Monday, September 30, 2019

Nicole Quick Has Announced for the 59th NC House District

Jon Hardister, Republican Whip,
NC House
Jon Hardister, the majority Republican whip in the NC House, appears to have been a prime operative in the veto override ambush pulled off by Speaker Tim Moore early on the morning of September 11.

Remember the drill? Republican leadership passed the word to the Democratic minority that no votes would be taken that Wednesday morning. It was the 18th anniversary of 9/11, after all, and at least some Democratic members planned to be at official remembrances. But what those too trustful Democrats didn't know was that Whip Jon Hardister was secretly texting Republican members to "be in your seat at 8:30." To motivate them more, Hardister alleged that maybe Democrats were going to try to pull a fast one with some motion about redistricting, and Republican members better be ready.


Hardister could -- and subsequently did -- rationalize his text message to his troops -- I'm paraphrasing but this is the gist of his cover-story: "As Republican whip, I must routinely remind my forgetful colleagues to be in attendance" -- while Hardister refused to admit there was any ruse involved. He won't produce the actual text he sent to fellow Republicans, though he did confirm to the News and Observer reporter that he warned that the Democrats might try something subversive about redistricting.

The Republicans knew -- and have known -- that they couldn't override Governor Cooper's veto of their budget except by deception. By infernal hook or by crook. Representative Hardister was both a hook and smug little crook when all was said and done.

Hardister Now Has an Announced Democratic Opponent

Nicole Quick speaks at her kick-off
on Sunday, Sept. 22
Nicole Quick, currently the chair of the Guilford County Democrats, quietly launched her campaign for the District 59 NC House seat a week ago with a private fundraiser in Greensboro. I say "quietly" because the mainstream media has taken no notice of her yet, but House Democratic Minority Leader Darren Jackson attended and so did Democratic freshman Ashton Clemmons from the neighboring 57th District. Also attending was Democratic freshman Senator Michael Garrett of the 27th Senatorial District in Guilford and Senator Gladys Robinson, also of Guilford. Garrett became a star in 2018 by defeating incumbent bete noir Trudy Wade.

Just from that evidence alone -- pretty much every elected Democrat in Guilford County attended the Quick kick-off to show support -- we might say that Nicole Quick has been recruited, or if not directly recruited, certainly nurtured.

She does have a website (well fleshed-out, so she's been planning this for some time), no campaign video yet, but she does have a Facebook page with a lengthy biography attached. She also feeds the Twitter beast, and I like that in a candidate.

What she needs: A robust field program, with aggressive field organizers who won't wait for door-knocking volunteers to appear via the website but who will hit the phones and recruit troops on the ground. For that, she'll also need comprehensive data and data managers who can turn up those high-scoring Democrats in District 59, some of whom have never volunteered for a campaign before but who will be unusually energized in 2020 because of the threat of another four years of Twitterman.

I must point out here that Jon Hardister is a popular incumbent Republican. He took almost 57% of the vote in 2018. After the most recent remapping of NC House districts, District 59 still has a 54.20% predicted Republican vote share. Michael Bitzer lists the new 59th as "Lean Republican" but also "competitive." It's that last word that can send tingles down the spine. But competition also means "a hell of a lot of work!" Hope she has a campaign manager and a good bench of support staff, whether paid or volunteer.

Can Nicole Quick do it? Dunno. But I'm watching from the mountains.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Richard Burr Targeted by Conservative Republican TV Ad

Here's the ad being run by Republicans For the Rule of Law, a group of conservative Republicans disturbed by D. Trump's quid pro quo behavior with Ukraine. (The group includes former Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and other prominent conservatives.) The ad is being tailored for at least 20 different Republican politicians all over the nation. Republicans for the Rule of Law legal advisor and spokesman Chris Truax said, "It is no longer about whether Republicans believe President Trump or whether they support his policies. It’s about whether they support his admitted abuse of power and his efforts to secure a foreign government’s help in an American election. President Trump sees nothing wrong with his behavior. In fact, he’s proud of it. The question now is, are Republicans?”

Read more here:

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Another Challenge To Gerrymandering, Now in State Courts

Yesterday, the National Redistricting Foundation, on behalf of individual voters from across the 13 Congressional districts in North Carolina, filed a lawsuit in Wake Superior Court alleging that those 13 Congressional districts are also illegal partisan gerrymanders. The suit attempts to capitalize on the very recent case decided by a three-judge panel of state judges which led to the redrawing of some maps for NC General Assembly seats, both House and Senate.

Although the suit asks the court to order the redrawing of the Congressional district maps in time for the 2020 elections, some observers expressed doubt that enough time remains for a court to take additional action affecting the 2020 election calendar. Candidate filing to run in 2020 will open on December 2nd -- barely more than two months away -- and will end on December 20th.

That's a very tight window for courts to take on something as impactful as throwing out 13 Congressional district maps.

So, no, I don't have a lot of hope that this newest lawsuit is going to accomplish anything for the 2020 elections.

The Body Count -- Kurt Volker

A Reoccurring Feature on Who's Jumping Off Luxury Liner Trump

Kurt D. Volker, Trump's special envoy to Ukraine, abruptly resigned late yesterday.

He was mentioned in the whistleblower's filing as one of a couple of State Department officers who were trying to “contain the damage” by advising Ukrainians how to navigate Trump/Giuliani’s pressure to find dirt on the Biden family.

NYTimes describes him as "a widely respected former ambassador to NATO." He was working only parttime as an unpaid special envoy to Ukraine. Yesterday, he reportedly "concluded that it was impossible to be effective in his assignment given the developments of recent days."
Mr. Volker facilitated an entree for Mr. Giuliani with the newly elected government in Ukraine, acting not at the instruction of Mr. Trump or Mr. Pompeo, but at the request of the Ukrainians, who were worried because Mr. Giuliani was seeking information about Mr. Biden and other Democrats and had denounced top Ukrainian officials as “enemies of the president.”
Because Volker reached out to him on behalf of the Ukrainians, Guiliani has used that as the justification for claiming he was always "working for the State Department" when he was skulking around Ukraine.

“Kurt was one of the good ones who went in to the administration to stave off disaster,” said Thomas Wright, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “They all have to speak out now about everything they know and let the chips fall where they may.”

It's always "the good ones" who die first. I've seen that movie before.

Friday, September 27, 2019

How To Tell a Mobster From a Mere Tyrant

Here's what a mob boss does: He swings his dick.

That telephone call to Zelensky?


"I need a little favor." Get me dirt. I just need enough to destroy my rival.

Our very own American mob boss had been softening up the Ukrainians for months. Well before the impeachment call, Trump had called to congratulate Zelensky on his election, while also tasking him in the same breath with certain "investigations into corruption." Zelensky knew exactly what he was talking about.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Mr. Yuriy Lutsenko, had told mob Consigliere Guiliani that he thought Joe Biden's son Hunter, who sat on the board of directors of Ukraine's largest gas company for five years, might have benefitted from graft. Guiliani ran with that, and both he and Trump started rattling cages: "Somebody needs to investigate Biden, because sure as there's a nose on your face, Joe Biden during his tenure as vice president had pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a previous Prosecutor General because that prosecutor was pursuing the corruption of Hunter Biden." That's the mob story.

That's a false story. The owner of the big gas company had come under scrutiny for possible abuse of power and unlawful enrichment, "but Hunter Biden was never accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation" (Michael Birnbaum et al.). Lutsenko, the Guiliani-enabler who may have started the whole Ukrainian fiasco by blabbing a bunch of bullshit to Guiliani, in an interview just today admitted that Hunter Biden had not run afoul of any laws in Ukraine. 

Don't you love irony: In point of fact, Joe Biden had sought the ouster of that previous Prosecutor General for "not sufficiently pursuing corruption cases."

A mob boss labels a whistle-blower “almost a spy,” waxxing nostalgic for the good old days when you could just take 'em out and hang 'em.

To the mobster, a spy is a rat, a turncoat, a traitor ripe for rubbing out. To the mere tyrant, a spy might be a person who at least deserves some respect as an acknowledged adversary, even as you march him out to be shot. A mob boss feels no respect for anyone outside the family.

What We Know About the Whistleblower -- UPDATED

Not a CIA officer
1. A CIA officer.

2. Enlisted information from at least a half-dozen other intelligence agency operatives with key White House access.

3. He/she writes well and clearly.

4. Delivered his report on August 12 to the Inspector General of the "intelligence community."

5. He knew about Trump's call to Ukrainian President Zelensky. He knew its content. He knew it had been hidden in a computer server reserved for the highest top secret counter-intelligence information. He had never seen the "call notes," yet his knowledge of their content and their import was eerily accurate.

6. The whistleblower initially submitted his concerns anonymously -- and not in official whistleblower form, not yet -- to the general counsel at the CIA, Courtney Simmons Elwood.
6a. Elwood shared the anonymous communication from the whistleblower with John A. Eisenberg, a deputy White House counsel, who "was already aware of vague concerns about the call [between Trump and Zelensky]."
6b. Together, Elwood and Eisenberg determined that "the accusations had a reasonable basis," and they together took them to John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division.
6c. Demers went immediately to the White House to read the transcript of the call and assess whether to alert other senior law enforcement officials. He then looped in the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the department’s criminal division.
7. Meanwhile, the whistleblower was growing concerned that CIA General Counsel Elwood was not taking him seriously. He learned that she had gone to the White House with his complaint. So he doubled down, went through channels prescribed by law for official whistleblower complaints -- and we're barely more than a month into this unraveling.

8. At the end of August, the office of the director of national intelligence referred the whistleblower's official complaint to the Justice Department (see John Demers, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and Brian A. Benczkowski -- 6b and 6c above) as a possible criminal matter.

Justice Department ultimately declined to open an investigation.

Note on Sources: I've been reading non-stop for two days, not always marking my path, but today it's the team of Julian E. Barnes, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner, among others. Do some Googling.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Fog Infesting the Forsyth and Guilford County Boards of Election

Seems pretty clear from investigative reporting by Travis Fain at WRAL that the staff at the State Board of Elections (SBOE) failed to follow the law and did not test the source code of new electronic voting machines that have been certified by the SBOE but whose security may be porous.

We read just this morning that the Forsyth County Board of Elections has decided to buy ES&S voting machines, the ones much criticized for producing a bar code that cannot be read by a normal voter (nor verified as accurate, apparently). At which we did a double-take. Whaaaa? Don't the members of the Forsyth County Board of Elections (Republican members, you are excused from this test by teacher), don't those public servants in charge of fair, free, and honest elections read the news? Don't they know the considered opinion of election computer software experts that the ES&S machines -- especially those -- can't necessarily be trusted.

Not just in Forsyth is there an emerging problem with the safety of the next General Elections. It's happening in Guilford County, too. Two days ago, according to reporting by Taft Wireback, the Guilford BOE seems to have been poised to also choose the ES&S hardware, but the attendance of many citizens (even at a 2 p.m. meeting) who argued against those machines, and the concern of at least one Guilford BOE member, persuaded the 5-member board to postpone its decision until next week.

Don't know if in the meantime those members will be seeking the opinions of election machinery experts, but they should. However, their past record doesn't argue for it. A majority of that board apparently wanted to get dispensation from the NC General Assembly to continue to use their old totally hackable electronic voting equipment in 2020-- machines now ruled by statute as banned from use in NC. That expressed desire to keep being foolish about election security amounts to the reckless disregard for the rights of voters.

What's the Old Saying? "Pride Goeth"?

Well, at least the Trump Administration has become now the most hilariously gaff-prone laugh-riot available on TV. Best example from the last 24 hours:
The White House also accidentally blasted out all their Wednesday talking points to Democratic congressional offices — including to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — and then sent a follow-up message trying to “recall” their mistake. The talking points included attacking Democrats in Congress for “damaging our national security for political gain.” [The indispensible Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker]
The part I love most: The follow-up email message from the White House. We don't have a transcript of that. We can only guess: "Uh, please delete our last message, or just don't share. Do not copy. Do not print out and distribute. Okay? Please hit 'Reply' and let us know you've read this message and will follow its directives. Okay?"

Arrogance certainly relishes its own blindness: According to Parker, Dawsey, and Rucker, some of Trump's most trusted advisers think "the impeachment show" will only help him in his reelection. “Are they nuts?” asked Christopher Ruddy, a friend of Trump and chief executive of the conservative Newsmax website. “People can’t underestimate the amount of bad advice he gets from people who are not strategic thinkers.”

Gosh, I even remember the genius move of firing James Comey. That was Jared Kushner's brilliant idea, wasn't it? It was going to wow the Democrats and show Donald J. Trump in his most native habitat: "You're fired!"

Stable genius, assisted by several other maybe less stable geniuses, came up with the bold plan of putting out yesterday's memorandum containing the "notes" from the Trump-Zelensky phone call (not a transcript of the call, but notes, which is different from what I thought yesterday). This gang of geniuses thought yesterday's release would be exculpatory. No, really. About a dozen of Trump's most loyal defenders in Congress were summoned to the White House to get a preview of the notes. Some thought it revealed "one of Trump's better phone calls" with a foreign leader. "Privately, Trump did not believe his conversation with the Ukrainian president was problematic, according to four people with whom he spoke" (Parker et al.).

So, feeling arrogant and untouchable (but really falling into the blindness of pride), Trump released his memorandum notes of the phone call with Zelensky, and the freakin' dam broke.

It's like a mountain freshet, and it's going to take out a lot of snug dens before it reaches the bottom of the incline.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Hot Biscuits! With Impeachment Gravy

This is what Donald J. Trump said to the president of the Ukraine on July 25th, word-for-word and in an official transcript produced and released by the Trump White House today:
...I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think it’s something that you should really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn’t do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way so I think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.... [Emphasis added, yes]
I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ... I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible....
...I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good, and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening, and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news, and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me.
That's the heart of an astounding Moment of State. The admission, delivered to President Zelensky in tough-guy-leaning-on-an-inferior switchblade style -- "I've been awful good to you, and now it's time for you to be awful good to me" -- by the President of the United States, the representative of all us people on the world stage, where up til now surely no world leader ever attempted such baldfaced extortion of another world leader without also being simultaneously a character in an airport paperback thriller. Trump released this transcript today to the world with the "I dare you to say I can't do as I please" aplomb of a mob boss. Nothing to see here, bitches! Except the work of a very stable genius conducting a perfect phone call.

Some Obvious Observations

1. The "you owe us" declaration comes at the beginning of the conversation. "We do a lot for Ukraine." Between that opening and Trump's very next opportunity to speak -- he has to wait through what he's always willing to wait through -- fawning praise of his greatness. Zelensky's ass-kissing, the groveling before a superior Being, is just the style that world leaders now ape to please the Twitterman, to get on his good side, and to get what they want. And why not? It seems to work just fine. So immediately after "you owe us" comes "I need you to do a little something," followed by a somewhat typical Trump word-salad -- near-incoherence scrambled with the croutons of mysterious references and half-uttered conspiracy theories.

2. "They say Crowdstrike" --

“The Internet security company CrowdStrike analyzed the DNC Russian breach and on June 15 [2016] pointed the finger at Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, two groups of hackers who ‘engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.' ” (Hattip Aaron Blake)

3. "A very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller." This call happened on the very next day after Robert Mueller testified before Congress about his investigation. If that isn't a tell! Trump was feeling empowered -- justifiably, as it turned out. "I got away with it! They can't touch me. I'm invincible." This phone call distills his grandiosity.

4. "It’s very important that you do it." I didn't say I demand it. I say it's very important you do it. Can you take a hint, Friend-O?

5. "They shut your very good prosecutor down." --

Aaron Blake: The “prosecutor” to whom Trump appears to be referring is former Ukraine prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. He was forced out thanks to widespread opposition both in the West and within Ukraine. The country’s parliament forced him out in 2016. Trump appears to like him, though, because he was at one point looking into the energy company that employed Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden. The elder Biden’s pressure on Ukraine to oust Shokin is the source of the Trump team’s allegations; they argue it was corrupt, even though U.S. and Ukrainian officials have said the investigation of the company, Burisma Holdings, had been dormant at the time.

6. "The former ambassador." --

Aaron Blake: This refers to Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled in May. That recall came after Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, made an allegation against her in the U.S. media that he later walked back. Democrats have alleged this amounted to a “political hit job.”

7. "A lot of talk about Biden's son." Bingo. Finally got to the real quid in this pro quo.

I Ask You

When has an international bribery attempt been more obvious, more blatant, more nakedly threatening, especially as just days before, Trump had decided to withhold some legislated foreign military aid that Ukraine was scheduled to receive? That's the other shoe waiting to drop on President Zelensky. "I just wanted you to have a little verbal reminder first, O Buddy-Boy Zelensky: The United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily." If you don't do me this favor, you could find the equivalent of a horse's head in your bed, come morning.

If You Underestimate This Race, We Will LOSE Public Education

Message from Jen Mangrum, candidate for Superintendent of NC Public Education:

Fellow North Carolinians,

So we are in a very bad place. There aren’t enough nurses, mental health providers, or social workers in our schools; our schools aren’t sufficiently safe or equitable; teachers are paying for basic supplies out of pocket; many personnel aren’t making a living wage and cannot retire with dignity; and young people aren’t graduating with the skills they need to survive in the current economy. And Mark Johnson doesn’t care to fix any of these problems, because he only has two years’ experience in the classroom, he turns his nose up at teachers and education experts, and his political philosophy boils down to investing LESS in our communities and MORE in corporations. 

In contrast, I am an educator -- a lifelong one. I have spent more years in the classroom than all of my opponents combined. Teachers are supporting me in the thousands, because they know I’m with them. I have a dream that every child in this state will one day have all the tools and support they need to be a healthy, happy, and productive members of their communities.
I really need you. And I need you now. March 3rd, 2020 (the date of the Democratic Primary) is approaching at what feels like warp speed. Mark Johnson, NC’s Superintendent, is on track to raising $1,000,000 for his reelection campaign -- and it’s no surprise. Phil Berger and the Republicans want to control public education so that they can starve it, promote private options, & influence what knowledge gets passed on to future generations (and at what price).

But I can’t save public education alone. While I’m far AHEAD of my primary opponents in terms of fundraising, I’m way BEHIND Johnson. That’s why I need YOU and your generous financial support. My team CANNOT beat Berger and Johnson without a full-time campaign manager and, eventually, TV ads. Raising money can be difficult at a time when there are so many other crucial political races going on. But I promise you, this race is just as crucial as any other in our state. Please consider donating what you can & tell everyone you know about the endangered state of public education in North Carolina. Young people deserve better, and democracy depends on better.


Jen Mangrum

Quick link to Mangrum's donor page: 

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Leaning Tower of Tillis and the Danger of Democratic McCreadyism

The Cook Political Report has moved Thom Tillis's reelection prospects in North Carolina from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican."

The article includes a mention of Cal Cunningham as the Democratic frontrunner. Cunningham has gone after Tillis's record on Twitter, specifically his votes on taking Obamacare away from millions, gutting education funding, defunding Planned Parenthood, and giving the wealthiest Americans a massive tax cut. He's also been hitting Tillis on Trump's unchallenged $80 million raid on the NC military budget. Do those brief attacks represent a platform? I don't see Cunningham's political philosophy/perspectives on the burning issues of the day. Don't see those anywhere I search.

I sense a certain McCreadyism in Cunningham's unwillingness to embrace progressive issues, and that worries me. Dan McCready in the NC-9 special election a few days ago resolutely eschewed coming out strongly for the issues that most motivate progressive voters. He rather played a Rorschach ink blot Democrat: You were free to read into his pleasant smile and doe eyes whatever policy positions you wished to believe that he believed in, and just go vote, dammit. There was no real policy content there to inspire confidence and spark enthusiasm. And how did that work for McCready?

Judging from Cal Cunningham's website, I'm afraid he's headed down the same strategic path: Be as vague as possible on key issues and hope your pleasing personality will be enough. I don't think it's enough. Not enough for young voters, of which North Carolina is amply supplied, and not enough for old policy warriors like me.

I want Cunningham to win. I want him to sharpen his message and stand up strong. It'll help him raise money, if nothing else.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

What Are the Most Flippable NC Senate Seats for 2020?

Numero Uno Democratic Pickup Opportunity for 2020
Republican Dan Bishop's NC Senate District 39. Bishop just got elected to the US House. His successor to fill out his NC Senate term has not yet been named. Whoever it is will face a stark new reality: NCS39 has gone from "Strong Republican" (according to ratings by the NC Free Enterprise Foundation in 2018) to "Likely Democratic" in Michael Bitzer's analysis of the new court-ordered maps.

Look for spirited competition for this seat in the 2020 March Democratic primary.

"Competitive, Democratic Favored"
One Republican incumbent is the sitting duck here: John M. Alexander. Or rather his district 18, since Alexander himself has already seen the writing on the proverbial wall and announced he will not be running again.

Democrat Christine Kushner, who was planning to run in the 18th, is now in the redrawn 16th District with incumbent Democrat Wiley Nickel (rated "Likely Democrat"). Democrat Matt Cox, who was already running in the 18th, has also been drawn out of the new district. I hear the name of Democrat Sarah Crawford rumored for the now open 18th District.

Flippable Republican Incumbents
If it's a Blue Wave again in 2020, then these districts deserve dollar targetting and/or smart Democratic recruitment:
"Competitive But Republican Favored"
Republican Louis Pate, District 7 -- Pate has already announced his retirement, and Democrat Donna Lake, who's already up and running, seems a good prospect to flip the district if she sharpens her policy positions.
Republican Rick Horner, District 11 -- Horner won in 2018 with over 56% of the vote against Democrat Albert Pacer, who says he's running again in 2020. Pacer may not be the strongest Democratic candidate.
Republican Joyce Krawiec, District 31 -- Krawiec romped to reelection in 2018 with 61% of the vote against Democrat John Motsinger Jr. A stronger Democratic recruitee might make a race of it.

"Lean Republican"
Republican Rick Gunn, District 24 -- Gunn beat Democrat J.D. Wooten by just over 6,000 votes in 2018, and Wooten is already in the race for a rematch. 
Republican Danny Earl Britt, District 13 -- Won reelection in 2018 with 62.50% of the vote. He's probably unbeatable.
Republican Bob Steinburg, District 1 -- Steinburg beat Democrat D. Cole Phelps in 2018 with 53.21% of the vote to 46.75%. That's a hill that looks climbable to me.
Republican Tom McInnis, District 25 -- McInnis took 57% of the vote against Democrat Helen Probst Mills in 2018. Which was discouraging.
Republican Rick Edwards, District 48 -- Edwards took 56% of the vote against Norm Bossert in this Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania district in 2018.

What Are the Most Flippable NC House Districts for 2020?

Catawba College Political Scientist Michael Bitzer has obligingly produced the first analysis of possible partisan outcomes from the most recent court-ordered redistricting in North Carolina. He's a numbers guy, and his numbers give me the first glimpse into the 2020 crystal ball. Here's his criteria for labeling the new (and the old, unchanged) districts for the NC General Assembly:
Those districts with greater than 60 percent for one party: "likely" party district
Those districts with between 55 and 60 percent vote share for one party: "lean" party district
Those districts with between 50 and 55 percent vote share for one party: "competitive but favor one party" district
I'm using Bitzer's tally but only concentrating on the NC House districts today (will return in coming days to Bitzer's analysis of the Senate districts).

The Worrisome Republican Lean in Western North Carolina
Democrat Ray Russell (NC93) was in a "lean" Republican district when he was elected in 2018. He's still in a "lean" Republican district. Question in 2020 will be: Will it be leaning harder in 2020 than in 2018. Probably. It's going to take hard, on-the-ground work for the Russell campaign.

Same goes for Joe Sam Queen in the 119th (Haywood, Jackson, Swain).

One other Democrat -- former chief district court judge Scott Brewer in the 66th -- currently occupies a "lean" Republican seat (but it's down in the middle of the state -- Montgomery, Richmond, Stanley). Brewer was just appointed to the seat last May after a resignation, and he'll also have to muster the troops in 2020.

"Competitive But Democratic Favored"
The only Republican in such a district was Greg Murphy, who just won a seat in the US Congress (NC3) in a special election on September 10. So far the Republicans in Pitt County have not chosen an appointee to fill the District 9 seat. This will be a major pickup opportunity for Democrats next year, and with progressives still smarting there that Twitterman used an arena at East Carolina University to make "Send Her Back" infamous worldwide, we'd expect a healthy Democratic primary next March.

"Competitive But Republican Favored"
These districts will likely be in the eye of the 2020 storm. These are the "flippable" districts, six of them occupied currently by Republicans but four of them currently by Democrats.

The "flippable" Democrats first:
Sydney Batch, Dist. 37, who beat her Republican opponent in 2018 by 944 votes.
Christy Clark, Dist. 98, who beat her Republican opponent in 2018 by 415 votes.
Charles Graham, Dist. 47, who won in 2018 with almost 59% of the vote but whose district has been made more Republican obviously by the redraw. He's been in the NC House since the election of 2010.
Elmer Floyd, Dist. 43, who won in 2018 with a whopping 74% of the vote but whose district is now considerably more Republican.
The "flippable" Republicans:
Stephen M. Ross, Dist. 63, who beat Democrat Erica McAdoo by only 298 votes in 2018. McAdoo is already running again. 
John Szoka, Dist. 45, who easily beat Democrat Albiero Florez in 2018. 
Edward C. Goodwin, Dist. 1, who beat Democrat Ron Wesson 53% to 47%. 
Chris Humphrey, Dist. 12, who beat Democrat George Graham by a comfortable margin (56%). 
Jon Hardister, Dist. 59, who beat Democrat Steven Buccini with 56% of the vote. 
Debra Conrad, Dist. 74, who beat Democrat Terri LeGrand by a surprising 3,000 votes. 

If I were in the candidate recruitment business, I'd be looking especially hard in those last six House districts for a prime-time-ready Democrat who can raise money and generate enthusiasm.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

New NC House Map

You can view this House map more clearly here. The Senate map can be viewed in more detail here.

Most of the Western North Carolina House districts were unchanged, including the 93rd, except in and around Asheville.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

New NC Senate Map

The full impact of this new NC Senate district map will take some time to reveal itself.

Will note here that Senate District 7, in which Democrat Donna Lake is already a declared candidate, did not change. Neither did Deanna Ballard's 45th Senate District.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Donna Lake, Running for NC Senate, District 7

Democrat Donna Lake of Goldsboro announced her candidacy for the North Carolina Senate on July 29th. She's another of a distinct trend among new, insurgent Democratic candidates in the Age of Trump: A woman combat vet stepping forward to run in a forbidding new combat zone. Donna Lake is not only a retired USAF Colonel, with two Bronze Stars, holding a freakin' Ph.D. to boot in Health Care Management, but she's also a clinical nursing professor at the ECU College of Nursing where she says she's taught 450 students, not to mention another 85 faculty, in patient safety principles, leadership, and finance skills. Her expertise in health care management contributed to the awarding of a $5M grant to train and place "advanced practice registered nurses" into primary care facilities in Eastern North Carolina rural communities. A vital and motivating statistic for Donna Lake: Of the 41 Eastern NC counties combined, 28 (68.3%) have fewer than 5 primary care physicians per 10,000 residents. She wants to change that.
She lives in Goldsboro with her husband, a retired USAF pilot, where they raised their two grown children. 

Curiously (because of her experience in health care management), her website doesn't say a word about the importance of expanding Medicaid in North Carolina. In fact, her website dishes up mere pabulum on "issues" and nothing specific on pretty much anything. You'd certainly expect more sinew -- political protein -- from an Air Force combat veteran twice decorated "for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone" (what a Bronze Star represents).

Senate District 7
Don't know for sure, but I doubt NC Senate District 7 -- Wayne and Lenoir counties -- will be changed by the most recent round of court-ordered redistricting. (It was already significantly redrawn just prior to the 2018 elections into its present Lenoir plus Wayne configuration. Any more redrawing this year would seem just plain cruel.) 

The 7th contains the urban and semi-urban municipalities of Goldsboro and Kinston, and embraces the sprawling Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as well. The district used to be racially gerrymandered like a writhing Chinese dragon through three different counties. It's compact now and at least numerically on paper it ought to be a pickup opportunity for Democrats.

Partisan Voter Registration for Wayne and Lenoir Counties (NCS7):
Democrats 47,934
Republicans 32,411
Unaffiliated 26,290
Democrats should be able to win Senate District 7, especially with grandfatherly Louis Pate gone from the picture. Pate had been the 5-term Republican incumbent who won the redrawn, more heavily Democratic district in 2018 and retired in January. Pate lucked out last year when the recruited Democratic candidate Barbara D'Antonio withdrew after the primary, and was replaced late (in August) by a perfectly nice retired District Court Judge David Brantley, who even coming into the race late and being perfectly nice, got 46% of the vote against Pate. Can a strong Democratic woman flip the district in 2020?

The Current Republican Incumbent
Jim Perry from Kinston, a retired rep for the dental industry, CEO of a "Dental Service Org with 240 locations in 40 states and over 2,500 employees," and personnel consultant for the Acute Care Industry, was appointed to Louis Pate's seat last January. We frankly wouldn't expect a senator with that business background -- very much on the corporate end of health care -- to come out for expanding Medicaid to poor people.

What he has been a big supporter of in his few months in the Senate is House Bill 370 -- a law that would force county sheriffs in North Carolina to do the work of ICE agents, with specific provisions to make sheriffs subject to removal from office for refusing to help ICE -- the bill which Governor Cooper vetoed on August 21 with the following statement:
"This legislation is simply about scoring partisan political points and using fear to divide North Carolina. As the former top law enforcement officer of our state, I know that current law allows the state to jail and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status. This bill, in addition to being unconstitutional, weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating sheriffs to do the job of federal agents, using local resources that could hurt their ability to protect their counties."
If you need any further evidence of the psychic headspace occupied by Senator Perry, he's been heartily endorsed by Lieutenant Governor (and governor candidate aborning) Dan Forest. And why not? They were obviously separated at birth.

Jim Perry, left, and Dan Forest, right

Friday, September 13, 2019

This Friday the Thirteenth Might Be the Unluckiest Day for Jerry Falwell Jr.

Jerry Falwell Jr. with his behavioral model.
Photo by Shealah Craighead/Wikimedia Commons

What's happening up at Liberty University today in Virginia? A student protest, that's what. Organizers are saying that if even 60 students show up, it'll be a massive show of resistance to a school president increasingly exposed for evident corruption of Christian principles, a kind of religious strong-man who has ruthlessly suppressed dissent on his campus in the past.

The students are reacting to a blistering investigative piece published by Politico on Monday of this week. That, plus what has been passed around on campus in the form of hot rumors for years about Falwell's behavior (including sexual pole-vaulting and authoritarianism). The students organizing today's protest "have seen a shift in the student body against Falwell that hasn’t been seen in the school’s recent history. 'The mood is changing from "We wish Jerry would keep quiet" to "We wish we had better representation for our school,' " [one of the student leaders] said. 'Jerry doesn’t have our best interests at heart. He doesn’t share Liberty’s mission statement to train champions for Christ.' ”

The article about the protest published by the Religion News Service prompted me to go back and find the Politico article that sparked it, and it's a doozie:

More than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell ... don’t think he’s the right man to lead Liberty University or serve as a figurehead in the Christian conservative movement....
...they depicted how Falwell and his wife, Becki, consolidated power at Liberty University and how Falwell presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains. Among the previously unreported revelations are Falwell’s decision to hire his son Trey’s company to manage a shopping center owned by the university, Falwell’s advocacy for loans given by the university to his friends, and Falwell’s awarding university contracts to businesses owned by his friends.
“We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”
My concern now shifts to Falwell's local Gestapo -- the Liberty University Police. Will they shut down the student protest? How many will show up and be brave? We'll be looking for news about this during the rest of today and into tomorrow.

Footnote: One of the best things about the Religion News article is that it was written by Will Young, the former student editor of the Liberty University newspaper whom Falwell censored. We wrote about Will back in July -- "Surviving Liberty University (and finding liberty)."

Look like more than 60 students to you?

NC Still in the Wilderness Over Potentially Unsafe Electronic Voting Equipment

A new letter addressed this week to the NC State Board of Elections (SBOE) from electronic voting machine experts and fair voting advocates charges that in its certification of new machinery for NC elections -- the vote on August 23rd when new SBOE Chair Damon Circosta voted with the Republicans -- the SBOE violated North Carolina law. "The law requires a security review of the source code of all voting systems before they are certified for use in the state." According to the experts, no security review of source code was conducted. According to Carolina Public Press,
The experts in question, including Duncan Buell, a professor of computer science at the University of South Carolina, reviewed testing documentation from the state and from the federal government.
“You read all of that, and it’s clear,” Buell said. “There was no source code review conducted. That would certainly seem to suggest that things are not in accordance with North Carolina law.” 
The law details an extensive list of components to be reviewed, including “application vulnerability, application code, wireless security, security policy and processes … security organization and governance, and operational effectiveness.”
Just last week, on September 5, SBOE member Stella Anderson got Circosta to vote with her to demand that SBOE staff produce any documentation of source code review. The SBOE next meets on October 1, and Carolina Public Press reports that SBOE staff is striving to supply the information requested in Anderson's September 5 motion. That's "too long to wait," claimed the computer experts who wrote the most recent letter:
In order for counties to buy the new equipment, each county’s board of elections needs to attend a demonstration of the voting systems, recommend one to their county commissioners for purchase, test that system in the October or November elections, then purchase and deploy them by the March 2020 primaries. 
Counties are moving quickly to enter into multimillion-dollar contracts to purchase this equipment. 
“What the state board is doing is irresponsible in letting these counties proceed as if they are going to go to contract and not letting them know that there is a serious black cloud over the certification,” [Marilyn] Marks [Coalition for Good Government] said.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

What We Lefties Want -- Only "The Last American Hero"

Raleigh News and Observer
The Blue Wave of 2018 in North Carolina was Christmas morning all over again. The lust for the ballot among Democrats and liberal-minded independents beat anything I've seen in a while. Yes, 2006 was an enthusiastic year too. So was 1990, with Harvey Gantt on the ballot against Jesse Helms. And 2008. But since 2008? Not so much … until Donald J. Trump became president. In 2018 we nailed a decade "high." The Gospel Truth: That Democratic surge must last through 2020, and any sign of waning enthusiasm, any slight drying up of the Democratic sap, worries the everlasting daylights out of me.

I've heard or read, "Oh, the Blue Wave of 2018 played itself out, and Democratic enthusiasm for new elections and new candidates ain't what it used to be. And besides that, the Party's split between Biden conservatives and Bernie socialists, and they'll never reconcile. If the socialists gain the upper hand, you can kiss your 200-year-old Party goodbye." 

You hear that in the mainstream press -- prophets and prognosticators trying to divine public moods. I actually agree with some of it, the potential for a split in the Party, but I still warm my fingers and toes at the smoldering fire, the group vow to defend democracy in this critical hour -- resist with everything we've got both the bunch running DeeCee and the bunch running Raleigh, no matter the hap. That lighter-knot of a hot coal is just waiting for some air.

The Dan McCready loss in the 9th CD special election wasn't a sign of Democratic dehydration to me. Oh, Democrats stayed home in droves, yes. Robeson County, majority Democrat by a wide margin, didn't turn out for McCready. That was the case in other counties. Would they have caught fire if the candidate wasn’t shy to strike sparks on the flintstone? Would they have turned out for a more progressive fighter? Would they have churned at the polls for the North Carolina version of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

There's a whole wing of Democratic campaign operatives who preach moderation. Don't get too far out on any liberal limb because the Republicans will go apeshit and call you a "socialist" and cause moderate, rural Dems to turn away from you as a threat to their very way of life. Because they're capable of believing your average con artist.

Here's my beef with that version of reality: They're gonna label you, dear ole Democrat, no matter whether you fight on principle or not. And depending on the candidate, moderation becomes mildness, which projects weakness. Even in an ex-Marine. In his gingerly handling of issues big to Democrats, McCready always seemed to be dodging imaginary bullets. Nice guy. With nice-guy flexibility. 

I'm sorry it's happened, but the Trump model of bullying masculinity -- authoritarianism -- has demanded a manly and O make no mistake, womanly fortitude to resist, to take down the bully on the playground to save the littler kids. That's what Democrats want right now in a candidate for public office. And so do "soft" Republicans currently nauseous at the sight of Trump.

Here's what I've been leading up to…

Just when we might fall to worrying that Democratic enthusiasm is fading, the Republican bosses in Raleigh, the Moore-Berger duopoly, pull a breathtaking stunt that is so nakedly dishonest and unfair that it wakes thousands in an instant, reminds them what they're fighting for, and what against, and calls them to the ramparts to preserve any last vestige of honesty, fair-dealing, respect, a sense of ethics, any streak of humanity still remaining in the administration of our state's legislative body.

Progressives who've grown silent since 2018 are suddenly talking, shouting, on social media and in social gatherings. They're excited by a Deb Butler in the House, who became the instant Town Crier on alert yesterday morning, and got loud and stood in Speaker Tim Moore's metaphorical face. That's what we want to see. That's what we need, incidentally, in a U.S. senatorial candidate.

Ironically for the Republican bosses, the sneak vote on overriding the Governor's veto of the budget was the wind we needed to blow the smoldering coal back into life. When have the Republicans ever accurately calculated the public reaction to one of their power-grabs?

I am fully aware that the Blue Wave of paragraph one became the smoldering fire of paragraph three -- only to prove, O My Brethren, that I can miraculously combine fire and water.

Statement from Rep. Ray Russell on the Core Dishonesty of Republicans in the NCGA

House Republican leaders intentionally deceived House Democrats, the press, and the public about a session held at 8:30 AM, September 11, 2019, and they rammed a vote on the state budget through the House.

At the end of a non-voting session Tuesday night, the House Rules Committee Chairman Lewis, who presided over the session, told Minority Leader Jackson that no votes would be taken in the 8:30 AM session Wednesday. The Minority Leader communicated this information to House Democrats via email.

Rep. Lewis also texted reporters that there would be no votes in the 8:30 AM session Wednesday. (Copies of the text have circulated widely in news reports and social media.) I presume the purpose was to keep reporters from being on the floor to cover what would happen.

To add context, the House has scheduled scores of “No Vote Sessions” since January. This is normal operating procedure to dispense with parliamentary procedures that do not require the presence of members.

Wednesday morning, 55 Republicans arrived along with only a handful of Democrats (who were there only because of 9 AM Finance Committee Meeting). The House Speaker rammed through a vote on two veto overrides in minutes, including the state budget. He refused to allow any Democrats to speak on the bill (which would have given time for most Democrats to arrive). A video of what happened is available on social media. [Click here for the video]

The veto override passed on a 55-9 vote—64 of the 120 members being present.

House Democrats have been incredibly vigilant in being on the floor and ready to vote on every occasion a voting session was called. Members have been there in spite of surgery, cancer treatments, family crises; they have missed vacations, family time, you name it. House Democrats have been here. Personally, I had NOT MISSED EVEN ONE VOTE since January until today when this deceptive vote was taken.

The two most contentious items have been House Bill 966 (the committee report on the state budget vetoed by Governor Cooper) and House Bill 655 (Medicaid Expansion). Both of these bills have been on the House Calendar since July 8. House Democrats have hung together tenaciously in favor of Governor Cooper’s compromise proposal. Neither vote has ever been called … until 8:30 AM, September 11, 2019.

In spite of intense pressure, House Democrats have held strong. The Budget impasse was mostly over five issues: Democrats favor covering over 500,000 North Carolinians with health care coverage, better pay for teachers and other state employees, better school facilities, more funding for public infrastructure projects, and adequate funding for the NC Division of Health and Human Services.

House Democrats could not be beaten in a fair, honorable process. Instead, House Republicans resorted to a level of deception unprecedented in NC History.

So the veto override goes to the NC Senate. NC Senate Democrats are committed to the same principles as House Democrats and will take up the cause.

Who loses because of today’s deceit? Democracy lost. The institution of the House of NC lost. Integrity lost. Honor lost. Honesty lost. But more importantly … people in the Medicaid Gap lost. Children lost. Teachers lost. Most state employees lost. Schools lost. Communities lost. And finally North Carolina lost in that House “Leadership” stooped to a new low get their way.

Remember, House Democrats received over 51% of the vote statewide in 2018. These 65 Republican are in control in spite of getting a minority of North Carolinians’ votes.

On what was supposed to be a Day of Remembrance, the actions of House Republicans dishonored the day and every person who has sacrificed for freedom and democracy. Their action was a sneak attack, dishonest at its core, and not worthy of the people of North Carolina.

North Carolinians deserve better.  As your representative, I will continue to work for a better state and a better House of Representatives.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Lesson for Democrats in Raleigh: Republicans Always Lie and Don't Play Fair


House Speaker Tim Moore suddenly called a vote on over-riding Governor Cooper's veto of the Republican budget while almost half the House was attending other events on this 18th anniversary of 9/11. The override passed 55-9. This was after Moore had indicated to various Democratic leaders that no votes would be taken today.

For Republicans, the General Assembly is Thunderdome, and they're wearing impenetrable armor (they think).

I want revenge. We'll get it too. I want small-minded, shriveled-heart, bile-belching revenge. If that's the way they play it.

Rep. Deb Butler expressed the anger of all the Democrats in the NC House.

Dan McCready and (lack of) Democratic Enthusiasm in the 9th Special Election

Dan McCready and Republican winner last night,
Dan Bishop
I'm sorry that Dan McCready lost, but I'm not surprised. Full disclosure -- I contributed to the McCready campaign, not enough to buy a billboard, but I wanted him to win. However, I never believed in the McCready strategy of going soft on progressive issues to appeal to "soft" Republicans. Election numbers from yesterday suggest that a sizable number of 9th District Democrats didn't believe in it either.

You might be forgiven for believing -- given national media attention and McCready's aggressive fundraising -- that Democratic enthusiasm was running high down along the border with South Carolina. Actual election results suggest something very different when polling numbers for McCready yesterday are set side-by-side with numbers from 2018:

Mecklenburg County 
2018 vote for McCready 51,856
2019 vote for McCready 36,986
Cumberland County 
2018 vote for McCready 13,452
2019 vote for McCready 7,441
Richmond County 
2018 vote for McCready 7,138
2019 vote for McCready 4,276

I could go on, county by county, but the point seems clear enough: Democratic enthusiasm for McCready sagged like a soft mattress. (I heard last night on MS-NBC that McCready was actually doing better in Meck than he did in 2018, but Steve Kornacki must have been talking percentages rather than actual numbers. Anyway, the numbers above are actual votes.)

Would a Stacey Abrams have won that district? Would a Democrat not afraid of embracing Democratic issues have won? McCready always struck me -- going back into the 2018 campaign -- as a man walking a mine field, fearful that every step was going to blow him sky-high. I don't believe that "soft" Republicans -- shorthand for Republicans who are disgusted with Trumpism -- necessarily want a soft Democrat. They want strength of conviction the same as Democrats do.

What does this special election say about Trump's chances next year? Probably not what Trump thinks it says, and which he's already strutting about.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Senator Thom Tillis Once Again Gets Boos From Trump-Lovers

Will Sommer reports that Senator Thom Tillis was booed not once but twice at the Fayetteville Trump rally last night.

Oh, the grief, the torture of never being able to achieve forgiveness for once upon a time writing an op-ed against Twitterman's policies.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Sign of the Times?

The Republican booth at the Mountain State Fair in the WNC Agricultural Center near Asheville yesterday:

Vs. the Democratic booth yesterday:

Photos courtesy of Brian Caskey.

Blindman's Poker in Raleigh

Rep. Chuck McGrady
Lot of members from both parties in the NC General Assembly all of a sudden appear willing to do "redistricting reform." Well, some from both parties. The major sponsor of HB 140, the "FAIR Act," is Republican Chuck McGrady from Hendersonville -- he actually introduced two different bills, one less extreme than HB 140 (which would amend the state's constitution) -- but so far House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Phil Berger have shown no interest in anything other than painting old scabs. Nothing moves without the bosses' say-so.

Maybe they're still feeling the shock waves of last Tuesday's trial court decision that threw out some 50-odd NC House districts and 21 NC Senate districts as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. The stink is on gerrymandering, so you might expect a few "moderate" Republicans (rara avis, indeed) to be looking over their shoulders. New districts will follow the Census of 2020. If Democrats should win House or Senate outright next year, Democrats would no longer be armless in the redistricting battles. (Whether they also had the strong stomach for a fight -- why, that's another anatomical question altogether.)  McGrady's HB 140, while offering some tangible reform, can also look a lot like a last-ditch hedge by putting it in the state's constitution that no independent redistricting commission is ever gonna get its mitts on North Carolina.

Bottomline: HB 140 would amend the constitution, which makes it more extreme. Thankful to Will Doran for parsing HB 140's other provisions:
The FAIR Act would not create an independent redistricting commission, like some other states use. It would allow the state legislature to retain control over the drawing of the maps, but it would add some extra layers of oversight to the process and institute rules banning politicians from protecting incumbents when drawing new maps. It would also ban them from using any sort of demographic or political data like people’s voting history.
The last sentence contains the best parts -- call those proposed new rules "The Hofeller De-flect" --  but the main takeaway is that HB 140 still leaves politicians in charge of drawing their own districts. That's not what we call reform.

So a poker game is underway. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has come out publicly against HB 140 (“...does little to improve the status quo"), and so has Guilford County Rep. Pricey Harrison (“I share Eric Holder’s concerns. HB 140 is not the way N.C. should undertake redistricting reform — ... and it sure doesn’t belong in our constitution”). Mary Wills Bode, executive director of the bipartisan group North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform, supports it. According to Doran, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, Chatham County Rep. Robert Reives, is one of the bill’s lead sponsors. "Numerous other Democrats" also support it. But with Holder and Harrison ringing the alarm bell, other progressive Democrats may peel off. Would HB 140 pass without strong Democratic support?

Some Republican asses are going to be pinched by closing doors in 2020, mainly because of that court-imposed remedy to partisan gerrymandering and the continuing Blue Wave enthusiasm among Democrats and independents. New maps in those 70-odd General Assembly districts are supposed to be final by September 17, but until then, no one can predict anything very concretely. A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a Heaven for? Do the Republican bosses risk losing one chamber of the General Assembly next fall and thus much of their leverage to pass proposed constitutional amendments, or do they release HB 140 for legislative action and protect their everlasting butts while giving up some control over the process? Phil Berger and Tim Moore could certainly go suddenly soft and romantic about HB 140, which would signal a generally weak hand for poker.

What's the best course for Democrats? Decline to support HB 140 -- if it should ever show up on the floor -- and rather trust to the continuing Blue Wave in 2020? Partisan energy plus new maps combined could give Democrats the NC House next year (and/or the Senate?) without also signing onto a bill that would in effect ban independent redistricting commissions via the state's constitution.

Read more here:
Read more here:

Stella Anderson's Motion To Enforce Cyber-Security for Voting in North Carolina

Text of the motion made by Stella Anderson at the conclusion of last Thursday's state Board of Elections (SBOE) meeting. The purpose and the effect of her motion were discussed here, also last Thursday, and the particulars of the 3-2 vote that passed it.

It's technical and specific in forcing the state to verify certain safety checks on electronic voting machines:

State Board staff shall provide documentation of the State’s post-EAC testing/examination to meet each of the following requirements of G.S. 163A-1115 (e):The State Board’s (or independent expert’s) review of the vendors’ source code in the following required areas of focus:
  • Security
  • Application vulnerability
  • Application code
  • Wireless security
  • Security policy and processes
  • Security/privacy program management
  • Technology infrastructure and security controls
  • Security organization and governance
  • Operational effectiveness
If documentation is unavailable, please provide the rationale, or waiver granted.
  • Provide documentation of source code delivery placed in escrow (when delivered, current custody).
  • State Board staff shall also provide a response to the following: NCSBE’s Elections Systems Certification Program – states “The voting system or equipment must meet the requirements contained in the most recent version or versions of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) currently accepted for testing and certification by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).” Why would NCSBE certify equipment EAC-certified under VVSG 1.0 (2005), rather than VVSG 1.1 (2015)?