Friday, November 30, 2018

BREAKING: State BOE Moves Toward Evidentiary Hearing on Bladen County

At the State Board of Elections minutes ago, Democratic member Joshua Malcolm moved for an evidentiary hearing on the irregularities involving absentee ballots in the 9th Congressional District before December 21. The vote was 7-2, so at least two Republicans voted for the motion.

In other words, the election of Republican Mark Harris is still uncertified.

Watauga County's own Four Eggers was one of the two Republicans to vote for Malcolm's motion.

In a letter to the NCSBE Chair, NC Democratic Party attorney John Wallace urged the board to delay certification of the Harris election, and he outlined additional reasons for an investigation (via Jim Morrill in the Charlotte Observer):
...Bladen County had the highest percentage of absentee ballot requests in the state. There, 7.5 percent of registered voters requested absentee ballots. In most counties it was less than 3 percent.
An analysis by Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer suggested more aberrations.
In seven of the eight counties in the 9th District, for example, McCready won a lopsided majority of the mailed-in absentee ballots. But not in Bladen County. There, Republican Mark Harris won 61 percent even though registered Republicans accounted for only 19 percent of the county’s accepted absentee ballots.
Unaffiliated voters accounted for 39 percent. Bitzer said Harris’ margin “could potentially come from all those unaffiliated voters.”
“But to have each and every one of those unaffiliated voters vote Republican, that’s pretty astonishing,” he added. “If that’s the case, there’s a very concerted effort to use that method to one candidate’s advantage. . . . But at that level there’s something else beyond a concerted effort that could be at work.”


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina judges have delayed the enforcement of their ruling that struck down the latest iteration of the state elections board. 
The extension from the three-judge panel came late Friday.
The judges ruled in October that the board’s composition doesn’t give Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper the control that’s warranted to him over an executive agency. They had put off the board’s termination until Dec. 3, but now it won’t happen until noon Dec. 12. 
GOP leaders had asked the judges for at least another 30 days so they could pass a new elections board law and let the current board work on resolving the pending 9th Congressional District election. The current nine-member board said Friday it would hold an evidentiary hearing on the 9th District by Dec. 21.

So ... sports fans, the 9-member SBOE will stay empaneled for a little longer to resolve this election. But even that is complicated somewhat by a complaint (justified, in our opinion) filed against the Democratic chair of the SBOE, Andy Penry. Penry, in his capacity as chair of a board assembled to guarantee non-partisan administration of elections, should not have been tweeting such partisan material.

Watauga BOE Squelches Eric Eller's Motion to Refer Disallowed Provisional Voters for Investigation for "Fraud"

[This post partially answers in the affirmative the question asked earlier: "Is Watauga BOE Member Eric Eller Just Nathan Miller With Hair?"

So Republican members of the Watauga Board of Elections -- Chair Nancy Owen and fellow member Eric Eller -- voted this morning to refer over 200 would-be voters on November 6 to the State Board of Elections for the possible crime of election fraud. That motion died 2-2.

Democratic member Jane Anne Hodges had pointed out that the local election officials have always acted in accordance with State Board of Elections -- specifically their instructions to give any person requesting it a provisional ballot (instrux consistent with Federal law, incidentally). The would-be voter signs an affidavit affirming "I am a duly registered voter." As always happens in such cases, that would-be voter is subsequently researched to determine whether there is a proper registration on file in Watauga. If not, that ballot will not count. Over 200 of some 500+ total provisional ballots did not count. But Eric Eller thinks -- and thinks strongly -- that the signature alone constitutes potential voter fraud.

"Potential" is the operative word. It would be fraud if the voter knowingly made a false statement. Most of those 200+ disallowed ballots were cast by young people who had filled out voter registration forms in Watauga County but listed their residential addresses at the homes they recently moved away from -- where their parents live -- and did not understand enough about the process to know that they were in fact registering to vote in some other county.

Eric Eller wants those knuckleheads prosecuted for fraud. So does Nancy Owen.

Democratic member Marv Williamsen said he didn't want to participate in any aggression toward these would-be voters -- did they knowingly do anything wrong. Williamsen didn't like what message that would send to all young voters -- "We'll get you if you make a mistake trying to exercise your right to vote." Williamsen especially didn't want to go there in the current national churn of alleged "voter suppression."

At the mention of those words, Eric Eller went ballistic. He was shouting "no voter suppression, no voter suppression," but an 18-year-old who blundered into a polling place last November 6, thinking he was registered in Watauga County and who just wanted to participate in the national elections -- that would-be voter might disagree about the implied intimidation.

To be referred for possible prosecution for fraud -- when your vote didn't count anyway -- looks like very direct voter suppression to me.

What's the Matter With Bladen County?

The article down-column, "State Board of Elections Refuses To Certify Congressional Race, NC-9," was pure speculation on my part (brought on -- in my defense -- by SBOE member Joshua Malcolm's choice of words and general mysteriousness). I was largely wrong (though accurate in my background facts from a 2016 scandal in Bladen County). I had gone researching and immediately turned up the name Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. He was charging others with absentee ballot fraud in 2016, and in 2018, he appears to have followed that same piper.

Joe Bruno, in the field reporting for WSOC, has been a veritable developer of leads (his Twitter feed is especially lively) and hence indispensable in understanding this developing sinkhole. Don't know about other regional TV stations (I watch little network TV), but WSOC has been comprehensive in its coverage.

First, Joe Bruno's Twitter feed:
Oct 28
A spokesperson for NCSBE says shortly after the election, a state investigator seized absentee ballot request forms and absentee ballot container envelopes (the envelopes that ballots are returned in), but not the ballots themselves from Bladen County
Oct 28
Washington Post: "The investigation appears to be focused on Bladen County, but an official in Robeson County said that county also has been contacted"
Oct. 28
BREAKING- I have obtained 6 sworn affidavits related to the #NC09 investigation. A team of a dozen @wsoctv employees and I working on this. Huge allegations and potential implications.
The affidavits center around a man named Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. He is well known in Bladen County political circles. Attempts to get in contact with Dowless have so far been unsuccessful

Two of the affidavits reference Dowless working for the Harris campaign. (Harris camp hasn't responded) One witness claims to have overheard someone saying Dowless would get a $40,000 bonus if Harris won. Another witness claims Dowless told him he doesn't do checks, just cash

In a sworn affidavit a witness claims Dowless told him he had 80 people working for him and that he was doing "absentee" for Harris. This conversation was said to have happened on April 25 before the primary.

Oct. 29
Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. on right.
His brother in Mark Harris Tshirt
Photo Joe Bruno

Oct. 29

Maybe most significant of all, because it claims insider info on the Bladen Co. BOE:
A woman claims the tape showing election results was run after the polls closed and viewed by officials who were not judges. She also claimed the absentee mail in ballots were distinctive.. and a large number from the Bethel precinct

Nov. 30

The NCSBOE will be meeting this morning via teleconference. The certification/decertification of the Harris-McCready congressional race is on the agenda. The NCSBOE has every right under state law to mandate a new election "if it finds that the race was tainted, a move likely to be challenged in court." NCGOP has promised to sue (Kirk Ross in the WashPost).

To complicate the matter further: The present state board and all local county boards will be dissolved as of midnight next Monday, December 3, and the board structure will revert to 3-2 Democratic majority on the state board and 2-1 Democratic majority on all county boards. That's the effect of a three-judge ruling reached last October 16, 2018. Implementation of that order was put on hold until after the election, but is in force now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Too Soon To Talk About 2020 NC Elections? Oh, Why the Hell Not?

Cal Cunningham with his family
Jonathan Kappler sez that Raleigh reporter Colin Campbell has spilled the beans that Democrat Cal Cunningham is getting ready to announce his bid for Lieutenant Governor in 2018. So, with that particular cat out of the bag, we feel licensed to wade in.

Current Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, as every politico with a pulse already knows, plans to run for governor against Roy Cooper in 2020, so his office will be open for scrambling politicians everywhere.

Democrat Cal Cunningham first came to our attention in 2010, when he ran in the Democratic primary for US Senate against Sec. of State Elaine Marshall. Marshall won that primary and went on to lose to Dick Burr that November. Even though Cunningham lost the primary, he impressed many Democrats as a rising star who had a bright future.

Cunningham had been elected to the NC Senate (23rd District) in 2000, representing parts of Davidson, Rowan and Iredell counties. Redistricting that followed the 2000 Census broke up the 23rd  into three new Republican-leaning districts, and Cunningham opted not to run again in 2002 (Wikipedia).

Cunningham is a lawyer (UNC-Chapel Hill) who was commissioned in the Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General's Corps, in 2002 and has been mobilized for two active duty tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the Reserve, he serves with an airborne unit at Fort Bragg. He has his own law firm in Lexington, NC, and is also vice president and general counsel for WasteZero, a recycling management business that has teamed up "with more than 800 towns and cities to reduce waste, increase recycling, and generate savings for municipalities."

I discover that Cunningham already has an ActBlue donation page up and active.

Mount Airy Republican (and former mayor) Deborah Cochran is the only announced Republican so far for the Lt. Gov. seat. She announced, in fact, way back in May of this year. She's well known in Surry County because of a decades-long career as a local radio personality (WSYD-AM). She's also a  business teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Forsyth County. And she's bound to be challenged in the Republican primary in 2020 by better-known personalities.

Footnote: Filing for the 2020 General Elections will actually open on December 2, 2019, barely a year away. And you thought I was seriously jumping the gun to talk about the 2020 campaign?

State Board of Elections Refuses To Certify Congressional Race, NC-9

Yesterday the North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBOE) voted unanimously -- all 9 members -- not to certify election results in the 9th Congressional District, which Rev. Mark Harris won by just over 900 votes. Democrat Dan McCready conceded the race weeks ago.

Why did they all, including the scenery chewers on the Republican side, refuse certification? It's kind of a secret, y'all. They met in closed session after Democratic member Joshua Malcolm made this statement:
“I’m very familiar with unfortunate activities that have been happening down in my part of the state. And I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place to the best of my understanding which has been ongoing for a number of years that has repeatedly been referred to the United States attorney and the district attorneys for them to take action and clean it up. And in my opinion those things have not taken place."
Hmmm. Unfortunate activities. To the best of my understanding.

Okay, so that suggests there's already an investigation underway and not for the first time: "activities ... ongoing for a number of years ... repeatedly referred to the Unites State attorney and the district attorneys...."

So what criminal activity related to elections has been ongoing in the NC-9?

Dallas Woodhouse, the cigar-chewing executive director of the NCGOP, told Jim Morrill of the Charlotte Observer that Malcolm was referring to "the situation" in Bladen County, only half of which is in the 9th Congressional District.

If it's Bladen County, it goes back to what happened there in 2016 and was presumably still happening in 2018.

Back in the 2016 general elections, Leslie McRae Dowless Jr., an incumbent Bladen County Soil and Water Commissioner -- a former Democrat currently registered Unaffiliated -- won reelection on November 8 but filed an election protest on November 15 -- a week later -- alleging voter fraud through “a massive scheme to run an absentee ballot mill involving hundreds of ballots” by the Bladen Improvement Association PAC, "a committee funded by the North Carolina Democratic Party and numerous local and statewide Democrats" (Bladen Journal). The Bladen Improvement Association had endorsed Dowless and helped him in 2012 -- "They had me on their sample ballot," Dowless testified -- but then turned against him. And allegedly ran a fraudulent "absentee ballot mill" to try to defeat him.

Boy howdy! The politics in Bladen County look so ... 19th Century! The background on what went on in the Bladen County Democratic Party would probably make a hair-raising good novel, especially as Dowless may have had a history himself of fraud (looks likely, if he's the same Leslie McRae Dowless Jr. of Bladen County sentenced to two years in jail in 1992). (Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch).

At any rate, though the SBOE voted 3-2 in 2016 to reject the Dowless petition, they also voted unanimously to refer the matter to the US Attorney for the Eastern District. So there must have been some evidence of mail-in absentee ballot fraud.

It's Mail-In Absentee Ballots, Stupid, Where the Fraud Occurs

Everybody who knows anything about elections, or anybody who can think logically, long ago concluded that in-person voter impersonation is not the potential arena for election fraud and that a photo ID, which is supposed to "cure" voter fraud, can't touch the potential fraud that mail-in absentee ballots invite. While fraudsters don't vote and go to their car and change their shirt and go back in to vote again as someone else, they obviously can do what the Republicans alleged some Democrats were doing in Bladen County in 2016 -- making absentee ballot requests surreptitiously and voting those ballots without the voters' knowledge or consent. We can assume that something similar was going on this fall.

Joshua Malcolm
And here's the thing: Though the SBOE voted to refer the matter to the US Attorney for the Eastern District, that US Attorney's office has declined to prosecute anyone (have the allegations even been referred for investigation?). The Obama-appointed US Attorney resigned the office in January of 2016, before the events in the scandal above. He was replaced by an Acting US Attorney who served until Trump appointed the current US Attorney, Robert J. Higdon Jr. in August of 2017. Higdon has been very active since his installation at pursuing Twitterman's allegations of massive illegal voting by undocumented immigrants. Looks like he might want to take a crack at absentee voting in Bladen County, especially as it may involve a splinter group of Democrats. What an opportunity to score political points!

SBOE member (and Democrat) Joshua Malcolm seemed to signal that the authors of fraud in Bladen were in fact fellow Democrats: He used the word "unfortunate." He might have used a different word if it were Republicans.

What Joshua Malcolm knows about "unfortunate activities" in Bladen County got more complicated: News came this afternoon that the SBOE has seized absentee ballot envelopes at the Bladen County Board of Elections:
State records indicate 684 ballots were cast absentee by mail in Bladen County in the race, most of them for [Republican Mark] Harris. [SBOE spokesman] Gannon declined to say whether anything else has been seized from any other counties in the district, but Robeson County Board of Elections Chairman Steve Stone said a state investigator reached out Wednesday for logs his county elections office kept of people who turned in large numbers of voter registration forms and absentee ballot requests.
So maybe not Democratic factions at all.

But it's pretty clear that it's the absentee ballots, stupid!

Republican Congressional candidate Mark Harris apparently got 96% of the mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen County, a fairly astounding statistic.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Senator Tillis Is About to Have Two Rough Years

Can Thom Tillis make himself into a convincing Trumpian after being a moderate pussy? And can he also hold onto the North Carolina suburbs as he impersonates someone he's not?

Senator Thom Tillis will be up for reelection in 2020 (along with a host of other leading characters, but set them aside for the moment. I wanna give always-upwardly mobile Thom my undivided attention, if only short-span). Tillis looks weak because he vacillates spectacularly.

A bare month into his term of office, early in 2014, Tillis was making a show of himself as a new kind of Republican who'd work with Democrats to achieve mutually beneficial results on immigration reform (in a Chamber of Commerce sort of universe). By September of 2017, with Trump still spouting all sorts of anti-immigration garbage, Tillis was still hanging in as "bipartisan" on immigration reform, a "soft Republican." With fanfare, Tillis became a prime mover of the "SUCCEED Act," legislation that would go around Twitterman's recent executive order ending Obama's "Dream Act." Tillis's bill would allow legal status to illegal immigrants who arrived before January 1, 2012, and who are under the age of 16 (thus shutting out the 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds who would soon storm his office in protest).

But when's the last time you heard a peep about the SUCCEED Act? Tillis, watching the immigration content of all those rallies Trump was holding, has miraculously seen the light. The flash must have come sometime between September 25, 2017, when he introduced SUCCEED, and January 4, 2018, when he volunteered himself out of the key "bipartisan" Senate "Gang of Whatever," who had been trying to legislate a compromise immigration policy. By January of this year, suddenly not his cup of tea any more. 

He also (and simultaneously) volunteered to become something of an immigration hardass (at least as portrayed by Breitbart News). When angry undocumented youth invaded Tillis's Washington office early this year, Tillis saw his opportunity for a Sister Souljah moment. He took a hard-line posture and got royally cussed out for not being so moderate on immigration any more.

He's been disengaging from the issue already for months. He's become a cow to Trump's stampeding.

(He's also now cowed on the subject of protecting Robert Mueller. He made a big show last year of introducing legislation to build a hedge around the Russian investigation, a position he's pushed out of sight the way a cat hides its own scat.)

In 2020 voters are gonna remember, or be induced to recall, his early feints toward a more liberal immigration policy. Will his rewriting of his own history work? Will his new Trumpian persona seem credible, or merely the pose of a soft man who needs to look steely in the primary. In truth, he ain't that mean, and people know it.

Tillis is and has always been motivated by the Chamber of Commerce view of the world, and the Chamber of Commerce needs those foreign workers. Business interests can bend in many directions for money, like a flexible reed, and Tillis has been a willingly flexible tool himself ... which makes him a type of Republican increasingly unloved by the state's conservative, Trump-loving vanguard -- Tea Partiers and other hard-right Libertarians, as attested to by The Daily Haymaker. Tillis the Whiffinpoof -- they diss him with gusto. (The Watauga Conservative belongs to this general viewpoint, though that weird bunch doesn't tend to pay any attention to state or local politics. If it doesn't involve Trump, it doesn't involve them.) 

The Frontrunner To Oppose Tillis in 2020

The star power of the Democrat who's likely to challenge Tillis in 2020 -- Senator Jeff Jackson of Mecklenburg County -- might give the incumbent "the willies."

Jeff Jackson crisscrossed the state -- including appearances in Boone -- during 2018, raising money for other Democrats running to break the Republican majority in the NC Senate, his home base. That effort was successful. He made himself better known, and he did it for the benefit of others (he himself had a very safe seat and could afford to spend his time campaigning for newcomers).

Jackson served in Afghanistan, Kandahar Province, as an Army reservist, became an attorney and a prosecutor in Gaston County, rose in Democratic ranks, and when Senator Dan Clodfelter resigned partway into his term in 2014, Jackson was appointed to fill his seat and was elected in his own right in the fall of 2014. Jackson has been a champion of legislating an independent redistricting commission to put the kibosh on partisan and racial gerrymandering, and he hasn't been shy about becoming an outspoken Democratic leader.

He became instantly famous for this speech about the tyranny of Phil Berger and His Boys in October 2014 :

In February 2015, Jackson made The Rachel Maddow Show for being the only legislator to show up for work on a snow day. He's good on TV, and he knows it. He can raise a lot of money.

We like his chances. He's going to bend that flexible reed, maybe to the breaking point.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

On the Republican Right: Blame Anyone But Don't Blame Trump

It's sometimes instructive to watch how a losing political party rationalizes its losses, especially when said political party cannot or will not acknowledge what is actually wrong.

On the Tea Party right of the North Carolina GOP, some are blaming NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse and Party Chair Robin Hayes for the loss of their veto-proof majorities in both the NC House and the NC Senate. Those party leaders are accused mainly of being wusses in the pursuit of hard-right conservative goals. In other words, they're being criticized for being insufficiently Trumpian.

Interesting, since there's plenty of statistical evidence that the NC GOP lost almost every incumbent House and Senate member in Mecklenburg County (for example) because of the souring on Trump of the suburbs. No one on the Republican side admits that. Perhaps that thought is simply impossible to think (which is the definition of how hegemony works).

Fine by us.

Meanwhile, the prime mover of those suburban voters away from the GOP said on Thanksgiving that he personally was thankful "for having made a tremendous difference in this country.” “I’ve made a tremendous difference in the country," he repeated, because he's a single-shot repeating rifle, and I actually couldn't agree more. He's revived the progressive movement, reenergized the Democratic Party, inspired hundreds of first-time candidates, and caused the loss of the NC GOP's veto-proof majority in the NC General Assembly.

The longer their activists are in denial, the better.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Did Chief Justice John Roberts Just Sass Our "Very Stable Genius"?

So you're telling me that because John Roberts said yesterday that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for” and that the U.S. doesn’t have “Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges” -- you're telling me that John Roberts is our last best hope for saving the Republic?

That scares the living cornbread stuffing outta me.

Has John Roberts met Brett Kavanaugh yet, and is he saying that ole Brett is not a "Trump judge." Was he sober at the time?

Has John Roberts met any of the other Trump appointees that Mitch McConnell is trying to rush through to populate the judiciary, those solemn legal minds that Twitterman chose because he thinks they'll approve of whatever he gets it in his head to do?

John Roberts is our hedge against the vandals?

Maybe. But there's another Defense Against the Dark Arts ... the next election cycle, when we can complete what we have begun.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Did the Republicans Just Blink on Voter Photo ID?

Draft enabling legislation for the voter photo ID requirement has been published by the Republicans in the General Assembly, and first impressions strongly suggest that the Republicans blinked, though some of us are waiting for another, hidden shoe to drop. When we fell off the turnip truck yesterday, we didn't land on our head.

But here's the draft language, if you like reading this kind of thing.

Here's the News and Observer's initial take on what it does, and does not, do.

And here's the thread on election law guru Gerry Cohen's Twitter feed. He finds plenty of potential problems but seems to agree that it could have been far worse.

The flinching of the Overlords is, of course, subject to deep psychological probing. Losing multiple times in the courts with previous attempts to suppress the vote may have convinced them to go easy. Losing their two power-grabbing constitutional amendments on November 6 may have had some impact. Or maybe they suddenly want to be more popular with voters, or at least less like Vlad the Impaler.

Dunno. Never knew a poisonous toad to stop sweating toxins because the weather got cool.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Is Watauga BOE Member Eric Eller Just Nathan Miller with Hair?

Nathan Miller
Nathan Miller is the attorney currently leading the Watauga GOP from his first vice chair position. He was teamed with the infamous attorney Four Eggers through all the battles (2013-2017) over the voting rights of AppState students. Solo, Miller has successively sued three different Democratic members of the Watauga County Board of Elections. He sued Democrat Kathleen Campbell twice, once for her emails, a fishing expedition that produced nothing, and then he sued Kathleen Campbell to make her pay his lawyer fees for suing her.

He sued BOE member Stella Anderson, or rather he sued AppState University for her emails, another fishing expedition that produced nothing.

Now he's sued the latest Democratic member of the Board of Elections, Jane Anne Hodges, alleging she prejudiciously kept a Republican from working as a precinct judge.

Every Democrat who gets appointed to the Watauga Board of Elections can expect frivolous harassment by Nathan Miller.

That's only part of his war on voting. He sued in October 2017 to override the Wake Superior Court order for an early voting site at ASU, and losing that attempt but managing to delay the public notice period, he then sued to overturn the Boone Town Council elections and hold new elections because advertisement of early voting sites violated the statute. Miller's legal skip-rope did manage to delay the swearing in of new council members, but it also helped cement Miller's reputation as a joke in Raleigh legal circles.

Now ... Eric Eller, another Republican attorney who was appointed to the Watauga board early this year to replace Bill Aceto, wants to prosecute ASU students who voted provisional ballots when in fact they weren't registered to vote. Last Thursday and Friday, at the BOE's official disposition of provisional ballots, Eller complained about the almost 200 students who thought they were registered, who asked for provisional ballots, but whose ballots didn't count. Were they trying to commit election fraud? Eller actually suggested that those students might well be referred to the district attorney for prosecution.

Those students. They thought they were registered because they had filled out registration forms back in August, or September, or prior to the close of registration on October 12, but they had failed to include some required information -- last four digits of their SSN, a street address of residence -- or failed to check a box. Because they didn't include a phone number (which is optional), no one could reach them to get the missing information. So their voter registrations got tossed and their provisional ballots could not count. That's what happened to almost 200 would-be student voters.

We realize the Republicans have no desire to see certain people vote, or certain other people administer election law, but the willingness to use the legal system as a political brick-bat to retaliate against the other side ... is just so ... authoritarian.

Eric Eller, center
Change Gonna Come
On December 4, the present makeup of both the State Board of Elections and every county board of elections becomes legally null and void by order of a three-judge panel -- which had ruled even before the election that the Republican reorganization of all boards of elections was unconstitutional. The court ordered that the State Board must return to a 3-2 Democratic/Republican makeup, and each county board must return to a 2-1 Democratic/Republican makeup.

Naturally, the Berger-Moore forces in the NC General Assembly, in their rump special session which will convene next week, will come up with some new innovation before they lose their veto-proof majority. You can bet on it.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

We Admire Stacey Abrams

"Democracy failed Georgia."

This is worth watching in its entirety because rarely has a public figure spoken with more clarity and passion about the facts of Republican voter suppression in just one state of the Old South.

Brian Kemp is tainted, his regime as governor of Georgia eternally stained by his scheming to get there.

Hope to see much more of Stacey Abrams in the future, and as she promises, I believe "Fair Fight Georgia" will be heard from. Strongly.

"Stoicism is a luxury!"

Rep. Mark Meadows Pays the Price for Keeping Kenny West

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) was fined over $40,000 by the US House’s Committee on Ethics yesterday after the panel concluded he “did not do enough to address” sexual-harassment allegations against his former chief of staff, Kenny West. The committee concluded Meadows took “immediate and appropriate steps” by separating West from female staffers and requesting an investigation, but noted that West retained his title and “apparent authority over staff” during this period. “Representative Meadows could have and should have done more to ensure that his congressional office was free from discrimination or the perception of discrimination,” the committee wrote in the report. The committee fined Meadows $40,625.02 “for Mr. West’s salary that was not commensurate with his work.”

The Back-Story on Kenny West

Kenny West
Kenny West ... Republican from Hayesville, NC, who ran for Congress in the NC-11 in the crowded Republican primary of 2012, a race that Mark Meadows won and went on to become the elected congressman. At the time he ran in 2012, West was also Chair of the Clay County Republican Party.

Apparently recognizing his own sinking campaign ship (he'd also run in the 2010 Republican primary, garnering only 7% of the vote), West gave up the race during the primary and endorsed Meadows (even though he had earlier hinted that Meadows suffered from a "character flaw" that made him unfit for office, a hint that was never spelled out).

West was in debt from the campaign, had raised only $11,000 (of which he had put in almost $6,000 himself), but Meadows rode to the rescue after his election in November 2012: "Meadows began to make payments to West out of his campaign account three weeks after the general election. By the time West filed his termination report with the FEC, Meadows had paid him $6,400. The Meadows campaign would ultimately pay West a total of $11,200 from Nov. 26 to Jan. 1. The listed purpose for five of the seven payments was 'Compensation.' For the final two payments, it was 'Compensation - Transition.' West did no paid work during the campaign, according to FEC reports and to people involved in the campaign."

Then Meadows elevated West as his Chief of Staff in his Capitol Hill office, which was followed closely by numerous complaints from female employees that West was a sexual harasser, or just a plain ass:
A person close to Meadows said he personally observed West's behavior around women before he was offered the job, and warned Meadows about West. "There were a number of us who talked to him and basically said, 'You have a problem here,' before he ever got sworn into office," he said. His behavior apparently didn't change in the congressional office. "I've heard that basically since day one," the source said.
"I don't know if it's just his personality, but I know he paws on people. And I do know within his office, there have been a lot of complaints. As one of his staffers told me, 'The son of a bitch has had a complaint on him by every woman in our office.'"
A second source close to Meadows said that West's behavior stuck out. "I'm as mountain-boy, country-hick as they come," this person said. "But you know how to talk in front of women; you know how to talk in a public crowd. And there's a way that you talk at a bar with your friends versus otherwise. And Kenny would thump his Bible all holier than thou and then make off-color comments, and it was kind of one of these where it was, 'OK, is he being funny? Is he being serious? Is he just stupid?' And to be perfectly honest with you, that's not like Meadows at all to put up with that. I know for a fact and I've heard from at least three of the women that he was completely inappropriate and complaints were filed [with Meadows]."
The makes-your-skin-crawl detail:
A third source who previously worked in Meadows' office said that West was "weird" around women and that one of the things that often made female staffers uncomfortable was his insistence a woman hold hands and pray with him. "I know that the whole 'hold my hands and pray' thing was not unique to me," she said.
Congressman Meadows banned West from the Washington office but kept paying him, then exiled him to an office in the 11th District of NC, and then cut him off with a sizable severance pay that prompted the ethics investigation that finally concluded yesterday.

So the question is hanging out there: What did West know about Meadows (the "character flaw") that would earn him such a payoff?

Friday, November 16, 2018

What If Hillary Had Won in 2016?

Can you imagine what this election would have been like if it was Hillary's midterm instead of Twitterman's? Slaughter of Democrats, right and left. More Senate seats lost. Governor's mansions? Fuggitaboutit! Because Republicans would have spent the last two years building their cudgels to smite the Devil, and they would have had some form of Trump leading them, aided by Fox News with funny memes about That Bitch in the White House designed for the same voters who wore MAGA hats in 2016 and longed for an American strongman. Instead of the strongman, they got that C-word they hate so much. 

You think Vladimir and his friends wouldn't have been co-producing the attack, heightening the hatred, hedging their investment in Trump with Internet manipulation? Wouldn't the Russkies want Trump active and vital for another presidential run? They'd keep his balloon inflated with constant flattery. Meanwhile, with Hillary taking a beating, nervous Democrats with no devotion to the Clintons would have stayed home on November 6th, and the wreckage would have surpassed 2010.

At least IMHO. I've thought about it a lot. I thought about the future of a Clinton presidency way back in the early Fall of 2016, when she was supposedly winning. Because I am a political animal and I want the progressive movement to thrive, I thought about the 2018 midterms with Hillary in DeeCee. The thought gave me the shudders.

(Full disclosure: I was a Bernie Sanders Democrat. I never felt any fire for Hillary. I despise triangulation.)

"It might actually be best for the Progressive movement if Clinton loses," I thought, "because with that man Trump in the White House, the Democratic Party would be forced into radical evolution and rebirth." I was and am a political animal, and I very much wanted to see the Democratic Party mean something and live, not die from self-inflicted wounds, or smothered in its sleep by Wall Street cash. Any political animal might foresee how Trump as president could help rebuild the grassroots of the Democratic Party, much withered from 2010 and stonecold brittle in some broad precincts. Trump stood to do exactly what he did: poke awake a sleeping opposition, a resistance that would find its voice and fight back against our mutual brush with strongman government, and bring many good people to their senses. 

I never uttered that thought to a soul. Uttering it now is probably folly, but it's a slow news Friday. 

With Trump, the Democratic Party, in all its chaotic and glorious variety, is back strong. The best candidates -- at all levels -- with the ability to raise small-dollar donations and compete as champions of community values, standing for simple justice, and fairness, and basic human decency. Those first-time candidates this year were riding the wave of a rising tide of activism especially among people who had never been involved before or had not been encouraged to poke their heads up. You can't create that kind of psychic energy out of boredom or complacency. The bravery and the personal commitment to sacrifice isn't birthed by 30-second TV spots. You can't purchase it with Soros money, chumps. That energy came from a mass reaction to human baseness.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Part of the Blue Tide: Ruth Buffalo in North Dakota

Ruth Buffalo
After Heidi Heitcamp won her election to the US Senate in 2012 with a margin of just 3,000 votes, the North Dakota legislature swung into action and targeted Native Americans for voter suppression, passing a voter ID bill which required street addresses to vote. Indian reservations in North Dakota do not have street addresses. Republican North Dakota House member Randy Boehning sponsored that bill along with three others meant to make voting more difficult.

Randy Boehning lost his House seat on November 6th to Ruth Buffalo, a member of the affiliated Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. Poetic justice, y'all! Especially as Buffalo won her seat in a non-Indian district off the reservation in the Fargo area.

Ruth is an accomplished public health professional with three master's degrees and a vision for making health care more accessible for all the citizens of North Dakota. She had run for public office before in 2016 when she mounted a campaign for Commissioner of Insurance.

Republicans, even before Twitterman took the White House, had relentlessly targeted non-white citizens with voter suppression (and not just in North Carolina). That spite extended also to the LGBTQ community and all the hated "multiculturalism" that appeared to be dismantling white supremacy the way those UNC students toppled a Confederate statue. For the last several months, Republicans -- led by DJT -- based their entire election pitch on the threat of a non-white invasion of the southern border. They wanted us to know that's who they are -- people who fear other people of color.

The Blue Wave last week was partly a rejection of that Republican stonewalling of our national culture, let alone the halls of power. All sorts of weird citizens will now be part of American self-governance. And in Ruth Buffalo's case, it was a majority white population that elected her and rejected Trumpism.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

19-Ft Fraser Fir Commits Suicide When It Hears It's Going to the Trump White House

The 2017 Fraser fir, which was said to be deaf
NEWLAND, N.C., 14 November 2018 -- The prize-winning Fraser Fir which had been selected as the official Trump White House Christmas Tree for 2018 was found dead this morning, its needles turning brown and brittle, an apparent suicide.

"It was fine yesterday," said Avery County tree farmer Peegan Holyrood, "but this morning it looked like someone had injected its roots with saline, or sprayed it with RoundUp ®."

Representatives of the Trump White House had been in the field the day before discussing the tree's dimensions in front of it. They had touched its limbs and took a measurement of its height.

Plant pathologist Harry Pyne of the U.S. Forest Service said he'd never seen a case like it, but after consulting with plant scientists at North Carolina State University, Pyne said it was known that certain species of Abies (fir trees) have the ability to turn their sap into self-immolating acids if they feel threatened by forest fires or humiliation.

Farmer Holyrood said the tree must have overheard the White House representatives discussing its appropriateness for the Blue Room. "I should have made those guys come up to the house to talk business. I didn't know the tree could actually hear that conversation and react so violently to it!"

"The tree's a total loss," said Holyrood, "but we were able to cut one almost as tall -- 18 feet -- in another part of the farm which hadn't heard any of that stuff about the White House gig, so he went down green and beautiful. I don't think his sap can turn after cutting."

The White House said it would accept the substitute tree and that its representatives would be more discreet next time.

We Haven't Heard the Last From Richard Ojeda

Former Army Ranger Richard Ojeda, who got elected to the West Virginia Senate in 2016 and rose quickly as a vocal advocate for underpaid West Virginia teachers, jumped into the race early this year for the 3rd West Virginia Congressional seat. The district had been held by a Democrat for almost 40 years but had drifted into the Republican column during the administration of a black man in the White House.

We noticed Ojeda as a rising star back in June and liked his rough edges and his ironman persona, as well as his chances for flipping that seat for the Democrats. In July, elections prognosticator Larry Sabato moved the West Virginia 3rd to "toss-up" status.

It didn't happen. In fact, Ojeda really didn't come that close, taking only 43.59% of the vote against a weak-looking woman who had bragged that she always prays before each vote.

Now Ojeda has announced he's running for president of the United States. He's a working man's working man, and his advocacy for better teacher pay endeared him to thousands. Realistically, maybe he doesn't have a ghost's chance, but he's exactly the kind of dirty fingernails Democrat that we need to overthrow the money-changers and return the Republic to the people.

He's the kind of Democrat who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, buying a bill of goods that turned out to be fake. And he regrets it. “It’s been a friggin’ circus for a solid year,” Ojeda told Politico magazine. “All [DJT] has done ... is shown that he’s taking care of the daggone people he’s supposed to be getting rid of.”

Just yesterday, Ojeda said this about Trump: "Let me tell you something: He's got to stop with the hate. Just think about this, it's Veterans Day, and because it's cloudy, he chose not to go Arlington Cemetery and pay his respect. This is a person who'd fight with NFL players for not standing for the national anthem, but he doesn't pay his respect to people who have given their lives for this nation. He travels across middle America and stands in front of people with no awareness of what their lives are like."

Ojeda defended his decision to run for president to Dave Weigel in today's WashPost: "I am the person who can get people who voted for Trump to come over, because I relate to them. The majority of people who'd throw their hat into this ring are cookie-cutter politicians. Many of them will be very wealthy. And I'm sorry, the majority of people are starting to realize that those people don't relate to them. Those people have no concept of what life is like for them, what life is like for the parent just trying to put food on the table."

Ojeda on Nov. 6,
after conceding the election
He practices a stiff-arm honesty that is not characteristic of most men who want to be president: "I am the person who can get people who voted for Trump to come over, because I relate to them. The majority of people who'd throw their hat into this ring are cookie-cutter politicians. Many of them will be very wealthy. And I'm sorry, the majority of people are starting to realize that those people don't relate to them. Those people have no concept of what life is like for them, what life is like for the parent just trying to put food on the table."

More Democrats need to talk like that, but you have to think like that first, you have to come from neediness rather than cushiness.

Here's what Ojeda says about coal mining in his home state (remember that Twitterman told coal miners he was going to save them): "I'm not going to lie to coal miners. Coal mining will never ever be the way that it used to be. I believe there is a need for metallurgical coal, to rebuild our infrastructure and our military might, but coal is not going to be something that can sustain people, and that will come sooner than later. We need to be honest in areas that rely on coal, so we can transition those coal miners into something else. And it's got to be more than minimum-wage goals. You can't take someone who's making $90,000 a year and tell him he's going to be making $22,000."

I'm glad Ojeda will be part of the debate. As far as I'm concerned, he's exactly what Bernie Sanders has been hoping for.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Ex-Gov. Pat McCrory Is Still Hurt That College Students Didn't Vote for Him

The Charlotte Observer reported that on his radio talk show the ex-governor and long-term chucklehead jumped on the Trump bandwagon that there must be fraud in the Florida election recount and whined that he knows it was college student "fraud" that caused him to lose in 2016:
“In my particular election we had a lot of college students, who were out-of-state college students, vote, and they could do it because there was no voter ID which would have shown New Jersey license plates, Pennsylvania license plates, you name it.”

“The question is, where do they actually live? Do they live in Queens College or is their residence somewhere in New Jersey or Pennsylvania or Ohio? … If they voted in North Carolina and yet their car is registered elsewhere, they have a driver’s license from elsewhere, they are breaking the law and there is no way we can prove it.”
Bullshit, or as the Charlotte Observer put it more politely, "That is false." (Have you noticed that when Republicans win, it's God's will? When they lose, it was fraud.)

In 1978 the Supreme Court ruled (Symm v. United States) that college students have the right to register and vote in the community where they are living to go to college. There is no "permanence" test, no "length of duration" test. Our culture is very mobile. If we get into the business of disenfranchising voters because we think they'll move away in a year, in two years, in four years, then we're imposing a test that is unconstitutional.

For example, the 18-year-old son of a Watauga County Republican comes of age and registers to vote in Watauga, but he is planning to go away to college at Campbell University next year and will never be returning permanently to live in his parents' home. He's about to be out in the world, going to school, and then getting a job in some other jurisdiction and getting married and starting a family. By Gov. McCrory's logic, at 18 he's a temporary resident of Watauga. Should we then say to that voter, "Sorry, but you're not a permanent resident because you intend to move"?

Where do college students actually live? They live where their clothes are hanging in a closet.

We know of course that the General Assembly will convene in a special session after Thanksgiving to write the actual rules for their voter photo ID constitutional amendment, and we know, as surely as we know anything concrete, that they'll try to disenfranchise as many Democratic-leaning voters as possible, so we fully expect them to deny college and university photo IDs.

The Republicans in the General Assembly have had previous attempts to impose voter suppression struck down by the courts, and there'll be a court battle again this time. They will never stop. Neither will we. They could try winning the hearts and minds of college students instead of suppressing their vote, but young people don't buy their political philosophy. Republican leaders respond by insulting their intelligence, calling them sheep, and accusing them of "fraud."

Monday, November 12, 2018

New Hope in the US House: Ben McAdams from Utah

I lived in Salt Lake City for four years and first got involved in Democratic Party organizing there, canvassing door-to-door for Eugene McCarthy during his 1968 insurgency against President Lyndon Johnson. I was bit by the bug and never recovered.

So I'm interested in that solidly red state, especially when it shows some blue cracks, which usually open up around the capitol city. The 4th Congressional District stretches south of Salt Lake City through prosperous suburbs but also takes in some deeply conservative enclaves.

As of yesterday, Democrat Ben McAdams is leading incumbent Republican Mia Love by 4,906 votes, with roughly 55,000 mail-in and provisional ballots still left to be counted in Salt Lake County and 72,000 ballots in Utah County (though some -- many? -- of those ballots actually belong to other congressional districts).

The race still hasn't been called.

Ben McAdams is a lawyer who served in the state senate before becoming mayor of Salt Lake County in 2013. He's a Mormon and a moderate, which means he may sometimes be a no vote on abortion rights (though he voted against a state law which would allow medical personnel to refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds and he voted against extending the waiting period for an abortion, so his record is mixed on that subject).

McAdams supports same-sex marriage. After the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have the right to marry in the United States, McAdams said, "This decision enshrines what I’ve long believed — that all families should be treated equally under the law."

He's on record opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and has also called on Congress to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) after its funding lapsed in September 2017. For a Utah Democrat, he bravely opposed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, citing the expected $1.5 trillion increase of the national debt over 10 years. He said it clearly favored the "wealthy over the middle class."

Incumbent Republican Mia Love was until Tuesday at least a rising star in the national Republican Party. As an aspiring Utah politician (she had converted to the Mormon church), she was given a prominent speaking slot at the 2012 Republican National Convention, and then she ran for and won the 4th District in 2014, becoming the first black woman Republican in Congress. She was reelected in 2016 while keeping her distance from Donald Trump, who's toxic among some Utah Mormons.

Love ran a relentlessly negative campaign against Ben McAdams, but screaming "liberal liberal liberal" over and over has ceased to work with an educated electorate. And DJT dissed her very publicly on Wednesday, saying he'd never gotten any love from Mia Love, so good riddance to her.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

New Hope in the US House: Lucy McBath from Georgia

The can't-get-past-the-Civil-War South fades a little more every year. A black woman will now represent the 6th Congressional District of Georgia.

Not only that. She's a pro-gun-control black woman. Lucy McBath lost her son to gun violence in 2012 because he was playing his music too loudly and "took an attitude." White man shot him. Because the music was too loud. On Tuesday, Lucy McBath won the 6th (admittedly by a thin margin, 50.5%), the very seat in Congress that Newt Gingrich once used to step up on and take a leap into the nation's bloodstream. Lucy McBath.

“Six years ago I went from a Marietta mom to a mother on a mission,” she said.

No mean feat, taking the 6th. It's majority Republican overall (+2 aggregate margin), with Cobb County really Republican. According to them-what-count numbers (FiveThirtyEight), "a Democrat would be expected to lose Georgia 6 by 9.5 percentage points in a neutral national environment (one in which the two parties fought to a tie nationally)."

Some of us thought a Democrat was going to turn the Georgia 6th blue on June 20th, 2017, in the special election that Democrat Jon Ossoff ran in and became a phenomenal fundraising machine but couldn't close the deal. Ossoff got national star attention as part of a building "blue wave," and he got damn close -- 48%. How McBath did it better possibly reflects the Trump Fatigue among suburban Republican women. (Just spit-balling here.)

Have to feel a little sympathy for incumbent Republican Karen Handel, who hasn't served in office but a scant year, and who has a history of close ones that she's usually lost. She lost a Senate bid in 2014, coming in third in a Republican jungle primary. In 2010, she had beaten Nathan Deal in the first round of the Republican jungle primary for Governor but lost to him in the second round by .04 percent of the vote.

But wait, there's another potential Democratic flip in Georgia!

Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th District -- Bourdeaux trailed the Republican incumbent by nearly 3,000 votes Wednesday morning. After mail-in absentee ballots got counted, Bourdeaux trailed Woodall by only 890 votes. In Gwinnett County, the heart of the district, there are also 2,400 provisional ballots to be counted. Historically, around 90 percent of the county's provisional ballots are accepted, according to the Gwinnett Elections Director. Provisional ballots tend to be overwhelmingly Democratic votes.

(SOUR NOTE: New voter ID laws in Georgia under Secretary of State Brian Kemp require provisional voters to go in and present identification to a local office.)

Bourdeaux had good company on Tuesday. She was running on the same ticket with seven Democrats who flipped seats in the Gwinnett legislative delegation — five in the Georgia House of Representatives and two in the state Senate.

The election is supposed to be certified next week.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The North Carolina "Seven": New Black Sheriffs Elected Last Tuesday

Paula Dance, Pitt County
Paula Dance, Pitt County, became the first African-American female sheriff in the state of North Carolina and only the fifth in the entire country. She was already a major in the sheriff's office, running for an open seat. She has 28 years of law enforcement experience, 26 of those in the Pitt County department.

Quentin Miller, Buncombe County, 25-year veteran of the Asheville Police Dept., won with over 61% of the vote against both a Republican and a Libertarian. It too was an open seat, and the Libertarian had been jailed on a stalking charge in September.

Ennis Wright, Cumberland County, was already serving as an appointed sheriff following the retirement of a fellow Democrat. Wright won on Tuesday with more than 63% of the vote.

Bobby Kimbrough Jr., Forsyth County, defeated 5-term Republican incumbent Bill Schatzman with 53% of the vote. Kimbrough is a retired agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. “People are ready for change,” Kimbrough said. “This race wasn’t about me, and it wasn’t about him [Schatzman]. It’s about building some bridges.”

Gerald Baker, Wake County, "in a stunning upset," defeated 4-term Sheriff Donnie Harrison. The 55-45 winning margin made it doubly stunning. Baker had worked for the Wake County Sheriff's Department for 28 years, 15 of those under Harrison. Harrison had partnered in and defended a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that meant transferring people to federal custody who have been arrested and were believed to be in the U.S. illegally. Baker was critical of the program.

Danny Rogers, in Guilford County, ended the 24-year reign of Sheriff B J Barnes, a politician so powerful he was considered unbeatable. (That was Monday. Wednesday, people were thinking otherwise.) Rogers took 53% of the vote.

Clarence Birkhead, in Durham County, had virtually won the office back in the primary, taking some 69% of the vote against an unpopular white incumbent, and faced only write-in votes last Tuesday.

New Hope in the US House: 3 Women From Virginia

Personal Note
We'd like to meet the chief political minds behind these winning campaigns. Call us.

Jennifer Wexton in Virginia's 10th Congressional District beat incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock with over 56% of the vote.

Wexton had been a well known Virginia state senator from Loudoun County, and she won the June congressional primary against a slew of Democratic opponents. She was an immediate favorite to knock out Comstock, widely considered the most vulnerable Republican in the nation. Wexton ran her campaign not so much as an insurgent but as a frontrunner protecting a huge lead. (Trump is sufficiently unpopular in her northern Virginia district. And she wasn't shy about being the resistance. "Change Is Coming" was one of her slogans.)

Loudoun County was jet fuel for Wexton. It's both the heart of and the population center for the 10th District. Government professionals, non-profit professionals, local business entrepreneurs, suburban Republican women. The 10th hasn't voted for a Democrat in over 60 years. But Wexton was already known and respected as a state senator. She won her seat in a special election in 2014 and was reelected in 2015 with over 56% of the vote. She had earned distinction as a lawyer and a prosecutor -- an assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney. Plus she'd done a ton of pro bono legal work, served as president of the local bar, and was appointed a special judge in Loudoun District Court.

Perhaps a new political icon -- Suburban Professional Woman.

Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's 7th Congressional District beat incumbent Tea Party Republican Dave Brat by a 6,500-vote margin. A Libertarian candidate got just over 1% of the vote.

Spanberger grew up in Short Pump, Virginia, in Henrico County. She attended J.R. Tucker High School’s Spanish immersion program, served as a Senate Page for US Senator Chuck Robb, and graduated from the University of Virginia. After college, she moved to Germany and earned her MBA from a dual-degree German-American program. She was picking up important languages for espionage.

Before the CIA, she was a federal law enforcement officer working narcotics and money laundering cases with the US Postal Inspection Service. With her background speaking multiple languages, Abigail joined the CIA as an Operations Officer (entering the clandestine service and specializing in counter-terrorism). She traveled and lived abroad collecting intelligence, managing assets, and overseeing high-profile programs. In 2014, she left government service to begin a career in the private sector with EAB, a higher education consulting firm. At EAB Spanberger has helped colleges and universities create diverse student bodies, increase graduation rates, and break down financial barriers to higher education.

Good introductory video:

Elaine Luria in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District beat incumbent Republican Scott Taylor with a little over 51% of the vote. The 2nd District contains the HDQs of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network.

Michael Tackett profiled Luria way back last January in the New York Times (along with two other women veterans of the Armed Forces running for high office in 2018):

Luria joined the Navy at the age of 17, eventually "majoring in" surface warfare at the Naval Academy. She rose to commander rank and served for 20 years before retiring.

"Luria said that she felt the pull to run for office after Mr. Trump’s election, and that her husband quit his job to help take over household duties so she could focus on campaigning .... she had earned a black belt in taekwondo, passed all the required endurance tests and flourished in the classroom .... After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she said, she felt compelled to stay in the Navy. She had a letter of resignation stuck in her desk, but never submitted it." 

Luria had the backing of the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and ran a disciplined and (judging from my own in-box) relentless campaign.

But There Were Also 3 Heart-Breaks in Virginia

Organic farmer and writer Anthony Flaccavento in the 7th, whom I profiled back in July.

Investigative journalist Leslie Cockburn in the 5th, whom I profiled back on May 30th.

"Bold progressive activist" Jennifer Lewis in the 6th, whom I profiled in July.

Vote outcomes: Flaccavento didn't come close, Cockburn got almost 47%, and Lewis got 40%.

 Flaccavento's loss probably means it'll take years before another Democrat attempts it (I at least hear that from a political activist in the 7th). Cockburn (or someone like her) could possibly win it next time. And Lewis has something to build on.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Coach Jerry Moore Gets Used by the Watauga GOP

AsheCountyLine has the story.

At the Election Eve prayer meeting on the Watauga County courthouse steps last Monday night (they streamed it live), Republican faithful were urged to supply themselves with the yellow flyers advertising "Coach Jerry Moore's MVPs," an obvious counter-attack on "Pam'sPicks," a decades-old election year endorsement by a local progressive warrior that I happen to know very well.

"PamsPicks" is well known and closely attended to by people in and out of Watauga County and has attained a certain local fame.

The Republicans needed a celebrity name to attach to an "endorsement" of their candidates, and someone apparently thought, "I know! Legendary ASU football coach Jerry Moore ... that's the answer! The students will swoon!"

But someone's enthusiasm for a bright idea got ahead of their performance of that idea. No one bothered to ask Coach Moore for his permission.

So they produced their flyers ... actually several versions of their flyer. There's the one pictured here, and there's a better designed one with Coach Moore's photograph that's reprinted with the AsheCountyLine article, but on election day, there were other versions circulating that had no "Paid For By ____" disclaimer on them, which is required by North Carolina state election law and which caused the complaints that alerted Coach Moore that his name was being tossed around as the celebrity supporter of the entire Republican ticket, including all six constitutional amendments.


There's sloppiness ... and then there's the Watauga County Republican Party.