an Itch It Intends To Scratch


The natural born bully who wants to be the next governor of North Carolina, so he can sign a law mandating pregnancy for any woman loose enough to get pregnant -- I'm talking about Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, yes. You think he ain't dancing a jig over the 6-3 Supreme Court vote to axe Roe? He can't wait. “I am overjoyed with the decision by our Supreme Court," said Robinson. "For decades we have been praying for a day like today, and it is finally here."

He quickly added -- probably because he knows that we all know now --"I have experienced the pain of abortion in my own life and know the long-term effects it can have on families." Because a comment he had made on social media in 2012 -- long before he knew the pleasures of tickling the prejudices of white men -- amounted to an admission that he had paid for an abortion for his then girlfriend over three decades earlier. “I’m not saying abortion is wrong cause I said so it’s wrong cause God says so. It’s wrong when others do it and it was wrong when I paid for it to be done to my unborn child in 1989.”

Maybe Robinson had been talking directly to God, and vice versa -- I won't argue it couldn't happen -- but he's making it up that The Word of God, the Bible, says even one word against abortion. That's number one. The mandate-pregnancy crowd is forever projecting their ideology onto Scripture and assuming that God would have said it if He hadn't been busy that day. Number two: The complete erasure of Yolanda Hill as another player in the drama and the decision at the time -- if she actually had a voice in the decision -- makes Robinson's "regret" look like a cover for just more bullying.

You cannot escape the psycho-sexual needs of men to control the bodies of their women. Now, with the celestial reasoning of Samuel Alito behind it, the psycho-sexual component expands to include tacit exploitation of those bodies to insure a steady new cohort of workers. That's been one of the arguments, that an absolute ban on abortion will insure a steady supply of babies to grow up and do the work and pay the taxes. And incidentally guarantee the supposed survival of the white race. (Peace to you, Mark Robinson.)

NC House Speaker Tim Moore, after the Roe decision, indicated that when Republicans achieve veto-proof majorities in the two houses of the General Assembly -- they only need three more seats in the House and two in the Senate -- they'll be delighted to follow their leaders over the cliff of no abortion. Even before that, with no veto leverage, Moore promised they won't wait to do their worst: “North Carolinians can also expect pro-life protections to be a top priority of the legislature when we return to our normal legislative session in January” (emphasis added). They'll think of ways to chip around the edges. And they might get help from a handful of anti-abortion Democrats, which will be followed by bad moments for everyone.

But Republicans won't have the support of a majority of the women of North Carolina. The most recent polling I've seen, completed during the second week of June, solicited reactions to the following statement: "The Supreme Court of the United States should overturn Roe v. Wade." Some 8% of women responded "somewhat disagree," but 41% strongly disagreed. Those numbers versus the 27% of women who strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement. Women who want to protect Roe included a substantial portion of Republicans: "Of the 1,100 North Carolina residents polled, 33% identified as Republican, 29% identified as Democrat and 32% identified as independent."

One other problem (but an opportunity for Democratic outreach) ... the disturbing 24% of polled women who said they were "Not sure" about ending Roe. That's almost a quarter of the state's women who seem weirdly detached from the realities, and that has to change.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Now the States Can Mandate Pregnancy


The dead eyes of an ideologue
The only thing keeping North Carolina from becoming Mississippi is Roy Cooper and a veto-sustaining minority of Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly.

That's a fragile bulwark against the darkness unleashed today by The Supremes.

This is the legacy of a total crook who put those three people on the Court.

A Closing Statement for History


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Tim Moore's House Pisses Off Phil Berger's Senate


In a surprising about-face, Phil Berger's NC Senate passed a bill a month ago expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. Yesterday, Tim Moore's House Republicans, rather than signing on to the Senate's bill, rolled out its own bill which calls for more study of the issue and a vote on expansion only after the fall elections.

How did Phil Berger take this?

Seems like Tim Moore handed Democratic NC House candidates an issue, and Phil Berger has shown Democrats how to frame it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Local Bill H193 Is Kaput


Ray Pickett

Issued before 9 a.m. this morning, this bottomline news: Watauga County Commission requests the shelving of that special legislation introduced by Rep. Ray Pickett and will follow the town's UDO in the building of a parking garage, a facility that both parties believe is needed.

Here's the money in the last paragraph:

We have reached a consensus so that the local law will be withdrawn, litigation can be avoided, and consideration of the County’s parking garage project can move forward as speedily as possible consistent with the Town’s development ordinance.