Saturday, June 29, 2019

Another Roy Cooper Veto With Potential Teeth

Governor Cooper announced yesterday that he will veto the budget passed by the Republicans in the General Assembly, and for the first time, with Republican super-majorities destroyed by last fall's elections, his veto may be upheld.

The main sticking point has been the expansion of Medicaid coverage in the state. Senate boss Phil Berger is very comfortable denying health care to at least a half-million citizens who otherwise could have it -- with 90% of its funding coming from the Feds -- and until Phil Berger gets hit by a bus, either literally or figuratively, the Republican state Senate will never go along with helping poor people get health care. Period.

So it's up to Roy Cooper to stand strong. And it's up to Democratic troops in the General Assembly to back him up.

There's more in the Republican budget to hate: Governor Cooper proposed giving every teacher in the state at least a 5 percent pay raise, with some getting up to 14.8 percent. The Republican budget would give an average 2 percent raise for teachers the first year and less than 2 percent the second year. (Take that, Miss McGillicuddy!)

School construction: Facing an $8 billion tab for school infrastructure, Governor Cooper wants a statewide bond committing the appropriate billions to fix outdated and crumbling infrastructure. House Speaker Tim Moore actually agreed with that. But Phil Berger once again has the biggest dick in Raleigh, and the resulting budget relies on a “pay-as-you-go” approach, pledging to spend roughly half of what's needed for school buildings in the next decade.

"Ask a teacher whether they’re willing to trust lawmakers’ promise of future action, particularly given the ... years, not months, of neglect from state leaders" (Billy Ball).

With crises erupting weekly over contaminated and dangerous drinking water supplies, the Republican budget again sticks its thumb in the eye of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  "DEQ had requested 37 new positions in the state environmental budget to address the crisis of perfluorinated compounds [PFAs] in drinking water supplies. The House tepidly responded with seven positions; the Senate, always financially brutal toward DEQ, eliminated the appropriation. The conference budget settled for just five additional full-time positions, but only two of them are devoted to PFAs sampling and analysis. The others are for permitting and administration" (Lisa Sorg).

You wanna talk pork in the budget? Try this: Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, already running to unseat Governor Cooper, gets $1.5 million to fiddle around interviewing “leaders in aviation, telecommunications, education, health care, transportation, fuel technologies, emergency management, military, agriculture, planning, and venture capital to determine opportunities” for drones and for so-called "Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircraft." Say what? Why didn't Phil Berger just be honest and label it "Money for Dan Forest to Jack-Off in Public."

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Gerrymandering Case Before Wake Superior Court in July Just Got Much More Important

Not unexpectedly, the US Supremes declined today on a 5-4 vote to interfere in partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina. That was the Rucho v. Common Cause suit.

But still hanging out there is Common Cause v. Lewis, the suit alleging excessive partisan gerrymandering of General Assembly seats in Raleigh. That case will go to trial in Wake County Superior Court in July. The plaintiffs are asking for partisan gerrymandering to be ruled unconstitutional under the North Carolina Constitution.

That case will undoubtedly and ultimately land on the doorstep of the North Carolina Supreme Court, and most observers expect a decision in time to either confirm current NC House and Senate seat districts or mandate that they be redistricted without reference to partisan demography (or racial makeup, for that matter).

Gerrymandering ain't a dead letter issue in North Carolina yet.

Twitterman's Endorsement of Thom Tillis Causes Acid Reflux Among NC Conservatives

North Carolina conservatives despise incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis, and his 2020 primary rival, Garland Tucker, has been gaining traction.

But then Twitterman came out with a full-bore endorsement for Tillis on Tuesday, stunning Tillis's enemies.

Brant Clifton at The Daily Haymaker says Twitterman's endorsement makes a mockery of his "drain the swamp" slogan.

Do you know what cognitive dissonance looks like? It looks like a case of summer prickly heat, and it requires a great deal of furious fanning. Cognitive dissonance produces discomfort because belief has been upended by contrary behavior.

So North Carolina conservatives thought Twitterman was sent by God to deliver them from weak Republican swamp creatures, but here Twitterman is, endorsing/protecting a weak Republican swamp creature.

How do you go on worshipping your savior when he's just so damn wrong?

Oh, you'll probably manage somehow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sometimes only music can lift the gloom of national tragedy and disgrace. We can believe in the unheard lyrics even against all visual evidence in the daily news to the contrary. Isn't that what faith is?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Let All the Dreamers Wake the Nation, Come, the New Jerusalem

Can't vote today -- God help us! -- but we can be lifted up by music.

An Open Letter To Congresswoman Virginia Foxx

You should vote for the "Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019," which is before the US House right now, but we know you won't. You wouldn't vote for assistance to victims of Hurricane Florence, which devastated the lives of so many North Carolinians in 2018, so why would you feel any empathy for brown children on the southern border?

The brutalizing of children seeking asylum in the land of the free shocks the conscience. The cruelty of Trump administration policies appalls the heart. We know Donald Trump's first instinct is to inflict pain: "She's not my type." That appears to be your first instinct too. Do you want to be like two peas in a rancid pod with Donald Trump?

You built a nursery business in the North Carolina mountains using immigrant labor, so you certainly know how to use people. Do you also feel any sympathy? You like to brag about how poor you were growing up, which is, I guess, supposed to be an index to how much you feel for other poor people, but you don't appear to feel at all. Bragging about how poor you were doesn't open a window into fellow-feeling for others. Do you look at people sweating to make you richer and feel nothing but an uptick in your bank account? Even expendable workers need food and water, and their knowing you grew up poor doesn't help at all. It might just increase their pain.

The whole world is watching the inhumanity of the United States government toward powerless human beings. We are watching. You are part of the government. You have power. You have influence. You have lots of money. Why don't you do something other than hardening your heart?

Or are you a prisoner of your own history?

How Trump Didn't Choose McCrory

Axios got its hands on nearly 100 "internal Trump transition vetting documents" detailing facts/rumors/opinions about individuals who were being mentioned for Trump administration jobs. Former Governor Pat McCrory was on the list, apparently being vetted as a possible Secretary of Energy.

The dossier on McCrory was littered with "red flags" -- reasons he might be a disaster waiting to happen -- and as we know, he wasn't picked to be Secretary of Energy or anything else for that matter.

The dossier hit the high points of McCrory's biography -- his indebtedness to Duke Energy, his sore loser history, his "thin skin" -- and headlined his past criticism of Donald Trump. One section of the dossier, titled "General Controversy," has been completely redacted by Axios.

It's particularly interesting that the dossier views McCrory's claim of voter fraud in his loss to Governor Roy Cooper as a liability, while Donald Trump was alleging exactly the same thing to explain how Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes than he did in November 2016.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Democratic Women Lining Up To Take Out Maine's Susan Collins

The Cook Political Report rates Maine's US Senate seat (held currently by Susan Collins) as "lean Republican," which is not exactly granite but rather pretty shaky ground for Senator Collins.

Dynamic Democratic women candidates have already been lining up for a big state primary next June 9th for the privilege of taking on Collins in November of 2020. Collins has tried to maintain her "moderate" reputation while voting with Donald Trump 98% of the time. The last straw for many in her state was her mealy-mouthed support for Brett Kavanaugh.

Sara Gideon
Today, a third Democratic woman stepped forward ... Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Sara Gideon, the daughter of an Indian immigrant father and a second-generation Armenian American mother. She has served in the Maine House of Representatives since 2012 and rose fast to become Speaker of the House. She seems like a powerhouse politician.

Hayley Miller in HuffPost:
The 47-year-old mother of three has focused her legislative tenure on boosting the state’s economy, tackling the opioid crisis, investing in sustainable energy and increasing access to universal health care. 
In the last few weeks of Maine’s first regular legislative session of 2019, Gideon oversaw the passage of several progressive bills, including automatic voter registration and expanding abortion access for women across the state. 
Her anti-poverty legislation to address the state’s “benefits cliff” and provide training for adults to qualify for higher-paying jobs received unanimous support in the state’s House and Senate on Tuesday. The bill is awaiting Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ signature.
Betsy Sweet
Already in the race for the Senate seat (she beat Gideon to the punch by about a week) -- Democrat Betsy Sweet, who ran previously in 2018 for Maine governor but lost the Democratic primary to Janet Mills who went on to win the governorship.

Betsy Sweet has decades of political activism behind her. She founded Moose Ridge Associates in 1990, a major lobbying outfit for progressive causes in Maine.
A legislative advocate at the State House for thirty years, Sweet has developed and implemented strategy and legislation for many non-profit social service and environmental clients. She can list hundreds of pieces of successful legislation to her credit. She is also known around the statehouse as one of the most effective advocates and experts on the state budget and funding services for Maine people who need them.
Lawyer Bre Kidman was actually the first Democrat to declare her candidacy for Collins seat, in April, because she feared no other Democrat was going to announce -- "someone had to take on the task," she said. Kidman doesn't have the credentials, the political connections, or the experience of either Gideon or Sweet, so there's a chance she'll drop out now that two more credible Democratic candidates are in the race.

Collins looks weak, and she shot herself in the ankle with her vote for Brett Kavanaugh and her continued kowtowing to Donald Trump's agenda while mouthing "moderate" opinions and failing to follow through.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A 2020 Re-Play: Gail Young v. Larry Pittman

NC House member Larry Pittman (R-Dist. 83) is still fighting the Civil War on the losing side. He continuously insults Abraham Lincoln as ever bit as tyrannical as Adolph Hitler, and he thinks of homosexuals as less than full citizens. He's more than just a character. He's a legislator in the North Carolina General Assembly, God help us all!

Last year in his most recent reelection he got less than 53% of the vote against Democrat Gail Young, who polled 47.22%. That ain't bad. That actually suggests that Pittman is maybe hanging onto his seat by sheer voter inertia and force of habit.

I noticed only recently that Gail Young has declared her intention of challenging Pittman once again in 2020. She's a seasoned candidate by now, and she might bank on greater name recognition this time. Here's what I wrote about her very early in 2018:
Young is an advocate for government reform and accountability and the leader of a liberal advocacy group in Cabarrus County called Citizens in Action NC. She is also a retired career public servant, having worked for a long time for the Mecklenburg County government as a Division Director of the Land Use and Environmental Services Agency. “The politicians in Raleigh are not listening to the people they represent," Young says. "I have seen firsthand how frustrated people are after they met with their elected officials. Time and again I have heard that the elected officials don’t really listen and don’t care about the thoughts and priorities of their constituents. That must end.” Redistricting reform also played a large role in Young’s decision to run for the state House. She said she sees the legislature’s redistricting process as more an attempt to protect incumbents rather than an effort to protect the voice of the people of North Carolina.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Luckiest Democrat in the Nation

Alabama Senator Doug Jones must have a guardian angel. The improbable winner of Jeff Sessions' old seat in a 2017 special election has been staring down the barrel of his first reelection campaign in 2020, and along comes a repeat Republican offender in Roy Moore who says he intends to drag the Republican Party down again next year.

Oh goodie!

“Yes, I will run for the United States Senate in 2020,” Moore told reporters in Montgomery, Ala. “Can I win? Yes, I can win.”

Four other Republicans have already declared for the race, none of them with the name recognition nor toxic history of Roy Moore. Some observers think hope that maybe Jeff Sessions will get in and run for his old seat, in which case Roy Moore would probably be crushed in the primary.

Twitterman, who supported Moore in 2017, has turned his back on him, calling him a loser who can't possibly win the Senate seat. That's got to hurt. But it has also fed Roy Moore's ego, to prove Trump wrong. What could be more tempting than proving all the Washington establishment wrong?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Summer Solstice 2019

Summer Solstice, at Stonehenge
The Summer Solstice strikes tomorrow morning at 11:54 a.m.

It's your moment for placating whichever gods/goddesses you acknowledge.

The earth goddesses here are Ceres and Flora, with a host of local deities of river, rock, and rise. We also acknowledge the sky gods, who've been such a problem lately. What is your problem, guys?

11:54 would be, for ancient peoples, that moment when the sun appeared to stand still, because they didn't understand the tilt of the earth on its axis and that when it reaches the max extent of its northward tilt (at 11:54 a.m. tomorrow, for one example), it begins to tilt back toward the south.

Ain't science wonderful?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A 2020 Texas Congressional Race To Watch

We've seen a boatload of videos introducing first-time candidates to the voting public, but we've rarely seen one as good as this:

Walking and talking on camera ain't that easy, but Kim Olson pulls it off with skill and aplomb. Plus the biography she's sketching -- with the help of killer graphics -- is pretty impressive, especially in Texas where she's running to unseat a Republican congressman occupying a previously safe Republican seat.

District 24 includes parts of Tarrant, Dallas, and all of Denton counties north of the Dallas metropolitan agglomeration. It's suburbia, you bet, and includes thousands of students at North Texas State University.

(Won't pause now to sketch Kim Olson's biography, except to say she was in the first generation of female Air Force pilots. You can read a stripped-down biography here and also see a stunning photograph of her during her USAF heyday.)

Olson's no stranger to candidacy for public office. She ran in 2018 for Texas Secretary of Agriculture and got 3,822,137 votes, over 46% of the total, but lost to the Republican candidate. Statewide races in Texas -- especially for Democrats -- ain't no picnic, but she made a name for herself as a rising talent.

Republican Incumbent Congressman Kenny Marchant
Kenny Marchant
First elected to Congress in 2004, Marchant has mainly coasted to reelection every year since, except in 2018 when another Democratic woman came within 8,000 votes, or 47.5% of the total votes cast, of beating him. Suddenly, Kenny Marchant, a good ole Texas boy possibly past his prime, looks vulnerable. The beef against him in 2017, heading into that 2018 election, was that he was hiding from his constituents. An Indivisible group with a sizable Facebook presence was stalking him, and he didn't like it a little bit.

He's been a member of the Tea Party Caucus and calls himself a "stanch conservative." He voted repeatedly to abolish the Affordable Care Act, part of the reason the Indivisible group wants to chat.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Eric Mansfield Enters US Senate Race

Fayetteville medical doctor Eric Mansfield has announced his bid for the US Senate seat occupied currently by Sen. Thom Tillis, just one day after Cal Cunningham also announced.

Mansfield was elected to the NC Senate (District 21) in 2010 and served just one term. Before that term ended he opted to run for lieutenant governor in 2012, but lost the primary to Linda Coleman that year. I voted for Mansfield in that primary (and Coleman went on to lose to Dan Forest).

In a YouTube video announcing his candidacy, Mansfield talks about a near-death experience he had in 2018 when his heart stopped while he was driving home from a workout. His car crashed but he survived intact, and he says he was given a second chance.

To recap others in this Democratic Senate primary: Trevor Fuller is a Mecklenburg County Commissioner, and Erica D. Smith is currently in the NC Senate. No doubt others will also be announcing runs on the Democratic side, with Tillis looking increasingly vulnerable.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Cal Cunningham Is Now in the Race for the US Senate

Cal Cunningham has been running for North Carolina lieutenant governor since last Thanksgiving. Today he announced that he's switching to run for the US Senate seat currently held by Thom Tillis.

Senator Chuck Schumer apparently had a hand in convincing him to jump into the Senate race, and with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) support, Cunningham is instantly the frontrunner among Democrats.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Strong Contender for the NC Senate

NC Senator Terry Van Duyn is not running again in 2020 for her Senate seat (District 49) because she's running for Lieutenant Governor. District 49 is considered "strong Democratic." It covers all but the southernmost portion of Buncombe County and most of Asheville. It's a prime opportunity for the right Democrat to join the circus in Raleigh. So you can expect a rush of contenders.

The right Democrat may well be Julie Mayfield, since 2015 a member of the Asheville City Council and one of the foremost leaders of MountainTrue, an environmental advocacy nonprofit. She helped co-found MountainTrue in 2015, the same year she made it to the City Council. MountainTrue was a merger of environmental advocacy groups in Henderson, Jackson, and Macon counties and has become the official home for both the French Broad Riverkeeper and the Watauga Riverkeeper.

Julie Mayfield got her law degree from Emory University in 1996, which apparently fueled an inherent gene for pro bono and public good advocacy. She directed the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law where she represented environmental groups, civic associations, and individuals in public interest environmental law cases. From 2003 to early 2008, she was Vice President and General Counsel for the Georgia Conservancy. She arrived in Asheville in 2008 and by 2011 she was appointed by Governor Bev Perdue to the Mountain Resources Commission, where she served until the legislature dissolved the Commission in 2013. She also served on the North Carolina Conservation Network board for six years, chairing it for two.

Most recently, MountainTrue came out strong against the petition by the Town of Beech Mountain to the Army Corps of Engineers to be allowed to hoard more water from Beech Creek: "Instead of fixing their leaky water pipes, the Town of Beech Mountain is trying to get the Army Corps of Engineers to change the permit that determines how much water it is required to release from its Buckeye Reservoir to support stream life downstream in Beech Creek." Bad municipal infrastructure shouldn't take it out on Mother Nature.

MountainTrue looks financially healthy. It's now offering grants to "kids, teens and families" all over the mountain region who'll be actively engaged in "policy and project advocacy, outreach, and education, and on the ground projects." It intends to feed the grassroots of environmental activism and make a difference. I take that as the stamp of Julie Mayfield's character.

On the Asheville City Council, she's pushed a new program for down-payment assistance for prospective homeowners and she's shown a commendible curiosity about how the Tourism Development Authority spends tourism tax revenues.

From the article about her announcement of candidacy in March of this year: Prior to MountainTrue, Mayfield worked for Amnesty International USA and for the Atlanta Community Food Bank and for the Georgia Justice Project. She advocated for people caught up sometimes in a meat-grinder of law enforcement, which accounts for Mayfield's active participation in rewriting the use-of-force rules for the Asheville City Police, a policy-rewrite that Mayfield says has led to a 61% reduction in use-of-force incidents.

Mayfield Not the Only Democrat Already Running

Ben Scales beat Mayfield's announcement last March by a single day. Scales is also a lawyer and has run unsuccessfully twice for Buncombe district attorney, once as an unaffiliated candidate. Scales came out immediately for the legalization of marijuana and staked out other progressive positions:
"Health care is a right, climate change needs rapid solutions now, education is for everyone, gender is a spectrum, immigrants are welcome, domestic violence won’t be tolerated, women are equal, agriculture and innovation is vital, elections should be fair and voter registration automatic, the cash bail system, mass incarceration and the war on drugs must end."
Remember the late March scandal when the wife of the youngest member of the NC General Assembly from Transylvania County had to take out a protective order against her abusive husband? Ben Scales was the lawyer who helped the wife win that protective order.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Let the US House Resignations Begin!

Even as the national GOP has been making much noise about recruiting women to run for Congress as Republicans, one of only 13 Republican women in the US Congress has just announced her decision not to run again.

The announcement by Rep. Susan Brooks, who has represented the 5th District of Indiana since her election in 2012, "stunned colleagues and party leaders," according to the WashPost.

"Though [Brooks] won reelection by 14 percentage points, Democrats figured they had a chance in a district north of Indianapolis that included the kind of wealthy suburbs Democrats did well in last cycle."

Bet there'll be additional stunning resignations before this year is out.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Good Luck With That Project, Brethren

Michael Whatley
At the North Carolina Republican state convention last weekend, there was a good deal of public talk about how the NCGOP should and can win back urban areas.

“The first thing is that the party has to get branded as the party of family, faith and fun,” said Jim Womack, who was running to be the next state party chair and who received the most in raw votes but who lost the chairmanship anyway to "weighted voting."

"Family, faith and fun."

"Has to get branded."

diospswwixei ... Sorry. Sudden onset of "HAR-DE-HAR-HAR," and I doubled-over for a minute there.

Fun is funny enough, but it's the faith part that is deeply and offensively funny.

The Christianity of those evangelicals who've been publicly drunk with Trump-love doesn't resemble any Christianity I recognize from actually growing up on the Bible and going to church three blessed times a week. Is it not the essence of idolatry, their winking at and excuses for a shameless liar, a deeply cruel and immoral man, "a pagan who embodies the seven deadly sins"? One Watauga County Republican even claimed that he actually heard the voice of God when Trump came down the escalator, informing him personally that Trump was the future savior of both Christianity and the nation. God chose a man of those values and that behavior to save Christlikeness on earth? 

By "urban" we assume Womack meant black, and let me tell you something. Black Christians are the best Christians, and they tend to recognize hypocrisy when they see it.

But back to the Republican state convention and their discussion of re-branding themselves for the urban audience. Jim Womack, the candidate for state party chair who got snaked out of winning it, promised that if elected to leadership he would start running "ads on radio stations that cater to African-Americans." Boy! Wouldn't you like to get the contract to produce those radio spots!

Michael Whatley, the man who actually won the chairmanship, said the party needs "a permanent presence in urban communities. And it has to remind voters of Republican economic policies he said have benefited those communities." “It’s messaging but it’s also presence,” he said.

Maybe the NCGOP should open a chain of second-hand stores.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Retired Marine Scott Cooper Running to Replace Republican George Holding in Congress

Glad to see so many retired Marines announcing for Congress in 2020!

Scott Cooper retired from the Marine Corps in 2013 after doing a few things:
Twenty years of service specializing in operational leadership, strategic planning and communication, air power, nation-building, and cross-cultural liaisons at the executive level. 
• Squadron commanding officer. Deployed 200-person squadron to Afghanistan, flying in combat. Squadron recognized with Phoenix Award as the #1 unit for maintenance readiness within the Dept of Defense. 
• Strategic analyst and advisor – served as speech writer to the Marine Corps three-star Deputy Commandant for Aviation, responsible for analyzing long-range alternative future security environments and recommending future aviation force structures. 
• Over four years of international service in eight overseas deployments throughout the world. Significant experience in inter-agency coordination and overseas development. Led initial military team into Djibouti in 2002, establishing key relationships with Djiboutian civilians and military. Led U.S. military and embassy planning team efforts in 2002 contingency plans for American citizen evacuations in Pakistan, Jordan, and Egypt. 
• Deployed to Fallujah, Iraq during key tribal engagement efforts in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, the “turning point” in the campaign. 
• Flew Iraqi no-fly zone (Northern and Southern Watch), Bosnian no-fly zone (Deny Flight), Kosovo Air Campaign (Allied Force), Iraq Campaign (Iraqi Freedom – three tours), and Afghanistan Campaign (Enduring Freedom). 
• Key leader and technical expert in the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device efforts in Iraq. Led inter-service and inter-agency effort that achieved an over 50 percent reduction in fatalities in 2007.
Okay. You've got our attention, Colonel.

His philosophical outlook is high-minded (if a tad Little-Mary-Sunshine-ish). He writes on his Facebook page:

I’m proud of my 20 years in the Marine Corps, especially when I look back at all those who gave so much for our country. What strikes me about that experience is that no one asked where you were from, who your parents were, or how much money they made. No one cared about what religion you were, or with what political party you identified....
The last couple of years, it feels like we are more divided than ever. Somehow, the idea has taken hold that those who don’t share your political beliefs are your enemy. I couldn’t disagree more. We all share the same proud title, the most important one in a democracy – citizen.
He's good friends with Richard "Otter" Bew who ran (alas, unsuccessfully) in the Democratic primary for the special election in NC-3. Maybe Cooper's race in the NC 2nd Congressional District will turn winner next year. The "2020 Tracker" at rates the district "competitive."

Scott Cooper is challenging Republican incumbent George Holding, who has played a potted plant in Congress.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Off and Running for 2020: Patsy Keever Announces Bid for NC Senate

Patsy Keever, a former chair of the NC Democratic Party, has announced she's running for the NC Senate District 48, which includes all of Henderson and Transylvania counties and part of southern Buncombe County -- a district rated "strong Republican" which is currently represented in Raleigh by a hamburger hustler (incumbent Republican Chuck Edwards owns a string of McDonald's).

Keever spent 25 years as a public school teacher. In fact, she was still a full-time teacher when she first ran for (and won) a seat on the Buncombe County Commission in 1992. She served a total of 12 years, winning reelection twice. In 2004, Keever jumped into a Congressional race against incumbent 11th District Congressman Charles H. Taylor and got some 45% of the vote.

In 2010 Keever ran a successful primary against an incumbent Democrat in the NC House District 115, and when that incumbent resigned after the primary, Keever was appointed to complete his term and then won her own two-year term in the NC House that fall.

In 2012 she again attempted a run for the US Congress, this time in the 10th Congressional District against incumbent Republican Patrick McHenry.

In other words, she's a veteran of political campaigns and knows what both success and failure looks like. A warrior who no doubt understands the odds in a "strong Republican" district and knows full-well what it'll take to win.

Incumbent Republican Chuck Edwards appears to be a species of Senate furniture. He was appointed to the Senate by Pat McCrory in 2016 when Tom Apodaca retired before the end of his term. Edwards went on to win election to the seat that fall.

Edwards doesn't stray from NC Republican orthodoxy. He's dead-set against expanding Medicaid to poor people, and he thinks that the quality of public education has very little to do with the state's money investment in it. He brags on his website about what a "po boy" he was growing up, but that rings as hollow as Virginia Foxx's heart, given the policies Edwards is now voting for in the NC General Assembly. Edwards sponsored a controversial 2017 bill to change at-large Asheville city council elections to a district system, a power-grab which 75 percent of city referendum voters opposed (though very few of the voters in Senate District 48 are Asheville residents).

If 2018 was famous in North Carolina for the flipping of "lean Republican" districts, can't 2020 be even more famous for the flipping of "strong Republican" districts?

Sunday, June 09, 2019

The NCGOP Elected a New Chair Yesterday

He's called "businessman Michael Whatley." He's from Gaston County. Here's how he describes himself: "Since volunteering for Jesse Helms in his 1984 race against Jim Hunt as a sophomore at Watauga High School, Michael has knocked on doors, worked on phone banks, put out yard signs and raised money for Republicans in Local, Legislative, Congressional, Senatorial and Presidential races from one end of North Carolina to the other." Republican conservative activist Brant Clifton rebuts that: "Thirty days ago, NO ONE had heard of Michael Whatley. He has no record of recruiting candidates, promoting the party platform, running campaigns, or raising money for party organizations."

The Tea Party conservatives were backing Jim Womack, currently the chair of the Lee County Republican Party and a harder edged conservative. Womack actually won the raw vote at the convention yesterday, but then something magical -- called "weighted voting" -- intervened, and presto-chango, Michael Whatley came out on top.

So the conservatives are pissed. The establishment (Dallas Woodhouse) is still in control, and a Republican primary against Senator Thom Tillis, the establishment's boy, is looming next March.

Good times!

Friday, June 07, 2019

The Blunt Truth: Republican Government in North Carolina Is Illegitimate. Bottomline: They're Bastards

Reporting by Michael Wines:
The advocacy group Common Cause said in court documents submitted in Raleigh on Thursday that the Hofeller files include new evidence showing how North Carolina Republicans misled a federal court to prolong the life of their map of state legislative districts, which had been ruled unconstitutional.

The Republicans told the federal court hearing the map case that they would not be able to draw new legislative districts and hold public hearings on them in time for a proposed special election in late 2017 or early 2018. In fact, Common Cause said, Mr. Hofeller’s files show that almost all the work had already been done. 
While the advocacy group’s court filing did not include any of the underlying documents from Mr. Hofeller’s storage drives, it stated that a detailed analysis of the maps found among his files showed that new boundaries had been drawn for more than 97 percent of the state’s proposed Senate districts and 90 percent of House districts. 
The federal court’s decision later not to call a special election left the existing legislative gerrymander — and a veto-proof Republican majority in both the state House and Senate — in place for roughly an additional year. 
Republicans used that extra time to, among other things, try to tilt the state judiciary rightward, remap elected judges’ districts in the state’s largest county, and tweak election rules for the state Supreme Court. They restructured the State Board of Elections to dilute the influence of Roy Cooper, the state’s Democratic governor. And they tacked six proposed constitutional amendments onto last November’s ballot — many of them, like a proposal to make fishing and hunting a constitutional right, aimed at pumping up Republican turnout. 
The new evidence about the actions of the Republicans in North Carolina “raises serious questions about the legitimacy of their hold on power in the state,” said Eric Holder, an attorney general in the Obama administration who now heads the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The committee’s nonprofit arm has financed the Common Cause lawsuit. “They should now explain to the court — and the people of North Carolina — why they are so intent on manipulating the election process for their own benefit,” Mr. Holder said in a written statement.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Or What's a Blue Wave For?

The NC House Republicans failed yesterday to override Governor Roy Cooper's veto of their newest attempt to criminalize abortion and stigmatize doctors who provide it ... the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act,” a focus-group tested title for a bill meant to further politicize health care for women and tar Governor Cooper as a supporter of infanticide.


Two Democrats broke ranks and voted with the Republicans, but that wasn't enough to overcome the veto. Last fall's election guaranteed the collapse of the Republican super-majority in the House, and yesterday saw the first example of that.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Rep. Ray Russell Hits a Lick for Voter Rights

RALEIGH -- Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a bipartisan bill that is a milestone for Rep. Ray Russell.

House Bill 646 improves the process for universities, government agencies, and other organizations to certify their photo IDs as Voter IDs. Rep. Russell was a primary sponsor of the bill. He, along with Rep. Zack Hawkins (D-Durham), became the first freshman Democrats to have a bill signed into law this session.

In addition to Reps. Russell and Hawkins, primary sponsors include two veteran lawmakers, Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford).

The bill becomes law amid a myriad of court challenges to sweeping voter ID changes instituted by the NC General Assembly last year.

“Even though court Constitutional challenges have and will be filed against North Carolina’s voter ID law, we must act to make sure every citizen, including college students, can vote without undue burden, regardless of the outcome of these court challenges,” Rep. Russell said.

“The voter ID law written last year placed insurmountable barriers for using university IDs as voter IDs,” he added. In March 2019, only 72 of over 850 schools and other institutions had their photo IDs approved as voter IDs for 2020 elections.

Rep. Russell and Rep. Hawkins sounded the alarm bell on problems with student IDs earlier in the session. In March 2019, Appalachian State was one of only 5 UNC System schools whose IDs were approved by the State Board of Elections for voting. House Bill 646 modifies the law so that additional IDs can be certified for use as a voter IDs and creates a new round of submissions to the State Board of Elections later this year.

HB 646 also addresses problems with early voting in odd-number year elections, restoring some local flexibility regarding hours and days for early voting in municipal elections.

Since beginning service at the NCGA in January, Rep. Russell hit the ground running with primary sponsorships to 16 different bills. For a full list of bills for which he has been primary sponsor, visit

North Carolina Trends

For what it's worth... (hattip PoliticsNC)

Monday, June 03, 2019

Here's a Headline

After studying Sutton Lake, Duke University scientists say, “Impact of coal ash in environment far larger than previously thought”

Sutton Lake is on the coast, at Wilmington.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

"Hofeller devoted the most time to North Carolina..."

Big news, from Slate:
In February, attorneys challenging North Carolina’s legislative gerrymander notified the defendants, a group of Republican leaders in the legislature, that they’d issued a subpoena. The lawyers had asked Stephanie Hofeller Lizon to provide “any storage device” containing redistricting-related documents left by her estranged father, Thomas Hofeller, a Republican consultant who specialized in gerrymandering. Republican legislators did not object, and Lizon turned over the requested materials: 18 thumb drives and four hard drives containing more than 75,000 files—many related to her father’s consulting work. The voting rights attorneys had uncovered a vast trove of information exposing the inner workings of GOP gerrymandering across the country. 
Upon learning what their opponents had obtained, attorneys for Republican lawmakers went to court to try to seize the files. But it was too late. Voting rights advocates had lawfully acquired the materials, even after having given Republicans a chance to object. And on Thursday, they dropped the first bombshell from Hofeller’s hard drives: A key portion of a 2015 memo written by Hofeller appeared in a draft Justice Department letter used to justify the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the census. Hofeller’s memo, which explains why the citizenship question would boost the voting power of “Republicans and non-Hispanic Whites,” indicates that administration officials lied about the reason for adding the question.... 
For years, Hofeller held an office at the Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill. He worked as both its official redistricting director and, later, as a paid consultant. He traveled the country to teach Republican lawmakers how to gerrymander their districts to create permanent GOP legislative majorities.... But Hofeller devoted the most time to North Carolina, where he created lopsided Republican majorities in a state evenly divided between the parties....
Read the whole article! Republican attorney Phil Strach, husband of recently fired executive director of the NC State Board of Elections Kim Strach, was representing the "Republican lawmakers" (Berger/Moore) in the attempt to suppress the Hofeller secret gerrymandering files.

More revelations to come.