Thursday, January 31, 2019

Stella Anderson Appointed to SBOE, But Not Four Eggers

Just saw news tweeted by Emily Featherstone of WECT:

The following Democrats and Republicans have been appointed to the State BOE by Governor Roy Cooper:
Democrat Stella Anderson of Boone
Republican David C. Black of Concord
Democrat Jeff Carmon III of Durham
Democrat Bob Cordle of Charlotte
Republican Ken Raymond of Winston-Salem
This panel will make news presently.

Inman v. Berger Jr. for the "Newby Seat" on the NC Supreme Court?

We previously discussed Phil Berger Junior's intention of running for the Justice Paul Newby seat on the Supreme Court, if (as promised) Paul Newby gives up that seat to run for Chief Justice (which seems likely at the moment).

Democratic Judge Lucy Inman, who also sits with Berger Junior on the NC Court of Appeals, just announced that she'll also be running for Newby's seat.

Judge Lucy Inman was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2014. She is the daughter of author Lucy Daniels, the granddaughter of former White House Press Secretary Jonathan W. Daniels, and the great-granddaughter of Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels. Her family famously owned the Raleigh News and Observer from 1894 to 1995.

She worked for a short time as a reporter on the family paper, then entered law school at UNC-Chapel Hill and was in private practice, 1992 to 2010, when she was appointed a special Superior Court judge by Governor Bev Perdue. Four years later she ran for a vacant seat on the Court of Appeals and won.

She's recently suffered a serious storm of mental issues in her immediate family. Last November her son was caught "burning a cross in a Cary park and later making violent threats to a synagogue in Cary, Sha’arei Shalom, which belongs to a branch of Messianic Judaism" (Will Doran). Inman issued a statement at the time: “Our family is inclusive and respectful of all people. Sadly, we, like many families, are dealing in this case with a mental illness, which we recognize and for which we have sought and continue to seek treatment. ... As deeply concerned parents, we apologize profusely to the Jewish community and to all who have been impacted. And we are treating this situation with utmost seriousness.”

Inman's son made a brief appearance with his mother in a 2014 campaign video:

If Mark Meadows Isn't the Biggest Congressional Fool, He'll Have to Do Until Another One Comes Along

New details keep emerging that it wasn't just talk radio hoo-haws that pushed Twitterman into closing down government. North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows had Trump's ear too and piled on. "Shut it down! Make 'em beg. The Democrats will break, and you'll inspire your base."

A couple of weeks before Christmas, the Republican Party establishment in Congress thought it had agreement from Trump to pass a "clean" continuing resolution. Mitch McConnell acted on that agreement, passing the CR in the Senate. Paul Ryan was trying to follow suit in the House, when Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and (bless his heart!) Mark Meadows threatened Trump's masculinity.

Mark Meadows leads the Freedom Caucus, three dozen of the most conservative Republicans, and he's had plenty of experience sticking his thumb in Leadership's eye. He precipitated the 2013 government shutdown. He regularly blocked reasonable deals engineered by John Boehner and forced Boehner to resign. He was then a thorn for Paul Ryan too. He and the Freedom Caucus could get away with it, because the Republicans didn't quite have the numbers to not depend on those 36 votes.

"The Freedom Caucus’s mission often looked as if weakening its own leadership team served as big a goal as safeguarding its conservative purity" (Paul Kane). You notice that extreme instinct for self-immolation in the hardest conservatives: "Hurts so good to pull down the temple on our own heads!"

But this land developer from North Carolina, Mark Meadows, who has no ear for politics, nor head for it either, cannot be embarrassed when his loose-cannon partisanship knocks a hole in the boat. Meadows apparently spoke to DJT more than once during the December showdown over shutdown. He gave his last pep talk via phone on December 20th: "Now's the time for good men to stick to their guns -- before the Democrats take control of the House. Conservatives got your back, here and across the country! Shut it down!"

So Meadows and Trump got what they thought they wanted, a display of overwhelming strength. Only this was display with no real strategic planning behind it, other than the vaguest hope that Democrats would cave. They didn't. But Trump did. Genius!

Is Trump still calling Meadows for advice?

Back before Christmas, if the Freedom Caucus did a little biggus-dickus strut over defeating the Party Establishment once again, they ain't strutting now. When asked to confirm his part in pep-talking Trump into the shutdown, Meadows stumbled into a howling non-denial denial: “I don’t know about that. I did — I’m not confirming nor denying that,” he said. “I mean, I think it’s been reported, but I’ve never been on the record as saying that.”

Meadows is cooked. Even some of the Freedom Caucus finds him embarrassing. He staged a showy speech on the House floor day before yesterday, "angry about the wording of a resolution condemning federal government shutdowns," and he forced a vote on adjourning the House in protest. It received just 14 votes.

"Meadows now runs the weakest type of coalition in the House: a small minority in the minority. Their leverage against Boehner and Ryan is long gone, as Pelosi has 235 votes on her side before she has to ask for support from any of the several dozen GOP moderates remaining in office." (Paul Kane)

Hilariously, Meadows is bragging to reporters that he's "on top of it." He claims now that he foresaw the Democrats taking the House at least six months ago, and that he began preparing for it by reading classic literature "about how coalition governments work in countries with parliamentary systems," etc. (like you're believing this scholarly tale, right?), and he claims he has a master plan for defeating the Democrats which may involve fake beards: "He promised that the Freedom Caucus is coming up with ideas to rebel against Pelosi’s majority, to upend the place in a similar style, if not the same outcomes, as its rebellious days in the majority."

In his favor, Meadows sports the pleasant demeanor of a Ken doll buzzing on caffeine. But a brilliant political tactician he ain't.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

NCGA Democrats Push the Issue of Closing the Medicaid Gap

The "long session" of the North Carolina General Assembly gets underway this morning, and the newly energized Democrats (still in the minority but feeling feisty) came through the door loaded up and truckin'. Senate Bill 3, "An Act to Close the Medicaid Coverage Gap," was introduced by senators Ben Clark, Dan Blue, and Glady Robinson in the Senate. The identical language was filed in the NC House as HB5.

Gary D. Robertson offers this forecast: "...Cooper and legislative allies seem ready to negotiate hard for expansion to cover hundreds of thousands of uninsured people .... Some House Republicans support a bill that would place a work requirement on enrollees, but Senate leader Phil Berger remains unconvinced that expansion is fiscally sound."

Phil Berger is wrong. Every state's experience of expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act has been economically positive. Improved payments to small and rural hospitals, especially, with upticks in employment and economic development, have brightened the prospects of every state that's gone there (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation).

Phil Berger could, and probably will, tank these Democratic initiatives, but he's going to have members of his own caucus squinting in his direction.

Phil Berger
Or ... maybe he's capable of evolving. That hint of "a work requirement" opens the door a crack for even a hardliner like Berger. To the Republican grassroots, a work requirement might signify adequate Republican punishment of shiftlessness while covering an actual Republican surrender to Obamacare. Requiring work of able-bodied adults — who are just a fraction of all Medicaid recipients — in exchange for access to healthcare has become the route for other red-state legislators to cave into Obamacare. That's what happened in Virginia. Kentucky too:
The politics worked: Many Democratic lawmakers went along as assurance that more people could reap benefits from the Affordable Care Act, while Republicans were able to show their base that they were holding people accountable for receiving aid. As a result, Republican-led states have increasingly expanded coverage with such restrictions, and some red states that had already expanded Medicaid are opting to add them. (NC Health News)
The Democratic bills introduced today don't contain a work requirement for able-bodied recipients. Will Democrats fight a work requirement at the risk of losing any Medicaid gap coverage? How will Republicans want to define "able-bodied"? Will Phil Berger remain a killing frost over every attempt to better the lives of his fellow citizens?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

DCCC Announces First Tier of 33 US House Seats Targeted for 2020

Via Twitter yesterday, the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) announced a first list of congressional House districts that will be targeted in 2020:
AZ-06 -- Dave Schweikert
CA-22 -- Devin Nunes
CA-50 -- Duncan Hunter
CO-03 -- Scott Tipton
FL-15 -- Ross Spano
FL-18 -- Brian Mast
GA-07 -- Rob Woodall
IA-04 -- Steve King
IL-13 -- Rodney Davis
IN-05 - Susan Brooks
KY-06 -- Andy Barr
MI-06 -- Fred Upton
MN-01 -- Jim Hagedorn
MO-02 -- Ann Wagner
NC-02 -- George Holding
NC-09 -- OPEN
NC-13 - Ted Budd
NE-02 -- Don Bacon
NY-01 -- Lee Zeldin
NY-02 -- Peter King
NY-24 -- John Katko
NY-27 -- Chris Collins
OH-01 -- Steve Chabot
PA-01 -- Brian Fitzpatrick
PA-10 -- Scott Perry
PA-16 - Mike Kelly
TX-10 -- Mike McCaul
TX-21 -- Chip Roy
TX-22 -- Pete Olson
TX-23 -- Will Hurd
TX-24 -- Kenny Marchant
TX-31 -- John Carter
WA-03 -- Jaime Herrera Beutler
You'll note the three seats in North Carolina, including NC-9 which still remains undecided these months after the election. Kathy Manning might be favored to try again against incumbent Ted Budd in the NC-13 (given her proven ability to raise money and forgetting for the moment that she was four and a half points behind Budd in the final tally). In the NC-2, we'll hope that Linda Coleman backs off from another try. There are other potential challengers in that district who aren't as shop-worn.

Will the amazing Amy McGrath seek a do-over against Andy Barr in the Ky-6? Will Duncan Hunter (Calif-50) and Chris Collins (NY-27) hold on again, despite their active criminal indictments? And there's white supremacist Steve King in Iowa-4. His 2018 opponent, J.D. Scholten, profiled on this site last year, has already announced that he probably won't try again, but maybe he should.

Dan Forest, You Coy Minx!

Yesterday, Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest released a professionally produced video message. It doesn't say "I'm running for governor of North Carolina," which is what every mother's son has known as a lead-pipe cinch for the last two years. What Forest says is "I'm forming an exploratory committee" to see if I want to run for governor of North Carolina in 2020.

Too coy by half!

Plus his video is all about lamenting "divisiveness" in the state, as though Dan thinks we all fell on our heads when we fell off the turnip truck.

Divisiveness? Why, that could be Dan Forest's middle name, if not his safe word.

Item: At a Civitas Conservative Leadership Conference, Forest implied that people on the left don't believe in God. No, their religion is "political activism," he said (while his political activism is merely the living breath of God, we assume). Democrats "are hopeless," he said. "They truly do believe that, but for the government, but for the work they do, there’s no hope for America." Never mind Forest's own efforts to make government regulate women's reproductive choices.

Item: The City of Charlotte's anti-discrimination ordinance protecting transgender citizens sent Forest on a noisy crusade backing the General Assembly's "bathroom bill," HB2. He stoked fears of predatory men disguised as women preying on young girls in ladies toilets.

Item: Forest pushed hard in the General Assembly for the passage of HB527, a bill targeting student hecklers of right-wing speakers on college campuses. It was passed under the guise of protecting free speech but was motivated by the increasing and vocal opposition to conservative speakers on UNC member campuses.

Item: For a theocrat who wants his religion dominating government, Forest likes being awfully close to The Moral Stain who currently occupies the White House:

Item: He gladly accepted money from The Word of Faith church in Spindale, which practices beating the devil out of its members.

Item: He called it "judicial tyranny" when a federal judge struck down North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriages and backed a bill in the General Assembly which would allow magistrates to opt out of performing same-sex marriages because of gay cooties.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Phil Berger Jr's Daddy Helped Get Him on the Court of Appeals. Will He Also Get Him on the NC Supreme Court?

Phil Berger Jr.
Phil Berger Jr. just posted on his Facebook page that he wants to run for Associate Justice Paul Newby's seat on the state's Supreme Court, if Paul Newby jumps into a race for Chief Justice of the Court.

"I am interested in running" means "I am running."

A Short History of Phil Berger Sr's String-Pulling for Sonny Boy

Phil Senior did everything in his power to make sure that Phil Junior won a seat on the NC Court of Appeals in 2016, defeating a good incumbent judge, Linda Stephens.

But first, in 2014 Phil Senior tried to get his son a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Phil Junior ran for the seat vacated by Congressman Howard Coble (NC-6), backed by wads of money and the full-bore influence of Daddy Phil. What happened? Phil Junior lost the Republican Primary that year, which shocked everyone, not least of whom was his father.

Following quickly that humiliating defeat, Phil Junior got himself appointed to an administrative law judgeship, and didn't stick there long before he entered the race for the NC Court of Appeals with the full endorsement of the Tea Party Express (if you were inclined to doubt his partisan proclivities).

Daddy Phil wasn't done putting his thumb on the scales. At the last minute in the short session of the General Assembly in the summer of 2016, and as President of the Senate, Phil Berger Sr. saw to it that the law got changed as regards random "ballot order," insuring that candidates that belong to the same party as the sitting governor (Pat McCrory at that time) got listed first. So Phil Berger Jr. was listed first on the ballot.

Why does it matter? Numerous studies have shown that being listed first on a ballot can give that candidate at least a slight advantage, especially on down-ballot races like the Court of Appeals race where candidates aren’t as well-known as presidential or gubernatorial candidates. Indeed, Phil Berger Jr. won that 2016 race by a very slim margin ... a quarter of a percentage point.

What will Phil Berger Sr. do this time? First thing: Change that law he passed in 2016 so that candidates not of the governor's party get listed first.

Kamala Harris Announcement Speech

I'm not jumping on any candidate's bandwagon yet, but this roll-out by Kamala Harris yesterday in Oakland is worth watching for the message and for the personality of a candidate who will have wide and deep appeal.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Congratulations, Wayne Goodwin!

After a successful first term as chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Wayne Goodwin was reelected yesterday by the NC Democratic Executive Committee for another term.
"Over his first term, Chairman Goodwin oversaw a historic partnership with Governor Cooper that recruited quality, diverse candidates in all 170 legislative districts for the first time ever; achieved record fundraising success; and launched a groundbreaking statewide organizing program. As a result, North Carolina Democrats swept statewide judicial contests, including electing a new Supreme Court justice, and broke both legislative supermajorities.
"In addition, Chairman Goodwin spearheaded a rural listening tour to reach out and hear from rural North Carolina communities, and oversaw investments in local and municipal races that flipped 22 Republican-held seats and helped elect new African-American Democratic mayors, including the first female African-American mayor of Charlotte."

Erica D. Smith Declares Candidacy for the US Senate

Erica D. Smith is the second declared Democratic candidate for the Thom Tillis seat in the US Senate. Trevor Fuller was first.
Erica Smith was first elected to the NC Senate in 2014 from the sprawling 3rd District -- now including Beaufort, Martin, Bertie, Northampton, Warren, and Vance counties. She earned her B.S. in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A & T University in 1994 and her M.A. in religious studies from Howard University School of Divinity in 2000. She worked for Boeing as a senior specialist engineer from 1993 to 1997, for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office as a patent examiner from 1998 to 2003, and as a high school math, physics, and chemistry teacher.

Back last August, Colin Campbell gave Smith a shout-out in the News and Observer as one of a group of highly talented minority legislators in Raleigh who look ready for bigger things: "An engineer, educator and ordained minister, Smith chairs the Legislative Black Caucus and has been effective in helping the state’s economically challenged northeastern corner. She recently fought for a summer science, math and technology program that was targeted for budget cuts, and it’s now expanding into more counties."
She announced her candidacy yesterday on Twitter.

Neither Fuller nor Smith are much known outside their bailiwicks, and they look like long shots. However, lightning's been known to strike even at lower elevations.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Newest Republican Nominees to the SBOE

David C. Black of Concord -- Was the Cabarrus County Board of Elections chair. Otherwise, a blank slate.

Kenneth Raymond of Winston-Salem -- Was a Republican member already of the nine-member iteration of the SBOE that got dissolved last December 28th, so he and Four Eggers have already served together.
He's a black Republican popular with white Republicans because he bashes both gays and black voters.
Raymond gained his seat on the Forsyth BOE immediately after the election of Governor McCrory in 2013. Very early in his tenure, he made it clear that there would be no more early voting site on the campus of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), and he floated the idea that sheriff's deputies ought to stand guard at polling places, maybe particularly those in majority black neighborhoods. He said he would recommend prosecution of any teacher or college professor who offered extra credit if students voted, particularly professors at WSSU. 
Raymond graduated from WSSU in 1987 with a degree in English and a minor in mass communications. He retired in April of 2017 after serving as a Winston-Salem Police Department 911 operator and dispatcher for 28 years. In July of 2017, and at the instigation of Republican state Senator Joyce Krawiec, Raymond was appointed to the Board of Trustees of WSSU, not without vocal protest from other trustees and alumni.

If It Were Me...
I'd appoint Four Eggers and Kenneth Raymond. You can ask me why, but I won't tell you. Isn't it obvious?

Bon Appetit! NC GOP Serves Itself Two New Turd Sandwiches

While You Were Ogling DeeCee...
Something else happened yesterday while you were possibly transfixed by the pre-dawn arrest of Roger Stone followed by the complete capitulation of DJT ("wall" has shrunk to "wah"). And didn't Nancy Pelosi show every man in Washington how to wear your balls out? Why did I ever doubt her?

Meanwhile, in North Carolina...

Dallas Woodhouse
1. Load, Aim, Shoot Your Eye Out

We had not even noticed that in their newest Board of Elections law, the Republicans in the General Assembly explicitly prohibited anyone serving on the board who had worked at "electioneering" in the past 48 months. Seriously. Dictionary definition of "electioneering": "the activity of trying to persuade people to vote for a particular political party."

Beyond the restoration of the 3-2 governor's-party architecture of the old old SBOE, I had no idea what else was buried in that law. Evidently, Dallas Woodhouse didn't know either. He's NC GOP Executive Director, and in contravention of his party's law, he presented two (of four) nominees for the SBOE who violate the explicit language of the statute, Francis Deluca and Buck Newton. Governor Roy Cooper actually knows what's in the law, and he demanded two more names, eligible people rather than partisan knights.

Though Cooper gave Woodhouse until Monday to produce two new nominees, Woodhouse coughed them up immediately and under the signature of Republican Party Figurehead Chair Robin Hayes. We'll follow up presently on those two new names in a separate post.

Woodhouse is ruthless but sloppy. Like Twitterman. I like that in an adversary.

Four Eggers remains as a nominee, along with Dallas Woodhouse's cousin Eddie, who has served on the Wake County BOE.

2. "Is it me, or has it gotten hot in here?"

NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin announced he would be leaving the bench in February to become dean of the law school at Regent University, Pat Robertson's Christian mill in Virginia. Governor Cooper gets to replace him on the court (and that someone will have to run in his/her own right in 2020).

After the November election of Justice Anita Earls, the Court was 5-2 Democratic majority. With Cooper's ability to appoint Martin's replacement, it may now go to 6-1.

Relatively speaking, that's pretty huge. The NC GOP goes from trying hard the last two years to jury-rig the judicial system in North Carolina, to this:

Thursday, January 24, 2019

NC GOP Nominates Four Eggers to New SBOE

Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four")
News broke late yesterday that the North Carolina Republican Party had nominated four people for the two Republican slots on the new new State Board of Elections (SBOE):
Col. Francis Deluca
Eldon Newton III
Stacy Eggers IV
Edwin Woodhouse Jr
Under the new new law, Governor Cooper must pick two of these people to serve with the three Democrats he'll also be choosing. Generally, a party presents their nominees in rank order, and Four Eggers is listed third, just ahead of NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse's cousin Eddie Woodhouse.

Also interesting: Of the four Republicans who served on the last incarnation of the nine-member SBOE, Eggers is the only Republican who made the cut, even though he was far from the most aggressive Republican on the old board, and he voted twice with the Democrats not to certify Rev. Mark Harris's election in the NC-9. That board was dissolved by court order on December 28.

Check the search engine above left and enter "Four Eggers" if you want to browse how he's famous in Watauga County.

The top two Republican nominees:

Col. Francis Deluca -- Until last spring, the president of the Civitas Institute. A big proponent of voter photo ID (and curiously, a bitter enemy of solar power). The "Colonel" honorific comes from 30 years of active and reserve service in the US Marine Corps. He flew combat missions in the First Gulf War. He stepped down from the Civitas Institute, but he remains deeply embedded with the Art Pope machine in the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal (previously known as the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy). He takes a dim view of a whole bunch of stuff and has the requisite training to off his enemies.
Deluca was nominated early in 2018 to the first Republican General Assembly's incarnation of the SBOE, an eight-member board with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. By court order, that iteration was thrown out for a nine-member board, with one added Unaffiliated voter, and Francis Deluca was nominated for that one too. Gov. Cooper didn't pick him from among the Republican nominees.
He's supposedly considering a run for the NC-3 congressional seat that Republican Walter Jones is finally retiring from in 2020. Doubtful, since he allowed himself to be nominated again to the SBOE, which would preclude a candidacy.

Eldon Newton III -- Better known here and abroad as "Buck" Newton. He's best known as Attorney General Josh Stein's Republican opponent in 2016.
Newton graduated from Appalachian State University with a political science degree and went immediately to work for Jesse Helms. He won a seat in the NC Senate during the 2010 Tea Party wave and held onto it until announcing in late 2015 that he'd be leaving to run for Attorney General.
He made headlines in 2016 by loudly proclaiming his support for HB2 ("keep our state straight!" he shouted at a rally in Raleigh). His support for HB2 prompted this post on a Facebook thread:
"I knew Buck Newton when he was in college. He was always very opinionated, angry, looked down on others, always saw things in simple terms, always quick to jump to conclusions, always claimed things were 'common sense.' He was always very judgmental and used bully tactics on others to make his opinion appear correct. He was always full of confidence based on simple, black and white views of the world. Several of us thought he was an idiot because of his lack of ability to see and understand what was beneath the surface of issues. This bill/law [HB2] sounds exactly like something college-kid Buck would do. Apparently, he has not grown much. There are many smart and wise people in North Carolina who see God's creation as it truly is - a very complicated marvel, so it is absolutely shocking that such a person of low understanding could rise to such power based on such a superficial foundation. Shocking. At one point in time, the earth being flat was 'common sense,' blacks being inferior was 'common sense'... And, here we are... again."
Not for nothing did Buck Newton receive his perfect score from the American Conservative Union. He has voted to prohibit wind farms, to repeal the state's recycling program, to increase sales taxes on working families, and he has a 100% rating from the NRA (among many other things).

I look at these lists of nominees as a game of political chess. Dallas Woodhouse wants to force Cooper to appoint the top two, so he offers poison pills in the alternatives. Four Eggers would once again present the anomaly of having two members of the SBOE from Watauga, something that's made Gov. Cooper hesitate before. And Eddie Woodhouse? Dallas Woodhouse's cousin ... seriously? 

But if I were Governor Cooper, I think I would pick Four Eggers and Eddie Woodhouse. Meetings of the SBOE would be less colorful, perhaps, but the American carnage might be more manageable.

Alternative chess: Go ahead and pick Deluca and Newton, who then stage suicide missions for the sake of partisan advantage -- displaying once again what the GOP is all about. We can use the advertising. Whatever superior logic and argumentative powers Deluca and Newton are rumored to possess, it's doubtful the three-Democrat majority will be swayed.

Another consideration: It will take four members of the new new SBOE to order a new election in the NC-9. None of the four Republicans listed above are likely to provide that fourth vote. Conversely, it takes only a simple majority to refuse certification, so stalemate lies ahead, until a higher power orders a new election. Which can happen, I am persuaded.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Another Sign of the Times

During the month of December 2018, four Republican women Kansas legislators -- all from suburban Johnson County -- switched their party affiliations from Republican to Democratic.
The departures reflect a political shift in suburban areas of Kansas, a state that surprised political experts by electing a Democrat as governor in November .... [The four women] each said that distaste for Mr. Trump and unease with Kansas’ increasingly conservative Republican Party contributed to the decision to leave. [Mitch Smith]
Johnson County is quintessential suburbia. Some 20% of all Kansans live there, mainly in big houses with well kept lawns. A majority have a college degree. They voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in 2012 by 17 points, but Twitterman carried the county by only 3 points over Hillary in 2016.

The county is in the 3rd Congressional District, which was flipped red-to-blue by Congresswoman Sharice Davids, one of only two native Americans now in Congress and the state's first openly gay representative. That's especially interesting, because as of the election last fall, Johnson County was majority Republican, by some 75,000 voters.

Yes, DJT is doing wonders for the Republican Party! No doubt about it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Reverend Harris Trying End-Run Around the State Board of Elections

Rev. Mark Harris's lawsuit to get himself declared the winner of the NC-9 congressional seat is right now being heard by Judge Matthew Ridgeway in Wake Superior Court. You can watch live here.

Judge Ridgeway denied Mark Harris's request for certification of his election. Harris will have to wait until a new State Board of Elections is empaneled on January 31st, which will presumably schedule a hearing date for the investigators to present their evidence of what happened in the 9th Congressional District.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Thom Goolsby Plays the Hit Man on the UNC Board of Governors

Watch for it: Thom Goolsby will force a bloody awful showdown on the Chapel Hill campus over the Silent Sam Confederate monument. He's already said he intends to force the statue's return to its original location on campus, even if it takes a moat, a few guard towers, and tank traps to keep it unmolested. Goolsby leads the conservative faction on the UNC Board of Governors, which is clearly in the ascendant.

Goolsby has a history of nastiness and bullying. When he was a NC senator from Wilmington, he pushed for "vaginal wanding" of pregnant women before an abortion. He sponsored the bill to repeal the Racial Justice Act, which prohibited the imposition of the death penalty on the basis of race. He called protestors "Monday Morons" who were organized for Rev. William Barber's "Moral Mondays," which had rattled the Republican overlords. He pushed a vote on the UNC BOG to prohibit the UNC School of Law's Center for Civil Rights from pursuing legal remedies for low-income and minority groups.

Notice the good solid strain of racial politics in Goolsby's policy positions?

Goolsby graduated from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. (venue for a good deal of *pop culture male displays), then went for an MBA at Golden Gate University. He came back to Chapel Hill for his law degree. Goolsby and a partner started Empowered Investor, handling big-buck investments and securities and doing quite well at it, and so he naturally ran for the NC Senate (Dist. 9) in that watershed year, 2010. He was reelected in 2012 and would have been a cinch for reelection in 2014, but a fiduciary scandal interceded. In a consent agreement with the Securities Division of the Secretary of State's office, Goolsby lost his licenses for doing investment and securities deals (because of, yes, fraud), and he won't get those licenses back before 2024. So, understandably, Goolsby decided against running for reelection in 2014. He actually put out a statement that said he wanted to spend more time with his family. No really. (His former seat in the Senate is now -- since November -- held by Democrat Harper Peterson.)

On the UNC Board of Governors, and in keeping with the self-image The Citadel bestowed on him, Goolsby has been a champion prick. Goolsby was appointed to the all-Republican board in August 2015 by the NC Senate (Phil Berger's joint), as a conservative counter-weight to BOG Chair John Fennebresque, a country club Republican who unilaterally fired Democrat Tom Ross from the university presidency and installed his favorite and fellow country club Republican Margaret Spellings in the chair. So Goolsby came onto the board primed for a big fight with Chair Fennebresque. Goolsby quickly demanded Fennebresque's resignation, and eventually got it, but not before Fennebresque got Spellings. (See "A Margaret Spellings Timeline") Of course, ultimately, Thom Goolsby got Spellings too, in a mortal sense.

Soon after Spellings took office -- almost immediately, in fact -- Goolsby was in the vanguard of her conservative harassment. Goolsby and his fellow travelers immediately threatened to move her comfy office out of Chapel Hill to some far-flung precinct where'd she be less comfortable (and comfitted by the Chapel Hill elite). They leaned hard on Spellings to be a no-exceptions enforcer of the notorious bathroom bill against transgender citizens. And when Spellings was caught redhanded talking to Governor Cooper about "the Silent Sam problem," Goolsby signed a letter condemning her and further threatening her future.

Spellings ended her five-year contract three years early, and in July 2018, the moderate BOG chair who had replaced John Fennebresque was himself replaced by one of the conservative hardliners. The conservatives are in full control now, and in full roar, and they're not likely to hold Goolsby back. The Citadel evidently taught dying on the ramparts, even if those barricades were built on Southern racism.

Goolsby clearly intends to force the return of Silent Sam. And because he's nasty by nature, he couldn't refrain from digging a knife into the Democratic rib-cage when he made his public proposal about bringing back Sam: "I'm even willing to add some 'two-sides-to-everything' balancing statues," he said, "the kind that inform students that Democrats are the real racists" (Jeffrey C. Billman). For example, add a statue commemorating the Wilmington insurrection of 1898, Goolsby suggested, when white supremacists, all members of the Democratic Party of that day, burned a black newspaper to the ground and overthrew the town’s newly elected black Republican government. Yes, and put up another statue dedicated to the minority women “forcibly sterilized by the Democrat Party who controlled our state for decades,” wrote Goolsby.

What Goolsby thinks we won't notice is that he would have participated in that 1898 insurrection -- probably with a fixed bayonet -- and would have voted for forced sterilizations of black people. You think he wouldn't?

Only question that's relevant right now: Will Goolsby's aggression be another Pickett's Charge? Will history finally overtake him?

*The Citadel in pop culture: I'm thinking "The Great Santini" and Frank Underwood in "House of Cards." There's more in that vein.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Thom Tillis Is With Mitch McConnell

NC House Speaker Tim Moore Sucks Up

NC House Speaker Tim Moore, whose personal corruption is visible from outer space, is warbling a new tune:
Come on-a my house, my house, I'm gonna give you candy
Come on-a my house, my house, I'm gonna give a you
Apple, a plum and apricot-a too eh
Come on-a my house, my house a come on...
A half-minute after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disinvited Trump to the House chamber for the SOTU, Speaker Moore took to the grandstands to invite Trump to deliver his speech in the NC House chamber, with its red carpet and gold gold GOLD chandeliers.

The ridiculousness of that invitation is possibly explained by Moore's own need to distract everyone from the news that the FBI is nibbling at Moore's ankles, which is only the most recent news indicating that Moore is an accomplished server-of-self while using his position in the government to feather his nest.

Come to think of it, Moore and Trump have several things in common, so why not a SOTU in Moore's House?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Blessed Be the Astroturfers!

What's not to enjoy about the following fable? It's got illegal Trump campaign funds. It's got Michael Cohen, Trump's crooked fixer, going into business with Christian operatives at super-Christian Liberty University, first to make himself into a sex symbol and then to make Trump into The Answer. Yum. Failure and hypocrisy on a Biblical scale.

John Gauger
No one has been a bigger Trump supporter and apologist than Jerry Falwell Jr. He's practically turned Liberty University into a neon runway for Trump. Back in the olden times when they were good fellas, employer/employee locked in a pact of mutual protection, Trump's lawyer and right-hand man Michael Cohen accompanied Trump to Lynchburg on his very first visit there in 2012. Cohen, as Trump's mouth, naturally met Liberty's chief information officer, one John Gauger, who was also a young tech hotshot (supposedly) who was also verbally ambitious to get into the politics game. The Wall St. Journal broke the story (behind a paywall, so I'm relying on 2nd-hand replays) that Cohen and Gauger kept in touch for the next six years, with Cohen ever dangling the prospect of big money in a build-up to a Trump presidential campaign.

Cohen was slow to deliver, and first he tested Gauger's talents. Cohen wanted a dummy Twitter account, Women For Cohen (no, seriously), where various professional women publicly celebrated how sexy and irresistible Michael Cohen was, and possibly the greatest legal mind in New Yawk City, all of which was actually written by a female friend of Gauger (presumably also employed by Liberty University?). Apparently, Gauger did alright because Cohen wanted him for another job. It was 2015, the run-up to the 2016 primaries.

Someone who thinks like Cohen, abetted by someone who operates like Gauger -- well the bright idea was bound to pop up: Why not rig a couple of CNBC on-line polls to show how popular Trump was? Russian-style social media manipulation before anyone knew about Russian-style social media manipulation. Gauger was more than game.

So Cohen made an oral contract [cough] to pay Gauger $50,000 to write computer programs that would vote automatically over and over, simulating the on-line popularity of one Donald J. Trump. First, in 2014 it was a poll for America's "top business leaders" (Trump didn't make the top 50) and then a poll on who ought to run for president. Trump got 5% of that vote. Gauger's tech savvy turned out to be an illusion. And so was the $50,000. Gauger showed up in person at Trump Tower to be paid, and Cohen (should have) said, "You gotta be kidding me!" But Cohen did pay him off -- $12,000 and change, in cash, in "a blue Walmart bag," which also contained (you couldn't make this up) a boxing glove once owned by a famous Brazilian athlete. (Did Cohen know Gauger was somehow a fan, or what? What's the market in Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter memorabilia?) Anyway, that bag o' cash presumably broke at least two campaign finance laws, and Cohen has incidentally confirmed Gauger's account on Twitter (natch) and said he did all at Trump's direction and for Trump's sole benefit.

(Cohen later made up for stiffing Gauger by giving him work for another client, the chief executive of CareOne Management LLC, a New Jersey assisted-living company that had given Cohen a consulting contract. Gauger created "a positive media presence" for the CEO. Don't know how successful he was or how much he got paid.)

Cherry on This Sundae
Jerry Falwell Jr. is proudly bragging about the entrepreneurial ambition of his chief information officer. He issued an official response to the Wall Street Journal article: "John Gauger is one example among many outstanding LU employees who have made great contributions in their official roles and also enjoyed success as independent entrepreneurs, allowing them to enhance their capabilities and generate more revenue for their families while allowing the University to retain them on our team."

Falwell was getting ahead of the question ... What's an employee of Liberty University doing moonlighting for the Trump campaign? And completely ignoring the other question: What's a born-again employee of Liberty University doing committing internet fraud?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Senators Burr and Tillis Try to Please Trump, Vote to Remove Sanctions on Russian Oligarch Deripaska

Let the Russians do as they please! This roll call vote in the US Senate says so much about the values and allegiances of our two senators from North Carolina.

Those sanctions on Oleg Deripaska and his companies, imposed in 2018 by Trump's own Treasury Department, were justified, according to the Treasury's own language, because Deripaska had furthered “the Kremlin’s global malign activities, including its attempts to subvert Western democracy.”

Doesn't matter any more to Burr and Tillis, because Trump now wants those sanctions lifted because Trump owes Putin. Who do Burr and Tillis owe?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Silent Sam Has No Place To Stand Now

The granite pedestal on which Silent Sam, the white supremacy symbol at the entrance to UNC-Chapel Hill, used to stand got hauled away in the wee hours this morning, by order of Chancellor Carol Folt, who incidentally also announced she's leaving her post as chancellor at the end of this semester just ahead (we imagine) of an angry mob of UNC Board of Governors members with pitchforks and torches who apparently did not know that Chancellor Folt was going to resign and order that hunk of granite removed on the same Monday in January. The BOG is largely an adamantine bunch of Republicans, and many wanted that warped statue back up on that pedestal.

UNC BOG Chair Harry Smith was particularly outraged by Chancellor Folt's actions, perhaps because he was in the middle of conducting a phone-in meeting of the board when news of Folt's resignation reached him. The board was discussing "personnel issues," and it's no secret that some of the board were gunning for Folt. Perhaps her unexpected resignation was one of those "you can't fire me because I quit" moments. We don't know. But Smith was unamused: "We are incredibly disappointed at this intentional action," Smith said in a statement. "It lacks transparency and it undermines and insults the board’s goal to operate with class and dignity."

With class and dignity. Is that code?

Smith made his fortune selling and installing air filters, but he's also the owner of apartment buildings that rent exclusively to students, and he's been accused of trying to steer member campuses in the UNC system to build public-private student housing via a company he had "a relationship" with. Uh-huh.

Smith, described as part of "an aggressive conservative faction" of BOG members, took over as chair last July. That faction ran off UNC President Tom Ross. Then they ran off his replacement, Margaret Spellings. Now Carol Folt is leaving too. Harry Smith and his faction get to replace those people with their people, and how they ultimately decide to handle symbols of white supremacy hang in the balance, sort of like that granite pedestal. If they go all hardline, we trust it will be with class and dignity.

The UNC BOG has decided that Chancellor Folt will not be allowed to continue until the end of semester. She needs to clean out her office by January 31st, they said.

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Southern White Boy Tries To Show Other Southern White Boys "There's an Exit Ramp From Your Cultural Blindness"

On May 19, 2017, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered a speech about why he ordered four statues glorifying the Confederacy removed from their public spaces. I think this speech may go down as one of the most profound of the 21st Century.

Over Christmas someone gave me Mitch Landrieu's new book, "In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History," a book I viewed with skepticism because (1) it's written by a politician and that's often a drag and (2) I knew little of Mitch Landrieu's biography or his politics and doubted he had anything to tell me. I was wrong on both counts.

I feel a kinship with Mitch Landrieu. He's younger than I by many years, but I think we shared some defining history: We were both young in a South that we came to believe was on the wrong side of history. I was young when I decided it was a good thing the Confederacy lost the Civil War, and that thought, even held silently, isolated me from my own working-class culture.

Landrieu was more fortunate, since his father, Moon Landrieu, pioneered the opening up of city jobs for black people when he was also mayor of New Orleans. Mitch grew up in an enlightened white household and went on to become mayor in his own right and take a step that his father may never have imagined, the removal of those symbols of white supremacy that had been erected to maintain the fiction that the Civil War was about honor and gentility rather than about tearing the country apart so that some men could hold others in bondage.

I'm told that Landrieu wrote the speech above. I believe he also wrote "In the Shadow of Statues." (Maybe he had a ghost editor, but I don't think he had a ghost writer.) He's good with words but not in a flashy way. He knows who he is, what he believes, and can express the truth of the moment in clear, straightforward sentences that neither fake human connection nor try to imitate it. By both explicit comment and by implication, Mitch Landrieu may just be the foil for a Twitterman who knows not truth, who has never known it, and who can not speak it on any given day and certainly not under oath.

Virginia Foxx: "A Foolish Consistency Is My Hobgobblin"

Rep. Virginia Foxx said on Friday she supports Trump’s ability to declare a national emergency in order to build his wall.

In 2014, when President Obama asserted his executive authority to protect "Dreamers," Foxx had a fit that he was acting like an emperor. Funny, now that Foxx is cheerleading Trump's boasting that he has the supreme authority to build his wall.

Criticizing Obama for trying to protect the Dreamers while seconding Trump's attempt to hurt others. That's a lovely irony for a woman like Foxx, who's built her fortune on the backs of immigrants and knew a Dreamer or two that she wouldn't stoop to help (according to the persistent rumors).

Trevor Fuller of Mecklenburg Declares His Candidacy for US Senate

Didn't see that one coming.

Trevor Fuller is a Democrat on the Mecklenburg County Commission in his fourth term, and a wild card. The Charlotte Observer this morning called him Sen. Thom Tillis's first "serious" opponent. Also "somewhat unlikely" because he's "only moderately popular in Mecklenburg."

Not at all popular, possibly, with fellow Meck commissioner and fellow Democrat Pat Cotham. Fuller helped engineer her removal as chair of the board of commissioners back in 2013. Trevor Fuller took her place as chair and lasted until 2016, when Pat Cotham engineered Fuller's removal. ("Turnabouts are fair" was the playground rule I grew up with too.) Fuller has continued as an elected at-large commissioner but not as chair of the board.

Fuller's supplanting of Cotham in 2013 largely happened as fallout from Cotham's firing of then county manager, Harry Jones.
When she led the charge to fire Jones in May, she upset people—especially Democrats and the black community. She didn’t let Jones speak that night. She didn’t let him gather his things. That upset those people more. They never let it go.  (Michael Graff)
Cotham, for her part, never backed down. So her revenge against Fuller in his 2016 ouster as commission board chair might have felt like vindication. Fuller called it "treachery."

Fuller has two Twitter accounts. One hasn't been posted to since 2016, and the other's posts stop in May of 2018. His Facebook page is a little more up to date. He last posted there on November 7th, 2018, following his reelection to the Mecklenburg Commission for his fourth term.

Getting a fix on his record, his issues, his guiding light is not easy, though the Charlotte Observer said this morning that "he would check a few important boxes for statewide voters, including a strong record on progressive issues, such as being the driving force behind Mecklenburg’s universal pre-K initiative."

Perhaps Fuller's announcement will spur some stronger candidates to get off the couch.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Watching Kamala Harris

Sen. Kamala Harris has published an old-fashioned book, a "campaign biography," the sort of book that candidates for US president used to write back when people used to read. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a campaign biography of Franklin Pierce in 1852, claiming that Pierce was uniquely qualified to be president. How did that work out?

Reviews of Harris's “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey” have not been particularly good nor encouraging. "A meandering work that lacks verve," said The Atlantic reviewer. "A rather clear attempt by Harris to preemptively defend her record on criminal justice, which has emerged as an important issue, especially on the left flank of the Democratic Party," said another, dredging up several instances when Harris defended prosecutorial misconduct as Attorney General of California.

I haven't read her campaign biography and don't plan to. (I'm too busy reading about "The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs" and "The Wisdom of Wolves.") But I'm taking note of her aborning candidacy because she's been such a badass in the US Senate. She's an appealing figure and could break out of the pack (a wolf pack, you might call it), and she'll have to deal with those parts of her record that cause doubts.

I'm on that jury, and so far this jury is out.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Democratic Populism and Richard Ojeda

I agree with Kyle Kulinski: If Richard Ojeda actually makes it to a Democratic presidential debate stage, "Better watch out!"

Ojeda is carrying Bernie's message 2.0, and it's the message the Democratic party needs to embrace.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Democrats Who Don't Show Up Need a Spanking

"Showing up is 80 percent of life." --Woody Allen
When I first heard that six NC House Democrats didn't show up for an override vote on December 27 and that their six votes could have upheld Roy Cooper's veto of the elections law and ethics bill that just incidentally will keep secret any allegations of campaign finance violations brought against members of the General Assembly -- why, it was face-palm time.

Here's what we know: Republican leaders needed three-fifths of everyone present on the House floor, not the whole chamber, to override that veto. In other words, 60% of those members present. With several Republican absences on December 27 (along with those six Democrats), the House's override vote majority was 68 out of 108 total, or 63%. The six missing Democrats would have shifted the total number present to 117, which means that 68 votes for the override would have fallen short. Even with one Democrat, Duane Hall, voting with the Republicans (out of spite?).

Time for public shaming of those six hooky-playing Democrats:
Cecil Brockman (HD60), Guilford County -- He's made no acknowledgement of his error nor apologized for it on his Facebook or Twitter feed.
Susan Fisher (HD114), Buncombe County -- She's made no acknowledgment nor apology on her Facebook page.
George Graham (HD12), Lenoir and Pitt counties -- He was defeated for reelection in November by Republican Chris Humphrey.
Yvonne Holley (HD38), Wake County -- Silent. She hasn't updated Facebook or Twitter since 2012.
Jean Farmer-Butterfield (HD24), Wilson County -- Nothing on her Facebook page.
Howard Hunter (HD5), Gates, Hertford, and Pasquotank counties -- His Facebook page hasn't been updated since June.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Four Democratic Men Who Might Challenge Thom Tillis

What follows is pure speculation. None of these gentlemen have spoken publicly about running for the US Senate. We wrote previously about three North Carolina women who might make good candidates too against Thom Tillis.

Anthony Foxx, former Charlotte Mayor and former US Secretary of Transportation -- First elected to the Charlotte City Council in 2005, Foxx quickly rose in four years to be elected as Charlotte's youngest mayor in 2009 (and its second African-American mayor). Coming into office at the height of the Bush recession and in a city dominated by financial service corporations (banks) that were laying off hundreds of workers, Foxx earned props for dealing decisively and effectively with the crisis. Wikipedia: "From a transportation perspective, Foxx helped salvage the city's largest single capital project - the Blue Line Extension, which was threatened by lower than anticipated sales tax revenue; helped structure an innovative finance deal to complete the city's outer beltway; launched a new streetcar; and put forward the largest injection of street bonds in the city's history." Those successes earned Foxx his nomination as President Obama's second Secretary of Transportation in 2013.
Foxx is a native of Charlotte, graduated from Davidson College, and went on to get his law degree from New York University. From the beginning, he was always destined for greater things. After law school, Foxx returned to Charlotte to work at the Smith, Helms, Mullis, and Moore law firm, and left to become a clerk for a judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Later he worked for the US Department of Justice and the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. In 2004, he was the campaign manager for Representative Mel Watt. In 2001, he returned to Charlotte to work as a business litigator for Hunton and Williams. Good background for fundraising.
Currently (according to Linked In), Foxx is chief policy officer and senior advisor to the president and CEO of Lyft, the "on-demand transportation services" company that's a chief rival to Uber. Foxx published an essay after taking that job, an essay full of big picture assessments about our runaway urbanization and the innovations in transportation that could make those urban landscapes better for struggling people. It's an essay by a man with vision committed to a new job.
That job relocated him to New York City, not an indication he was (or is) considering another political gambit in North Carolina. But he did return to Charlotte in January of 2018 to deliver a well received star turn at a Community Building Initiative luncheon that wowed Taylor Batten of the Charlotte Observer:
"This was a Foxx who had clearly found his voice. His 34-minute speech was at times personal, at times funny, at times serious and at the end, prescriptive. He delivered a message with the kind of wisdom and authority he should have done more frequently as mayor. It was the kind of message, in fact, that you’d want to hear from your U.S. senator."
After that speech, Batten asked Foxx about the Senate, and Foxx "deflected the question." Has a year changed his mind?

NC Rep Grier Martin (HD34) -- Another Davidson College graduate, where he joined ROTC and began a very long commitment to the US Army. He subsequently received his law degree from Chapel Hill. After 9/11, Martin joined the Judge Advocate General Corps and was deployed to Afghanistan. In 2004 he ran successfully for the NC House and was reelected three times through 2010 before the Republican super-majority in the General Assembly redistricted and "double-bunked" him with fellow Democratic Rep. Deborah Ross. Martin stepped aside in 2012 for Ross to take the seat. In 2013, when Ross stepped down to run for the US Senate against Thom Tillis, Martin was appointed to fill out her term. He has won reelection ever since, even while remaining a lieutenant colonel in the US Army Reserve.
Martin is one of the "best liked" members of the General Assembly, a highly respected "straight-shooter." When he stepped aside for Deborah Ross, Democratic leader Joe Hackney said of Martin, "Rep. Martin has been one of the hardest working legislators in the General Assembly during his four terms in office. His ongoing military service allowed him to quickly establish himself as an expert in legislation to protect and serve the fighting men and women who protect and serve us. At the same time, he was a progressive voice in efforts to protect our environment, women's rights and to keep North Carolina a state that leads instead of follows."
The otherwise even-tempered Martin famously flared publicly against Trump in July of 2018 after the president's remarks in Finland (while standing next to Vladimir Putin and bashing American intel personnel). "Don't come back" to the US, Martin tweeted at the time. "You are not worthy to stand on American soil made free by the sacrifices of men and women better than you.”
Here he is in a better frame of mind, introducing himself:

Read more here:

Mayor Allen Joines, Winston-Salem -- Joines has been the highly successful and popular mayor of Winston-Salem since 2001. He's often run unopposed, as was the case in his last reelection in 2016. No one challenges him. He seems perfectly fitted to the job. No one would dare call Mayor Joines a progressive Democrat. He's pro-business, a pillar under the Chamber of Commerce, and he's cautious with liberal causes. (Forsyth County leans Republican. It had the worst Democratic performance last November of all heavily urban NC counties.) The Mayor's views on some social issues are largely opaque. He also seems to lack a politician's ambition for higher office, not a bad thing in an effective office-holder but a deterrent to running for something like US Senate. Joines was heavily recruited to run against Virginia Foxx in the 5th Congressional District, and was prominently mentioned for Governor in 2016, but he has resisted recruitment. Perhaps he's a hard-headed realist, also not a bad trait.
Joines is credited with presiding over the transformation of Winston-Salem from a seedy tobacco plant into a bio-tech research and medical innovation hub that is a rival to Duke University Hospital complex in Durham. An expanding 200-acre research complex—dubbed the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter—employs more than 3,100 in 65 companies and five academic institutions, and was preparing in 2016 to more than double its footprint. It wants to be a coming rival to the Research Triangle Park.
This is good ... or bad, if you're a critic of Joines's interlocking relationship with the high-rollers. Joines has been the paid leader of the Winston-Salem Alliance, a non-profit coagulation of some of Winston-Salem's most influential businesses: "Serving as mayor and president of the alliance has allowed Joines to take a very hands-on role in attracting businesses and gaining a statewide reputation for economic development deals." Some see these relationships as a political machine and those deals as fundamentally corrupt. C.P. Tew wrote in "The Winston Watchman"
"Basically, anyone who is anyone in Winston is somehow connected to Allen Joines through the W-S Alliance or a variety of other non-profits and business development groups that Joines is connected to. Most people in Winston don’t know or don’t care that their Mayor gets his six-figure salary, not from the people of Winston, but from the richest group of people in Winston -- the Winston-Salem Alliance."

NC Senator Jeff Jackson (SD37) -- Jackson may have already been cursed with "front-runner" status in the race to replace Thom Tillis. He earned that label but has not yet felt the burden of it. Nested in a heavily tilted Democratic Senate district in Mecklenburg County, Jackson chose to help other candidates. Eleemosynary good works. He criss-crossed North Carolina raising money as part of the "Break the Super-Majority" project, while also probably laying tracks for 2020.
He's young and photogenic. He's consistently raised his profile since he won appointment in 2014 to fill out the unexpired term of Sen. Don Clodfelter. Jackson went on to win his first election in 2014 and two more since then. He's been a good debater in the NC Senate, shaming his Republican colleagues for emulating Democratic tyranny from years past rather than rising above it. This video is from the 2015 debate on the Republican budget:

Jackson's star quality has certainly rattled the Republicans, with NCGOP Exec. Dir. Dallas Woodhouse already projecting how he'll go after Jackson as "an ultra-liberal." Jackson makes Woodhouse nervous.
Jackson enlisted in the Army Reserve following 9/11 as a private, was deployed to Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom and served a year there. Back home in the states, he attended law school at Chapel Hill with the help of the G.I. Bill. He remains a captain in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the Army Reserve. Prior to his appointment to the NC Senate, he served as as assistant district attorney in Gaston County.
In the Senate he's repeatedly introduced legislation to end gerrymandering and install an independent redistricting commission.

Monday, January 07, 2019

I Don't Want Twitterman Impeached

I want him defeated at the ballot box. I want him and those Republican office-holders covering for him -- like Thom Tillis -- trounced by voters.

Yes, I'm preaching expedience… "a regard for what is politic or advantageous rather than for what is right or just; a sense of self-interest." Expedience is the mother of caution, and if Democrats should have learned anything from the 1998 Republican impeachment jamboree of Bill Clinton, it's that caution might have tempered self-righteousness. After they impeached Clinton, the Republicans lost seats that fall. Partisan self-righteousness lacks charm.

I say it again: Trump has been a gift to progressive resurgence, the greatest generator of new Democratic leaders, the propulsive (and repulsive) instigator of a counter-movement that flipped 40 seats in the US House, several governorships, hundreds of state legislative seats, and at least one Supreme Court seat in North Carolina. That casus belli in the White House is the gift that keeps on giving.

He will continue to drive activists and voters and new candidates to the Democratic side during the next two years, and why would we unplug that energizing incubator? Why would Democrats risk making him a more popular martyr with his base and more sympathetic to independent voters who don't like hyper-partisanship? Why? It would be suicidal, especially as Mitch McConnell would stonewall any impeachment by House Democrats. I'm not that into useless, futile gestures.

And let's say House Democrats go forward and vote impeachment and let's suppose the Republican Senate by some miracle votes for conviction … you get Mike Pence, whose very fecklessness and accidental elevation to the Oval Office will invite sympathy and throttle down the resistance to The Man Who Isn't There Any Longer. Pence is a zero, but he isn't a bully, and he'll have good will on his side to pull the nation together. Or at least pretend to try to pull it together after the chaos of DJT.

Expediently speaking, that ain't a scenario a Democratic activist wants to entertain.

Leave Twitterman in office. Let prosecutors indict him after he's defeated in 2020 and then leave him to history.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Thinking Out of the Box for a Democrat Who Could Beat Thom Tillis

I'm looking at every pooh-bah's available list of "potential" Democratic candidates to take on Republican Senator Thom Tillis in 2020, and I can't help noticing that generally they're all men (and more about them in a later post). There are outstanding women in politics in this state -- let alone thousands who haven't established a public presence or profile yet -- who are not only qualified for that high office but also potentially very electable in a new world wrought in response to Twitterman. He's the first cause of global politics change, and I think we know by now that previously improbable movements can coalesce quickly around the right candidate, all other things being basically even.

The women written about here aren't necessarily interested in running for higher office. I get that. But if not one of them, then someone like them should be thinking about it.

Pricey Harrison during
Early Voting, 2018
NC House Rep Pricey Harrison (HD61) -- An attorney, Harrison represents much of Greensboro. First elected in 2004 in HD57, redistricted into HD61 last year, she won over 70% of the vote this past November. She's an environmental champion. She's also advocated for medical marijuana laws. She volunteered repeatedly for other candidates up and down the ballot, campaigning even with a broken leg and wrist. 
She's often described with the bland phrase "civic leader," which hardly does her justice. She has served as president of the Julian Price Family Foundation and in leadership with the NC Environmental Defense Fund and the Piedmont Land Conservancy.
She was very outspoken about the dangers of coal ash contamination after the Dan River spill seven years ago. She is a whistleblower of the best kind, someone in public office where her voice and her votes might make a difference. She's on top of issues, knows her facts -- especially about North Carolina's vulnerability to catastrophic climate change -- and she was outraged by the Republican super-majority's "unprecedented" power grabs.
She's good on her feet. Here she is addressing protestors against a pro-fracking bill outside the General Assembly in 2014:

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles -- Lyles won election in Charlotte only a year ago, first defeating incumbent Democratic Mayor Jennifer Roberts (who had the bad luck to preside over the city during the Republicans' bathroom bill debacle), and then going on to get almost 60% of the vote against the Republican candidate. Lyles is the first African American woman in that seat, though not the first African American (Harvey Gantt had that distinction back in the 1990s). Previously, Lyles had worked for the city of Charlotte as a budget analyst and assistant city manager. She ran for city council and won in 2013, was elected mayor pro-ten in 2015, and following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in 2016, "she proposed a seven-point plan to reduce racial and class divisions in the city," parts of which were passed by the council.
Recently (December 2018) the Charlotte Observer said, "She has been the mayor Charlotte needed." She has received praise from Republican conservatives as a "graceful" peacemaker between city factions. "Her style is so even-handed and thoughtful and positive," said NC Senator Dan Bishop, a Mecklenburg Republican.
The Observer described her as "cautious" and as something of a brake on the city's leftward propulsion under a new and very diverse city council (ever since the bathroom bill, pushback by progressives has become more assertive). 
Some -- many? -- progressives were pissed that she advocated for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte in 2020 ("it will bring more risk than payoff," editorialized the Charlotte Observer), but by her own lights -- she was elected to advocate for the municipality, after all -- a national convention even of idiots will benefit the economic development of the city.
She's calm, composed, and well prepared as she defends her decision on the RNC before a Democratic Women's group of Mecklenburg County:

NC House Rep Deb Butler (HD18) -- An attorney long active in Democratic politics, Butler represents much of Wilmington and has become a prominent whistleblower about the toxin Gen-X in the Cape Fear River. She also fought the highly controversial House Bill 2 ("bathroom bill") in 2016. Tragically, Butler's wife of three years, Anni Parra, died suddenly and unexpectedly four days before New Year's. She was 52. This is perhaps the worst timing possible for this discussion, and I hope Rep. Butler will forgive me. 
Butler's fight for LBGTQ rights predates her service in the House. She ran in 2012 for the NC Senate (SD8) and lost to creepy Thom Goolsby. When Democratic Rep. Susi Hamilton (HD18) resigned early in 2017 to take a cabinet post, Governor Cooper appointed Butler to her seat. Though she's new to the body, she immediately stepped out (both literally and figuratively) as an effective voice of resistance to the Republican super-majority. In November's election, she took over 60% of the vote.
Butler started posting commentaries as she walked around the General Assembly building, or in near neighborhoods, where she could get some fresh air and cool off -- talking clearly and effectively, with appropriate passion and resolve, about what the Republicans were up to that day. (I wish I could post one here, but I can't. They're on Butler's Twitter feed. Her most recent, on December 7, is riveting. The Republicans were overriding Governor Cooper's veto of the VoterID Bill, trying to distract everyone from the real and present ballot fraud down in NC-9, which would not have been stopped by voter photo ID, and Butler had had it.)
Here's her "walk and talk" from 13 June, when she was leaving the General Assembly at 11:30 pm, after hours of Republican bullying. She was flourescently a-light about what had just gone on.
Aside from proving she's pretty damn agile -- I can barely walk, let alone walk while videoing myself! -- she has the presence and the smarts to start a movement. Short version: I want to listen to her.
She told the Port City Daily, "I've been accused of being perhaps too straightforward sometimes, but I just don't know any other way. There is a lot that needs fixing in North Carolina and in Washington, and I think people are tired of the arguing and are looking for intelligent, forthright, and candid representatives who focus on solutions instead of division and churning everyone up all the time."
She supports an independent redistricting commission to end the practice of office-holders' choosing their voters. She supports restoring the tax rebate program for the film industry, which worked for so many years to build businesses in Wilmington and across the state and which the Republicans repealed. The film industry took its business to Georgia and elsewhere.