Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Amy Block DeLoach Could Flip HD20


NC House District 20 in New Hanover County down on the coast ranks high on Carolina Forward's 2022 slate for potentially flipping a Republican district. Right now, the seat is held by old possum Ted Davis, who, I'm happy to remind everyone, when he was a county commish, he turned down aid from the state for free contraceptives for Hanover County teenage girls: "If these young women are being responsible and didn't have the sex to begin with, we wouldn't have this problem to begin with," he huffed. There's living in the real world, and then there's Ted Davis.

NCFree rates the district R+3. Dave's Redistricting puts it 48% D v. 49.1% R. Looks doable.


Incumbent Republican Ted Davis



Amy Block DeLoach (D)

That name Block stands for royalty of a sort, both civic and cultural. Amy DeLoach's grandmother, Hannah Block, became Mayor Pro Tempore of the Wilmington City Council in the '60s, had headed the local USO in the '40s (the building is now known as "Hannah Block Historic USO"), and became big in the early years of the Azalea Festival (started 1948) as a key mover. Amy’s father, Frank Block, owned the Block Southland shirt factory, served three terms in the North Carolina State Senate, and endowed the Charles and Hannah Block Distinguished Professorship in Jewish History at UNCW. "Named after their mother and father, the professorship serves to provide UNCW students the opportunity to learn from distinguished faculty about a culture and history that is near and dear to the Blocks" (Wrightsville Beach Mag). Amy’s mother, Wendy Block, served on the boards of Thalian Hall and the NC Battleship Commission. She led the efforts to raise money to build Wilmington’s Hospice facility as well as other charities. Both Grandmother Hannah and Mother Wendy were awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by the Governor for their lifetimes of service. Amy is active (as president) in the 120-year-old conservative B'nai Israel congregation in Wilmington.

Why, that's Junior League-level prominence.

Amy Block DeLoach


DeLoach belongs to a noble eleemosynary heritage and evidently practices it herself, volunteering on various non-profit boards (her website lists several, all in keeping with family tradition), but this is her first foray into elective office, following her grandmother's path. My problem has been with documenting her actual activities. Other than sitting on non-profit boards, she never got her name in the press on the World Wide Web for leading something, steering something, organizing for a cause -- no mentions of her passions, her organizational skills, her sweat equity in service to a particular cause. If she's been engaged in active politics in the recent past, I can't find the trail. Her one talking-head video posted on her website hits all the liberal sacred cows (pro-choice, for expanding Medicaid, pro-environment, against banning books). Her pitch is for "common-sense and moderation," which points vaguely at the far-out, extremist, radical nature of the new Trump Republican Party. DeLoach, despite the greenhorn patina, could appeal mightily to the suburban Republican and Unaffiliated women of  southeast Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach.

In addition to Carolina Forward, she's been endorsed by Lillian's List and Climate Slate. Her Twitter feed is lively, where she's establishing a platform, forming a progressive identity. 

Friday, July 01, 2022

BergerMoore's Wet Dream

 

The conservative super-majority on the US Supreme Court has already signaled that they'll be only too happy to take up next term the novel and radical theory that state courts have no right to overturn state legislatures (the ones dominated by Republican majorities, natch!) in the drawing of congressional districts. The case will come from North Carolina -- Moore v. Harper.

See, last March the North Carolina Supreme Court threw out BergerMoore's new congressional maps, which would likely have produced a 10-4 Republican dominance of the state's congressional delegation, saying the maps violated the state's constitutional promise of free and fair elections. BergerMoore appealed to the US Supremes, arguing an extremist version of state's rights, "the independent state legislature doctrine," which maintains that no state court can interfere in a state legislature's desire to seize partisan power and hold it by gerrymandering and other means. But at that time, and without explanation, the Supreme Court refused to reinstate BergerMoore's maps and allowed the election to proceed with new, slightly less horrendous maps for Democrats.

The independent state legislature "doctrine" originates (favorite word among extremist judges) from the U.S. Constitution’s election clause, which says that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” That last clause has previously been interpreted to mean "by the legislative process," which would include voter petition initiatives to establish independent redistricting commissions, for example, and suits in state courts. The independent state legislature doctrine could also give lawmakers control over issues such as voter qualification, voting by mail, and other election procedures, effectively taking voting procedures out of the hands of the State Board of Elections and giving them to BergerMoore.

BergerMoore


Last March, even while the Court as a whole was rejecting the appeal to overturn the NC Supremes, justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch dissented and said they thought the theory advanced by BergerMoore was probably correct and that they were eager to consider such a challenge going forward. Kavanaugh expressed interest too but said it was too close to the May primaries to intervene.

Now with Amy Coney Barrett on the Court, the conservatives have already announced that they'll be hearing Moore v. Harper when the new term begins in October. If you don't think there'll be a radical outcome for North Carolina elections -- and for other states as well -- you haven't been paying attention.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Supremes Made Me a Single-Issue Voter

 

With the clarity we've come to expect from him, Sen. Jeff Jackson lays out the potential for November:

Next year in NC: 
1) Our state legislature will convene. 
2) The GOP will pass a bill banning abortion. 
3) The Governor will veto it. 
4) A veto override vote will be held. 
5) Either Dems will have enough members to sustain the veto, or not. 
Those are the stakes this November.

I think I just became "a single-issue voter." And I've got a candidate to vote for.


House District 93

(Watauga, excepting Blue Ridge Precinct, plus Ashe and Alleghany counties)

(Watauga's Blue Ridge Precinct is now in the 87th HD. Thank you, gerrymander. And the Gerrymanderer-in-Chief in the NC House, Destin Hall, is the incumbent Republican of HD87. Democrat Barbara Kirby is running against him)

I remember Ben Massey as the ever-present, early-bird, cheerful-but-firm manager of the Watauga County Farmers Market. That was a few years ago. I thought he did a good job. Then he left Watauga and became president of the Ashe County Farmers Mkt. He and his wife Darleen are fixtures there, selling their own farm produce. They live in Ashe County on a "rural homestead" reclaimed from its dispersal to nine heirs probably because someone died without a will. Ben Massey is running for the House seat, currently held by Republican of Blowing Rock, Ray Pickett.

I met Ben and his campaign manager last night. Formidable team with a clear plan. And with admittedly huge odds against them: NCFree rates the district R+11. That's due, of course, to Destin Hall Hisownself in Caldwell County, taking Blue Ridge Precinct off Ray Pickett's hands and adding very rural Alleghany County to counteract Watauga's Democratic voters. The district has see-sawed between parties when it was just Watauga and Ashe -- Democrats Cullie Tarleton and Ray Russell and Republicans Jonathan Jordan and now Ray Pickett. But the Republicans don't like a seesaw and propped up Pickett with a cinderblock of new Republicans. No more going blue for you, House Seat 93! 

Understanding that the 93rd is uphill all the way, Ben Massey nevertheless has cred already in Ashe, and a formidable Party org in Watauga, and a local history in Alleghany -- dependably Democratic, going back to the Civil War -- that might turn at least purple if Trumpist turnout sags. I know: Alleghany's potential is more of a used to be, but how can you stay in politics without hope?

Massey fits the district, and I like the writing on his website:

Ben is the guy on your road whom everyone depends on. He and his tractor are there to pull the log out of your driveway after a windstorm, and he always remembers to ask about your parent who is recovering from surgery.

...he knows what it means to be a good neighbor. His dad was a Mail Carrier and his mom owned a Dance School. His grandfather was a Deputy Sheriff shot and killed in the line of duty. Ben grew up barning tobacco and working at the local gas station. As a young man seeking to make his own way, he patched together grants, loans and part-time jobs to pay his way through college at UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated as a Physical Therapist.

He retired as the executive director of the state’s PT licensure board, administering the state laws for over 13,000 physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in North Carolina.

Here's a nugget: He got inducted into “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine” by Governor Pat McCrory "for significant contributions to the state and his community through exemplary services and exceptional accomplishments." Many of those accomplishments and awards are listed at the bottom of his bio page.

He talked last night about the importance of Roe and said he had actually decided to run way back in May 2021 when the Supreme Court first announced that it was taking the Mississippi abortion case, now known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Org. He will be an unflagging advocate for women's rights, as Republicans move toward taking charge of uteruses and mandating pregnancies.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Future Made Clear

 



















The NCGOP Has an Itch It Intends To Scratch

 

The natural born bully who wants to be the next governor of North Carolina, so he can sign a law mandating pregnancy for any woman loose enough to get pregnant -- I'm talking about Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, yes. You think he ain't dancing a jig over the 6-3 Supreme Court vote to axe Roe? He can't wait. “I am overjoyed with the decision by our Supreme Court," said Robinson. "For decades we have been praying for a day like today, and it is finally here."

He quickly added -- probably because he knows that we all know now --"I have experienced the pain of abortion in my own life and know the long-term effects it can have on families." Because a comment he had made on social media in 2012 -- long before he knew the pleasures of tickling the prejudices of white men -- amounted to an admission that he had paid for an abortion for his then girlfriend over three decades earlier. “I’m not saying abortion is wrong cause I said so it’s wrong cause God says so. It’s wrong when others do it and it was wrong when I paid for it to be done to my unborn child in 1989.”

Maybe Robinson had been talking directly to God, and vice versa -- I won't argue it couldn't happen -- but he's making it up that The Word of God, the Bible, says even one word against abortion. That's number one. The mandate-pregnancy crowd is forever projecting their ideology onto Scripture and assuming that God would have said it if He hadn't been busy that day. Number two: The complete erasure of Yolanda Hill as another player in the drama and the decision at the time -- if she actually had a voice in the decision -- makes Robinson's "regret" look like a cover for just more bullying.

You cannot escape the psycho-sexual needs of men to control the bodies of their women. Now, with the celestial reasoning of Samuel Alito behind it, the psycho-sexual component expands to include tacit exploitation of those bodies to insure a steady new cohort of workers. That's been one of the arguments, that an absolute ban on abortion will insure a steady supply of babies to grow up and do the work and pay the taxes. And incidentally guarantee the supposed survival of the white race. (Peace to you, Mark Robinson.)

NC House Speaker Tim Moore, after the Roe decision, indicated that when Republicans achieve veto-proof majorities in the two houses of the General Assembly -- they only need three more seats in the House and two in the Senate -- they'll be delighted to follow their leaders over the cliff of no abortion. Even before that, with no veto leverage, Moore promised they won't wait to do their worst: “North Carolinians can also expect pro-life protections to be a top priority of the legislature when we return to our normal legislative session in January” (emphasis added). They'll think of ways to chip around the edges. And they might get help from a handful of anti-abortion Democrats, which will be followed by bad moments for everyone.

But Republicans won't have the support of a majority of the women of North Carolina. The most recent polling I've seen, completed during the second week of June, solicited reactions to the following statement: "The Supreme Court of the United States should overturn Roe v. Wade." Some 8% of women responded "somewhat disagree," but 41% strongly disagreed. Those numbers versus the 27% of women who strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement. Women who want to protect Roe included a substantial portion of Republicans: "Of the 1,100 North Carolina residents polled, 33% identified as Republican, 29% identified as Democrat and 32% identified as independent."

One other problem (but an opportunity for Democratic outreach) ... the disturbing 24% of polled women who said they were "Not sure" about ending Roe. That's almost a quarter of the state's women who seem weirdly detached from the realities, and that has to change.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Now the States Can Mandate Pregnancy

 

The dead eyes of an ideologue
The only thing keeping North Carolina from becoming Mississippi is Roy Cooper and a veto-sustaining minority of Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly.

That's a fragile bulwark against the darkness unleashed today by The Supremes.

This is the legacy of a total crook who put those three people on the Court.


A Closing Statement for History


 


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Tim Moore's House Pisses Off Phil Berger's Senate

 

In a surprising about-face, Phil Berger's NC Senate passed a bill a month ago expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. Yesterday, Tim Moore's House Republicans, rather than signing on to the Senate's bill, rolled out its own bill which calls for more study of the issue and a vote on expansion only after the fall elections.

How did Phil Berger take this?












Seems like Tim Moore handed Democratic NC House candidates an issue, and Phil Berger has shown Democrats how to frame it.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Local Bill H193 Is Kaput

 

Ray Pickett

Issued before 9 a.m. this morning, this bottomline news: Watauga County Commission requests the shelving of that special legislation introduced by Rep. Ray Pickett and will follow the town's UDO in the building of a parking garage, a facility that both parties believe is needed.

Here's the money in the last paragraph:

We have reached a consensus so that the local law will be withdrawn, litigation can be avoided, and consideration of the County’s parking garage project can move forward as speedily as possible consistent with the Town’s development ordinance.

 

The Democrats Who Volunteer

 

First off, I am running because no candidate should go unopposed, much less a 9 term fixture who does nothing to help the bulk of her constituents.

--Democrat Kyle Parrish, talking about Republican incumbent Virginia Foxx 


We were so proud of our sacrificial lambs back in 2018 -- the dozens of Democratic candidates for seats in the NC General Assembly -- all seats up for election, all seats covered by a D on the ballot. It was an achievement, symbolic and energizing, but somewhat wasteful, since dozens of those Democrats were bound to lose in districts so heavily gerrymandered to favor Republicans that even the meter readers are partisan.

That was 2018, the Blue Wave year. The enthusiasm, the willingness to fight in even hopeless battles, produced results -- veto-sustaining Democratic minorities in both houses of the General Assembly, who could support Governor Roy Cooper in his struggles with Berger Moore. Meanwhile, the sacrificial lambs of 2018 have mainly not resurfaced since. Even a symbolic loss stings, and even Anonymous has feelings. Those were heroes for political bravery, and it's a loss if they haven't stayed active with the Party.

This is supposed to be a Red Wave year (though I'm beginning to question that forecast), so Democrats are mainly bunkered up and nervous, and nobody is praising 2022's sacrificial lambs. Or they might be tigers -- I haven't probed deeply enough yet to know. Doesn't much matter. They're running in districts that are, for example, R+9, R+11, R+13, R+16, R+23 (holy shit!). Those are the predictive numbers for House districts 6, 109, 84, 117, and 80, where five Republican incumbents who signed the Wendy Rogers stolen election plan actually have Democratic opponents. (Most of the other 10 Rs who signed that letter are running unopposed.)

Glad those Democrats are running. Hope they recognize their more than symbolic duty to call out the destructive extremism of the GOP generally, and of the NCGOP specifically. Recognize and have the wherewithal to get on social media (which costs very little). Say something because you see something. The destruction of democracy itself means throwing all our selves on that grenade. Many a sacrifice has saved a retreat.


Monday, June 20, 2022

'Red Wave' This November? GOP Polling Sez It Ain't Necessarily So

 

Thanks to Carolina Forward for this bombshell:


Last week, our research team discovered leaked Republican polling on key NC state legislative races. Here’s how it works.

When state-level Republicans want national, DC-based GOP organizations to pay for key campaign activities like polling, there are certain campaign finance legal hoops they must jump through. Those organizations can conduct the polling, but they must post it somewhere “public” for the North Carolina GOP to “find” it. Usually, this is by posting it somewhere obscure.

Well - this time, we found that polling. And it tells a very different story than you’ve probably heard in the media. Republican polling shows that several Carolina Forward Slate candidates - and many beyond it - are running in a dead heat, or narrowly ahead, of their Republican opponents:

Rep. Howard Hunter (NC House District 5): +7%

Amy DeLoach (NC House District 20): -0.9%

Christy Clark (NC House District 98): -1.7%

Sen. Sydney Batch (NC Senate District 17): +3%

… And beyond the Carolina Forward Slate:

Frank McNeil (NC Senate District 21): -0.7%. GOP incumbent: Sen. Tom McInnis

Christine Kelly (NC House District 37): +1.2%. GOP incumbent: Rep. Erin Paré

Rep. James Gailliard (NC House District 25): +0.3%

Again: this is Republican-sponsored polling, intended for internal use by their legislative caucus and partners.

So, what does this all mean? Here are our takeaways:

At a bare minimum: there’s just no evidence - in 15 separate polls all across the state - for any sort of “red wave” building for the 2022 election

In previous cycles, polling in June/July was strongly indicative of November results

Cheri Beasley is running tied, or slightly ahead, of Ted Budd in all of the closest districts

Sunday, June 19, 2022

16 Secession-Nostalgic Republicans in NC General Assembly

 

Wendy Rogers


Shortly after the November election, Arizona state senator and fantasist Wendy Rogers started a movement of state lawmakers across the country to demand an election audit in all 50 states (precisely, a "forensic audit" of "a corrupted 2020 election"), decertifying "where necessary" the electoral vote in certain states, with a final override vote given to the US House of Reps. Rogers induced Republican state lawmakers across the country -- 186 of them -- to sign her public letter -- 16 of them in the NC House and Senate.

I'm trying hard not to stigmatize all Republicans who are voting for these kinds of folks, but it certainly seems that the majority approve of secessionary extremism, or at least yawn at it. Of the 16 Republicans who signed, one retired, two promoted themselves into Senate candidates, three went through primaries (successfully), one went down in his primary, and 13 of these personalities have no Democratic challenger, though six brave Democrats have stepped forward in districts so over-supplied with Republicans that a Democrat is considered a sacrificial lamb. 

Here's my issue. These would-be seceders from the Union mainly get a total pass, no Democrat to call them out for their Trumpist extremism, and certainly no one among the Republican majority willing to ask, "Why you sign that letter, Bubba?" It is an all-male congregation, after all.


16 Election Deniers in the NC General Assembly


NC House

Jay Adams, District 96. No Democratic opponent

Mike Clampitt, Dist. 119, vs. Democrat Al Platt (previously)

Edward Goodwin, Dist. 1. No Democratic opponent

Bobby Hanig, Dist. 6, jumped over into a Senate race (Dist. 3), ran unopposed and will be in the Senate. Democrat Kiara Johnson is running for the Hanig House seat against the winner of the Republican primary. District rated R+9

Kelly Hastings, Dist. 110. No Democratic opponent

Keith Kidwell, Dist. 79. Sailed through a Republican primary with over 83% of the vote. No Democratic opponent

Donnie Loftis, Dist. 109. Squeaked out a Republican primary win against three challengers, with only 33% of the vote. Versus Democrat Eric Hughes. Estimated Republican advantage +11

Jeff McNeely, Dist. 84, vs. Democrat September McCrady. R+16

Tim Moffitt, Dist. 117. Jumped over into Senate Dist. 48. Democrat Michael O'Shea is running for Moffitt's House seat. R+13

Larry Pittman, Dist. 83. Decided to retire. No Democrat running for the seat

Wayne Sasser, Dist. 67. No Democratic opponent

Mitchell Setzer, Dist 89. Won his Republican primary with 57% of the vote. No Democratic opponent

Harry Warren, Dist. 76. No Democratic opponent

Sam Watford, Dist. 80, vs. Democrat Dennis Miller. R+23 (Holy shit!)

NC Senate

Ted Alexander, Dist. 44. No Democratic opponent

Bob Steinberg, Dist. 1. Was beaten in the Republican primary. No Democrat is running for the seat

 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Oathkeeper (Insurrection Adjacent) Member of NC House Has a Credible Democratic Challenger

 

Before the end of November 2020 and following the November 3rd election, an Arizona state senator named Wendy Rogers -- a Trumpist fully invested in the big lie, a fantasy of fraud which was already manipulating millions toward what would become insurrection on January 6th -- Senator Rogers authored a letter calling for an election audit in all 50 states, "decertification where necessary," and a re-vote in the US House of Reps about who gets sworn in as president. Rogers induced Republican state lawmakers across the country -- 186 of them -- to sign her public letter. The news broke on November 25th.

Rep. Mike Clampitt (HD119), a Bryson City Republican (with his neon patriotism), signed that letter. Clampitt represents Haywood, Jackson, and Swain. He's up for reelection in a few months and has a Democratic opponent, Al Platt. Clampitt has traded his seat more than once with the seriously gregarious Joe Sam Queen, a Democrat and an architect (who actually beat Campitt more times than Clampitt beat him. It would make a "Green Acres" special).

Mike Clampitt solidly won another challenge from Queen in 2020 by his widest margin ever, and he did that on the strength of fellow citizens who have bought the big lie, big time -- and even given money, many of them, to a greed-head. Those voters believe the election was stolen. And, by the way, they also approve -- or tolerate -- Clampitt's white supremacist ties to anti-government extremists. My God. That's the reality: Mike Clampitt fits his district.

In late September 2021, Clampitt's name was among the some 38,000 people on a membership roster of the Oath Keepers, the far-right, anti-government would-be militia whose leaders are now charged with seditious conspiracy. Clampitt is also a registered member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a neo-Confederate rah-rah group currently into putting up bigger and bigger Confederate battle flags where they're not welcome.

What this guy is doing in government, considering how he obviously feels about government! 




Democrat Al Platt

Al Platt on the left, with son Parker Platt
Kind of a surprise and looks good to me! Platt clearly belongs to the Brevard business diamond circle (the Transylvania Times said that Platt Architecture was "a mainstay of the community"), and he's a generous benefactor (supporter for years of the Transylvania Boy and Girls Club), and now with ready access to vigorous fundraising and business and civic ties all over the district. Platt Architecture is a leading architectural and design business now with about three-dozen employees and many high-profile commissions.
When he first opened his practice in Brevard in 1982, Al used his home as both an office and studio. Since those modest beginnings, the firm has evolved in dramatic ways, growing to become a well-respected architectural practice, while adding several new offerings, including construction, interior design, real estate, land conserva­tion, and most recently PLATT HOME, a furniture and home decor showroom opening this spring.

In 38 years, the firm has completed over 500 projects for clients from across the country.... 

The father and son team [Al Platt very recently passed the leadership of the firm to his son Parker Platt] ... have collaborated on many of the firm’s most notable projects, including the 2006 HGTV Dream Home, a private residence featured nationally in VERANDA Magazine, the Brevard-based Oskar Blues Brewery, and the soon-to-be open Parker Concert Hall on the campus of Brevard Music Center.

Somehow I got on Al Platt's email list, though I can't vote for him. I like it there.

 

And Now for the Bad News

NCFree rates HD119 R+5.
Daves' Redistricting gives it 42.7% Democratic to 54.5% Republican lean.

Can Platt, with all his business success, overcome the built-in prejudices of the voters. (Platt is highly educated, after all, and that alone is suspicious). Success depends on turn-out (natch!) and what kind of message Platt puts out there to drive turn-out. I think he should have plenty of resources to make himself known along with Clampitt's record (though so far I don't see any video on his infrastructure, and his website is barebones and barely functioning).

Jackson County contains Western Carolina University, fer goodness sake, which has probably been under-targeted for voter registration and "know your rights" campaigns. I believe that 5% of that Republican advantage can be overcome. Especially if the students know Campitt's BFFs in the extremist world of Trump lust.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

On the NCGOP Election Slate, It's Election Deniers (All the Way Down)

 


"I say this to my Republican colleagues
who are defending the indefensible.
There will come a day when Donald
Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain."
--Liz Chaney


Congresswoman Virginia Foxx voted to overturn the Pennsylvania presidential vote in favor of Donald Trump on January 6th. Then there was a riot. Angry and deluded people broke in, and when it was over and she got back to the House chamber, Foxx changed her tune and voted to certify the Arizona results, while many of her fellow Republicans from North Carolina continued to push the big lie that somehow the election was stolen from Donald J. Trump. They rejected the Arizona vote despite the riot they had just escaped.

About a month after the election, Congressman Ted Budd, the eventual NCGOP nominee for US Senate, fed the fantasies of a stolen election  -- "millions of Americans do not have faith in the November election" -- and on January 6th voted against certifying the tallies in both Pennsylvania and Arizona.

Both Foxx and Budd are either playing it for effect, or they believe the lie. Both alternatives are disqualifiers for public office, or ought to be.

As we learn now almost daily via Liz Chaney et al. -- the Big Lie was not only the spearpoint of a scheme to seize power but also a grift to fleece gullible Trumpists of their cash. So how are we to live with Republicans like Foxx and Budd and the whole tribe who have refurbished their entire political lives around the make-believe of a would-be dictator?

Our shared oxygen ought to burn the lungs.


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Burr and Tillis Part of the New Gun Control Agreement

 

What does lame duck Richard Burr have to lose, signing on to the proposed framework for new gun control legislation in the Senate? Sen. Thom Tillis has also been one of the 10 Republicans working with 10 Democrats to craft a bill in response to the Uvalde massacre. The agreed framework -- there is no bill text yet -- would focus on more extensive background checks on people under the age of 21. It's not a ban on the under-21s buying assault weapons.

Still a risky move for Tillis.

Perhaps the most consequential provision in the proposed bill would be this one:

Require that convicted domestic violence abusers and those subject to domestic violence restraining orders are included in background checks, including “those who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”

Angry ex-boyfriends, doncha know? 


Thursday, June 09, 2022

Boone Town Council Takes a Stand on the Power Grab

The Boone Town Council issued the following statement at the end of its regular monthly meeting
held on June 8, 2022 in response to a “local law,” House Bill 193, recently offered in the
General Assembly at the initiative of Watauga County:

“We as a Town Council have discussed in closed session a local law introduced in the General
Assembly at the initiative of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners relating to a parking
garage that the County is planning for downtown Boone. This local law, if passed, would
exempt the County’s proposed parking garage from Boone’s Unified Development Ordinance,
including the downtown historic district standards.

As a Council, we feel blindsided and extremely disappointed with this action by Watauga
County. This Council has tried hard to improve relations with the County and to work together
with the County. Most recently, the Town and the County reached an amicable settlement of a
lawsuit over water service; we worked together to move the County’s new 911 call center
forward, and we combined our 911 communication operations. This Council would have been
happy to talk to the County about its parking garage project, and to do what the Town reasonably
could to facilitate it. Yet, the County did not even approach the Town to seek cooperation.

The Town still stands ready to facilitate proper consideration of the parking garage project as
quickly as local regulations allow. But the standards that apply to every resident and business in
this town, and to the Town itself, should apply equally to the County.

This proposed local law, House bill 193, sets a dangerous precedent both for us as a town and for
municipalities across the state. Watauga County should be subject to the same standards that
apply to all other property owners. We urge the County to rescind this bill and reach out to us.
We stand ready to work together.”


County Commish Calls a Special Meeting Next Monday



Wednesday, June 08, 2022

The Underhanded, Horrible, No-Good Screwing of Boone NC

 

Rep. Ray Pickett introduced a "local bill" (H193, that the governor can't veto) which will exempt the development of the Oscar and Suma Hardin House property (a.k.a, the Turner House) in downtown Boone from following the rules in Boone's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The Watauga County Commish wants to build a parking deck for the Courthouse, and they don't want to be bothered with following rules that will include a public hearing. If you recall, they refused a public hearing before they demolished that historic house.

That Ray Pickett, who served on the Blowing Rock Town Council and who would not, we think, have screwed his own town with a bill like this, is apparently happy to screw Boone speaks to a political moral compass somewhat out of whack.

The Town's UDO development standards apply to everyone, whether a government, a major or minor devloper, or even a person wanting to build a storage shed. Why should the big, powerful players be exempt from the rules all the rest of us have to follow just because they have the means and power to get a special law introduced in Raleigh?

But we have other questions. Who on the County Commission approached Pickett to get this bill introduced? And what secret meetings went on behind the scenes that led the Commission -- without ever taking a public vote that we know of -- to take this underhanded path. Who met with whom and who was there? And why the need to operate under cover and in the dark of night without public input or knowledge? And what says the Boone Town Council about such a blatant and dangerous subverting of local control?


Friday, June 03, 2022

How Much Lying About Cheri Beasley Does It Take To Get a TV Ad for Ted Budd Taken Off the Air?

 

Blatant lying.

CBS News reporting:

Ted Budd likes to pose with big guns 
 
TV stations in North Carolina pulled an ad by the campaign arm for Senate Republicans [NRSC] after they were informed it had a false statement and language about North Carolina Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley and her record as a former state Supreme Court chief justice.

The ad, titled "Failed Our Children," ties Beasley to three child predators who were released or had their indictments tossed. They say in one case, which involved a man convicted on 12 counts of child pornography, that Beasley had voted to set him free.

Beasley and the court heard a case on whether police could search a USB drive belonging to the man charged in the case, James Howard Terrell Jr., without a warrant. She and a majority of the court upheld a lower court's assessment that the search had not been permissible under the "private-search doctrine" and sent the matter back to the lower court, but did not directly vote to set Terrell Jr. free....

"The defendant was not set free by the ruling as the ad claims. CMG [Cox Media Group] will not run the ad when it contains a false statement on material issue. This ad has been removed from airing," wrote a representative for WSOC-TV and WAXN-TV in Charlotte, N.C., in a letter first obtained by CBS News....

Another ad by the NRSC attacks Beasley over other cases of violent crime and portrays her as failing to protect them. That ad has been fact checked by CBS17, which similarly found the ads lacked context — that the state Supreme Court had voted unanimously to vacate a death sentence. This ad remains on the air.


Thursday, June 02, 2022

Weird Whiplash in the North Carolina General Assembly

 

Tim Moore

On the same day that NC Senate Republicans were pushing North Carolina backward with its very own "Don't Say Gay Bill," it was also trying to usher North Carolina (finally!) into the 20th Century (not the 21st yet!) with a medical marijuana law and -- AND -- voting to bring North Carolina fully into Obamacare with expansion of Medicaid to an estimated half-million citizens still without health insurance.

Progress? Well, yes, but it's also like Republicans need to do a little meanness to keep their balance while also doing a little good.

If Senate President Phil Berger had some revelation on the road to Emmaus regarding the expansion of Medicaid, House Speaker Tim Moore did not. Moore says his House chamber will not be taking up the Medicaid bill this term. The meanness gene is strong in that one!


Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Ralph Hise Is an Asshole (Among Other Things)

 

Yesterday, Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Spruce Pine) (center in blue suit) turned
his back to every speaker who argued in front of his committee that H755
(Don't Say Gay Bill) would do harm to LGBTQ youth
































Suddenly, the Republican majority in the General Assembly is rushing through H755, its own version of "Don't Say Gay" bill even though there's zero chance of its getting past Governor Cooper's veto. There can be only one reason for the uselessness of the gesture -- to rile up their base. May it also rile the hell up of the Democratic base.

The bill would ban any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity from the curriculum for kindergarten through third grade. It would also require the school to notify parents if any student, regardless of grade, begins to question their sexual identity in school—such as if a student asks to use a different name or pronoun to describe themselves.

Parents would also need to be notified if a student comes to a teacher or school staff with concerns about mental or emotional health, including any discussion of sexual orientation. (WRAL)

Those speaking against the bill, whom Sen. Hise disrespected so blatantly, "fear the bill could force students into coming out to their families before they are ready. Many studies show LGBTQIA+ youth make up a staggeringly disproportionate number of homeless youth. While some students may find their parents supportive, protesters fear some students forced to 'come out' may find themselves in dangerous situations."

The targeting of the defenseless continues apace in the NCGOP, for no other reason that perceived political gain.


Friday, May 27, 2022

Whine Me No Whines, Pat McCrory!

 

What are they going to do with the people who are like me?” 
--Former Gov. Pat McCrory, in an AP interview

That plaintive whining is actually a pretty good question. McCrory was wondering what happens to the 25% who voted for him in the recent Republican primary for the US Senate, the Republican voters who didn't like the Trumpist message coming from winner Ted Budd, the gun store owner who projects potential for muscular bullying and promises to do Trump's bidding in the Senate.

People who are like me. "Soft" Republicans? Or sane Republicans?

The question should be: What are the "people like me" going to do about the total takeover of their party by the likes of Donald Trump, who's as crooked as a dog's hind leg and who encourages and endorses further crookedness in his followers? "Just find me 11,780 votes."

What will they do? Odds are they'll fall in line, vote the Party even though the Party has become a clown show at midnight. And so will Pat McCrory, whining all the way.


Thursday, May 26, 2022

I Will Be Voting and I Will Be Voting Early

 

With pundits and polls predicting relentlessly that Republicans are cruising to major wins this November, taking back power where they've lost it and consolidating power where they already hold it (like in North Carolina), I'm if anything bewildered, as in its original meaning of being stranded in a wilderness with no map out.

Why? Why would voters want more Republicans? In positions of great authority, where they can tell you you're going to breed whether you want to or not? Or simply decree ("just fine 364 more votes") that the votes of certain people don't count, so their side wins -- always, in perpetuity, to the ending of time itself? Or unleash local governments, businesses, and individuals to harass queer people because to bully is next to godliness.

When they buy themselves a Supreme Court majority through their Trump tool, and that majority intends to impose ideology on the law?

They intend to force election outcomes into their column, and they'll stop at nothing. A con man is their god.

Who wants more of that?

Pardon me, but putting them in control is deranged.


Monday, May 23, 2022

The Shepherds Were Exploiting the Flocks

 

The Southern Baptist Convention represses sexuality in everyone but its preachers. That's not just the conclusion of an independent investigation (voted on by delegates at the church's convention last summer); that's the conclusion of someone who was a Southern Baptist for years, attended and graduated from a Southern Baptist College, and knew many Southern Baptist pastors and would-be seminarians. The last Baptist church I attended in Salt Lake City had a pastor who was accused of sexual harassment by a good friend of mine. I haven't forgotten that.

The report also revealed that an executive committee staff member working for Mr. [August] Boto [a poweful member of the church's executive committee] had, for more than 10 years, maintained a detailed list of ministers accused of abuse. But no one “took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches,” the report stated. The most recent list, it added, contained the names of hundreds of alleged abusers affiliated with the denomination at some time. Investigators reviewed the same list and reported that it appears nine people remain at least connected to work in a ministry setting, including two connected with a Southern Baptist church.

It said that leaders including Ronnie Floyd, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention who resigned as the head of the executive committee in October, had resisted the creation of a task force to investigate the executive committee. Mr. Floyd did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The report described revelations in recent years that senior leaders had “protected or even supported abusers.” The leaders included three former presidents of the denomination, Steve Gaines, Jack Graham and Paige Patterson, as well as a former vice president and Mr. Boto, a former executive committee interim president and general counsel. A spokesman for Prestonwood Baptist Church, where Mr. Graham is pastor, said the church “categorically denies” the way the report characterizes an incident under his leadership in which it alleged Mr. Graham quietly dismissed an accused abuser on his staff rather than contacting police. Mr. Gaines and Mr. Patterson could not be immediately reached for comment.

 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Twitter Ain't Real


Guest Post: Jon-Dalton George 

Kirk deViere (4,100+ Twitter followers) vs. Val Applewhite (135). Applewhite only tweeted once since March. [Applewhite beat incumbent deViere by 20 points last Tuesday in Senate Dist. 19]



Madison Cawthorn (492.4K) vs. Chuck Edwards (2,300+). Cawthorn posted continuous tweets. Edwards beat him by 2 points. Edwards tweeted every day too at the end, more sporadically before that. [NOTE: Edwards' Twitter following has grown since he won]



Nida Allam (12.1K) vs. Valerie Foushee (4,000). Foushee beat her by over 9 points. [Congressional Dist. 4]



Erica D. Smith (24.9K) vs. Don Davis (1,600). Davis beat Smith by 32 points. [Congressional Dist. 1]



Matt Hughes (3,300+) vs. Renee Price (43). Price didn't post all May. [House Dist. 50. Price beat Hughes by a whopping 44 points]



Wouldn't you have thought that those candidates with a huge digital presence and following would have been the likely winners? But there seems to be a clear disconnect between online political presence and discourse and what actually happens in a primary. Twitter can create echo-chambers that do not translate to votes.



Kirk's loss of his Senate seat also shows voters may care much more about endorsements than about digital presence. Which makes a post-Roy Cooper legacy possibly look like Jim Hunt's -- traveling the state, sticking his nose in, helping out the little guys.



Could a strong digital presence lull candidates into complacency? You bet. Oftentimes their reach exceeds their grasp. Some actually seem to cater to demographic non-voters by playing it hot and mean. But the validation of "likes" and "shares" sometimes comes from a non-existent base.



It might be worth candidates taking a look at their budgets, especially the line for social media. Graphics, web design, video production, email blasts, Facebook and Twitter posts. All those are helpful tools to get over the line, but some may also inadvertently create a smokescreen that can blind a campaign to reality.


Jon-Dalton George is member of the Boone Town Council





WataugaWatch Answers Jon-Dalton George:

 

Good point. Pulled me up short and made me think.

I'm guilty. If I'm researching a candidate, I want to see all their digital presence, and I tend to automatically discount a candidate who doesn't have any -- I mean, nothing -- no website, no Facebook, no Twitter. In April -- just last month -- I was complaining about Frances Jackson's invisibility on-line in the House Dist. 45 Democratic primary. She beat her nearest male competitor by 11 points.

Twitter creates its own reality. Candidates will continue to indulge, and they should, and candidate-watchers will continue to indulge -- be teased and misled. Candidates need to be on Twitter, if for nothing else than to announce a fish fry. But know it ain't reality. It's a ticklefest of wish fulfillment and dragon-slaying.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Other 2022 Primary Results

 

Watauga County

Cutlip came in last in the primary

 Watauga County turned away the retro challenge of "back to basics" school board candidates (the "end cultural pluralism" crowd). The primary could only eliminate one of 7 total candidates, but the lopsided vote suggests that none of the Trumpist insurgents are going to get anywhere come November. The three incumbent (and progressive) school board members were separated from the bottom four by a 900+ vote gap.

Incumbent Democratic County Commissioner Carrington Pertalion lost to challenger Angela Laws King. Thereby hangs a tale that might be told some other time.

In the Republican primary, incumbent state Senator Deanna Ballard carried her own county by over 70% against double-bunked Senator Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine, but Hise narrowly won the primary by a slim margin of 336 votes. Too bad.

 

US Senate Primaries

As expected, Cheri Beasley took the Democratic nomination for US Senate easily. And Ted Budd took the Republican race. His margin of victory was surprisingly wide, winning over 58% of the total vote and absolutely burying poor Pat McCrory -- who now represents an NCGOP that no longer exists. It's all Trump now and Trumpist bullying, so we'll have the general election we dread, between a gentle and judicious Black woman and an ungentle and injudicious gun store owner.


US Congressional Primaries

In the 4th CD, Democratic establishment candidate Valerie Foushee beat progressive darling Nida Allam, with Clay Aiken coming in a distant third.

In the 13th CD, state Senator Wiley Nickel absolutely demolished Sam Searcy to take the Democratic nomination, while Trump-endorsed district-shopper Bo Hines easily won the Republican primary with 32% of the vote in a crowded field.

State Senator Jeff Jackson is now the official Democratic nominee for the seat in CD14, not exactly a surprise win.


Some NC House and Senate Primaries of Note

Generally, looks like Democrats stuck with establishment incumbents for the most part, turning away insurgents even when they looked pretty interesting as new faces.

In NCH33, incumbent Rosa Gill sounded defeated newcomer Nate Blanton.

In NCH43, former incumbent Elmer Floyd came back to beat Kimberly Hardy, the woman who beat him last go around.

Surprise? In NCH50, Democratic star Matt Hughes did poorly against Black woman Renee Price. Wow.

In NCH56 (Chapel Hill), Allen Buansi narrowly won against fellow civil rights activist Jonah Garson.

In NCH74 (Forsyth), LatinX community activist Carla Catalan Day won over Asian-American Sean Lew.

In NCH112, Tricia Cotham beat a crowded field of fellow Democrats, with former Rep. Rodney Moore coming in dead last.

In NCS19, Kirk DeViere lost his reelection primary against Val Applewhite. This is the race that Governor Roy Cooper cashed in his (unwelcome) two cents, so we guess that high-level interference had an effect.

In NCS23, Graig Meyer, currently in the NC House, is moving on up to the Senate, easily beating Jamie DeMent Holcomb in the primary.

In NCS49, incumbent Julie Mayfield easily won against two challengers, taking 68% of the vote. The interesting Taylon Breeden of CDB cafe fame came in a very weak 3rd.