This is the kind of ridiculous attack piece that backfires on a Republican challenger like Ray Pickett.
|Eric Eller, far left, with Nancy Owen next to him|
in the middle
When that letter became public on the AppState campus, an uproar ensued in which student government leaders demanded that Eller resign his seat on the BOE. Eller refused to resign. He also refused to apologize.
The other four members of the Watauga BOE, including the other Republican member Nancy Owen, sent a letter to AppState student government leaders apologizing for Eller's letter and disavowing that he spoke for them in expressing fear of Black students. The letter said in part:
... [Eller's] letter was not authorized by the Board of Elections. It was the action of one member acting on his own. The letter does reference “our board” and “our agenda” and is signed by the individual as “Member, Watauga County Board of Elections”. A reader could certainly infer that it was written on behalf of the Board. It was not.
Members of the Board of Elections are nominated by political parties, but we are then pledged to work in a non-partisan manner. When this letter was written, we were working together on plans for holding an election during a pandemic. To some of us, it seemed the better course not to publicize a letter with which we disagreed, but rather to move on. We knew that the writer did not speak for the Board, but we failed to make that clear to the public we serve. Avoiding conflict then has allowed for misunderstanding, suspicion and pain now. Our neglect was wrong, and we apologize....
Eller then doubled-down, herded fellow Republican Nancy Owen with him, and with the masterful lawyering of Nathan Miller, sued the State Board of Elections for approving a Watauga Early Voting Plan that put an early voting site in the AppState Student Union. How he and Owen have standing to sue is still an open question in this household, but the continued brilliance of the Watauga GOP in wooing the youth vote surpasses previous years of their feverish attempts to block, thwart, hobble, and otherwise discourage ballot access on the AppState campus.
Congratulations are in order.
A Reoccurring Feature on Who's Jumping Off Luxury Liner Trump
Eller and Owen are represented by Boone attorney Nathan Miller, who has a long history of bringing suits to suppress the student vote.
Eller and Owen are asking for an expedited hearing on their complaint. Early voting is due to begin October 15.
Irresponsible? It seems responsible in the extreme to be suspicious of having something injected into our bodies that hasn't been thoroughly tested and vetted and certified by public health professionals as not only safe but also effective for the intended purpose.
Right now this minute, Trump has installed a man cheerleading for armed rebellion into a key communications post at the Centers for Disease Control -- Michael Caputo, a close ally of convicted liar Roger Stone, "made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in 'sedition' in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election."
Sedition. That's a Trumpian set-up if I've ever seen one (and I've seen plenty). Any scientist who subsequently suggests that Trump's hurried-up vaccine is not safe, not effective, will be branded a traitor to the president. You can see that coming, right?
Cal Cunningham's hesitance is just good sense. Tillis's shock is more toadying to a strong man he's profoundly afraid of.
“The congressional race is thoroughly tethered to the presidential race in the current polling with all the geographic, demographic, and political patterns from the presidential race essentially replicated. Thus, while the presidential race is a referendum on Trump, the congressional race — in which Hill has not attempted to separate himself from the top of the ticket — is driven by nationalized patterns. Elliott’s campaign has emphasized her public education credentials, including 30 years as a teacher, which serves her particularly well in suburbanized communities where public schools serve as the glue for communities like Conway, Bryant, and Benton.
“Elliott does run just behind Biden in Pulaski County [Little Rock] and needs to close that gap to maximize her vote in the largest county. She does also underperform slightly with younger voters (who are more likely to be undecided) and college-educated voters. Otherwise, the Biden and Elliott coalitions look very much alike.
“With Elliott showing solid fundraising success, all signs point to a very close race in the district before early voting begins. Elliott relies upon Biden maintaining his strong position in the district. Hill either needs Trump to rejuvenate his standing nationally or he must figure out how to subtly separate himself from the President without alienating core Trump voters.”
|C.J. Cregg, played by Allison Janney|
I don't believe I found the show until well into its 1st season of 22 episodes, in the late fall of 1999, as the buzz about it spread. I remember Stockard Channing vividly as Abigail Bartlet, but she didn't appear as a character until about four episodes into the run. So the earliest eps are new to me, but the whole production has made me laugh out loud, and moved me to tears, and reminded me of our naive hopes and unrealized fears about a president who is actually a good person. Cheating on his wife would never happen, nor cheating period.
I try to remember what we were up to back when "The West Wing" captured our imaginations. We had recently been involved in the painful resurrection of a Democratic Party in our local county. Old Guard Democrats were not amused that we had organized insurgents in almost all 20 precincts and took control of the party at the 1997 county convention. Which split the party. Which took time to heal (and may not in fact be fully healed even yet).
The new guys were activists and organizers, "liberals" in the parlance of the day. Bright-eyed optimists and pushy reformers who wanted to change stuff. They easily earned the resentment and opposition from a conservative old guard. But the new party -- better organized with each passing month -- nevertheless won two seats on the local county commission in 1998, and with the election of a third Democrat, very much an old guard type who eventually admitted that he was really a Republican and switched parties -- Democrats had taken control of county government for the first time in years. "Control," so to speak because while liberals ran the Party, conservatives ran the County Commission and were rooted among the business elite. During the election campaigns of 2000, the old guard actually opened its own rival "Democratic Party HDQs" and entertained its own constituency, especially among the legal community and various business interests.
I had sort of forgotten that "The West Wing" was really about those same tectonic pressures and the strains and failures that can follow. President Josiah ("Jed") Bartlet's flaw is his hesitance, a caution about acting on his beliefs, and the great dramatic conflict of the first season seesaws between a desirable liberal menu of high-minded cultural causes, and the iron maiden of compromise ("betrayal"). The greatest threats to the stability of the universe is said to be the liberals who are too radical, refusing under any circumstances to compromise. The frustrations of the president's idealistic staff, that even with a liberal Democrat as president, liberals are always always forced to compromise away the marrow of their beliefs. But finally, in the episode titled "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet," number 19 of 22, the president and his chief of staff decide to stop the habit of pussyfooting and to make the appointments they want to, rather than the ones the party honchos in the Senate want. They gird for battle, the promised retaliation by a Congress in the hands of the opposition. You feel your pulse quicken when fictional characters take out the sword and throw away the scabbard.
C.J. Cregg, played by wonderful flamingo Allison Janney, provides stunningly fresh commentary from two decades ago on what a presidential Press Secretary ought not to be, a lying co-conspirator in a criminal enterprise. C.J. Cregg suffers torment when she inadvertently cites the law wrong on appointees to the Federal Election Commission -- an honest error of not reading the briefing paper -- and she agonizes like a repentant sinner in the hands of an angry God, even going to the president for forgiveness for something so inconsequential. She intends always to be accurate, to be honest, and anyone causing her to utter untruths in the daily briefing is in for hellfire. She has a powerful moral compass and can blast the president himself to stay out of something he has no business sticking his nose into. She's a rock and funny to boot. A sense of humor about herself, and honesty -- a combo missing from our world.
So today I found Angela Mayfield, a Democrat in Georgia running against a four-term incumbent Republican for a Georgia House seat. The incumbent doesn't even usually have an opponent, so Angela Mayfield is just what the doctor ordered -- a gutsy, no-nonsense, kick-ass woman unafraid to talk the way we talk. Also a progressive who's scaring the holy hell out of the white men.
It opens with this profile of "a decisive voter," meaning a voter who hasn't decided yet but whose vote, once they do decide, will be decisive:
She’s white, college-educated, unaffiliated and moved to a close-in suburb of Charlotte or Raleigh in the last decade or two — and as Election Day looms, she’s still making up her mind.
Some vital stats:
...of the 7,040,308 registered voters as of last month, 36 percent are Democrats and 30 percent are Republicans, but an ascendant 33 percent are unaffiliated — the fastest-growing group, clustered in the fastest-growing suburbs. And of that 33 percent, [Paul] Shumaker, a Tillis consultant, wrote in a recent memo to donors, 30 percent are “behavioral Republicans,” 30 percent are “behavioral Democrats,” and the remaining 40 percent are “pure swing voters.” These, both sides agree, are the voters that are most up for grabs — in the places that are most up for grabs.
A few days ago, a Washington, DeeCee, commission formed in response to Black Lives Matter issued a report recommending that the Mayor and city government "remove, relocate or contextualize" the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument because of the slave-holding history of those two presidential honorees. The report additionally "recommended renaming dozens of public schools, parks and government buildings in the nation’s capital — including those named for seven U.S. presidents — after studying the historical namesakes’ connections to slavery and oppression."
Conservatives lost their shit. They had not read past the word remove, which -- let's face it -- is both alarming and ridiculous, to get to the word contextualize, which ought always to be done for public art from the past meant to memorialize what certain elite groups were thinking about great personalities and great events at the time.
I can't account for the brilliant minds that decided to list the options that way -- "remove, relocate or contextualize" -- since the failure to deal with reality in the first two options -- relocate the Jefferson Memorial? Seriously?) renders irrelevant the only sensible option, "contextualize," and we're left wondering, "Is this committee a ship of fools or just stampeding for survival with the herd?"
If ever Trump could think clearly for a change, or within any contextual frame, I might have to agree with him. I don't like the blunt force trauma of wiping out the history of our mistaken venerations. Civic monuments erected at particular points in our history recorded contemporary thinking about the various flawed individuals who defined our values at that particular time. Contextualizing "Silent Sam" at Chapel Hill would have been preferable to pushing his nose into the dirt. Imagine a new plaque in front of "Silent Sam": "Here stands the expression of white supremacy as it existed in 1890 North Carolina. This statue was meant to proclaim, 'Venerate the Confederacy to keep the Blacks in their place!' "
Southern monuments, in particular those erected between 1890 and 1920 (and most frequently on public property), were mainly reminders of Jim Crow. So I cannot grieve the removal of those set up at court houses, like the one removed from the Chatham County Courthouse in Pittsboro, or the ones on State Capitol grounds also recently removed to storage. Those were objectionable because their expressions of "Our White Heritage" looked, because of their overt placement near the benches of justice, not only sanctioned by government but part-and-parcel of government, with the power to segregate, harass, and execute.
|The North Carolina monument |
at Gettysburg, sculpted by
Civil War battlefields or museums -- that's where the Confederate monuments and statues belong, within and because of an historical context. There they are no longer the pugnacious and threatening specters of white people lording it over black people to the point of violence. They are images of the brave and dedicated men who rebelled for the sake of maintaining an economy built on slavery, and who paid the ultimate price.
Some of the Southern generals were brilliant and cunning, and those qualities speak to pretty perennial American values. Whether generals or mega-businessmen, we've tended to elevate the most ruthless among us. It's a sad fact (read Jill Lepore's recent "These Truths: A History of the United States") that our Constitution was written essentially to protect property from certain Democratic urges that the elite feared, and especially the property of Southern plantation society. Realizing those flaws in our founding values, contextualizing them (and amending the damn Constitution!), is the best we can do with what we've been given. We can't remove our foundations, but we can understand them more profoundly.
The American military was already backing away from Trump -- carefully, to be sure (discussed more below) -- even before his contempt for military sacrifice became a bombshell revelation yesterday.
I immediately wondered how that totally credible news of Trump's betrayal would affect the Democratic insurgency of Patricia Timmons-Goodson down in the 8th Congressional District. She's from Fayetteville, in Cumberland County, which just happens to hold two large military parks: the US Army at Fort Bragg and the US Air Force at Pope, meaning, in short, that the military vote in Cumberland County could be a wildcard heavy thumb on the political scales of 2020. Being pissed at what Trump said could sway the election toward the Democrat. But are they pissed?
(NOTE: Used to be, in the old 8th district, only the northern, more rural parts of Cumberland were included, but that already included Fort Bragg and Pope. The new 8th adds all of Cumberland, including more urbanized and liberal Fayetteville. Which makes the 8th lean slightly more Democratic, though it's still stubbornly labeled "Lean Republican" by the Cook Report.)
I've been surfing this a.m. for any answer to how Trump is playing there this weekend. Can't find a thing specific to the populations of Bragg and Pope, and the Fayetteville Observer gives me nothing. What I did run into was background on how the military decided to ban all displays of Confederate battle flags without triggering Trump's wrath (he has very forcefully defended everything Confederate). Because Trump's also notorious for not reading, the Pentagon's order cleverly buried their ban by not using the word ban, nor the word Confederate, and by making their policy order sound wholly positive, not negative. Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed the order on Thursday night, listing all that's allowed, and so much is allowed (U.S. and state banners, flags of other allies and partners, the widely displayed POW/MIA flag, and official military unit flags). The Confederate flag is not listed. Oops. But it would take reading to understand what just happened. The Pentagon's wording was "a creative way to bar the flag’s display without openly contradicting or angering President Donald Trump" (Lolita C. Baldor, AP).
That significant attempt to deceive the Commander in Chief is what I was referring to in the lead graph above: "Military, backing away from Trump already," even before he characterized their sacrifice as sucker-hood. Not to put too fine a point on it, the freshest and most promising new federal Democratic candidates since 2016 have tended to be former military men and women. I'm not going to list them here now. Take my word for it: the new Democratic star is likely former military, fed up with Donald Trump. I've profiled a bunch of them here since 2017, in many different states.
Timmons-Goodson is a distinguished lawyer and jurist, with 30 years experience including a seat on the NC Supreme Court and nomination by Barack Obama to the US 4th Circuit. She's massively accomplished and Black. The "new 8th" still contains plenty of the "old 8th," the conservative White counties of Harnett, Moore, Montgomery, and Stanly. A Black woman in the race complicates the Deep South metrics -- the incumbent Republican is a White man, Richard Hudson, who's supposedly more moderate than most of his brethren. But her candidacy maybe also liberates a different voting bloc that hasn't been participating up to their potential. The new 8th is about 1/4th Black. It's more heavily urban in the far east -- Cumberland -- and also the far west, Cabarrus (with its big city of Concord), which is increasingly a suburb of Charlotte and where there are several other strong Democrats making energetic runs for the General Assembly. They all mutually benefit one another.
I have no -- zero -- information nor insight about how Trump's words are playing among the active duty in Cumberland County, just curiosity to know. Not just the active duty personnel but also the retired military community, which I've been led to believe is substantial. The military has always been considered a part of the Republican base, hasn't it? Trump's been reportedly popular with the troops, and he's certainly courted their approval, which just makes his reported opinions about the Service all the more a betrayal.
|Virginia Foxx, autograph hound|
“You know, the Democrats cannot win at the ballot box. They just can’t,” Foxx told the crowd.
What? What species of Trumpist lying bullshit is that?
Here are the facts of how Virginia Foxx has fared at the effing ballot box in Watauga County, her home county, since her first run for the US House in 2004:
2004 Foxx beat Democrat Jim Harrell with 54.62 percent of the vote
2006 Democrat Roger Sharpe beat Foxx, who took only 46.42 percent of the vote
2008 Democrat Roy Carter beat Foxx, who took only 46.33 percent of the vote
2010 Foxx beat Democrat Billy Kennedy barely, with 51.16 percent of the vote
2012 Democrat Elisabeth Motsinger beat Foxx, who took 49.96 percent of the vote
2014 Democrat Josh Brannon beat Foxx, who took 49.04 percent of the vote
2016 Democrat Josh Brannon again beat Foxx, who took 49.04 percent of the vote
2018 Democrat D.D. Adams beat Foxx, who took 43.63 percent of the vote
That's what the ballot box has done to Virginia Foxx in her home county. She won her very first race here in 2004, and she edged out Billy Kennedy in the Tea Party year of 2010. But she's been beaten every other election at the ballot box in her home county. But. yeah, you tell your lie, Madam, that Democrats can't win at the ballot box.
Not making predictions here, but your track record in your home county suggests that you'll lose Watauga again in 2020 to David Wilson Brown. At the effing ballot box, which I personally can't wait to reach in order to send you my biennial message of disgust.
He has said that his big ambition is to be the new young avatar for an aging Republican Party, and he told a reporter that his secret weapon is his "packaging."
“...I believe I can carry the message of conservatism in a way that doesn’t seem so abrasive – that has better packaging, I would say, better messaging.”
I'm a very shallow person, I admit, and judge most candidates first by their surface appearance, but it's a trifle off-putting to hear the candidate admit that the surface is what there is. That he seems to think he can sell sandpaper for Kleenex if he's charming and pretty. Cawthorn is all-American boy with the thousand-watt smile, and his political calculation is this: He's pimping policies that no Millennial would select for themselves unless the salesman is a seducer.
He handles himself pretty well in media interviews. He has his talking points down pat. He's never, or rarely, at a loss for words. He knows his role -- tragic young voice of conservatism struggling to his feet to stand up for freedom despite all odds (while the choir at Fox News faints dead away). But when he gets into policy, he fades quickly into vagueness and illogic. He says he wants his main contribution to be the reform of our health care system, based on his own near-death experiences, but his "reform" looks puddle-deep and contradictory to me -- encouraging more competition among insurance companies is going to make health-care more affordable for the "forgotten people"? The "free market" would have healed his wounds faster? I think a wholly unfettered free market might have discarded both Madison Cawthorn and his hospital bed.
He has expressed regret that the Republican majorities in Congress did not repeal Obamacare during Trump's first two years, though he, like his hero Trump, does not have a replacement plan. So his "free market" sloganeering looks not only shallow but also quite harmful.
The evident shallowness makes quite credible the creeping fear that he's aligned with white nationalism, with its toxic disdain for weak and unattractive "cucks," though I've never thought his Instagram photos from Berchtesgaden revealed much of anything other than a touristy bragging about places he's been. Time will tell about all of that, if he should actually make it to Congress.
The knock against him that drew blood is that he deliberately misled about the car crash derailing his coming stardom at the Naval Academy. He admitted in a lawsuit deposition that his nomination for the Naval Academy had been rejected before his car crash injuries. He has since claimed in interviews that he never misled anyone about that. I've gone back and watched his introductory video biography on his website -- which is still there -- and there's no doubt that he intended to mislead people about his supposed admission to Annapolis, supposedly ended by the car crash. There's no doubt in my mind.
His Democratic opponent, Moe Davis, an actual distinguished retired member of the military, called Cawthorn's wrapping himself in tragically aborted military glory as "stolen valor." Cawthorn thought perhaps that he could get away with it. After all, he looked the part of a rising Navy midshipman, didn't he?
Amber Baker was featured on a WXII newscast in February as a candidate running in the Democratic primary for the 72nd NC House District, which takes in much of the heart of Winston-Salem. The district is rated "Likely Democrat" and had been represented by Democrat Derwin Montgomery for one term (after serving a decade on the Winston-Salem city council). Montgomery wanted to move up to the US Congress, so he gave up his House seat to run in this year's primary for the 6th CD of North Carolina. He lost to Kathy Manning (who is most assuredly going to Congress), and Amber Baker is considered a shoo-in to take Montgomery's former House seat in this heavily Democratic district.
Amber Baker is guaranteed to be a new face and a new force for public education in Raleigh. This video is now six months old but still germane for understanding the evolving Democratic Party in North Carolina.
I believe Trump will be defeated. I believe he won't. I believe the Democrats will take control of the NC House. I believe they won't -- and in fact, that they'll probably lose some of the seats they gained in 2018. I believe Democrats will take control of the US Senate. I believe they can't and that they'll lose Doug Jones in Alabama in the bargain. I believe that even conservative rural Republicans have understood the deep tragedy of Donald J. Trump and will stay home this year. But I know good and well that they're itching as much as me to get to the polls to reelect the great businessman and owner of "the libs"; yes, they'll show up with no masks and sharp elbows, and people will get hurt.
It's not just the polls nurturing Hope. It's ground-level narrative -- rumor and hearsay. Like this we heard: Old-line rural Republicans in Watauga County seem more embarrassed by Trump than energized, and if they decide not to show up on November 3rd, then Hope, she is a prophetess.
Politics is an art, but it's also divination -- reading the signs -- and intuition, taking the surrounding temperature, looking for that high fever on the other side that will mean trouble for you and for the candidates you work for. We don't feel any fever over there (except among the most ardent Trumpists, the ones pushing guns and God, but there aren't enough of them to lift a jalopy to the roof).
(I used to hope, oblivious to arithmetic, but I've learned better. The loss of Harvey Gantt in 1990 scarred my soul. But scar tissue is useful education, along with math.)
|Judge Bob Orr,|
of Henderson County
Judge Bob Orr is the living embodiment of an old-line rural Republicanism that is stand-up virtuous. Judge Bob Orr speaks for a silent minority of other old-line rural Republicans who can hear that splintering sound as a sign from God. Perhaps they know a cult of personality for what it is, a surrender of religious values. Might be something they like to avoid, like a cow patty in the path. How those old-line rural Republicans play will determine the election in North Carolina.
I hope one thing; I fear another.
Why is the Montana At-Large Congressional seat in play? The Cook Political Report has it at "lean Republican" (R+11), but it's an open seat. The Republican who won a special election there in 2017, Greg Gianforte, and who then promptly beat up a reporter from The Guardian and was convicted of misdemeanor assault, has moved on to run for Montana governor (and maybe beat up a different reportorial demographic).
The Republican on the ballot there this November, Matt Rosendale, won a crowded congressional primary. He has considerable public service to his credit, including one term each in the Montana House and Senate and a term as Montana's auditor. But he also trails a string of high-profile electoral defeats. He was beaten in the 2018 senatorial campaign by incumbent Democrat Jon Tester. In 2014, he ran for the Montana At Large House seat in the Republican primary and came in third. He's very familiar to Montana voters, which in some cases may hurt as much as it helps.
A bigger reason the Montana race is being watched for a possible red-to-blue flip is the overall erosion in the Trumpist Party as both voters and office-holders have grown weary of the Twitterman chaos:
Of the 241 House Republicans in office when Trump was inaugurated in 2017, only 126 (52 percent) are still running for reelection this fall. Incoming GOP members have run on a primary theme of fealty to Trump, with a few exceptions — such as Peter Meijer (MI-03), a self-funder who has run on his military service and barely mentions the president.
Republican Matt Rosendale, who looks old and whose TV spots don't do a thing to dispel that image, is highlighting Donald Trump's endorsement as boilerplate, but as with every other public hugging of Trump by a Republican candidate in this plague year, we have to wonder how much it helps or hurts, even in Montana.
Democrat Kathleen Williams
She's clearly running as a "moderate," but she "fits" Montana and she doesn't strike me as someone who's gonna go DINO on us (I'll be permanently deleting this post if she does). She also has a long record of public service. She served multiple terms in the Montana House, and she ran against incumbent Greg Gianforte in 2018, coming within 4.7 percentage points of beating him. I don't know what her TV spots in 2018 looked like, but I find her not just feisty but appealingly feisty in 2020 (although I do flinch a little that she admits voting for Reagan -- does that look like pandering in Montana?):
I've paid attention to first-time Democratic candidates in our state and in the two states that flank us, north and south. Several of them won their seats 2 years ago. They, and the new young and not-entirely-young Federal candidates of 2020 elevate my spirit -- a pool of talent that's brimming, not drying up. (For the Talent Pool Census, you should add in all the first-time Democratic candidates for NC House and Senate that I've been nattering about all year long. For Federal office:
Deborah Ross, in the 2nd CD
Kathy Manning, in the 6th CD
Patricia Timmons-Goodson, in the 8th CD
Cynthia Wallace, in the 9th CD
Moe Davis, in the 11th CD
Cal Cunningham, for US Senate
Joe Cunningham, in the 1st CD
Adair Boroughs, in the 2nd CD
Moe Brown, in the 5th CD
Jaime Harrison, for US Senate
Elaine Luria, in the 2nd CD
Cameron Webb, in the 5th CD
Abigail Spanberger, in the 7th CD
Jennifer Wexton, in the 10th CD
I check in on these folks sporadically, trolling for video usually, as I do appreciate production values. Tickled to find this new introduction to Cameron Webb up in the 5th District of Virginia. Way back in the spring, he shared a headline here after his surprise (and out-sized) primary win in the 5th District of Virginia: "The Wow Factor".
I don't know who produced this, but it's good. Highlights a detail for me that sticks because it illuminates character -- that Webb actually served out the end of his White House Fellowship in the Trump administration and found a way to stick with it, despite the Trump animus toward a hold-over Obama admin advisor. He says they treated him with suspicion, moved his desk into the hall and then took it away altogether, yet when the White House staff was blind-sided by a presidential tweet promising lower drug prices, and because Cameron Webb was there as a medical doctor with valuable experience (not to mention a law degree), they actually asked his advice, and he was able to ameliorate some early Trump admin moves on health care.
My favorite thing about the Republican National Convention in Charlotte so far -- it's not their "high-risk" gathering in the same room of some 326 official state delegates (six from each state) with assorted functionaries and facilitators, nor the shocking surprise that they intend to renominate Donald J. Trump this very morning -- it's their decision not to write a party platform for 2020. Well, to be fair, they submitted three words: "whatever Trump wants."
Dudes! You really want to proclaim your total lack of any anchor holding you to A Rock? You want to announce to the voters that you hold nothing in particular sacred any more? Oh, I know you said the 2016 Platform is readopted for 2020 -- and those are your positions still, thank you very much, and "You may go now" -- depart in peace and don't notice that the old 2016 platform contains statehood for Puerto Rico and that little plank on Crimea that got edited to make it more advantageous for Russia.
We pretty much knew it all along, that you're a colony now under imperial rule. You used to believe -- stoutly and without equivocation -- in certain tenets of foreign policy, of monetary policy, of personal responsibility. Then Trump arrived. Whatever Trump didn't like, you had to not like too, and how humiliating is that, shedding conviction like a snake sluffs skin?
(The 2020 Platform of the Democratic Party was controversial too because -- as usual -- the Democrats wanted to write too much rather than nothing at all, so there were arguments to the death. Progressives gave up the most. The Biden moderates wouldn't adopt "Medicare for All," but tried to placate the progressives: "We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach." The Bernie Sanders camp was actively involved in drafting the platform, and they decided to lose gracefully, a boon.)
|Cawthorn met Trump at a July fundraiser|
for the president. Still photo from
video published by The Sun.
Cawthorn is seated to the left.
Trump will be in Charlotte at noon to accept the nomination, and then he plans to travel to the 11th Congressional District to give young Madison Cawthorn a boost in his campaign to take Mark Meadows' old seat. Trump's been petting Cawthorn like a new mascot. The lad's been given a speaking slot on the convention program. I look for him to play the victim to get past the awkwardness of being called out publicly in recent days for claiming acceptance to enter the Naval Academy when he was never accepted there, and the serial testimony of several young women who've said that Cawthorn pushed himself on them as God's gift to their gender.
Cawthorn's Democratic rival, Col. Moe Davis, has come on strong and relentlessly. Davis has not been afraid to confront Cawthorn's character flaws, his lack of experience even at holding down a job, his willingness to become a partisan puppet. Cawthorn looks increasingly like a would-be Lothario surfer trying to get next to important people.
Trump's actually landing in the small town of Mills River in Henderson County, where Democrat candidate for the state Senate Brian Caskey is also a town commissioner. Caskey tweeted: "I’ve been invited, since I am the Mayor Pro Tem. If you see me in photos, I’ll be the one wearing the
@JoeBiden mask." I'll be watching Caskey's tweets this afternoon.
we covered the sudden announcement by powerful Republican lawmaker David Lewis last July 25th that he was withdrawing from his race for reelection to the NC House from District 53, we said, "It's almost like there's another shoe waiting to drop."
That shoe dropped yesterday when federal prosecutors announced that Rep. Lewis had pleaded guilty to two counts of not filing taxes and making false statements to a bank, in relation to a campaign finance scheme whereby he took money donated to his reelection and used it for personal maintenance. Will Doran reported late yesterday afternoon:
Prosecutors announced shortly after the charges were made public that Lewis would take a plea deal. One of the two charges he faced could have led to a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. But prosecutors will recommend a much lighter sentence ranging from probation to six months in prison, the plea deal says.
The court document laying out the charges says Lewis came up with a scheme to secretly siphon donors’ money out of his campaign account and put it to personal use.
He reported that his campaign was sending money to the North Carolina Republican Party but in reality, the court document says, he was writing checks to a bank account he controlled. He put the account in the name of a company — which federal prosecutors say never existed — that he called “NC GOP, Inc.” to disguise what was going on.
The charges outline $65,000 that he allegedly took for personal use in August 2018.
Sometimes Georgia just confuses the hell out of us!
One US Senate seat in Georgia will be settled on November 3rd, the fate of incumbent Republican David Perdue, who's running for another term against Democrat Jon Ossoff. You may remember Jon Ossoff from a special Georgia election in the 6th CD in 2017, which he lost. We're expecting him to do better this year.
Kelly Loeffler is often described as the richest member of the Senate, which is saying something. She's a former Wall Street type executive, is married to the president of the Wall Street Stock Exchange, and attracted some attention lately for dumping millions in stock after receiving privileged briefings about the coming COVID catastrophe. She's been let off the hook, apparently, for any wrong-doing, while NC Senator Richard Burr is not off the hook for the same accusation.
The last polling I saw had Loeffler trailing slightly her biggest Republican challenger, Doug Collins, the snarling Trumpist attack dog on the House Judiciary Committee. Frankly, it's entirely possible that the top two finishers in this primary could both be Republicans, though we have high hopes for at least one Democrat making it to the January run-off.
There are at least eight Democrats on the ballot, but the front-runner is generally conceded to be Reverend Raphael Warnock, the pastor of famous Ebernezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. His introductory video biography is polished and compelling:
I've been pawing through the NC House and Senate districts that Trump won in 2016 where he took less than 60 percent of the vote. The 48th Senate District down in Transylvania, Henderson, and the southermost part of Buncombe fit that description, and I wrote about Democrat Brian Caskey running in that district and the boost he may get from a couple of other Democrats running in overlapping NC House districts.
The inability of politicians and leaders to identify with the pain and suffering of everyday people is commonplace from every sphere of political leadership, nationally to locally....
We have too many elected leaders who have neither the willingness to work across the aisle nor the willingness to know and experience the pain of the people to whom they have been elected to serve. One of my hopes as we continue to grieve Mr. Floyd’s death is - we as citizens - we as an electorate recognize the importance of diversity in political leadership.
Senate District 36 was most recently rated "Likely Republican" by Michael Bitzer and associates. Trump took 59.53 percent of the vote in 2016, but Democrats (29 percent) and Unaffiliated (34 percent) together out-number Republicans (36 percent), and I'm persuaded that there's a big untapped and disengaged voter pool that could get motivated and then animated and overcome that 10-point disadvantage (especially if the Republican electorate is depressed). Blacks make up 18 percent of the voters.
There's an overlapping boosting effect that could come from two very active and promising NC House candidates whose districts include large parts of Cabarrus -- Democrat Gail Young in HD83 and Democrat Aimy Steele in HD82, both of which have been on most lists of "races to watch" all year. Singleton, Young, and Steele could support and nurture each other's campaigns, especially if they've got healthy new-voter registration drives underway.
The three of them showed up together back in January at Martin Luther King Jr. Day observations in Concord. Interestingly, so did incumbent Republican House member Larry Pittman, who is being challenged by Gail Young in HD83 this November.
|Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Concord, January 2020.|
Marcus Singleton, center, in purple shirt.
Larry Pittman, holding the microphone.
Aimy Steele and Gail Young, far right.
Photo by Marty Price in the Independent Tribune
Rep. Pittman's attendance is perhaps not entirely surprising. (Can you spell chutzpah?) He is after all a politician running for reelection. But he's probably not fooling anyone. He's also known for hanging with a neo-Confederacy group. Pittman introduced a bill that would have removed the ban on secession from the state constitution, and he drew widespread attention in 2017 when he stated that the Civil War was "unnecessary and unconstitutional" and compared Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler. His campaign received at least $2,000 from the Sons of Confederate Veterans PAC.
Prognosticators consider North Carolina Senate District 48 as "Safe Republican" (although Bitzer rated it only "Lean Republican" at some point late last fall -- I have the print-out but don't ask me for the URL). Trump took 59.36 percent of the district vote in 2016. That's enough to sober anybody up -- ice water to one's tenderest aspirations. But Democrat Brian Caskey has been making a campaign there, and anyone should have seen it coming.
I followed the rise of Caskey starting on December 31, 2019, shortly after the close of candidate filing. He was the frontrunner then, I thought, and has never stopped. He won the Democratic primary in March. In July, he called out Republican incumbent Chuck Edwards for being in Duke Energy's pocket. A scrapper, and that's what it will take to upset this incumbent. If anything, Caskey should do more of that hell-raising with Edwards' record.
There's another factor impacting on Caskey's chances to flip this Senate district: SD48 overlaps with HD113 and HD117 where Democratic candidates have been mounting energetic campaigns -- Sam Edney in the 113th and Josh Remillard in the 117th. Edney especially is rallying the troops. Edney, Remillard, and Kim Bost over in the 96th District (Catawba County) have teamed up for their own "Breaking the Majority" campaign. The energy is noticeable for mobilizing "sometime" voters, new voters, independent voters (who hold the balance of power), and with Caskey assaulting the Senate, there's every promise of culmulative force applied against The Matrix.
Having lots of money-supporters doesn't mean you're going to win. But it doesn't hurt. It signals energy and excitement -- real fire producing all that smoke.
I've just spent some time perusing the 2nd Quarter fundraising/expenditure totals for many of the NC House and NC Senate contests, especially "races to watch." These figures were aggregated by RealFactsNC, a Raleigh/Chapel Hill 501(c)(4) non-profit dedicated to research. It's also dedicated to the progressive wave. Me likee research. It's my drug of choice, and I've been riffing on numbers (and prognostications) provided by RealFactsNC for at least a year. Good work, guys.
Here's what most noticeable: In almost every House district currently contested by insurgent Democrats challenging flippable incumbent Republicans, the Democrat is outraising -- often by a lot -- the Republican. (I'll write about the Senate races to watch separately, probably tomorrow.) That fundraising advantage is amplified if it's a race between a freshman Democrat who won in the 2018 Blue Wave and a new Republican opponent. Take Democrat Ray Russell's race for reelection in HD93 (Watauga and Ashe). He reports having almost $200,000, cash on hand as of July 10. Ray's Republican opponent, Ray Pickett, made no report. He's been relying on dark money expenditures, attacks on Ray's character by anonymous 3rd parties, to get him across the finish line first. But still.
NCH1 -- Democrat Emily Bunch Nicholson ... $108,876.98, cash on hand
Republican incumbent Ed Goodwin ... $22,637. cash on hand
(I wrote about Nicholson and others most likely to flip a House seat back in June, based on RealFactsNC and other sources.)
NCH12 -- Democrat Virginia Cox-Daugherty ... $109,876.24
Republican Chris Humphrey ... $47.741.77
NCH20 -- Democrat Adam Ericson ... $103,263.84
Republican Ted Davis ... $33,304.04
NCH43 Open Seat -- Democrat Kimberly Hardy ... $119,881.22
Republican Diane Wheatley ... $2,346.21
NCH51 -- Democrat Jason Cain ... $100,178.31
Republican John Sauls ... $65,178.31
NCH63 -- Democrat Ricky Hurtado ... $143,423.45
Republican Stephen Ross ... $28,263.86
NCH74 -- Democrat Dan Besse ... $155, 546.78
Republican Jeff Zenger ... $17,357.58
NCH82 -- Democrat Aimy Steele ... $193,752.14
Republican Kristin Baker ... $10,615.72
NCH83 -- Democrat Gail Young ... $155,150.23
Republican Larry Pitts ... $19,285.82
NCH59 -- Democrat Nicole Quick ... $168,256.04
Republican Jon Hardister ... $123.940.21
NCH35 -- Democrat Terrence Everitt ... $96,786.40
Republican Fred Von Canon ... $43,614.99
NCH36 -- Democrat Julie von Haefen ... $108,842.88
Republican Kim Coley ... $20,844.50
NCH37 -- Democrat Sydney Batch ... $307,493.00
Republican Erin Pare ... $66.817.36
NCH93 -- see above, 3rd paragraph
NCH98 -- Democrat Christy Clark ... $199,360.16
Republican John Bradford ... $134.700.55
NCH103 -- Democrat Rachel Hunt ... $335,570.39
Republican Bill Brawley ... $26,092.01
NCH104 -- Democrat Brandon Lofton ... $117,944.45
Republican Don Pomeroy ... $82,506.93
NCH105 -- Democrat Wesley Harris ... $45,206.13
Republican Amy Bynum ... $6,261.54
NCH119 -- Democrat Joe Sam Queen ... $116,645.25
Republican Mike Clampitt ... $5,652.53
NCH9 -- Democrat Brian Farkas ... $140,053.68
Republican Perrin Jones ... $176,122.71
NCH45 -- Democrat Frances Vinell Jackson ... $133,172.42
Republican John Szoka ... $211,328.66
NCH19 -- Democrat Marcia Morgan ... $91,397.18
Republican Charlie Miller ... $12,757.18
I wrote about Marcia Morgan enthusiastically when she ran in 2018, and I was rooting for her to try again this year. But watching her primary back in March against another Democrat, I thought she'd win it, but I worried about a noticeable lack of energy. Seems to be plenty of energy in these fundraising numbers.