Thursday, November 28, 2019

Another Republican Resignation ... Where There's Little Chance for a Democratic Pickup

State Senator Harry Brown, the Republican Majority Leader and the main budget writer in the NC Senate, announced that he would not be running for reelection in Senate District 6 (Jones and Onslow counties).

Senate District 6 is listed as "Likely Republican" for 2020, with a 65.90% expected Republican vote share. That's an advantage that even a blue tsunami couldn't over-top.

By waiting so late to announce his retirement, Brown likely has his anointed successor all lined up and ready to go. The Republican primary -- if there is one -- will likely be the only election in 2020 that counts for Senate District 6.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Body Count -- Two at the OMB

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

Two officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) resigned this year partly because of their concerns about Trump’s decision to hold up congressionally approved security assistance to Ukraine. That's according to Mark Sandy, an official at the OMB, who told the House Intelligence Committee in a private interview this month that one of the officials “expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold” before resigning in September. The transcript of Sandy's testimony was released by the committee yesterday.

A second co-worker, an official in the legal division of the office, also resigned after offering a “dissenting opinion” about whether it was legal to hold up the aid.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Another Significant Republican Retirement From the NC House

News and Observer reporter Dawn B. Vaughan said on Twitter that NC House Rep. Debra Conrad of Forsyth County (District 74) will not seek reelection. I've looked everywhere to find Conrad's statement, but it's not on her Twitter feed nor her depopulated Facebook page. Plus her website is no longer available. Sure does look like a general shutdown.

Conrad is chair of both the banking and the finance committees in the House and has held her seat since 2012. She used to be considered "invulnerable," but Democrat Terri LeGrand gave her a scare in 2018. Plus Conrad's district has been remapped. She lost over 3% of her Republican constituency, a not insignificant diminution considering that LeGrand came within 5 percentage points of beating Conrad in 2018.

LeGrand has moved on for next year to run for a Forsyth senate seat (District 31). Conrad's retirement is a great pickup opportunity for the right candidate. The district has been listed as one of the most flippable red-to-blue in 2020.

The Body Count -- Daniel P. Walsh

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

Daniel Walsh is technically Deputy Chief of White House Staff but is really the chief operations officer for Donald Trump, helping to plan rallies and other special events. He's been in the White House with Trump from Day One but was in government service prior to that for more than two decades.

Walsh was in charge of Trump's foreign trips and "played a critical role in the attempted planning of the Group of Seven summit at the president’s Doral resort, which was scuttled amid backlash over the emoluments clause" (WashPost). "He had walk-in privileges with Trump and regularly conferred with the president in the Oval Office, aides said, while seeking a low profile in a workplace that can often be contentious."

Monday, November 25, 2019

Five Democrats Running for Lieutenant Governor

One of the crowded Democratic primary races in North Carolina next March will be the contest for lieutenant governor. There are five declared candidates already, profiled below, with more very possible once the filing period opens in December.


Terry Van Duyn, a state senator (District 49, Buncombe County) since 2014, was the first Democrat into this race, announcing back on December 10, 2018. She's a boomer, born in 1952, and one of three boomers in this primary (pitted against two millennial black men -- see below). Van Duyn grew up in Chicago, earned a degree in economics from the University of Illinois, and moved to Asheville with her husband and two children in 1992. She became a schools activist as well as a political organizer. She was appointed to her Senate seat following the death of Senator Martin Nesbitt and was elected minority whip in her first term. She was last reelected in 2018 with over 63% of the vote. In March of this year she introduced the act whereby North Carolina would ratify the dormant Equal Rights Amendment, an initiative which Senate President Phil Berger immediately consigned to death by strangulation in the Rules Committee. Her endorsements (touted on her website) include State Auditor Beth Woods and former Attorney General Rufus Edmisten, and I can't help supposing that she's the anointed one among the Democratic Party establishment, based on her status in the senate. But despite an obvious head start for networking prominent Democratic Party leaders across the state, she had been out-raised by fellow candidate Bill Toole by July (see below). From the evidence posted on her Facebook page, she seems to be getting around the state a little more energetically than her rivals for the nomination.

Her Campaign 
While the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina doesn't deliver the mail, or much of anything else, the office can be a steppingstone to something more dynamic. Van Duyn's website is perhaps the most completely built-out of any of her rivals, though when I last visited, there were broken buttons on the homepage. Since the lieutenant governor is primarily a way-station for politicians headed on up, she's got to convince Democratic voters that she's a good bet for governor down the line. A strong video presence will help that impression.


Yvonne Lewis Holley announced her candidacy on February 27, 2019. She's a boomer also born in 1952. She grew up in Wake County, was a front-line elementary student in the desegregation of the Raleigh school system, excelled and went to Howard University. She spent her entire working career in state government, retiring as a state procurement and contract agent. She ran for and easily won her seat in the NC House (majority-black District 38) in 2012 and has never gotten less than 79.9% of the vote in any of her reelections. She's not been "a mover and a shaker" in the House. She represents an older style of black politician -- reverent of institutions, a calming presence, standing respectfully but with a spine made of hardened steel. She's very much in the moderate tradition of her father, J.D. Lewis, the first African-American TV broadcaster in the Raleigh/Durham market and Director of Minority Affairs for WRAL-TV (which had also been the editorial home until 1972 of one Jesse Helms). J.D. Lewis "is remembered today as having contributed significantly to the positive dialogue between polarized sectors during an epic time in the nation’s history" (Holley's website).
Her Campaign
Holley has a too barebones website (which unaccountably doesn't provide links to her Facebook and Twitter accounts), but she makes a good video impression and should do more:

Yvonne Lewis Holley for Lt. Governor from Watricia Shuler on Vimeo.


Allen Thomas Jr. announced his candidacy on March 5, 2019. He was elected to the Hoke County Commission (Raeford) in 2014, the youngest at the time ever elected in that county, and he was reelected to another four-year term in 2018. A millennial born in 1987, he emphasizes his toughness, his fighting spirit, and attributes it to a hard-knocks upbringing by an elementary schoolteacher mother and a drug-addicted father. While Thomas was a student at East Carolina University in 2008, his father became a fugitive from the brutal stabbing death of his mother, which became a life passage for Allen Thomas that few have experienced and fewer still have successfully navigated. Thomas rose above the tragedy and has clearly determined to do good in this world. After his mother's murder he chose to go public about domestic violence and work with communities to prevent it. He earns his living as a youth counselor for the NC Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. As a county commissioner and following Hurricane Matthew, Thomas successfully advocated to allocate $100,000 of county funds to go to food vouchers for victims while the federal government diddled for weeks to approve disaster food stamp benefits. He became locally famous in Pitt County soon after his announcement of candidacy last March when he held off multiple home-invaders (they may have been squatters he surprised in the act) in a second residence he leases in Greenville. The details were covered by the Fayetteville Observer. Thomas recorded the entire event on his cell phone, which he shared with the reporter. Makes for good reading!
His Campaign
Thomas announces on his website a statewide "car giveaway" campaign to provide affordable transportation to the working poor who often can't get jobs because they lack a vehicle. "Thomas grew up in a home with one car. He remembers waiting for his father to return home so that he could go to his little league baseball game. Tears rolled down his face as he realized that he would miss the game because he didn’t have transportation" (Thomas website). It's an interesting gimmick because it does help individual people but also shines a light on "the many issues facing everyday people." So far the Thomas campaign is mighty thin on social media. He has a Facebook page but no Twitter. He has a long way to go to catch up with his better known competitors. For example, for much of the bio sketched above, I had to dig deep into secondary sources because his official bio omits most of it.


Bill Toole, until recently a Charlotte environmental lawyer with Robinson Bradshaw Hinson -- he took a leave from his firm and announced on March 14, 2019. He's another boomer, born in 1959. He grew up in Winston-Salem, earned his law degree at Wake Forest, and served a term as city councillor in Belmont, a Gaston County suburb of Charlotte, from 2009-2013. He was also the chair of the Gaston County Democratic Party. Not surprisingly, environmental protections are high on his priority list, and he may be unique among lieutenant governor candidates for talking about the crisis of global climate change. Also the rare candidate for publicly advocating for the legalization of cannabis. He touts himself as "the progressive" in the race, a bold claim meant to negatively define Terry Van Duyn. In July Toole was leading the pack on fundraising -- $308,331, although $100,000 of that was a loan from the candidate himself. He became prominent while fighting the "corruption" behind a proposed toll road in Gaston County, which he describes in this video:

His Campaign 
Toole has been running the most aggressive social media campaign of all the candidates I've surveyed, with a very active Facebook page, peppered with video, and a Twitter account. He's got the money to break open statewide, getting his name known widely, which is what it will take since the lieutenant governor doesn't really have a policy constituency (as such).


Chaz Beasley announced his candidacy on March 21, 2019. A millennial lawyer trained at Harvard and Georgetown Law School, Beasley became a success in Charlotte with the Alston and Bird law firm in the high-octane world of finance and debt management for corporations and financial institutions. He's serving his second term in the NC House, representing the south Mecklenburg District 92. He's originally from our neck of the woods. He was raised by a single mother in Alexander and Catawba counties, graduated from Newton-Conover High School as valedictorian.

The office of Lieutenant Governor is notoriously un-demanding, so the Beasley academic brilliance might be more enervated than energized by the office. Beasley is running on steppingstone ideas: "...expanding affordable health care and working to create more high quality jobs." Etc. Standard Democratic boilerplate. He did introduce and was chief sponsor for HB393, "Modernizing Sexual Assault Laws," which makes it illegal to tamper with someone’s drink or to have sex with an incapacitated person even if the person was responsible for causing that condition. It passed the House unanimously -- a feather in the Beasley hat. Beasley's reforms eventually passed the Senate too this year, after getting importantly expanded in scope. Governor Cooper signed the omnibus bill into law on Halloween as "The Right to Revoke Consent and Modernizing Sexual Assault Laws." Beasley has also been the lead sponsor on the complete repeal of HB2, and he's introduced bills on workforce rights and affordable housing finance. He's reform-minded, no doubt about it, which might productively become the identity of his candidacy. He has his eye on the jail bond industry and introduced a bill to investigate how it operates and at whose expense.
His Campaign 
Beasley has both Twitter and Facebook, but neither contributes much to an impression of the candidate. While upping his game on social media, he needs a video presence. When he gets on camera, why not build the persona of a millennial reformer who's had success but still must fight hard against hostile forces and age-old inertia? Lieutenant Governor is a vanilla job, but you don't have to be a vanilla candidate to get there.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Jeanne Supin: Don't Count Her Out for the Future

Democrat Jeanne Supin has been laying the foundations for a congressional run for months now, planning to challenge Virginia Foxx in the NC-5. The recent remapping of the district upended those plans. We heard a week ago that she had laid off her staff and was suspending operations, and we reported that.

But Supin released a press statement yesterday that introduces doubt about her plans. She hasn't slammed any doors. This is an excerpt of what she distributed:
...The courts will review the map on December 2, 2019 and decide what to do. They may approve these new districts for the 2020 election; reject them and send them back to the state legislature, with or without oversight; or give the task to an outside nonpartisan entity. Plus, they may delay the March 3, 2019 primary to a date later in the year. The courts also halted any candidate filing for congressional races until further notice.
Confused? Me too. And uncertainty abounds.
The New Map Is Dramatically Different And May Change Again:
The new map is dramatically different congressional districts across the state, including western North Carolina. And if the courts rejects it, the map will change again.
For eight months I have been working hard to meet and learn from voters, forge connections and build a campaign team across an 11-county district. In this newly drawn district, five of those counties are different (5 counties from the old map have been dispersed to other districts; 5 new counties have been added to the district). 
Politically the demographics, party affiliation and vibe are quite different. And the political calculus and approach must be different, too.
Yet Important Issues Remain the Same:1.     No matter personal implications, I fully support the 3-judge panel for ruling the current districting unconstitutional. The districts were horribly gerrymandered, clearly favoring a party that reflects a minority of North Carolina voters. (North Carolina registrations are 2.49 million democrats, 2.2 million unaffiliated, 2.03 million republicans). Protecting fair, equitable voting rights remains most important.
2.    Regardless of congressional maps, the issues and needs remain the same. People are still struggling financially, can’t afford quality healthcare, are saddled with overwhelming student debt, desperately worried about climate change, angry about voter suppression and horrified by the breadth of lies, divisions and lack of courageous leadership in our politics. 

3.    Regardless of congressional maps, the solutions remain the same, too. We need courageous leadership to achieve universal healthcare, a new and green economic plan that uplifts families and communities, strong quality education that encourages lifelong learning, and immediate action to end CO2 emissions and transition to a humane, just and responsible relationship between us and others and the planet we all share. This rings true whether you live in Jefferson, Gastonia, Asheville, Shelby, Sparta, Taylorsville, Wilkesboro, Boone, or my home community in Todd. 
I Remain Committed to My Neighbors: ...
By necessity I am slowing political and fundraising activities until the courts make final decisions about the congressional maps, the filing period and the primary election date. Hopefully these decisions will be finalized by mid-December. Meanwhile, I continue to meet with voters throughout central and western North Carolina.
No matter what happens with redistricting, my eight months on the campaign trail have deepened my commitment to my neighbors and my resolve to achieve the goals I set for this campaign. I cannot express in words my depth of gratitude to all who’ve shared their stories, time, wisdom and support. And I take very seriously the trust you have placed in me.
I honestly don’t know what the political landscape will look like mid-December; I will make the best decision I can as soon as the courts make theirs. Regardless, my voice – strengthened by all your voices – has been unleashed, and I assure you I will keep on using it on behalf of us all.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Someone Is Out To Get Us

Growing up in West Texas in the 1950s, I witnessed paranoia about Russia first-hand, about how Russian moles never stopped plotting world-wide domination. Beware of the United Nations! It's so Red it's pink! Beware the prophets preaching peace and "one world government." Oh, the wheat and cotton fields, they stayed awake all night worrying about the 2nd grade teacher planning to Trick 'r Treat For UNICEF, and what it might portend for the survival of freedom.

Now Russia is in the White House. They've perched so long they've roosted. Virtually. Also literally: Trump has enjoyed 11 phone calls with Vladimir Putin (that we know about) over the past three years. "The content of those conversations has mostly been kept confidential." Yeah, we know. Locked up in a secret safe computer-Fort Knox because Trump knows that if we know what Putin's telling him, and what he's promising Putin, we'd revolt.

At least I hope we'd revolt. Because, there are clear and disturbing signs that the whole Republican Party is just okay with Trump's divided loyalty. Certainly, his grassroots support could care less. It's all fake news to them. But it's the Republican members of Congress that should worry us, educated men and women who can presumably read, yet they are plain blah about Russia's evil Rasputin dominating our president. Is it because they're so cowed by Trump or more especially afraid of his mob of low-information supporters? Trump believes what Putin tells him, thinks what Putin thinks, and does what Putin says. Meanwhile, the Republican members of Congress -- bless their hearts! -- mouth the Ukrainian mythology too. "A fictional narrative," Fiona Hill labeled it yesterday, which came straight from Russian "security services."

Republicans in the Senate, however, know better. They know the origins of the Ukraine Lie, and how it's been propagated, because they've been briefed by American intelligence officials (CIA, et al.). That news just broke last night -- that senators were informed in recent weeks about "a yearslong campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow’s own hacking of the 2016 election." But even after that intelligence briefing ("wise up, gentlemen!") and even after Fiona Hill riveted the TV audience by asking legislators directly and bluntly not to be stupid dicks and spread the Russian lie, there goes Senator Lindsey Graham off to dig up the black yucky truth about Ukraine's conspiring for Hillary in 2016 while simultaneously paying a bribe to Joe Biden's son. The headline in Slate: "Lindsey Graham Is Now Investigating the Bidens Anyway, Cementing Ukraine’s Role as Hapless Fall Guy."

The paranoia in 1950s West Texas about the Russkies was maybe too hysterical. And certainly ahead of its time.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Court Orders Delay for Candidate Filings for US Congressional Seats

Yesterday the three-judge panel handling the court-ordered remapping of the 13 congressional districts in the state enjoined indefinitely the 2020 filing period for US congressional seats, which means that when other local, district, and statewide candidates begin filing for office on December 2nd, congressional candidates won't be able to.

The court is sorting out whether the new maps pass constitutional muster and want more time.

A High-Level Republican Decides Against Running for Reelection in 2020

Rick Gunn, Republican Majority Whip in the NC Senate (District 24, Alamance and Guilford), announced yesterday that he would not be seeking reelection in 2020. Was that a surprise? To me, at least, it was, but he had obviously been planning the announcement for some time. His bowing out was covered in the same Burlington Times-News article that also provided a quick profile of his clearly anointed successor.

Amy Galey
Alamance County Commission Chair Amy Galey has been chosen -- by Gunn at least, if not by the Republican leadership in Alamance -- to run for Rick Gunn's seat next year. She looks formidable. Galey is a young 52. She ran for the Alamance Commission first time in the 2016 Republican primary, fell short by 40 votes, but won a special election the next year for an unexpired commissioner's seat and was promptly elected chair of the commission. She won reelection in her own right in 2018 as the top vote-getter.

Alamance is a very red county, though Galey sounds like a moderate: "I have supported public education while expecting accountability for taxpayer investment, supported farmland preservation, and worked on smart growth answers to Alamance County’s challenges." Talks like a pro-growth Democrat -- the importance of education, farmland preservation, and "smart growth." According to Isaac Groves, Galey is "often the swing vote" on the Alamance County Commission, "sometimes siding with the conservatives on the board" (interesting way to put it). "She also joined the 3–2 majority in June to approve an 8-cent property tax rate increase to fund the voter-approved $189.6 million education bond package and long-range capital plan County Manager Bryan Hagood introduced." Not the type of rural Republican we're used to these days. More of an urban type.

Now with the 24th Senate District an open seat, the winning path for Democratic candidate J.D. Wooten maybe just got a little easier. Wooten ran an energetic campaign for the seat in 2018 but lost. I extensively profiled both him and District 24 back in July after I discovered that he had announced he'll be trying again in 2020. Michael Bitzer rates the district as "Lean Republican," but Real Facts NC considers it among the flippable prospects next year. (FlipNC sees it as a "Longshot," which aligns more with Bitzer. The entry of Amy Galey would seem to bolster that view.)

Here's Wooten's bio in a little over a minute (he's upped his game):

The Body Count -- Barry Lee Myers

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

Barry Myers was nominated by Trump in November 2017 to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and though he passed a Senate committee for confirmation, he has never gotten a vote by the full Senate. Yesterday he asked to have his name withdrawn for medical reasons.

NOAA, "which has responsibilities stretching from the seafloor to low Earth Orbit," is most famous for its National Weather Service (also the agency most depended on by citizens). Big, important agency. Real science, which needs a real scientist.

Which Barry Myers wasn't. And still isn't. He's a businessman. He was the CEO of AccuWeather since 2007 and (you won't be surprised) advocated for the privatization of weather science and forecasting (no kidding) -- at the expense of the taxpayer-funded National Weather Service. So, a clear conflict of interest. Naturally, there was also strong opposition to Myers from the scientific community.

At Accu-Weather he apparently presided over a predatory work environment. Accu-Weather faced a freshet of sexual harassment lawsuits filed by women who had evidence of a hostile work environment, and the company paid out $290,00 in sexual harassment settlements during Myers' tenure.

The Man Who Would Be Weather God. And just Donald Trump's type.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Crowded Dems Primary (So Far) for NC Superintendent of Public Instruction

James Barrett

Since November 12th, when sitting Superintendent of Public Instrux, Republican Mark Johnson, announced he would not be running for reelection in 2020 but rather for lieutenant governor, a spotlight has grown on the several Democrats who will be competing in next March's primary to replace Johnson.

Here they are, in more or less the order of their announcements for office (and be assured, there are likely to be additional Democrats filing in December, not to mention a bunch of Republicans as well):

James Barrett served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board for eight years, including two years as chairman. He announced in early January of this year that he would not be running for reelection to that board but would be seeking the Superintendent's office instead. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system happens to have the highest local funding level in the state, and Barrett argues that every school system deserves equal funding. Barrett has said that "segregation is a huge problem that comes from school choice programs, so he’d require charter school applicants to have a plan showing how they wouldn’t further segregation. He’d also push for allowing local school boards to have the authority to approve their own charter schools." Barrett's working life has been spent as a corporate IT guy. He has no experience as a classroom teacher.
Michael Maher

Michael Maher, the assistant dean of professional education at N.C. State, announced in the last week of January. He started his career teaching high school science in Forsyth and Wake counties before moving to higher education. He currently serves as the president of the North Carolina Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators and also serves as vice chairman of the North Carolina Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission. He’s also on the board of directors of the American Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators. Maher has said he’s not an opponent of charter schools but is critical of a lax approval and renewal process. He is critical of voucher programs that help subsidize the cost of attending private schools. “I have a huge problem with using public dollars for private entities,” Maher said. “Our state constitution calls for a public system of education, not a taxpayer-funded private system.” Maher wants the state to eliminate school performance grades (A to F) because "they’re only measures of poverty at schools." He said it should be replaced with a system that includes "equity measures" showing whether a school is disproportionately suspending some groups and if it’s providing students equal access to academic opportunities.

Constance Lav Johnson
"Education consultant" and relentless self-promoter Constance Lav Johnson touts herself as an expert on education and political matters and as publisher of the online CityPolitical Magazine. She announced her candidacy for superintendent on February 1. She promotes herself as the principal force in something called the Johnson Burton Learning Center, which appears to exist mainly to offer events and seminars starring Constance Lav Johnson. She does emphasize eleemosynary concern for students who struggle in low-performance schools because too few public officials give a damn, but her claims of having been a classroom teacher and school administrator come without detail and seem mighty sketchy. She raised eyebrows at a Democratic candidate forum in Raleigh in early October by suggesting that school safety may require the deployment of National Guard troops. She ran in the Democratic primary for Charlotte mayor in 2017 under the name Constance Partee Johnson, participated in some but not all of the mayoral debates, received just a smidge over 300 total votes, and proved a very sore loser. Under the name Constance L. (Conny) Johnson, she ran for the NC Senate (District 34) in 2014 and took just under 34% of the vote against Andrew Brock.

Read more here:
Keith Sutton

Read more here:
Wake County school board vice chairman Keith Sutton announced on the Feb. 16 episode of “Education Matters,” a weekly show of the Public School Forum of North Carolina. Sutton is in his 10th year on the Wake school board and was board chairman when Wake County voters approved an $810 million school construction bond referendum in 2013. Sutton is an "education innovation consultant" with FocusED, LLC, a firm he started in 2017 to support organizations in improving and transforming education. Before then, he was excellence director for BEST NC, a business coalition focused on education. He has also served as executive director of the state NAACP and president of the Triangle Urban League. Sutton has said that charter schools are here to stay, but he’s against them in the current form because of “re-segregating” traditional public schools and taking funding. He’s against vouchers, saying they’re venues for families to get a privileged education. One of the changes the GOP-led General Assembly made was to require every public school to get an annual A through F letter grade that’s primarily based on how many of their students are passing state exams. Sutton points out that nearly every school with a D and F grade is in poor and minority communities. State leaders need to address the issues of race and poverty to help raise student achievement. “The leadership of our General Assembly has failed to acknowledge that race and poverty have a direct impact on student outcome and student achievement,” Sutton said.
Jen Mangrum

Read more here:
Jen Mangrum announced March 4. She started her education career as a classroom teacher, working from 1987 to 1999 in Onslow County Schools and later Guilford County Schools. She would go on to become a professor at NC State University, where she created the elementary education program. Mangrum achieved a good deal of prominence in 2018 for running against the most powerful Republican in the state, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, primarily on the issue of how badly public education has fared under Republican control. Mangrum has criticized vouchers as a “scary” development "because parents are using the money to attend private schools where the curriculum is not based on science or fact." She said she’s “anti-charter” because she said it causes resegregation and takes money away from traditional public schools. “Charter schools are a place for families to escape,” Mangrum said. “They’re white flight. They’re re-segregating our schools all over again.”  (I contributed to Mangrum's race against Phil Berger in 2018, and I have contributed to her current campaign for superintendent.)

Former state Department of Public Instruction division director Amy Jablonski had been another contender for the superintendent job until last Sunday when she dropped out of the race and endorsed Mangrum.

Read more here:

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Terri LeGrand Is In for the NCS31

I was enthusiastic about the candidacy of Forsyth County educator Terri LeGrand in 2018. She was running for the NC House (District 74) against incumbent Repubican queen bee Debra Conrad. I wrote about LeGrand in March of 2018 and again in July as she was displaying some fundraising chops (I contributed a modest amount to her campaign).

LeGrand lost that race but earned a very respectable 45% of the vote against an entrenched incumbent.

LeGrand announced yesterday that she's going for it again in 2020 but not for that northern Forsyth House district but rather this time for the NC Senate District 31 against another incumbent Republican queen bee, Joyce Krawiec. NCS31 has been considerably reconfigured by the most recent remapping and is friendlier to an insurgent Democrat.

LeGrand will make an exciting contest of it!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Trump's 'Intense Negatives' Outweigh His 'Intense Positives'

Reading all the post-mortems about the Trump-thumping election last Saturday in Louisiana, where the Republican Eddie Rispone lost badly to the Democrat John Bel Edwards, despite two Trump visits to the state just prior to the voting. The team of Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman offer this:
...Mr. Trump’s two appearances in the state between the primary and runoff had the effect of motivating the Democratic base as much as it did the conservative one.
"Forcing Trump down people’s throats in television, mail and radio produced a backlash among Democratic voters, especially African-Americans,” said Zac McCrary, a pollster on Mr. Edwards’s campaign, alluding to Mr. Rispone’s Trump-centric message. “The intense negatives outweigh the intense positives for Trump, which speaks to the turnout.”
I'm thinking of getting that last sentence embroidered on a pillow.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Democratic Scramble After New Congressional Maps Pass the NCGA

With the opening of candidate filing for 2020 just two weeks away, there's visible signs of potential Democratic candidates reevaluating their options:

Paul Lowe
6th Congressional District -- which is now remapped to be all of Guilford and the urban heart of Forsyth. We hear that state Senator Paul Lowe (32nd District) is seriously considering running for the seat. Lowe was appointed to the NC Senate in 2015 when Earline Parmon resigned, ran unopposed for reelection in 2016, and was reelected easily a second time in 2018. He is the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and a former Democratic chair of the 5th District. There will undoubtedly be others, especially in Guilford County, also considering a run for this much bluer congressional seat.

5th Congressional District -- Jeanne Supin announced months ago that she was building a campaign infrastructure to challenge Virginia Foxx. With Forsyth County now completely eliminated from the 5th, Supin appears to be shelving the effort. We're hearing that she's laid off her staff.
But with Gaston now drawn into the new 5th, David Wilson Brown, who has been running a campaign in the old 10th District (and he ran there against Patrick McHenry in 2018 too), is considering now running in the 5th.
David Wilson Brown
FOOTNOTE: We're hearing from multiple sources that both Virginia Foxx and Patrick McHenry are unamused by their redrawn districts, which would appear to advantage one Tim Moore for running in the 5th if and when Virginia Foxx retires. Tim Moore lives in Cleveland County, and there's consensus that the remapping was done for his future benefit.

10th Congressional District -- If David Wilson Brown moves over to run in the 5th, that will leave an opening for another Democrat to run against Patrick McHenry -- perhaps someone from Iredell.

11th Congressional District -- With all of Buncombe County and Asheville restored to this district, the campaign of Democrat Steve Woodsmall against the toxic Mark Meadows would appear to be considerably enhanced. Woodsmall has been energetically building out his campaign for months now, raising money, and negatively defining Meadows via social media.

2nd Congressional District -- Lt. Col. Scott Cooper, USMC (Retired), has already for several months been building a campaign against incumbent Republican George Holding. The new 2nd District is now based entirely in Wake County, and Cooper lives in northern Wake in the town of Wake Forest. I know that congressional candidates are not required to live in the districts they represent, but it sure does help when you're a first time candidate. Cooper would appear to have a headstart on taking this seat (though he will undoubtedly have a primary challenge).

Saturday, November 16, 2019

It's Up to the Courts Now

The Republicans in the NC Senate concurred yesterday with the Republicans in the NC House who remapped the 13 congressional districts because of a court order. It's the same map that had already been reproduced down-column.

Assuming that the court finds the map okay, there'll be considerable fluffing of feathers among incumbent reps, some of whom (like Virginia Foxx and Patrick McHenry) have new constituents to introduce themselves to. Also considerable soul-searching among Democratic candidates who had already announced or those who will now announce because they see an opening.

Much to unpack in coming days, as the demographic and partisan makeup of the new districts becomes clearer.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Newly Elected Republican Congressman Dan Bishop Should Be Censured

Dan Bishop only just won his seat in Congress from the 9th District of North Carolina in the special election of September.

He has now distinguished himself as the first member of Congress to reveal (in a tweet, naturally) the name of the person he alleges is the whistleblower. That can only be interpreted as an effort to intimidate both the whistleblower and anyone else considering sharing the truth about what our government is doing.

For creepy, below-the-belt fondling of authoritarianism, Dan Bishop has already shown himself a bloated Trumpist. If there is no legal way to sanction such behavior, he should be condemned by every North Carolinian for the reckless exposure of a protected civil servant which could easily lead to bodily harm.

Have you, finally, Congressman, no shame?

NC House Has Passed Its Redistricted Map

The congressional redistricting map posted yesterday down-column is now the official NC House-voted (Republican) preference for remapping the state. It puts in peril two incumbent Republicans -- George Holding in the 2nd and Mark Walker in the 6th.

Waiting to see what the Republican NC Senate will vote out as their version, and especially waiting for number-crunchers like Mike Bitzer to dig deep into the data.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Not the Final Map, But In the Running

According to PoliticsWolf, here's the latest North Carolina congressional map the state House GOP is considering. It's likely to secure an 8-5 GOP majority. Caution: Nothing is certain. At least a dozen other maps are also circulating.

The Winston-Salem Journal is treating this map as a very strong contender for being adopted in the NC House.

How and Why Trump Dropped His Extortion Scheme

Volodymyr Zelensky, with his extortionist
on Sept. 25 at the UN
The Republican defense against the extortion-for-military-aid impeachment case against Trump emerged yesterday out of the mouth of the mouthiest Republican on the congressional panel:
“You have to ask yourself: What did President Zelensky actually do to get the aid? The answer is nothing. He did nothing. He didn’t open any investigations. He didn’t call Attorney General Bill Barr. He didn’t do any of the things that House Democrats say that he was being forced and coerced and threatened to do. He didn’t do anything because he didn’t have to.” 
--Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Oh.), yesterday
We'll set aside the obvious here, that trying to extort someone is the crime, whether you're successful or not. What I'm interested in is the timeline under Trump's decision to release the military aid to Ukraine and call off the demand for political dirt on the Bidens. It's pretty clear the whistleblower's whistling, along with the resulting spotlight, ended the scheme.

Timeline: How/Why Extortion Got Scotched

July 3 -- The day that Col. Alexander Vindman discovers there's an unexplained hold on aid to Ukraine.

July 10 -- National Security Advisor John Bolton cuts short a White House meeting with Ukrainian officials when Gordon Sondland says he has an agreement with Mick Mulvaney that Ukraine's president would get a meeting with Trump if Ukraine agreed to launch investigations. Thrown out of Bolton's office, Sondland nevertheless kept pressing his "drug deal" for an investigation of the Bidens. So far, the Ukrainians don't appear to know that military aid is being withheld.

July 18 -- In a secure call with national security officials, a staff member of the White House Office of Management and Budget announces there's a freeze on Ukraine aid until further notice, based on a presidential order to the budget office. How Col. Vindman knew about the freeze over two weeks earlier is unclear, but he probably knew it via John Bolton.

July 25 -- Trump talks to Ukrainian President Zelensky, complains that the Ukrainians aren't really very grateful for all the help they get from the US and asks for a favor.

August 12 -- Whistleblower files his formal complaint (though he had previously filed a draft complaint anonymously to the CIA's general counsel). He knows all about the attempted extortion of Ukraine, the holding up of military aid, and the role of Rudy Guiliani.

August 13 -- White House lawyers learn of the whistleblower's complaint.

August 14 -- Justice Department learns of the whistleblower's complaint, declines to follow up with investigation.

August ?, prior to the 28th -- There's worry in Kiev: Catherine Croft, the special adviser for Ukraine at the State Department, says two Ukrainians reach out to her to ask about the status of the military assistance.

August 28 -- publishes "Trump holds up Ukraine military aid meant to confront Russia." That cat is now fully out of the bag.

September 9 -- Three US House committees launch the investigation into allegations that Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and possibly others, tried to extort the Ukrainian government to help the president's reelection campaign by digging up dirt on Joe Biden and his family.

September 11 -- Trump suddenly and without explanation releases the aid to Ukraine.

November 13 -- Rep. Jim Jordan says there can't be anything wrong because Ukraine got its aid and never had to produce any dirt on Biden. So where's the problem?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Urban/Suburban/Rural Counties in North Carolina

As always, grateful to political scientist Michael Bitzer for digging into the urban/suburban/rural distribution of votes in North Carolina. He's interested in testing whether the national suburban trend away from Trumpism (much discussed here since 2017) will hold true in NC. He seems to think it will.
Nearly thirty percent of NC's registered voters reside within a central city of the state, with another quarter being within the central city's county, making for 55 percent of NC voters in just 19 out of the state's 100 counties.
Another quarter of the voters reside in the 27 surrounding suburban counties, leaving barely two out of ten voters residing in state's rural counties.

RegionCountyCentral City
UrbanCRAVENNew Bern
UrbanEDGECOMBERocky Mount
UrbanNASHRocky Mount
UrbanNEW HANOVERWilmington
UrbanORANGEChapel Hill

RegionCountyCentral City
SuburbanBRUNSWICKMyrtle Beach SC
SuburbanCURRITUCKVirginia Beach VA
SuburbanGATESVirginia Beach VA
SuburbanJONESNew Bern
SuburbanPAMLICONew Bern