Wednesday, February 19, 2020

We Weren't Waiting for Bloomberg


“You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.”
― Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable

The political slog right now feels like Waiting for Godot. We're waiting. We're always waiting for The Dude. But Godot will not be coming tonight, though he will surely come tomorrow. You know what? He ain't coming.

Samuel Beckett.
Photo Jane Bown, The Guardian
That cheerfully bitter Irishman Samuel Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot. It's bleak, but it's also funny.  It's what I've heard called "the black Irish mood," where there's also always uproarious laughter. The Beckett quote above is not from Godot, but it might as well be. Some days during this season of discontent I think I can't stand it any more -- the full blossoming of Twitterman's lawless and unaccountable power-bender in the White House, that plus the left's incessant, habitual, not to forget suicidal bashing of fellow Democrats as if they are enemies and not in fact coalitional allies -- sometimes I want to turn off all screens, change the locks, and light out for the territory. Say goodbye to political science, and even voting, in some new Crystal City.

But I'll go on. I can't go on. You must go on.

Seeing three current and former mayors of Raleigh endorse Mike Bloomberg seems like Beckett-style absurdity. It adds to my fund of experience a kind of bumfuzzled acknowledgement of the contemporary reality: Money trumps everything. The world of tomorrow demands cash. Nothing else matters. Not history. Not mindset. Not proclivity. Democrats began selling out to Wall Street decades ago. Now embracing the likes of Mike Bloomberg.

Bloomberg's relentless TV spending convinces even some of my close friends that he is The One to successfully pound Trump into atoms. I think that's the main attraction. Most Democrats of whatever brand like seeing Trump roughed up, called out, pinned on the autopsy table. Even I can be appreciative that there's this real billionaire who has the unlimited funds to run all those attack ads against Trump. But put another rich man in charge of the Republic? I don't care he's good on climate change and gun control. I cannot believe he is the man to reform structural inequality. He's not the one I've been waiting for.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Gen-Z Turning Out in NC Primary Elections


From the indefatigable Gerry Cohen just now:

NC campus early voting sites through Monday (note many votes may be faculty/staff) NCSU 1140 Duke 681 AppState 564 FayState 426 ECU 391 UNC-CH* 337 NCCU 317 UNC-C 283 UNC-G 215 WSSU 204 WCU 155 A&T 141


Additional numbers from Watauga County. Of 1,011 total voters cast at all early voting sites through Feb. 17:
45% D
19% R
36% U
Of the 359 U's who voted, 82% chose a Democratic ballot.

Another Judicial Blow Against Voter I.D. in North Carolina


The requirement to present photo I.D. at the polls had already been enjoined by a federal court at least for the 2020 primaries (going on right now), but just today, the completely separate state court system has likely outlawed it for this November too.

The Federal Lawsuit (NAACP v. Cooper)

Last New Year's Eve, federal district court Judge Loretta Biggs issued an injunction against implementation of NC's voter photo I.D. law. In a 60-page ruling that dug deep into the long history of black voter suppression in North Carolina, Judge Biggs wrote that parts of the new voter ID law “were impermissibly motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent.” It’s impossible to ignore, Biggs said, the state’s history of politicians' violating the rights of minorities for political gain, since “race and party are inexorably linked” in North Carolina.

Biggs' injunction covered at least the March primary -- no I.D. required to vote -- but was up in the air so far as the November General Elections were concerned, "since it’s possible this issue could go to trial before then." That would be the federal trial in the matter of NAACP v. Cooper et al., a suit brought against the state's executive branch, including the state Board of Elections, and to which the Republicans in the General Assembly, who wrote the law, are not parties.

The State Lawsuit (Holmes v. Moore)

Meanwhile, a completely different suit against voter photo I.D., Holmes v. Moore, was advancing in the state courts. Heard first by a three-judge panel last June, which denied an injunction against the law, the case reached the Court of Appeals on January 22, which today issued an injunction against implementation of voter photo I.D. probably through November ("probably" because this injunction is temporary until the case goes to trial, and it's unlikely a trial could happen before November).

Racial discrimination is also the issue in Holmes v. Moore (in which the Republican overlords in the General Assembly are very much defendants (unlike the federal case). Based on the evidence they’ve seen so far, Appeals Court judges Toby Hampson, Allegra Collins, and John Arrowood said "it appears the legislature will lose in its defense of the law." The voting rights activists who sued appear likely to be able to prove “that discriminatory intent was a motivating factor behind” the voter ID law.

Republicans can't ever stop chewing that bone. Because, surely the South will rise again, and you can't rise without stepping on a few people, amirite?

Monday, February 17, 2020

Down in Forest City


A new book about what the authors call "one of America's most dangerous cults" focuses on the Word of Faith Fellowship in Rutherford County, just down the mountain from us. The two authors were interviewed on Morning Edition today.

Democrat David Wheeler, who is running again this year against incumbent Republican Ralph Hise in NC Senate District 47, made some news in 2018 when he tried to take cameras inside the church. Wheeler accuses Hise of essentially shielding the church from meaningful scrutiny (which numerous law enforcement agencies in Rutherford County are also accused of).

The authors of "Broken Faith" talk about the leader of the Word of Faith, Jane Whaley, as a frightening scourge of God:
You have to realize they believe that Jane Whaley was a prophet, that God spoke to her and everything she said was the gospel. And one of the techniques that she used was that she had everybody inform on each other. And the reason they did that was because that was the godly way of doing things. It was, in a way, she would have them tell her their deepest, darkest secrets. And then she kept a file of those secrets. And if they threatened to leave or did something wrong, she had all the evidence she needed there to keep them in line.
A peculiar form of abuse at the church has been talked about for years, as insiders escaped and described what went on there:
...it was something that really got worse over time. And you have to understand what her philosophy is. The doctrine is really pretty simple — devils are real. And if you're a drug addict, it's because you have this drug devil. If, you know, you're an alcoholic — the same. If you're having an affair, it's the same thing. There are lustful devils. And so what she would do is it was called Devils in Deliverance, where they would have people surround you and scream at you to get the devils out. Get out, devil. And it would go on and on and on. Perfect example is with a baby. If babies cried, it wasn't because they were hungry or they had a dirty diaper. It was because there was a devil inside them that was making them cry. So you would have groups of people surrounding an infant and screaming until that baby would just get tired and finally, you know, go to sleep....
None of the press investigative pieces or law enforcement investigations or lawsuits have seemed to make a dent:
You have the sheriff. You have the district attorney. You have all these people who have looked the other way, who know what's going on, and they're just not doing their job. This church now is thriving.

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Source of His Appeal


More evidence of the rotting away of our commonweal.

Proving, once again, that irony is dead
Since Trump’s rise, his inflammatory language about people of color and the Muslim religion has seeped into schools across America. Reporters for the WashPost just documented a whole bunch of examples, like these: In Tennessee, a group of middle-schoolers linked arms, imitating Trump's proposed border wall as they refused to let nonwhite students pass. In Ohio, another group of middle-schoolers surrounded a mixed-race sixth-grader and taunted her: "This is Trump country."

"Kids as young as 6 [are] mimicking the president’s insults and the cruel way he delivers them."

@jbouie made this incisive observation today on Twitter:

"The extent to which children mimic and emulate Trump’s bigotry is, for me, the surest evidence that Trump’s explicit racism is the main thing that breaks through to the public and the source of his appeal." 

Nothing sets off a Trumpeter like accusations of racism. It's like touching a red hot poker to the backside of a mule. The kick could kill ya.

Truth hurts.

Our President Would Be a Better Crook If He Could Stop the Strut


In his interview with ABC News, Attorney General William Barr said it was “time [for Trump] to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.” He added that such statements from Trump “about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending here, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”

Shorter, clearer William Barr: "Listen, moron, STFU so I can help your friends and hurt your enemies without the entire effing world cluing in on what I'm doing because you can't keep your fingers off the keyboard."

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Elections of March: Democratic Primary in NCH33


Reading The Indy Week's endorsements in Wake County races for the NC Senate and House has caused me to take a closer look at the Democratic primary race in the NCH33 between incumbent Democrat Rosa Gill and her insurgent challenger Antoine Marshall. The Indy endorsed Marshall, and I can see why.

Democrat Antoine Marshall is a 33-year-old Millennial and a lawyer trained at Wake Forest. He's clearly a rising star in the Wake County Democratic Party (serving on the Progressive Caucus, among many other party offices and activist roles). As an undergraduate student at Claflin University, an HBCU in Orangeburg, S.C., Marshall worked in the congressional office of then-Majority Whip Congressman James Clyburn. He returned to Washington as a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Policy Fellow in the office of Congresswoman Donna Christensen, and also interned with the Congressional Black Caucus of the South Carolina State Legislature.

Marshall began his career as an attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina, working with low income families in the areas of landlord/tenant law, government benefits, and mortgage foreclosures. This background has made Marshall especially focused on "access to legal justice," especially in this age of Trump when there seems to be different justice depending on wealth and influence:
...roughly 3 out of 4 low income households will have at least one civil legal problem in the upcoming year. These include problems with health care, housing conditions, disability access, veterans benefits, and domestic violence, the seriousness of which could be the difference between someone receiving medical assistance, being homeless, or in some cases protection from bodily harm or death. For many of those families North Carolina legal aid programs such as Legal Aid of North Carolina, Pigsah Legal Services and the Legal Services of Southern Piedmont provided lawyers at no charge to work on behalf of low income individuals, but these programs have been woefully underfunded. ["Antoine Marshall on the Issues"]
Noted: Marshall also challenged Rosa Gill for this seat in the Democratic primary of 2018, and only got 24.7% of the vote. It's still an uphill climb, but perhaps Marshall has organized better this year and has built a following to take on an intrenched incumbent.


Democratic incumbent Rosa Gill is 75 years old and is in her sixth term in the NC House. She was appointed to the District 33 seat in 2009 by Governor Bev Perdue when Rep. Dan Blue got moved up by appointment to the NC Senate. She earlier spent two decades as a public school math teacher and then a full decade as a government employee in the NC Division of Motor Vehicles.

She was elected to the Wake County Board of Education in 2009 and was reelected in 2003 and 2007. She was serving as chair of the school board when she was appointed to the General Assembly. She's also been chair of the Wake County Democratic Party and chair of the Wake County Board of Elections, so she's a powerhouse of political networking and has a formidable history of burying both Republican opponents and Democratic primary opponents.

She's been endorsed by Lillian's List and by the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association. She failed to win another endorsement from The Indy Week because "in our questionnaire this year, she told us that trans people should not be eligible for gender dysphoria treatments under the State Health Plan, and—while we appreciate her advocacy for schools—we can do better. Antoine Marshall has less experience, but he’s also passionate—and not quite as behind the times."

"Behind the times" is a serious indictment for a Democratic incumbent in 2020, but Antoine Marshall still has an awfully heavy "lift" to make his insurgency happen.

The Body Count -- Career Prosecutors in the US Department of Justice


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

All four career prosecutors handling the case against Roger Stone withdrew from the legal proceedings yesterday — and one, Jonathan Kravis, quit his job entirely — after the Justice Department under Attorney General and Trump-enabler William Barr signaled it planned to undercut their sentencing recommendation for Trump’s longtime friend and confidant. 

The career prosecutors handling the case recommended that a judge sentence Stone — convicted in November of obstructing Congress and witness tampering — to between seven and nine years in federal prison. First, Trump attacked the prosecutors on Twitter. Then Barr's department, in an unprecedented interference with justice, also intervened.

One by one, the career prosecutors, two of whom had worked on Mueller’s investigation, filed notices in court of their intention to leave the case. Though none of the prosecutors gave a reason, their asking to do so was highly unusual and suggested they could not ethically affix their names to the government’s revised position. 

Former Justice Department officials and others characterized the department’s abrupt shift on the Stone case as an egregious example of the president and his attorney general manipulating federal law enforcement to serve their political interests. David Laufman, a former Justice Department official, called it a “shocking, cram-down political intervention” in the criminal justice process. “We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept.,” he wrote on Twitter.

Eric H. Holder Jr., attorney general under President Barack Obama, said it was “unprecedented, wrong and ultimately dangerous.” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) said the move amounted to “obstruction of justice.”

“We are seeing a full-frontal assault on the rule of law in America,” Pascrell said. “Direct political interference in our justice system is a hallmark of a banana republic. Despite whatever Trump, William Barr, and their helpers think, the United States is a nation of laws and not an authoritarian’s paradise.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Elections of March: Democratic Primary in NCH45


Frances Jackson
North Carolina House District 45 in Cumberland County was redistricted and is now rated "Toss-Up" with a Republican incumbent, John Szoka, who was first elected to the seat in 2012. Two African-American Democrats are facing each other in the March 3rd primary, one a serious candidate -- Frances V. Jackson -- and the other apparently not (Keith Byrd, who has no campaign presence and no biography that we can detect).

Frances Jackson could be formidable -- and she'll have to be to take the seat in November -- so I was glad to see on her Facebook page that she's mounted at least one canvass in the district leading up to the primary. She's been endorsed by both the local AFL-CIO and by Planned Parenthood.

She teaches political science at Fayetteville Tech and holds a doctorate from Walden University in Minnesota. She's been active in civic life in Fayetteville. She was appointed to a seat on the Fayetteville City Council after the death of a member but was forced to resign after only a month because of a possible conflict of interest with her other appointed position as a Cumberland County magistrate.

According to Michael Bitzer, the newly drawn District 45 has a population that's 33% African-American, with Democrats out-numbering Republicans some 38% to 27%, and with unaffiliated voters holding the balance of power, accounting for 34% of registered voters. Bitzer classifies 79% of the district as "suburban voters outside a central city but inside an urban county." All of these numbers sound good for Francis Jackson ... except for this: Hillary Clinton took 47.37% of the district in 2016 to Trump's 49.93%.

Ought to be a pretty solid Democratic district. Goes wobbly, though, when the Democrat on the ballot fails to inspire.

Frances Jackson, assuming she easily wins her primary, will need an intense ground game -- especially canvassing those suburban neighborhoods -- to carry the vote come November. This could be an unanticipated Democratic pickup in the NC House is she's got the mojo, the volunteers, and the shoe leather.

Monday, February 10, 2020

NC "White Nationalist" Leader Gets in Hot Water with State Bar


Forsyth County Lawyer Harold Ray Crews, a leader of the League of the South, is scheduled for a hearing before the disciplinary commission of the NC State Bar on Feb. 21 for allegedly mishandling client funds. Crews says he has closed his law firm, and reporter Michael Hewlett with the Winston-Salem Journal says he's also disconnected his phones. The case against Crews looks pretty strong.

Hewlett's reporting:
Crews has served as the chairman of the League of the South’s North Carolina chapter. The league, which was formed in 1994, promotes white Southern nationalism and was one of the white nationalist and neo-Confederate groups that participated in the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. During that rally, white nationalist James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one person and injuring more than 20.
Crews was at the rally and two months later he obtained an arrest warrant from a city magistrate in Charlottesville for DeAndre Harris, a then-20-year-old black man who was severely beaten by a group of white nationalists. Crews alleged that Harris had hit him in the face with a flashlight. Harris was eventually acquitted of charges that he assaulted Crews. Three men were convicted of beating Harris.
The League of the South was also involved in rallying neo-Confederates to the Pittsboro protest trying to prevent the removal of a Confederate monument at the Chatham County courthouse. The league’s Mississippi state chairman used a Facebook post in October to direct members to show up in the league’s uniform – khaki cargo pants, black combat boots and black polo shirts – and be ready to fight for “our beloved Dixie” and “defend our heritage.”

Uniforms make the man.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The Body Count -- Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Ambassador Gordon Sondland


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

Yesterday Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council staff and a witness at Trump's impeachment investigation who had direct evidence about the July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian president, was marched out of the White House by security guards -- as though he had stolen a laptop. Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who also worked on the National Security Council staff and who had no connection to the impeachment, was also fired.

A few minutes later, Trump ordered Ambassador Gordon D. Sondland, the founder of a hotel chain who donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee and who was a key witness in the impeachment, recalled from his post as the ambassador to the European Union.

The White House made no effort to portray the ousters as anything other than reprisals. The president’s critics had warned that he would feel unbound if acquitted, and some said the dismissals proved their point. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, celebrated the dismissals, offering mock thanks to Congressman Adam Schiff. “Were it not for his crack investigation skills, @realDonaldTrump might have had a tougher time unearthing who all needed to be fired,” he tweeted.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who voted to acquit the president but expressed hope that he would learn a lesson from the impeachment, said witnesses should not be punished. “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence,” she said in Maine, according to The Portland Press Herald.

[The above draws on reporting by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, Danny Hakim, and Michael S. Schmidt]

Friday, February 07, 2020

Rachel Bitecofer Makes Me Nervous


Rachel Bitecofer is a 42-year-old political scientist who teaches -- and writes extensively, disruptively -- at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. She is rather unique among her prognosticating brethren for coming within one US House seat of nailing the Blue Wave of 2018. She predicted a Democratic gain of 42 seats. The Democrats took 41. She got it right, according to David Freedlander (Politico.com), "even as other forecasters went wobbly in the race’s final days. Not only that, but she put out her forecast back in July, and then stuck by it while polling shifted throughout the summer and fall." While all the other analysts were saying, "Oh the Democrats are going to screw this up. They are overreaching. They are going to get 23 seats if they're lucky" -- Bitecofer was the too optimistic one who was right.

Reading her analysis both jazzes me and scares the God-blessed living shit out of me. Because what Bitecofer predicts for 2020 in red Trump counties -- and I'm surrounded by blood-red western North Carolina Trump counties -- is that the Trump vote will likely increase over 2016. There aren't enough "soft Republicans" to make a difference for Democratic candidates, and right-leaning independent (Unaffiliated) voters will be leaning harder right, as their hatred of Democrats congeals like lard. The Republican coalition -- mostly non-college whites, with a smattering of religious-minded voters, financiers, and people in business, largely in rural and exurban counties -- is now -- following impeachment -- not only mad as hell but they're scared, too, of what could come next after a rejection of Trump. 

With a red wall building for this November, if there's not enough left-leaning and otherwise previously disinterested voting-age population who will commit to vote in sufficient numbers to overtop that red wall, there's little hope for Democratic campaigns in districts rated "Safe Republican" (and that label applies to most of western North Carolina). What is a political "wave," anyway, but the working of "negative partisanship," an instinctive human reaction to extreme departures from the norm. Bitecofer relies on "negative partisanship" to explain the Democratic wave of 2018. She sees "negative partisanship" as an almost genetic American inheritance -- a pushing back against whoever's in power. In 2018, it became a wave of revulsion to a plain awful human being -- his cruelties, his double-dealing, his willful and destructive ignorance.

Negative partisanship is not exclusive to Democrats. In 2010, it was the Tea Party wave of revulsion against the government spending of a black man. The Tea Party wave became the Trump surprise of 2016. "...Modern American elections are rarely shaped by voters changing their minds, but rather by shifts in who decides to vote in the first place." 

Turnout explains everything. Turnout of new people entering and exiting the electorate rather than people switching sides. What drives that kind of turnout in major "change" elections? "Negative partisanship." Shorter definition: Mass expression of instinctive human emotion rejecting an ideology or a personage.



The Chuck Todd Theory of American Politics


"About 55 percent of eligible voters are likely to go to the polls, and the winner is determined by the 15 percent or so of 'swing voters' who flit between the parties. So a general election campaign amounts to a long effort to pull those voters in to your side."

Bitercofer laughs at that. The swing voter -- at least in appreciable numbers -- is largely a myth. “The idea that there is this informed, engaged American population that is watching these political events and watching their elected leaders and assessing their behavior and making a judgment -- it's just not true.”

As she sees it, it isn’t quite right to refer to a Democratic or Republican “base.” Rather, there are Democratic and Republican coalitions. “In the polarized era, the outcome isn’t really about the candidates. What matters is what percentage of the electorate is Republican and Republican leaners, and what percentage is Democratic and Democratic leaners, and how they get activated,” she said.

Isn't really about the candidates. Bitecofer has said that any one of the Tier 1 or Tier 2 Democratic candidates can -- and will -- win against Trump, but more recently on Twitter she's hedged a bit on both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, calling them the riskiest options for Democrats. Alarmingly, Sanders failed to turn out his promise of record numbers of new voters in the Iowa caucuses this week, and Biden represents too much the status quo. “If you want to win the election, you have to be able to frame your candidacy in a way that reminds voters that Trump is an abnormality that must be excised,” Bitecofer said.

I realize that Bitecofer has critics.

Bitecofer hasn’t exactly been clairvoyant: Her original Senate prediction was off in 2018. She didn’t anticipate the surge in GOP turnout that would match the surge in Democratic turnout in places where the demographics still favored Republicans. She thought Democrats would win Florida, and maybe even Texas, and that the Georgia governor’s race was winnable. What she didn’t count on at the time was that negative partisanship can work both ways, even when there is one party in power, and that no one knows how to fire up the fear factor in his coalition quite like Donald Trump. He did just that, and Blue Dog Democrats in Missouri and Indiana and South Dakota were done for.

But still, the results bore out her theory: For Democrats to win, they need to fire up Democratic-minded voters. The Blue Dogs who tried to narrow the difference between themselves and Trump did worse, overall, than the Stacey Abramses and Beto O’Rourkes, whose progressive ideas and inspirational campaigns drove turnout in their own parties and brought them to the cusp of victory.



The Democratic coalition -- people of color, college-educated whites, and people in metropolitan areas -- has got to grow in 2020, and appreciable growth in rural jurisdictions is sometimes just plain impossible.

Finding a new voting cohort -- including college students, for example -- the "step-up" voters, the previously disengaged, the young, especially the educated -- is far easier in urban areas. I don't like feeling apprehensive about that, never mind my little blue dot of Watauga County.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

The Elections of March: Dark Money Enters the Democratic Senate Primary


Erica Smith
Reporting in The Hill: "Mystery group backs outsider Democrat challenging Tillis in North Carolina."

The mystery group: Something calling itself Faith and Power PAC, which "sprang into existence only last week."

The "outsider Democrat" benefitting from the PAC's money: NC State Senator Erica Smith (NCS3), who in the latest Public Policy Polling is drawing 12% support to Cal Cunningham's 22% and who has loudly expressed her disgust with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for backing Cunningham as the most viable option instead of her.

The Hill tracks the dark money to Republican-connected organs and groups. It's not the first time that veiled outside money has tried to elevate Smith's profile: Back last August billboards went up in the state warning that Erica Smith was "TOO LIBERAL for North Carolina," a claim that Smith "was eager to use ... as evidence that she’s the most feared challenger to Republican incumbent Thom Tillis .... But [according to Nathan Gonzales in Roll Call] Republicans were targeting Smith because they believe she’s the weaker potential general election foe, not because they’re afraid of her."

The Faith and Power PAC TV ads for Smith also play up her liberal cred: “Who’s the Democrat for U.S. Senate endorsed by progressives and unions? Erica Smith. Who’s got the courage to vote for 'Medicare for All?' Erica Smith. The number one supporter of the Green New Deal? Erica Smith again. Erica Smith is one of us,” a narrator says in the ad. “Vote Democrat Erica Smith for U.S. Senate, the only proven progressive.”

The outside meddling in our Democratic senatorial primary is merely another sign of our times -- that so much dangles on threads pulled by men with lots of money.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

The Crisis Is Ours



The Body Count -- Rear Admiral Collin P. Green


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

Special Warfare Rear Adm. Collin Green, the US Navy admiral responsible for the service's special-operations forces, is stepping down following the controversial intervention of President Trump into the court-martial of Special Warfare Operator Chief Eddie Gallagher. Green moved to withdraw Gallagher's Trident pin, which signifies membership in the Navy SEAL community, and Trump both intervened in the Navy's judicial system to free Gallagher from pretrial detention and restored his rank after the conviction.

Green in November ordered a peer evaluation of Gallagher, who had been demoted and charged with war crimes, including the murder of an ISIS prisoner of war and the shooting of two people in Iraq in 2017. Gallagher was acquitted of those counts but convicted of a lesser charge of posing for a picture with the dead ISIS fighter.

"There's a long tradition in the military," Timothy Parlatore, Gallagher's civilian attorney, said. "You don't rebel. You resign."

The incident led to other resignations by Navy leaders. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was forced to resign after expressing disagreement with Trump's actions. According to a New York Times report, Spencer and Green had threatened to resign if Trump intervened on Gallagher's behalf.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

The Elections of March: Can Jay White Knock Out Fellow Republican Larry Pittman in NCH83?


The Republican primary in North Carolina House District 83 offers a marquee contest between a Trumpian, unreconstructed, Southern Battle War flag-waving representative first elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and a moderate, "united by our shared values" Republican attorney who clearly sees the incumbent as an embarrassment to the district, the state, and the party. Awaiting whomever wins this primary will be Democrat Gail Young, who also ran in 2018 and who's been building her own campaign for months. (Disclosure: I've contributed to Gail Young.)

Jay White
Insurgent Republican lawyer and former Cabarrus County Commissioner Jay White ran a primary race against Rep. Larry Pittman once before, in 2012, in Pittman's first reelection campaign, and came within 244 votes of beating him. The Reverend Pittman, a Presbyterian minister trained as a Baptist, had already made a name for himself in the General Assembly as an acid-spewing conservative and theocrat willing to call down fire and brimstone on his political enemies. Approaching that election in 2012, Pittman said of Planned Parenthood that it "deals out nothing but deception, death, personal devastation, and moral degradation. Never will I agree to give that bloody, indecent, immoral organization one penny. I will not be satisfied until it is outlawed."

That comment is wholly characteristic of a state representative who also condemns LGBTQ people to hell and considers Abraham Lincoln a mere 19th-century Hitler (presumably for freeing the slaves) and who is happy to hang out with white supremacists.

Pittman
Jay White's website is a studied contrast to Mr. Pittman. Nowhere does White mention Donald Trump as the leader of the GOP nor does he praise the Republican leadership in the General Assembly in Raleigh. He wants to be seen as a nice guy, words not generally applied to Pittman nor to the overlords in the General Assembly. White repeats the words shared values like he's rubbing salve into wounds: "The people of the 83rd District are my friends, you are my family. Together, united by our shared values, we can make Cabarrus County and North Carolina a better place for ourselves and our children. For too long, the 83rd District has lacked an effective voice in Raleigh. We need an experienced leader who will find solutions and deliver results."

The recent track record of moderate Republicans trying to take out far-right conservatives in North Carolina primaries does not suggest that Jay White can prevail on March 3rd. I'm thinking of moderate Republican Beth Monaghan's attempt to beat Dan Bishop in NCS39 in 2018 and of moderate Republican Holly Grange's attempt to overcome Dan Forest in the primary for governor this year. Like the others, Jay White is obviously hoping that Pittman has maybe embarrassed the people one time too many, but Republican primary voters are pretty un-embarrassable.

Gail Young
Frankly, it'll be better for Democrat Gail Young if Jay White doesn't prevail. The district is rated by Michael Bitzer as "Lean Republican," with Republican voter registration five percentage points higher than Democratic registration (35% to 30%). The balance of power obviously lies with the 34% of the voters registered Unaffiliated, the group that is often willing to punish extremism. Plus the district may be trending away from Pittman's brand of politics. Michael Bitzer rates it a high suburban concentration as District 83 abuts directly on urban Mecklenburg County to the north. Real Facts NC considers the district one of the most competitive in the state, but I think that depends on whether Pittman survives his primary.


Monday, February 03, 2020

Democratic Heroes Who Are Running Against Great Odds


I've continued to study NC House districts in the western end of the state that are rated "Safe Republican," where no matter how tinted your glasses are with rosiness (or blueness), there's little hope that a Democrat will ever win against such great odds. So that the very act of filing to run as a Democrat is signing on for a suicide mission, and such bravery, self-sacrifice, and commitment deserves recognition.


North Carolina House District 118 -- Yancey, Madison, and a majority of Haywood County 
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump won the district in 2016 with 64.60% of the vote. 
Democrat Alan Jones is a 46-year-old Gen-X-er born in 1973 and a Canton native who is the regional District 9 staff representative for the United Steelworkers, representing union workers in Haywood and Macon counties (Smoky Mountain Local 507). He also owns Alan Jones's Race Ready Motorsports LLC in Canton. He shares nothing personal about his biography and no issue positions on his Facebook page and doesn't have a website.
NCH118 is an open seat. Four-term Republican Michele Presnell decided to retire. Republican Mark Pless, a first-term Haywood County commissioner, filed for the seat.


North Carolina House District 120 -- Graham, Macon, Clay, and Cherokee
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump took the district with 73.79% of the vote.
Democrat Susan Landis is a 65-year-old Baby Boomer born in 1955 and a resident of Murphy in Cherokee County. She is president of the Democratic Women of the Tri-County and last month defended the participation of the recently formed LGBTQ Democrats of Cherokee and Clay counties marching with the Democratic Women in local Christmas parades -- participation which apparently inflamed the righteous indignation of some local Christians. Landis was quoted in Clay County's FetchYourNews.com: “The NC Democratic party includes many affiliate groups and caucuses such as Young Democrats and African American Democrats of NC. Our participation in the Christmas parade was not political and no different than a church group or veteran’s group. Other than the required identification of our group by banners or shirts, we simply handed out candy and bells which fit with our Polar Express theme. Although there may be some discomfort or disagreement with any group participating in a public event, our behavior, purpose, and presentation were entirely appropriate for the occasion.”
Susan Landis's Facebook page doesn't say she's running for office nor share any biographical information or policy positions. She has no website.
NCH120 is an open seat. Prior incumbent Kevin Corbin, only in his first term, has opted to run for an open NC Senate seat, and first-time Republican candidate Karl Gillespie has filed to run.


North Carolina House District 112 -- Rutherford and southern Burke
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump won the district in 2016 with 73.43% of the vote. 
Democrat Ed Hallyburton is a 70-year-old Baby Boomer born in 1949 and a resident of Connelly Springs in Burke County. According to the press release he issued on Christmas Eve, he is chair of the Burke County Board of Adjustment and a veteran educator. He was previously chair of the Burke County Planning Board and member of the board of directors of the Burke County Chamber of Commerce and was instrumental in the creation of the Valdese Economic Development and Incentive Corporation (VEDIC).
He said, “Today, the issues are real – we have a health care system that is putting the welfare of tens of thousands at risk, a minimum wage held at $7.25, homelessness, once hidden in our communities is a main street issue. A drug epidemic combined with high pockets of poverty that puts the well-being of our youth in danger. And a correction system that has serious safety issues. It’s time the State Legislature got down to business and stopped playing partisan politics. It’s time politicians went to work for the people they represent!”
Ed Hallyburton has a Facebook page, and he published a link to a website -- www.hallyburton4house.com -- but it doesn't work.
David Rogers is the two-term Republican incumbent running for reelection.


North Carolina House District 86 -- northern Burke 
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump took the district in 2016 with 67.09% of the vote.
Democrat Cecelia Surratt is a 67-year-old Baby Boomer born in 1952. She is the African-American chair of the Morganton Human Relations Commission. In March 2018, Governor Cooper appointed her to serve on the North Carolina Commission on Inclusion, created by executive order to develop “policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation in state employment services and contracts under the jurisdiction of the office of the governor.” She previously worked for the state's Department of Health and Human Services at the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center in Morganton.
She has a Facebook page.
The six-term Republican incumbent (first elected in 2008) is Hugh Blackwell, who is running for a seventh term.


North Carolina House District 89 -- most of Catawba County except for Hickory and Conover 
Rated "Safe Republican." Trump carried the district with 71.32% of the vote in 2016.
Democrat Greg Cranford is a 61-year-old Baby Boomer born in 1958. He also ran for this seat in 2018, getting under 28% of the vote. He filed for the seat after waiting to see if another Democrat would step forward. “There will be a choice on the ballot,” he said, and proudly embraced the label of "progressive, liberal Democrat."
He is a 1977 graduate of Newton-Conover High School and a 1981 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. He returned home to Newton in 2016 to care for his elderly father after retiring as a social studies teacher in Orangeburg, S.C. 
He has a Facebook page.
Michael Setzer, the Republican incumbent since 1998, was once regarded, according to Cranford, as a more moderate Republican who was raised in a very Democratic family but "has sided more often with the extreme right-wing conservative Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly during the last session. He cited Setzer’s vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of what Cranford called a “very conservative” budget bill as one example of his opponent’s partisan voting.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Can a Democrat Win NC House District 96?




North Carolina House District 96 is weirdly carved out of northwestern Catawba County. Includes most of Hickory, St. Stephens, Conover, Long View, and Mountain View, plus the densely populated but more rural neighborhoods along Lee Cline Rd. and Spring Rd. in northernmost Catawba. According to numbers guy Michael Bitzer, Trump carried the district in 2016 with 63.79%. (Trump carried most other western North Carolina counties by 70% or more, except for a couple of exceptions -- Watauga and Jackson, I'm looking at you -- so a Trump majority of 64% looks almost like moderation.)

Democrat Kim Bost ran for the NCH96 seat in 2018. She got 39.26% of the vote. The Republican incumbent Jay Adams took 60.74%. Meaning that Kim Bost did better on the ballot than Hillary Clinton did against Trump in '16. Kim Bost is running again. She celebrated her 2020 Kickoff on January 14, attracting good attention and support. Where there's only a ten-point gap (did I just say only?) in a Western North Carolina district, there's hope. There's at least room for improvement. (Bitzer rates the district "Safe Republican.")

This district has a poverty level of 14.1%, slightly lower than the state's 16.1%. It's been a fading industrial sector with a blue-collar workforce under economic pressure. Median household income, $50,758. Only 26% of the population holds a four-year college degree, though the Apple data center in Catawba and the Google data center in neighboring Caldwell, along with high-tech manufacturers like Corning Optical and CommScope, may be drawing new residents with higher educational attainment. At first blush, this district offers a Bernie Sanders kind of demographic, though Bernie only pulled 44% of the vote in all of Catawba County against Hillary in the March 2016 Democratic primary. He might do considerably better on a General Election ballot (and we might actually get the chance to see that).

Kim Bost is an attractive candidate, but so far I can't tell that she's upping her game from 2018. She hasn't updated her website -- it still says "vote for me on November 6." The policy positions are solid and well written but safe. Considering the numbers above, why not go full "progressive populist" in House District 96, and find those citizens who haven't been voting and who need a little rabble-rousing incentive to register? Going for broke because the numbers are against you isn't every candidate's cup of tea. Bost can hope for a strongly progressive Democrat at the top of the ticket -- or for the old working-class affection to ignite for Joe Biden, if that's still a thing come November. I'm persuaded by the analysis of Rachel Bitecofer that Democratic winning margins since 2016 have depended on energizing a sector that hasn't been regularly voting -- not on winning mythical "moderate" Republicans. Democrats will not win Republican vote in sufficient numbers in a district like NCH96. Democrats have to find and register new, previously disengaged voters and build a fire under the slackers with what Bitecofer calls "negative partisanship."

The crowd for @BernieSanders in Cedar Rapids last night


Bost is active on both Twitter and Facebook, though less active on Twitter where she could drive a message ("North Carolina is broken, and I can tell you who broke it! His name is Jay Adams"). I appreciate videos but not ones with poor sound quality. I think Bost has a following of dedicated volunteers who'll do door-knocking and phonebanking, but she needs exceptional data management that can identify and target persuadable marginal voters and turfs with concentrations of the unregistered.

The Man Who Broke North Carolina -- Incumbent Jay Adams

Republican incumbent Jay Adams is a 73-year-old Boomer and real estate broker (specializing in commercial real estate) who's held this House seat since the elections of 2014. In Civitas rankings, he's 13th most conservative in the House, going along with the tax-the-middle-class-but-not-the-rich agenda of the Republican majority in Raleigh -- shift the tax burden while squeezing education and denying health insurance to the most vulnerable. He chairs no committees. He's a soldier who marches to Speaker Tim Moore's drum, and he looks plenty prosperous for the effort.

Friday, January 31, 2020

"Proven," But I'm Okay With It


Hear the new recording of Trump talking about his Ukrainian ambassador in April 2018. "Take her out," the president is heard saying to his henchmen, referring to Marie Yavanovich.

It's what a mobster would say. A mobster did say it.

A man who thinks like a mob boss and acts like a mob boss, and does it successfully even while president of a constitutional republic, well now -- it's discouraging to contemplate the moral and ethical compromises his followers have made.

Take Lamar Alexander for just one recent example. Very recent. Last night in the Senate, he said: "...there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven .... There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a 'mountain of overwhelming evidence.' ... It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law...."

There was more. All by way of saying, no, I'm satisfied with the mob boss as our president and as the leader of my party, and I will not vote for more evidence and the hearing of witnesses, and I will not vote for his removal.

And does Senator Alexander's party still have ethical, moral, and constitutional values they wish to impose on the rest of the country? I personally can't wait for November to tell that party what I think of their values.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Let's Hear It for the Hopeless Cases


I've been looking at the NC House districts that abut on Watauga County, districts where the vote for Trump in 2016 was 74% and up, where no matter how tinted your glasses are with rosiness (or blueness), there's little hope that a Democrat will ever win those districts against such great odds. So that the very act of filing to run as a Democrat is signing on for a suicide mission, and such bravery, self-sacrifice, and commitment deserves recognition.

House District 87, Caldwell County -- rated "Safe Republican" for 2020 -- Trump took the district with 74.16% of the vote in 2016
Democratic candidate Corie Schreiber is a 33-year-old Millennial born in 1987 and lives in Hudson. She earned a degree at AppState in 2018 and currently works as a server at FATZ in Lenoir. From the evidence on her Facebook page, she's a single mom. In her final year at AppState, she created a personal blog, "Democratic Girl in a Republican World," as a project for an internet communication class in which she encouraged young people to vote in the 2018 midterms. She posted project videos to YouTube.
Schreiber is running against another Millennial, incumbent Republican Destin Hall, who was first elected to the seat in 2016.


House District 90, part of Wilkes, all of Alleghany, part of Surry -- rated "Safe Republican" for 2020 -- Trump took it in 2016 with 74.38%
Democratic candidate Mary Beth Shaw from Elkin is a 53-year-old Gen-X-er born in 1967. She doesn't have any web presence that I could find, but she was profiled in the Elkin Tribune early in 2017 for attending the Women's March in Washington on the day after Trump's inauguration:
“As soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to be there and take my girls,” said Beth Shaw, who lives in Elkin and traveled to the march with several friends and their daughters. “I felt like it was important that we be heard. And heard is really the key word. I never felt like this was a protest, it was a march. It was a march to bring forward what’s important to us, what we value, what we want the new administration to know and to acknowledge.”
As a mother with young daughters, the issue of women’s dignity was an important one for Shaw and one of the main reasons she wanted to participate in the march. Trump’s demeaning comments towards women have been largely reported, including his vulgar statement about grabbing women by their genitalia.
“I want my daughters to feel like they are in a world that treats them respectfully,” Shaw said....
Shaw said a powerful moment happened for her family later in the evening following the march. Having left from dinner and still in the heart of D.C., Shaw and her daughters happened to be at a crosswalk with a man wearing one of Trump’s campaign hats with the slogan “Make American Great Again.” The man asked Shaw’s daughters if they had enjoyed the march and wished them a good trip back.
“That little moment of one person in a Trump cap who was kind and friendly, that 30-second encounter gave me hope that there’s goodness in all of us and we can find it,” Shaw said.
Shaw is running against powerful Republican incumbent Sarah Stevens, first elected in 2008.

House District 85, Avery, Mitchell, and McDowell counties -- rated "Safe Republican" -- Trump took it in 2016 with 75.83%
Democratic candidate Ted Remington is a 73-year-old resident of Marion. I think this is his Facebook page, but he doesn't say a thing about being a candidate. I think he may be this Ted Remington: “Shaggy Dog Stories and Other Feghoots: An Evening with Storyteller Ted Remington” (as advertised in the McDowell News).
Remington is running for an open seat against Republican Dudley Greene, a first-time candidate himself. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Belly Dancing for Donald Trump


I count 37 North Carolina Republicans who want to go to Washington, or who want to remain in Washington -- Republicans who have filed for either the US Senate seat currently held by Thom Tillis and Republicans who have filed in one of our 13 Congressional districts (including seven Republican incumbents). I went looking to see which ones wrap themselves most theatrically around Donald Trump, and which ones keep a more antiseptic distance. This is a survey based on cursory evidence -- a quick tour of candidate websites and/or social media feeds.

We know Senator Thom Tillis as a conspicuous Trump toady, a lickspittle who's been trying to take back that one moment of independent thought he had about Trump's state of emergency at the southern border, but the one person you don't see on Tillis's website is Trump. Nor hear his name. However, the Tillis Twitter feed is a different story -- littered with little coos of @RealDonaldTrump and pictures of Dear Leader and links to articles about how deaf, blind, and dumb the Democrats are for failing to recognize the greatness of Trump. His Twitter feed looks like a burlesque act for an audience of one. He puts tassels on his tits and twirls them for Trump.

In the Republican primary for Congressional District 1 -- and the privilege of getting to lose to Democratic incumbent G.K. Butterfield -- Republican candidate Sandy Smith, who likes to refer to herself as the "Little Red Firecracker," is in a pro-Trump class all to herself. She had intended to run against Thom Tillis in the senatorial primary, but -- well, I'll let her explain:
Why not continue to primary Thom Tillis? I originally ran against Thom Tillis for the US Senate in order to defeat him for his horrible anti-Trump rhetoric, opposing the border wall, supporting gun control, among other liberal positions.
It was not long after I filed for Senate that he began to change his tune and passionately support President Trump. He even changed his vote in support of the border wall, even though he publicly said he would not support it previously.
Then, President Trump endorsed Thom Tillis for reelection. Like many of you, I am skeptical of Tillis’ “newly found support” and my entire reason for running was to hold Thom Tillis accountable for being a roadblock to the America-first agenda. Then last week President Trump reaffirmed his endorsement of Tillis. President Trump very clearly wants Thom Tillis to be reelected.
Thom Tillis now owes President Trump for helping him clear the field, and honestly, Tillis can’t win reelection against the Democrats without President Trump’s help. So I have a feeling he will remain a supporter of the president, at least until November. By 2020, there should be more conservative senators in office to counter Thom Tillis if he decides to go back to his old ways.

The Little Red Firecracker has some competition in the CD-01 primary from Michelle Nix, who says she's running against Butterfield because he voted to impeach Trump and brags that she was a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2016 and says she traveled the state on Trump's behalf. "Trump" is all over her issues page, along with his photograph.

Greg Murphy was only just elected to Congress in CD-03 last year, so I was curious how he would play Trump. He's a medical doctor, and what I see on his website looks like a quarantine to lessen infection. Under the heading "Greg Murphy on the issues," he headlines this: "SUPPORT PRESIDENT TRUMP." The wording of what follows is equivocal while ostensibly kissing ass:
President Trump is one of the few Presidents in recent memory who is attempting to do exactly what he said he was going to do on the campaign trail. If Senate Republicans had supported him, Obamacare would have been repealed. I will support the Trump agenda because it is the people’s agenda, especially Eastern North Carolina that voted so overwhelming in his favor."
Short version: When the people cease to support Trump, so will I.

For a celebrity hound who is famous for photo-bombing President Trump, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (CD-05) stays strictly separate from the Prez and never mentions his name on her website and social media accounts. Go figure. She's been photographed multiple times standing practically in his armpit.

David Rouzer in the CD-07 is adamant on his official website: "Rouzer Lays Out Case Against Impeachment Sham." On Facebook he has been a warrior against Democrats over impeachment, for which he sometimes suffers significant anti-Trump blow-back from his constituents. Rouzer is constantly defending Trump on his Twitter feed.

Big contrast on Trumpiness between Congressman Richard Hudson (CD-08) and newly installed Congressman Dan Bishop (NC-09). Bishop on his Twitter feed obviously feels his Trumpy oats, adding to the echo chamber that anyone who supports the impeachment is disloyal to America, while Hudson nowhere mentions Trump -- ever.

Congressman Patrick McHenry (CD-10) rivals Thom Tillis for coochee dancing for Trump's benefit on Twitter, though, like Foxx, he clearly doesn't have a use for Trump on his campaign website.

Here ends this survey, because there's only so much punishment a body can take in one morning, and I'm out of coffee.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Elections of March: Generational/Gender Challenge in NCH43


North Carolina House District 43 -- Cumberland County

Perhaps no other Democratic primary on March 3rd will more encapsulate the generational and gender challenge that new Democratic candidates are posing for the old political order in North Carolina.


Democratic incumbent Elmer Floyd is a 76-year-old member of the Silent Generation (born in 1943) who's held this NC House seat since 2008. Until this year's most recent redistricting, the district was considered safe Democratic. Floyd has often had no Republican opponent in the General Election and only rarely a Democratic opponent in a primary. Not any more.  In some circles Elmer Floyd is considered endangered -- perhaps the most endangered current Democratic incumbent in the House.

The new district gained some 20% in expected Republican vote-share, and is now rated "Competitive -- Lean Republican." The winner of the Republican primary (see below) may well go on to win in November. The new District 43 has less of Fayetteville, fewer black voters, plus the more Republican-friendly rural areas north of the city and east of the Cape Fear River.

Floyd, with seven terms in the House to his credit, has a vast advantage in the primary over his newcomer opponent. But after 14 years in the House, is Floyd considered an effective representative? Or "furniture" (though he was successful in getting House budget writers to add in money for enhancement to the Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Fayetteville). Or worse, is he considered disloyal to the Democratic caucus and to Democratic values? According to Paul Woolverton in the Fayetteville Observer, "Democrats criticize Floyd because he occasionally votes with Republicans on controversial matters. Floyd says he is voting the will of his constituents in District 43." Not forgiven: Floyd voted for the passage of HB2. To counteract an impression that he was opposed to expanding Medicaid coverage in North Carolina, Floyd came out very vocally for expansion back last July.

Floyd, educated at Fayetteville State University in law enforcement and at the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill, spent 28 years in the Human Relations Department for the city of Fayetteville, retiring as director (in 2016?). He brags on his website about his ability to steer pork into Cumberland County, which actually ain't nothing to ignore.

In the hyper-partisan climate we're in, Floyd's vote for HB2 alone could amount to his Achilles heel, especially if there's a dynamic and accomplished Democratic alternative in the primary against him, and a woman to boot.


Democrat Kimberly Hardy is a 48-year-old Gen-X-er born in 1972. She trained as a social worker -- holds a doctorate in it from Morgan State University in Baltimore -- and is currently an assistant professor of social work at Fayetteville State University. One of her areas of special interest and research is "the intersection of social work and faith with a particular emphasis on African-Americans and the institution of the Black Church in both a historical and contemporary context." Her current research focuses on breast cancer and breast health awareness models in urban Black Churches. Hardy has written and presented extensively in the area of religion, spirituality, and social work and currently serves as the Board Secretary for the North American Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW).

She's challenging incumbent Floyd as "A New Voice for Cumberland County," and according to her Facebook page, she's putting leather to pavement in canvassing neighborhoods in the district. Boots-on-the-ground can indicate energy and support from a cadre of activists, which is essential when trying to overcome the advantages of incumbency.


The Republican Primary


Republican Clarence Goins Jr. is a 40-year-old native of Cumberland County. He was actually a candidate in the notorious Republican primary of 2018 for the US House seat in the 9th Congressional District. Goins was barely a blip against dominant Republican candidates Mark Harris and Robert Pittenger, but having run so unspectacularly in that primary and showing up again in this primary suggests that Goins is a perennial candidate in the making.

Goins is rare in North Carolina politics -- a Republican of color. Not so rare, he's also a banker from Eastover, a manager with First Citizens. He got his education at Campbell University. He has virtually no campaign infrastructure and nowhere announces a platform for us readers of platforms.

When he was running in 2018 in the CD9 Republican primary, he filled out an iVoteValues questionnaire that will knock your socks off, though the iVoteValues panel deigned to rate him only "Somewhat Conservative" -- which is an everlasting hoot.


Republican Diane Wheatley is a 68-year-old Baby Boomer born in 1951. I would have assumed that as the woman in this primary, Wheatley would naturally be the front-runner, but her campaign -- such as it is -- looks more sodden than Goins's. She has virtually no web presence, only a Facebook page that mainly parades her religion and doesn't even mention that she's seeking public office. She says she's a former registered nurse at Ft. Bragg and formerly owned a small business, which deeper research revealed to be Wheatley Motor Co. in the little Cumberland County town of Linden.

But apparently Wheatley is well known in Cumberland County as a former (and long-time) Board of Education member and member of the Cumberland County Commission (including serving as chair). The Fayetteville Observer is hidden behind a paywall (and I'm paying waaay too many digital subscriptions now to add another), so I haven't been able to nail everything down. Wheatley certainly isn't cooperating with a website or any other public listing of her biography. Ballotpedia says she ran in 2012 in the Republican primary for NCH45 and got 42% of the vote against the Republican incumbent. Eight years later, she's trying again for a House seat in a new district.

And Wheatley apparently intends to coast into office on her reputation. Maybe she will.