Friday, April 16, 2021

With an Ego as Big as a Refrigerator


The election last fall of political novice Mark Robinson to the office of Lieutenant Governor stunned a lot of people. He had no qualifications (and admittedly, the office of Lite Guv requires few qualifications), but he excited the Republican base because he was a Black man mouthing conservative talking points and he had made himself notorious for a rant about guns in front of the Greensboro City Council.

While he campaigned in 2020, Robinson flaunted his refusal to wear a face covering in crowds, sealing his popularity with the Trumpists through denialism and knuckleheaded ignorance. He tweeted back in February, “The looming pandemic I’m most worried about is SOCIALISM.” Instead, he said, he was “earnestly praying that this virus will disappear faster than Christine Blasey Ford and a car load of witnesses against Hillary Clinton.”

In office now as Lite Guv (thank you, Rob Schofield!), Robinson -- with not much else to do -- has launched a crusade to "out" public school teachers who might be teaching about slavery and the history of racial inequality, items that Robinson equates with "fake news."

With not much else to do, Robinson is also exploring the possibility of jumping into the already crowded Republican primary for the US Senate seat (why, we'd hardly stopped laughing at Pat McCrory, and here comes another clown, though Robinson could probably win a Republican primary in North Carolina against squishy ex-Guv McCrory). Rob Schofield posted a blistering appraisal of Robinson this morning:

While perhaps a bit surprising given that the sum total of Robinson’s lifetime service in public office now stands at 98 days in a job with no real responsibilities ... Robinson is clearly possessed of at least three attributes that are vitally important for politicians in 21st Century America — especially in the Trumpified Republican Party.

First, he has no record of public service or accomplishment in government. Indeed, it’s a little unclear exactly what he did before he ran for office either .... perfect for a modern politician as, just as the case with Donald Trump in 2016, it give his opponents nothing in the world of government or policy for which to blame him.

Second, Robinson has apparently had his share of financial issues. This is the extent of what Wikipedia says about his personal life:

Robinson and his wife, Yolanda, have two children. They live in High Point, North Carolina. Robinson has filed for bankruptcy on three separate occasions, has been sued for payments, and had liens placed on him by the Internal Revenue Service as recently as 2012. He says that he has straightened out his financial problems.

This too, is perfect. What could be more in keeping with the numerous examples set by Trump than having an extended history of trouble with creditors and repeatedly finding yourself in court over financial disputes? Today’s Republican voters clearly appreciate a candidate who knows how to take care of Number One.

And third and finally, like Trump, Robinson clearly thinks big. After all, who would have thought that philandering, casino-owning TV barker with no record of public service or accomplishment could leap from the tabloids to the White House in a campaign rooted in a blatant lie about the birthplace of his predecessor?

If Trump could pull that off, who’s to say Robinson can’t follow a similar path to the Senate?

Indeed, given this backdrop, Robinson might as well go ahead and declare for the presidency in 2024 now and run two races at once. After all, has anyone really double-checked where Joe Biden was born?


Another Democrat Wants To Challenge #MadCaw in NC11


Jay Carey, a 50-year-old political novice from Hendersonville, has added his name to the growing list of Democrats who'll compete next March in the Democratic primary for the privilege of taking on Republican first-termer Madison Cawthorn in the NC11.

Carey appears to be basing his campaign primarily on his career as an Army combat veteran in the Middle East, and he says he thinks he'll win against Cawthorn because he'll get the independent vote. How that independent vote helps him in a Democratic primary is less clear.

Lurah Lowery of the Hendersonville Times-News got there first with a thorough profile.

Total number of announced Democratic candidates is now up to four in the 11th CD.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Pat McCrory Announces for the US Senate; Twitter Chortles


Sara Pequeno: Pat McCrory give it up babe

Brian Murphy: .@PatMcCrory announced his bid for governor Wednesday. Hours later, NC lawmakers debated a transgender sports bill. 5 years after HB2, McCrory is back and so are transgender debates. #ncpol
Erica D. Smith: As @Booker4KY would say, @PatMcCroryNC is a fool. Pat McCrory is a joke. Pat McCrory has done nothing for North Carolina. We deserve more.

BabyNP: Pat McCrory almost destroyed North Carolina. We’re not sending him to Washington DC.

efp: pat mccrory: works for electric monopoly duke energy for 29 years, later accepting $100k in donations 
pat mccrory: serves as mayor of charlotte for 14 years, then governor of north carolina for 4 years 
pat mccrory: loses his seat 
pat mccrory:

Dustin Ingalls: Time for @bullydoc to resurrect Puppet Pat. #ncpol #ncsen:

Brian Kennedy IIPat McCrory was a terrible governor who was more interested in virtue signaling than governing. I'd be surprised if he's actually interested in being a US Senator; this is more likely an effort to get national attention and become the next rush limbaugh.

Paula A. WolfWith Pat McCrory’s announcement this morning and this [Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson also reportedly considering the Senate race], there should be a study of the male ego and lack of self awareness necessary to declare for a job for which one has no qualifications.

Kate Frauenfelder: “N.C. Democratic Party chair Bobbie Richardson said in a statement. ‘We have some free advice — don’t quit your day job, Pat." #ncsen #ncpol

Stewart Boss: new R poll shows failed loser Pat McCrory trailing Lara Trump AND LG Mark Robinson in a hypothetical GOP primary, neck & neck with fellow losing gov candidate Dan Forest #NCSen #ncpol

Matthew Chapman: Pat McCrory is fantastically unpopular with the general electorate and ran four points behind Trump to a loss in 2016. Democrats would love to see him get the nomination.

Kevin Siers: New cartoon — Pat McCrory to run for the Senate, forgetting perhaps why he no longer held office in the first place. . .

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A Conspiracy Theory To Beat Most Conspiracy Theories


Why is this man laughing?
When it comes to conspiracy theories, no one can beat a Trumpist for creativity. Here's a doozy of a Trumpist conspiracy theory about the supposed string-pulling by "RINO" forces ("Republicans In Name Only"), supposedly orchestrated by operatives tied to Sen. Thom Tillis and newly announced Senate candidate Pat McCrory to accomplish the following:

a. Scuttle the chances of Senate candidate Mark Walker, "a true conservative."

b. Enable that squish Pat McCrory to come up the middle and take the Republican Senate primary next spring with less than 40% of the vote.

c. Set up Congressman Ted Budd to take the nomination for governor in 2024 away from Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who's already become an embarrassment to RINOs and is clearly beyond anyone's rational control.

I'm indebted to Jeffrey Billman for unpacking the supposed conspiracy and for poking holes in its underlying assumptions.

But I'm mainly transfixed by the florid imagination that constructed the supposed conspiracy. Trumpists have reached end-stage paranoia about a world that is always eluding their grasp, from a stolen election ("the fraud was massive, I'm telling ya!") to imagining how their newest mortal enemies -- nominal Republicans exhibiting disloyalty to Trump -- can thwart their God-ordained rise to global domination.

I look for a Republican Senate primary in North Carolina with plenty of splashed acid and midnight shivs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Pat McCrory, Reportedly in the Senate Race


Politico seems to have been first, confidently reporting at noon yesterday that former Gov. Pat McCrory would be announcing his candidacy this week for the US Senate seat that Dick Burr is giving up and that early polling has McCrory well ahead of both former Congressman Mark Walker and current Congressman Ted Budd in a Republican primary. 

At 2:03 p.m., Mark Walker, who's been in the race already for months, tweeted some sour grapes:

With taking back the Senate majority hinging on our success in North Carolina, why would we gamble on Pat McCrory - a career politician who has lost more statewide races than he’s won? McCrory has routinely attacked conservatives including President Trump...

He followed up two minutes later with this, alluding to the fact that McCrory had apparently been considered -- and was passed over -- for a job in the Trump admin: 

If Pat wasn’t good enough for Trump’s administration, he’s not good enough for NC. I am running to provide NC with its first real conservative Senator in years. at 97%, I was the most conservative and pro-Trump member from NC and would be the top member in the entire Senate.

Meanwhile, Lara Trump (who?) seems to be fading faster than cheap upholstery in the sun. The McCrory polling that found him far ahead of other Republicans in the race pointedly didn't poll for McCrory v. Lara Trump at all.

Trumpists seem to be banking on a Ted Budd candidacy, since they don't cotton all that well to McCrory, who's considered a weak vessel and squishy like cream cake. We remember McCrory most vividly for his claim that he was capable of stepping on the toes of the right as well as the pinkies of the left, an hilarious brag by a man who was always completely at Phil Berger's beck and call. Go no further than HB2, the notorious "bathroom bill" that McCrory signed and then regretted, as the state lost all kinds of investment.

McCrory has a juicy record for both conservatives and Democrats to dig into. After he lost reelection in 2016, he became a talk radio yakker in Charlotte, and seems to believe the path is now open for him to do a Thom Tillis into the US Senate.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Lara Trump, This Budd's for You!


Ted Budd
With hopes and fantasies fading for a Lara Trump run in North Carolina for the US Senate seat currently held by Dick Burr, US Congressman Ted Budd (13th CD) appears ready to elbow all the other Republican hopefuls aside and claim the Trump mantle for himself. That's my takeaway from reporting in this morning's NewsAndObserver.

I could never take a Lara Trump campaign seriously. Her husband's entanglement in various criminal investigations into the Trump Org could be a major drag, although I know all those Trumpists were salivating for multiple rally appearances in the state by her daddy-in-law.

Budd is the conservatives' dream candidate, apparently (if Lara isn't in), 'cause as a gun store owner, he can pass out assault weapons as party favors at every event. He cuts a more extreme figure than does former Congressman Mark Walker, who's already been running for months but who doesn't seem destined to ignite the Republican bully gene.

Still waiting for the old toe-stepper Pat McCrory to announce his own campaign.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Could Another Republican Defeat Madison Cawthorn?


Short answer: yes, in the 2022 Republican primary. Long answer: also probably yes, and maybe only another Republican, because the 11th CD of North Carolina ain't conducive to a Democratic victory. Things change, of course, but still.

Thing is, another Republican, yes, but probably not the one who has now declared she's running against Cawthorn in 2022. Cory Vaillancourt profiled her yesterday in the Smoky Mountain News:

...Asheville Republican Wendy Nevarez.

Nevarez’s profile on Linkedin says she holds a master’s in public administration and that she is a claims specialist for the Social Security Administration.

Her personal Facebook page says she’s a Western Carolina University graduate and had been an E-6 in the United States Navy from 2001 through 2017.

Her campaign Facebook page just launched, but a campaign website,, is not yet active.

Voter records show Nevarez voted in Pasquotank County from 2008 through 2012, and in Buncombe County thereafter. She pulled Republican ballots in each of those Primary Elections, except in 2020, when she chose a Democratic ballot.

A Federal Elections Commission search revealed that Nevarez established a campaign committee on April 7, but little else....

I don't see Nevarez motivating the Republican primary voters in the 11th District to kick out the polarizing Cawthorn. She looks like a moderate Republican woman, not someone who fits the conservative politics of that district (except maybe for Asheville itself).

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Democrats Lining Up For the Opportunity To Beat Madison Cawthorn


Madison Cawthorn (R)

This uneducated punk will be up for reelection in 2022 in the NC11. He's made a national spectacle of himself but is also the darling of the Right. He's said his main objective in office is to build a good "comms" operation, meaning he's much more interested in seeing himself in the news than in passing meaningful legislation for his constituents.

So far, three Democrats have declared their intention to compete in the spring 2022 Democratic primary to take on Cawthorn.


Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara was the first Democrat to declare on March 3rd. Beach-Ferrara, who is both a gay woman and a Christian minister as well as the mother of three children, said, “I’m running because Western North Carolina families deserve better than they’re getting from Madison Cawthorn. My faith teaches me that leadership starts with empathy, compassion, and listening and then getting to work to help people. That’s the kind of leadership I want to offer instead of the division and mean-spiritedness we’re getting now. This is going to be a campaign built on bringing people together, finding common ground, organizing everywhere and talking about the issues that actually matter to people’s lives.”

Beach-Ferrara reportedly raised $380K in the first 29 days of her campaign.


Democrat Josh Remillard announced his candidacy on March 10th.

A former Army infantryman who served two combat tours in Iraq, Remillard ran previously in 2020 for the NC House Dist. 117, which Republican Tim Moffitt easily won with over 60% of the vote. According to Cory Vaillancourt, Remillard was born in Goldsboro, raised in Wilmington, and was in foster care until the age of four. "After leaving the Army, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from the University of Washington. Remillard’s current occupation is serving as a stay-at-home dad."

“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and do the hard work of strengthening our economy, fixing a broken health-care system, and improving our kids' education,” he said. “I am running to stop Madison Cawthorn and bring honor back to Congress.

The newest Democrat in the race: Ed Gash, an elementary school principal, a preacher, and a former linebacker at UNC-Chapel Hill.

He was profiled today by Kyle Perrotti:

Gash was born and raised in Western North Carolina, having graduated from Hendersonville High School in 1988. From there, he went to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he also played outside linebacker. While Gash eventually had the chance to sign with the New England Patriots, the team his brother Sam played for, he decided to go a different direction and get into business.

It wasn’t long before a new venture took him to the Caribbean, where he lived for 14 years training people in different countries to run direct sales operations.

Before long, Gash met Katy, who is from Barbados. The two quickly fell in love and got married a year later in 1996. The two got to travel frequently for work to countries all over the world and even lived in Guyana, the Virgin Islands and St. Lucia.

Eventually, in 2008, the Gashes and their three children moved back to Hendersonville to be closer to his family in the mountains.

“I was away for 20 years, almost to the day,” Gash said.

Gash got right to work in the school system. Beginning as a part-time teaching assistant, he became a math teacher before getting his master’s degree and going into administration. In January 2020, he became the principal at Bruce Drysdale Elementary School, which he himself attended as a child.

Since being back home, Gash also coached girls basketball and served as an assistant coach on the football team until 2014 when he was named Hendersonville’s head coach, making him only the second Black head coach in Western North Carolina since integration. Gash coached until 2016 when he stepped away to go into administration.

Another major part of Gash’s life is his faith, which he said guides every decision. Since 2008, after doing missionary work during his last couple of years in the Caribbean, he’s been the pastor at the nondenominational Speak Life Community Church and is also currently the Hendersonville Police Department’s chaplain.

“It’s the faith that causes me to look at folks that maybe don’t believe what I believe or feel the way I feel with compassion and love and still be able to have a conversation with them,” Gash said.

Gash has long been active in the community, but it wasn’t until recently that he began seeing things through a more political lens. While he and Katy said they don’t consider themselves activists, between the COVID pandemic and racial unrest of the last year, they’ve felt compelled to make their voices heard.

“Something happened over the summer,” Gash said. “It was a paradigm shift, just in my heart, where I felt I had to do something.”

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Boonies Cry "O Hell No!" About HB291 and SB349


House Bill 291, vaguely and innocuously titled "Bldg. Plan Approval - Certain Commercial Prop.," and Senate Bill 349, cheerily titled "Increase Housing Opportunities," are both Trojan horses and pieces of developer crapola now pending in the NC General Assembly. Last night the Boone Town Council held a bellwether emergency meeting over its provisions and over the threat it promises for every municipality in North Carolina to chart its own planning course. The Boone Town Council voted unanimously for the resolution pasted below. The unanimous vote is notable for a fractious council that has had trouble finding much common ground over the past two years.


WHEREAS, recognizing the importance of zoning to the peace and prosperity of North Carolina’s municipalities, for generations the State of North Carolina has allowed municipalities to regulate local development; and

WHEREAS, municipalities in the State of North Carolina have their own unique characteristics and challenges so that “one size” does not “fit all,” and statewide zoning mandates thus may have unintended negative consequences for the residents of the State; and

WHEREAS, unfunded mandates by the State, particularly during a time when local revenues are under pressure due to Covid-19 and other factors affecting local economies, will force communities such as Boone to either increase property taxes or decrease services critical to the their residents, such as street maintenance or fire and police protection; and

WHEREAS, HB 291 is pending in the North Carolina General Assembly and would force municipalities to complete an “initial plan review” of commercial development plans initially sealed by a “design professional,” without regard to their complexity, deficiencies, or impacts of human health and safety, within 15 days, and issue permits within 30 days of the application for development unless additional information is requested within the first 15 days; and

WHEREAS, HB 291 provides that if within the initial 15 day period, if additional information is requested by the town, permits must be granted within 15 days of the submission of additional information or the developer may retain a “third party firm” to review its plans at the expense of the municipality and must issue “all necessary permits” for the development within 72 hours of approval by that third party; and

WHEREAS, in order to comply with HB 291, the Town of Boone would have to greatly expand its planning department, which would force an increase in property taxes or a decrease in other services; and

WHEREAS, HB 291 unfairly puts the burden on taxpayers to pay for the private development permitting by commercial developers; and

WHEREAS, HB 291 essentially redirects long-extant governmental functions now performed by local governments to protect the public and to allow for the orderly growth of communities through zoning, to private and unspecified engineering or architectural firms who may have conflicts of interest, with no recourse for decisions which may violate local zoning ordinances; and

WHEREAS, property owners in the Town of Boone often purchased their properties at premium prices in order to have the benefits and protections of local zoning ordinances which protected their investments from incompatible and unsafe development; and

WHEREAS, commercial developers within the Town of Boone, often with no prior connection with the town, but because of the attraction of the large student housing market, have sought to build commercial developments which were substandard and non-compliant with

building and zoning standards, and which would have caused great harm to the quality of life for residents of adjacent and nearby neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, SB 349, too, is now pending in the North Carolina General Assembly, and would force municipalities to allow duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and townhouses into all residential zones, including all low-density zoning districts, for the stated purpose of expanding housing opportunities in towns; and

WHEREAS, SB 349 exempts residential areas in which private restrictive covenants apply, thus differentiating between sub-divisions such as gated communities and the neighborhoods without such protections, in essence protecting the wealthy by exposing middle and low income residents to incompatible development dictated by state government; and

WHEREAS, although SB 349 has reportedly been endorsed by “affordable housing” proponents as a way to increase supply and decrease costs, in actuality there is nothing in the bill which actually controls costs; and

WHEREAS, the practice by multi-family developers in the Town of Boone is to rent housing units by the bedroom at prices usually far in excess of the mortgage cost of a single family home; and

WHEREAS, when low density neighborhoods in Boone have been made available for higher density housing, existing single family homes have often been demolished to allow more intense types of housing, destroying the character of Boone which has made it attractive, but also with the unintended result that rental prices have actually increased as low density housing disappears; and

WHEREAS, SB 349 likewise mandates the allowance of “one accessory dwelling,” which can consist of a duplex, on each lot on which there is a single family residence, circumventing all usual approval processes such as conditional district zoning, and trumping all local parking requirements and utility approval protocols without regard to the impacts of a potential tripling of density; and

WHEREAS, SB 349 has the potential to fundamentally change most neighborhoods in Boone and accelerate the disruption of the lives of its permanent citizens, as out-of-town investors and AirBnB operators continue to buy up low density housing stock; and

WHEREAS, SB 349 allows deficient applications to nevertheless vest development rights, undermining the ability of local jurisdictions to react to changes within their communities; and

WHEREAS, SB 349, by using terms which are undefined and vague, makes expensive future litigation likely to create certainty around the meaning of its terms; and

WHEREAS, SB 349 shifts financial responsibility for a developers attorney’s fees onto the municipality whether or not the town’s decisions have been made in good faith in a manner seeking to protect the common good; and

WHEREAS, SB 349 prohibits a municipality from even examining a traffic impact analysis which has satisfied the North Carolina Department of Transportation, whether or not the municipality believes that the traffic generated by the project poses a danger to public safety and the ratification by the Department is prudent; and

WHEREAS, SB 349, under the guise of creating affordable housing, is actually a usurpation of local zoning authority and if passed, will undermine the long-term stability of the Town of Boone for its permanent residents, betraying the promises of zoning which residents have relied upon in making their most important financial investments, the purchase of their homes;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Council of the Town of Boone, North Carolina, respectfully requests:

1 That the General Assembly not adopt either HB 291 and SB 349;

  1. That, if passed, the Governor, the Honorable Roy Cooper, veto these measures;

  2. That the town manager employ the town’s lobbyists to work to prevent the passage of these bills;

  3. That a copy of this resolution be sent to our elected State representatives and the Governor;

  4. That the town manager take whatever additional steps he deems prudent in seeking to prevent the adoption of these bills; and

  5. That the town manager promptly issue a press release warning the citizens of Boone about these disastrous bills.

    Adopted this page3image13256day of page3image13520, 2021.

Rennie Brantz, Mayor

Attested to:

Nicole Harmon, Town Clerk
Clerk, Town of Boone, North Carolina