Thursday, March 31, 2022

Kevin McCarthy Has Had Enough of Madison Cawthorn


Implicating fellow Republican Congesspersons as sex-orgy-attending deviants is the line you apparently don't cross in Washington, and Madison Cawthorn crossed it. So Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy ordered Cawthorn into his office for an official paddling. And Cawthorn showed up. The photo of his leaving McCarthy's office yesterday suggests to some observers that the 26-year-old had been crying.

The backlash [against Cawthorn had been] remarkably swift. There was even talk about kicking Cawthorn out of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Multiple members suggested publicly that a reprimand and an apology would be insufficient, and that Cawthorn needed to get specific if he was going to tell salacious tales.

“You should have to name names if you are going to go make those kinds of brushstroke accusations and impugn the character of people in this institution or … anybody else in this town,” an anonymous Republican told Politico. (Aaron Blake, reporting in the WashPost)

Sounding like the scourge of God Himself, Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said, “He’ll need to be careful, because eventually he’ll be judged.”

Womack even alluded to wanting Cawthorn out, as in out of office: “If it’s: ‘Hey, don’t do that, again,’ we’ve been there. Frankly, if western North Carolina is not going to fix the problem, then leadership will have to.”

If western North Carolina is not going to fix the problem ... like, in the upcoming May 17th Republican primary, where Republican state lawmaker and primary challenger Chuck Edwards (only one of many in the primary) has earned himself the endorsement of both Phil Berger and Tim Moore (who are headlining a fundraiser for Edwards), along with Sen. Thom Tillis's endorsement. If Republicans coalesce around a single challenger in the 11th CD, they can indeed "fix the problem" of Madison Cawthorn (an outcome I've never much believed could happen but which is looking more likely).

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Thom Tillis Has Had Enough of Madison Cawthorn


Congressman Madison Cawthorn said some new things on camera the other day.

He affirmed that Washington, DC, is like the TV series "House of Cards" and said people that he’s looked up to his whole life, who are now in their 60’s or 70’s, have invited him to an orgy at their home and others have done cocaine in front of him.

This led Senator Thom Tillis to unload on Cawthorn to reporter Manu Raju (Twitter thread):

“I thought about the statement, if it’s true, then he’s got a lot of information to reveal. If it’s not true, then he’s guilty of being untruthful.”

Tillis adds: “I thought it was a silly statement and it’s not the first one.” Is Cawthorn a problem? “At the end of the day, people in the district are going to have to vote for him and I would ask them to look at his record and ask what has he done since he’s been here.”

Tillis: “What is his track record of working on tough issues and what’s he done for the western part of the state.” Asked for his assessment whether Cawthorn had accomplished much in his first term, Tillis said, “Not a lot in my opinion.”


Thursday, March 24, 2022

A Peculiar Democratic Primary in House District 66


The newly drawn NC House District 66 is wholly in Wake County and heavily weighted with Democrats. As Dallas Woodhouse said, "Republicans can’t win this seat, no matter how good 2022 is for them."

So perhaps it's no wonder that three Democrats have filed to run in the May primary, as the winner will most likely take the seat in November.

One of those three is a first-time candidate. The second ran unsuccessfully for the Wake County Commission in 2018. And the third is currently an elected member of the NC Senate who is abandoning her senate district to run in this House district, a jump that is both unusual and debilitating to the Democratic goal of keeping Republicans from winning a super-majority in the Senate.

Wesley Knott

Knott is a 26-year-old Democratic Party precinct chair. He trained in accounting and economics (where? he doesn't say) and has worked as an auditor for PwC, a tax and auditing service. He says he "stepped away" from that job to run for this office. His website is thin on specifics and biography (maybe we'd expect that from a 26-year-old running for the first time), but I like this personal statement:

"I’m a mixed-race progressive who grew up in the Deep South. Politics isn’t abstract to me. I didn’t need critical race theory to learn about racism, and I didn’t need a policy analysis to know the importance of Medicaid. So when I talk about policy, it’s from a place of shared experience. I know what’s on the line. That’s why I’m running."

As an observer who believes that the rise of "mixed race" perspectives and personalities could save us from the toxicity of white nationalism, I welcome his candidacy.

Frank Pierce

He says he's a small business owner (landscaping) who decided to make a personal sacrifice when schools began to come out of the pandemic:

When Wake County went back to school full time this year, they where faced with a shortage of staff from teachers to bus drivers and everything in between. While most people stood on the side and yelled to help them, I actually stepped up to help our students and their teachers. I applied and received a temporary license to teach in WCPSS this year and make a difference in a child's life. I did this at a great cost to me and my business. Yet in this life, you should be measured by the deeds you do not the money you make. I would not change anything about my choice. I am now running to be the difference maker in the NC House and bring that “get it done” attitude to public office. Children are our future! It is time we put a leader in the legislature that puts others before himself.

Pierce is 36 years old and has also been active in the Wake Democratic Party. I found more personal info on him from his 2018 run for the Wake Commission.

Sarah Crawford

Crawford right now holds the NC Senate seat in District 18. I wrote a lot about her back in late 2019 (here and here). I was mildly critical of her vanilla presentation and her eschewing of progressive platform positions, even though she was endorsed by Lillian's List. She won that Senate seat easily. When she made it known less than a month ago that she would run for a House seat instead of for reelection to her Senate seat, Republican operative Dallas Woodhouse could not stop himself from chortling derisively about her pursuit of "self-interest" in the switch, implying she would have a much tougher race for reelection to the Senate.

Interestingly, she doesn't say a word about being a state senator on her revamped website. Big guns in the NC Democratic Party are lining up to support her. First Lady Kristin Cooper and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall are co-hosting a fundraiser for her next month.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Growing Voter Fraud in the Mark Meadows Family

Glenn Kessler, reporting in the WashPost:

Mark and Debra Meadows

On Oct. 26, Mark Meadows’s wife, Debra, appeared at the Macon County community building in Franklin, N.C., and filled out a one-stop voter application to cast an early ballot in the 2020 presidential election. She also dropped off an absentee ballot that she had requested for her husband, then the White House chief of staff, an election board official said.

On her one-stop application, provided this week by the North Carolina Board of Elections to The [WashPost] Fact Checker, Debra Meadows certified that she had resided at a 14-by-62-foot mountaintop mobile home for at least 30 days — even though she did not live there. At the top of the form is a notice that “fraudulently or falsely completing this form” is a Class l felony.

This form is the latest in a string of revelations concerning the former chief of staff — who echoed President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud in 2020 — and his wife. The New Yorker first reported that Mark and Debra Meadows submitted voter registration forms that listed as their home a mobile home with a rusted metal roof that sold for $105,000 in 2021, even though they had never lived there. North Carolina officials announced last week that Mark Meadows is under investigation for potential voter fraud.

The Fact Checker’s reporting shows that in 2020 Debra Meadows signed three forms — a voter registration form, an absentee ballot request for her husband and the one-stop application — that warned of legal consequences if falsely completed and signed. She also cast a ballot in a 2020 primary runoff using an address that was no longer valid for voting. Mark Meadows appears only to have signed a voter registration form; he did not vote in the primary.

The statement by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation made no mention of Debra Meadows, and officials declined to say whether the probe would also examine her actions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Winner of This Democratic Primary Will Take the Seat


...because there's no Republican running for the House District 44 in Cumberland County (Fayetteville). It's that safe a seat for Democrats. The district is 43.8% Black, and the primary contest will pit the Black candidate who ran before in 2020, and got a respectable 47.9% of the vote, and a young white lawyer who has worked as an assistant district attorney in Cumberland Co. and is now in private practice.

The current Democratic incumbent in the seat, attorney William O. Richardson, waited until March 1st to announce his retirement. He had served a term in the mid-1990s and was appointed to finish out liberal lion Rick Glazier's term when Glazier stepped down in 2015. Richardson made a name for himself as a strong advocate for public education and alienated others because of his willingness to work with the Republicans. He was one of the very few Democrats given a committee chairmanship. Richardson said in a news release the reasons for his decision “are several and mostly private” but largely focus on the sacrifices his family and work colleagues have made for him to serve.

Terry L. Johnson Sr.

During that 2020 primary race against incumbent William Richardson (which Johnson came close to winning) he made allegations practically on the eve of the election that he had been offered a $12,500 bribe to drop out of the race by a person connected to Richardson. Johnson alleged in a complaint to the State Board of Elections (SBOE) that the offer of money came from a political contractor who worked for Richardson. Johnson and the contractor talked during a 90-minute dinner meeting at a local restaurant. Both the contractor and Richardson proclaimed the accusation absurd, and the investigator for the SBOE concluded, “Based on the facts presented, we do not see a violation of election or campaign finance laws.”

He appears to be the owner of Terry Johnson Funeral Services in Fayetteville, though that business isn't mentioned on his website nor on his Facebook page.

Charles Smith

Smith, a native of Fayetteville, attended Emory and Henry College near Abington, Va., on a basketball scholarship. After graduation there, he received his law degree from UNC and became an assistant prosecutor in the Cumberland County district attorney's office. After several years in the DA's office, he entered private practice with the Charleston Group, a Fayetteville firm. "While working for The Charleston Group, I have gained experience representing a variety of government entities, as well as experience in administrative law, corporate law, and general civil litigation. As an attorney that has handled criminal and civil cases, I have relevant experience interpreting, applying, and arguing statutes that our legislators enact and approve" (

In 2020, Smith was one of five lawyers recommended to Gov. Cooper for filling a vacant district court seat.


Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Republican Primary in HD63: Which GOPer Will Challenge Ricky Hurtado?

2020 was a difficult year for Democrats in North Carolina. Some of the 2018 Democratic gains in the General Assembly got chiseled away, and some of the gains we expected in Trump's downfall just didn't materialize. Heart-breakers all over the map. Except in NC House District 63, where Ricky Hurtado, the son of working class immigrants from El Salvador, beat the Republican incumbent, Stephen Ross, a Wells-Fargo executive. I believe the 63rd was the only House seat in 2020 to flip to blue.

Hurtado was sworn in as the sole LatinX rep in the House, at least the first and only for the Democrats. I've seen lots of photos of him -- that toothy broad smile -- and a couple of videos -- his origin story on the homepage of his website stands out. His personal history and the way he talks about what he sees as the reality for rural working-class families -- he obviously has a clear, no nonsense mind looking to investigate what America is and how one might go about improving that. 

The Democratic minority in the NC House has little power ... except for sustaining the governor's veto, which is no small thing. But the legislation any Democrat writes gets shit-canned in the Rules Committee, which is exactly what happened to two bills that Hurtado sponsored -- setting a minimum wage of $15/hr for "noncertified school employees" and the bill to adopt the ERA. If the Democrats ever get back into the majority -- and even if not -- Hurtado can be a thought leader there if the voters of Alamance County can get him reelected.

HD63 takes up a large chunk of northeastern Alamance County. It was "lean Republican" before the last maps got approved. Now it's "lean Democrat." Dave's Redistricting scores it at 51.2% Democratic to 46.8% Republican. Hurtado took it by a hair in 2020 before redistricting, by 477 votes. When Erica McAdoo ran against the incumbent Republican in 2018, she came within 300 votes of beating him. 

That "incumbent Republican," Stephen Ross, may be matched again against Hurtado, depending on who comes out of this primary. But, surely it'll be Ross.

The Republican Primary

Stephen Ross, formerly known as "The Republican Incumbent"

His pitch is all about fighting the radical binge of the Democrats -- "stop the shut-downs and mandates" (the Trumpy gospel of "the pandemic is made up" so no need for these precautions) and "fight for parents’ rights in their children’s education" (mainly the right to censor what kids read, especially if it raises uncomfortable questions about American history, so let's just never talk about slavery and racial justice evah).

This Twitter account of his is moribund. Nothing's been posted since June of 2021. But clearly he's a main street, Chamber of Commerce, country clubbing establishment Republican in a year he'd best not admit it -- not with the Trumpists looking to take more scalps. So Ross strikes a strident pose, supposedly ready to do fierce battle against the socialists.

He opposes the expansion of Medicaid insurance for 600,000 uninsured North Carolinians. In saying so, he exposed the dead heart of the well-to-do conservative Republican. He actually explained, to Bill O'Neil of WXII, why, if it would be too late to help some people, why do anything at all?

"I think that what most people don't understand, even if you were to expand Medicaid right now, the actual benefits wouldn't reach North Carolina until well after the pandemic is [over]," Ross said "We need to be real clear about that."

I think we're clear., 

Ed Priola, the Wild-Eyed Novice

If you're looking for a loud, bare-knuckled crusader against "socialist tyranny" and "Marxist" conspiracies galore, you've found him in Ed Priola. As the public affairs director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, "he reminded Americans about the crimes of socialism and the deceit of socialist propaganda." He actually says -- not making this up -- that he's a true believer in American exceptionalism and only wants fellow true believers to hold office. Just unpack that for a minute.

This seems like Priola's basest credo, in a letter to the editor: "Many people reasonably believe that 'equity' means 'equality' .... [but] equity is short-hand for Marxist 'social equity,' whose goal is 'equality of outcome' " (The Times-News). Therefore, we do nothing about equity, and you better not even say the word. 

The dive-bombing American eagle logo on his website -- eagle clutching an American flag -- looks straight out of 1933 Germany, save for the animal mascot and that particular flag -- the representation of belligerent nationalism. Curiously, he seems to have started in politics as a Ronald Reagan fiscal conservative, but he's veered hard right. He hasn't posted anything to his Twitter feed since December 8th. He says he's a college professor on his website but doesn't say where. That kind of intentional vagueness always pricks my curiosity. In Priola's case, I can't confirm a lot of what he claims. He says he has a doctorate in management. Another site sez he was active up north in conservative advocacy groups, as national field director for the National Taxpayers Union and field director for U.S. Term Limits. He also says he "trained hundreds of Republican candidates running for office across North Carolina." There is evidence on his FB page that he participated in three training sessions for Wake County Republican candidates, but I don't see hundreds. What sort of campaign craft is he expert in?

He ran for state office twice before, two different seats in the Maryland House of Delegates, unsuccessfully, in 1994 and again in 2010. One Maryland blogger characterizes Priola as a "professional activist" for conservative causes, but none of that actual political history is mentioned on Priola's current website. 

He's photographed with Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, and he obviously shares Robinson's crackpot ideas about indoctrination. Priola was one of the Robinson supporters who stormed the Alamance School Board meeting at the end of last June, and he certainly likes to sound scholarly: “Critical race theory is not science – it’s garbage propaganda,” he said to the board in the public comment period. “It’s based in the Frankfurt School – a Marxist think tank in the 1930s,” he said, referring to a school of social theory and philosophy which had been associated with the Institute of Goethe University in Germany prior to World War II and centered on criticism of capitalism (and other economic systems) and finding alternatives to create an ideal society, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. “They were forced out by the Nazis,” and came to the U.S., where they infiltrated academia, Priola said, urging school board members to investigate what’s being taught in ABSS classrooms.

My Gawd. There's no arguing with a conspiracy theorist who can quote the Frankfurt School.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Mark Meadows Under Investigation for Voter Fraud


Macon Co. D.A. Ashley Welch,
passing the buck

Late yesterday Nazneen Ahmed, spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Stein’s office, confirmed the investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation into former President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after the New Yorker first reported that the former congressman, who represented North Carolina’s westernmost district, registered to vote in September 2020 using an address he had never visited. (NandO)

The request for the investigation came from Macon County District Attorney Ashley Welch, who wants the Department of Justice’s Special Prosecutions Section to take over what would normally be the D.A.'s role in this matter. Ashley Welch is a registered Republican.

“We have requested that the SBI investigate alongside the State Board of Elections,” Ahmed said. “At the conclusion of the investigation, we’ll review the findings.”

Allegations of voting misconduct against Meadows came to light after the weekly magazine spoke with the former property owner where Meadows claimed to have lived. She confirmed renting 495 McConnell Rd. in Scaly Mountain to Meadows’ wife, Debbie, for two months, but neighbors told her Mark Meadows never visited the property and his wife only spent a few nights there.

As of yesterday, Meadows’ remained registered to vote at that address.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Democratic Primary in H43 -- A Rematch with a Wild Card


In 2020, Fayetteville State University professor of social work Kimberly Hardy defeated incumbent Democrat Elmer Floyd in the March primary. He was the only Democratic lawmaker two years ago taken out in a primary. Hardy went on to lose to Republican Diane Wheatley by 1,420 votes that November, a heart-breaker.

Those three personalities are all back in the race this year, but Kim Hardy and Elmer Floyd now have another Democrat in their primary, Prince Christian, who may scramble expectations by drawing votes from either of them or from both of them. Who knows?

I'm relying below on what I wrote about Hardy and Floyd in January of 2020.

Kimberly Hardy is a 50-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 currently teaches 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 challenged incumbent Floyd in 2020 as "A New Voice for Cumberland County," and was willing to put leather to pavement in canvassing neighborhoods in the district. Boots-on-the-ground can indicate energy and support from a cadre of activists, which was essential when trying to overcome the advantages of incumbency. It will be even more crucial for her this year.

Hardy has been endorsed by Carolina Forward.

Elmer Floyd is a 79-year-old member of the Silent Generation (born in 1943) who held this NC House seat from 2009 to 2021.  

Until this year's most recent redistricting, the district was considered safe Democratic. Floyd often had no Republican opponent in the General Election and only rarely a Democratic opponent in a primary. The newest version of Dist. 43 leans very slightly Republican.

Floyd, with seven terms in the House, had a vast advantage in the 2020 primary over his newcomer opponent. But after 14 years in the House, was Floyd considered an effective representative? Or "furniture." Or worse, was 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." 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 in July of 2019.

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. He bragged on his website about his ability to steer pork into Cumberland County.

Prince Christian is a 26-year-old millennial making his first run for public office. 

Not a ton of information available on him, so I have to rely on what he says about himself on his website. His emphasis on stopping gun violence suggests some biographical brush with the issue, but I haven't found it.

Born and raised in Fayetteville, Prince attended public school in Cumberland County. After Public School, Prince attended Fayetteville State University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.

After earning his degree, Prince began his career in Finance with PNC Bank before moving to the health care industry where he currently works as a health advocate for the largest health insurance provider in the State of North Carolina. Prince has assisted thousands of North Carolinians in obtaining affordable health insurance, reducing prescription costs, and protecting North Carolinians from excessive medical billing costs. Prince will carry his extensive knowledge of health care to the General Assembly in effort to deliver affordable health care to all North Carolinians.

Prince has been fighting for quality health for all North Carolinian's including efforts to combat Fayetteville's deadly gun violence epidemic. Prince has developed a plan and spent the last years ensuring North Carolinians are able to live a life of purpose in a state that is affordable, educated, healthier, and free of gun violence.


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Democratic Primary in HD56 -- Battle of the Millennials


Let's call NC House Dist. 56 "the Chapel Hill seat," because that southeast corner of Orange County is dominated by that university town. The district has an 84% Democratic lean. Progressive legend Verla Insko has held it for ages, but she's retiring, and two newcomers want to replace her. No Republican filed.

Allen Buansi, civil rights lawyer and Chapel Hill town councilman completing his first term on the town board.

Buansi grew up in Chapel Hill. “My mom encouraged me to think about what I want to do with my life and what my calling was. I gravitated towards this idea of public service, advocating for folks who are in need,” Buansi says. “These folks [his personal heroes Shirley Chisholm, Thurgood Marshall, Charles Houston] were operating at a time when things were really bleak, especially for Black people, especially for women. And yet they saw fit to do whatever they could to move the ball forward. I wanted to fight for people. I want to do what I can to make life equitable.”

As an adult, Buansi has taken an active role in advocating for racial equity in Chapel Hill. From 2015 to 2017, Buansi served on the Executive Board of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the NAACP, and he has also worked as an attorney-fellow with the UNC Center for Civil Rights.

During his time on the Town Council, Buansi — alongside council member Karen Stegman and Mayor Pro Tempore Michael Parker — worked to implement Chapel Hill’s Criminal Justice Debt Program, an initiative that helps low-income individuals struggling to pay court costs.

“We have a crisis when it comes to excessive court fees and costs, and it has the effect of saddling a lot of low-income and working-class people with debts that they can't pay,” Buansi said. “That’s just not fair, that’s just not right.”

Buansi also worked with the Town Council to adopt a resolution to improve racial equity and public safety. The resolution implemented a ban on chokeholds in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and ended regulatory traffic stops by the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Jonah Garson, an attorney and former chair of the Orange County Democratic Party. Garson is also a Chapel Hill native. He got his undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and his law degree from Columbia. He was profiled by Hannah Olson in

Given his background, it was almost inevitable that Jonah Garson would someday run for office.

The 34-year-old Chapel Hill native grew up encouraging UNC-Chapel Hill students to vote when he was still in high school and spent his formative years becoming politically involved, protesting the Iraq War.

He interned in college for two different state legislators, absorbing governmental know-how, and spent the 2018 midterms driving his Honda across the state working in different races as a field coordinator.

In 2019, Garson served as the voter protection director for the N.C. Democratic Party during the 9th Congressional redo election.

Raising teacher pay, bringing back incentives for teachers to earn master’s degrees and working to close the ever-prevalent equity gap, are at the top of his list of concerns.

“We need public schools that serve all students equitably. Our public schools have been purposefully, systematically starved of resources,” he says. “Our teachers have been disrespected.”

“Democracy truly is under attack, and that's not hyperbole, that's very, very real,” he says. “We can't stand another 10 years of not being able to win on the progressive policy votes. Any expectation that we're going to get these core democracy reforms without a fight is wrong.” Garson also emphasizes the need to “free [the public university system] from terribly harmful political interference.”

“Rarely does a candidate come along who is as well prepared to serve in the North Carolina House of Representatives as Jonah Garson. I support him without reservation,” said former Rep. Joe Hackney of N.C. House District 54 in a recent endorsement.


Monday, March 14, 2022

Protecting Gov. Cooper's Veto in 2022


Blair Reeves and his team at Carolina Forward have released their "slate" of progressive Democrats for 2022  (formerly known in 2018 and 2020 as the Long Leaf Pine Slate). Carolina Forward will be fundraising for them and offering other election strategies and polling support. Check them out.

Carolina Forward's main consideration this year is protecting Governor Cooper's veto power:

The Carolina Forward Slate is a collection of bold progressive leaders running to take and defend seats the NC State House and Senate. We used some very simple criteria in choosing our endorsements:

*Under our new legislative maps, which candidates can win?

*How many seats do we need to protect Governor Cooper’s veto power?

*Which seats must we defend, and where can we expand the map?

Republicans have controlled North Carolina’s legislature for over a decade, and the election maps are still gerrymandered to favor them. What keeps the most radical right-wing elements of the legislature from running amok is one thing: Governor Cooper’s veto power.

Because Democrats have the votes to sustain Governor Cooper’s veto, they are able to force Republican leaders to negotiate in a bipartisan fashion to get significant legislation passed. Here is a brief list of recent Republican legislation that Governor Cooper’s veto power has successfully stopped:

*Defunding election cybersecurity

*A virtual ban on abortion access

*Overruling local control over school masking decisions

*Attempts to curtail and restrict voting access

*Abolishing permits and required training for handgun purchases

*Repealing all COVID precautionary measures

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Democratic Primary in HD50


The new NC House District 50 includes all of Caswell County on the Virginia state line, then south through most of Orange County (county seat: Hillsborough) but does not include a block in the southeast corner which happens to be Chapel Hill (in its own HD56, where another interesting Democratic primary is taking place). HD50 is solidly Democratic soil: Graig Meyer has repped it in the House, Valerie Foushee in the Senate. They are both running for higher offices this year, leaving HD50 an open seat.

If this primary doesn't speak symbolically of the progressive South -- LGBTQ+ man v. Black woman -- I don't know what other matchup could do it as comprehensively.

Renee Price, currently serving her third term on the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, as chair.

Price had initially announced last November that she would run for the Senate seat Valerie Foushee was leaving, which also happened to be the higher office Rep. Graig Meyer was seeking, so Renee graciously stepped aside and ran instead for the House seat Meyer is leaving. 

Educated at Tufts and Cornell, Price earned a Master's degree in regional planning, with concentrations in city development, environmental planning, and design. She got into politics in the Orange County Democratic Party. She admits to being a shy person who was talked into running for county commission in 2010. She lost but she came back in two years to win, which she's continued do through two reelections.

On her website she's developed policy statements about Schools, Infrastructure, Justice, Climate, Voting Rights, Healthcare and Human Health -- mainly bland generalities but also common sense: "Many of our laws, policies and procedures are founded on racial discrimination, gender prejudice, Jim Crow sentiments, and punishment for poverty."

“My elders taught me to hold fast to freedom, never to take a defeatist attitude, respect all people, stand for justice, and persevere with humility,” Price wrote. “At the founding of the United States, ‘we, the people’ excluded women, people of color, and men without property. Today, ‘we, the people’ is inclusive; we vote, run for office, and have seats at the table. Still, we must strive for the realization of democracy, equality, prosperity, wellness, and justice.”

She's pragmatic about working with Republican colleagues: "I just noticed this past weekend, maybe it’s changing, but if you wanted to talk to a Republican about health care, you wouldn’t say 'Medicaid expansion.' We knew that talking about expansion was going to get us nowhere. So we didn’t. But when you get down into the nitty gritty, OK, how do we save rural hospitals? How do we come up with a way to save rural hospitals or come up with a way to make sure that everybody has health insurance or access to health care? If you want to put another label on it, I’m fine with that." 

She's been endorsed by Lillian's List.

She's very active on Facebook, has launched a "Walk with Renee" volunteer program to door-knock neighborhoods, and NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green is doing a fundraiser for her. But so far, Price hasn't gotten the hang of Twitter.

Matt Hughes, LGBTQ+ activist, member of the DNC, and chair of the Orange County Democratic Party. 

He traces his family's roots back in Orange County to the 1760s. As a child he was a delayed speaker. He credits Gov. Jim Hunt's Smart Start initiative in schools for intervening and helping him learn how to speak through special speech pathology treatments. He's now very much a spokesman.

He was a leader in student government in his Hillsborough high school, went to Chapel Hill as a first generation college student, earned his bachelor's (poly sci) and his master's (public administration), and makes a living now as a political policy activist. He's finance director for Blueprint North Carolina, a 501(c)(3) which is "strictly prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office" but which is very involved nevertheless in voter mobilization (including registration drives and get-out-the-vote) around policy issues. "All Blueprint activities will be strictly non-partisan. In addition, Blueprint activities will not be coordinated with any candidate, political party or other partisan entity." Uh-huh.

This is not Matt Hughes's first run for public office. He tried in 2016 to get on the Orange Co. Commish, ran in the Democratic primary (but not against Renee Price), and lost. As Party chair, he became effective at getting out the vote and in 2018 he was appointed to a seat on the Hillsborough Bd. of Commish. He won a 4-year term in his own right in 2019.

From his filing statement: “We need a new generation of leadership that’s not afraid to lead boldly and think big,” said Hughes. “This new generation must not only fight against radical Republicans and their attacks on our way of life, including our precious democracy, but push for solutions that will benefit all who call North Carolina home. I’m running because I believe in a North Carolina that lives up to its ideals and is a state where its people are healthier, safer, better educated, and has more money in their pockets.”

NOTE: There is a Republican on the ballot for the November election, Charles Lopez. He looks like a sacrifice.

Friday, March 11, 2022

The Democratic Primary for HD112


A four-way Democratic contest developed during candidate filing for the new North Carolina House District 112, with some familiar faces, including one who's attempting rehabilitation following disgrace. The newly drawn Mecklenburg County district (a wedge out of far eastern Meck that abuts both Cabarrus and Union counties) leans heavily Democratic. There will be a Republican challenger for the Democratic winner of the primary, but Tony Long, a Mint Hill town councilman, ain't given good odds for winning. Winner of the primary liken takes the seat.

Tricia Cotham is probably the best known of the candidates. From being recognized as a young Teacher of the Year in 2001, to administrative work at one of the state's largest high schools, to being appointed in 2007 to an NC House seat at the age of 28 -- making her the youngest in the chamber -- she served a decade in the House learning public policy, especially as it impacts public education. In 2016 she opted not to run for reelection to the House and instead threw herself into a crowded primary against Alma Adams for the 12th CD. Adams had been elected in 2014 and won the 2016 primary against all comers.

Cotham comes from a political family. Her mother Pat Cotham is serving her fifth term as an at-large member of the Meck Board of County Commish. In 2008 Tricia married Jerry Meek, chair of the NC Democratic Party, one of the most successful party chairs we've seen in the last 30 years. Cotham and Meek had two sons. The couple is now divorced.

During her tenure in the NC House, she became well versed (according to her bio on the McGuireWoods Consulting website) "in education, healthcare, finance, regulatory reform, commerce, banking and judiciary matters. Ms. Cotham possesses experience working with leaders of trade associations, Fortune 500 companies and legislators in both parties." McGuireWoods hired her in 2017 as part of their state government relations practice. "Founded in 1998, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC is a full-service public affairs firm offering government relations, strategic communications & grassroots, and infrastructure and economic development services. McGuireWoods Consulting is a subsidiary of McGuireWoods LLP, a leading international law firm with more than 1,000 lawyers in 20 cities." Cotham is not a lawyer.

Rodney W. Moore
, a Meck Democrat notorious for being indicted in 2019 on nine campaign finance-related felony counts -- filing falsified campaign reports between 2011 and 2015.  He pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to probation. Before all that scandal he had run for reelection in 2018 as something of a Democratic dog in the manger (he had been one of a handful of Democrats to vote for fracking), so his favor among the voters was already in tatters and he was soundly beaten by Nasif Majeed in the primary. In 2016 he and Tricia Cotham both tried to unseat Congresswoman Alma Adams (see above), but Cotham did much better in the vote count than he. Cotham took 21% of the vote to Moore's .8%.

Interestingly, Moore is in the same business as Cotham, providing government relations consulting services through his own firm, Moore Consulting Group Inc. "A dynamic firm specializing in professional government relations, policy development, business development and public relations. Access to decision makers and key executives at the local, state, and federal levels of government."

Yes, we savvy the boast, "access to decision makers."

Jay Holman
 (full name: Johnell A. Holman), a Charlotte builder and paralegal "who has worked multiple campaigns over the years but is making his own first bid for elected office" (WRAL). He has worked as a paralegal at Charlotte law offices but probably his biggest influence comes from his activism for the Charlotte Meck Black Leadership Caucus. He led their PAC which means he knew (and knows) the players in the Meck Democratic Party. He also lists on his Facebook page -- Executive Director of Legislative Advocacy and Action Agenda at National Action Network.

Yolonda Holmes
 has been elusive on social media. She has a Facebook page which provides a link to a website, which is locked. The Facebook page is singularly uninformative. Found on the Internet: "The Rev. Dr. Yolonda Holmes, who grew up in the Charleston public schools and is a retired Department of Defense employee, is employed as Family and Community Engagement Coordinator with the CMS Family and Community Engagement office. She is associate pastor of New St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte. She earned a BS degree at Voorhees College, an MS in criminology at Indiana State, another MA in management, then a Ph.D. from Capella University." She works for the Charlotte Meck school system. She's a member of the long-running Mecklenburg County Women’s Advisory Board, an official county-appointed office.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Running as a Democrat When You're Bound to Lose


By Justin King, who was a candidate for the Johnston County Board of Commissioners in 2020

Cross-posted with

Justin King

I reside in the GOP hotbed of Johnston County, which borders the metro county of Wake. Johnston, like all wrap-around counties surrounding the metro counties in North Carolina, has been dubbed a “Countrypolitan” county by Duke professor Mac McCorkle. The word “Countrypolitan” is most associated with the changing sound of country music in the late 1960s that appealed to a broader market of listeners. McCorkle, along with Rachel Salzberg, recently authored a detailed report on the problems plaguing Democrats in Countrypolitan counties. Having run as a Democratic candidate in Johnston County during the 2020 election, I wanted to share my experiences in hopes that future candidates will take note as they build their campaigns.

Like many of the Countrypolitan counties, Johnston has been dominated by Republicans for two decades. The last Democrat elected to a countywide or state legislative office in Johnston was 2002. Nonpartisan races such as school board and city council have been the only areas of success for local Democrats. Hillary Clinton received just 33% of the countywide vote share in 2016. When I made the decision to run countywide for county commissioner in 2020, I knew the chances of winning were extremely unlikely. My campaign would not be measured by a winning or losing, but rather by pointing out the failures of Republican leadership in an effort to change the status quo.

According to the 2020 Census data, Johnston County is the fastest-growing county in North Carolina. The proximity to Raleigh has turned the western half of JoCo into a bedroom community for commuters. The counties dubbed Countrypolitan by McCorkle mostly suffer from the same structural issues as Johnston: underfunded schools, school overcrowding, congested roads, broadband access, and aging wastewater infrastructure. My campaign went directly at these challenges with detailed plans that not only excited Democrats but had crossover appeal to Republicans.

You can have the greatest plans in the world, but if you do not have the party infrastructure to help support you, your success will be limited. This is in no way the fault of anyone within our local party, but part of a broader problem across the Countrypolitan landscape for Democrats. When you lose election after election, people lose hope and stop showing up. The biggest challenge I encountered was getting people to give money for a campaign that they knew would lose in the end. I understand the mindset of not wanting to support a losing campaign, but please do not send $50 to someone running against Madison Cawthorn and tell me that was a good investment because it made you feel good. I ended up raising more money from Republicans than Democrats, which was fine by me. One dollar from a Republican spent the same as one dollar from a Democrat.

The N.C. Democratic Party will have to address the disparity in resources offered to counties outside the metro areas. I do not want to hear the excuse that the financial support is not available to help county parties and local candidates. The amount of money that was spent by the state party and respective caucuses in 2020 on state legislative races is staggering. We have enough data on elections to know that almost all legislative races are going to be determined by the presidential outcome. My recommendation to Democratic party officials is to create a slate of vetted candidates running in local contests that they feel have potential for higher office in the future. Provide them access to a paid consultant that works with them on communications and cash collection for their campaigns. A donation from the state party would also be nice!

In the end, my campaign lost just as I had anticipated. I held out a glimmer of hope of winning until the Trump turnout surge started showing up in the early voting numbers. The surprising outcome was that I received a greater percentage of the vote (41.6) than both President Biden (37.05) and Governor Cooper (40.66). Not only did I outperform the top of the Democratic ticket, but two of my biggest campaign issues have seen significant progress since the election. For the first time ever, Johnston County Public Schools received their full classroom funding request from county commissioners. In addition, we are on the verge of passing the largest bond referendum in the history of the county to support school construction. Neither of these two issues would have been addressed in this manner had I not pounded the table for them as a candidate.

The recent redistricting outcomes have provided a path for Democrats to take back control of the General Assembly this decade. That path runs through Countrypolitan counties. Democrats in North Carolina must produce their own Countrypolitan brand of music that attracts new listeners to gain enough seats to win back control of the General Assembly. If not, we will be listening to another decade of the same songs from Phil Berger and the gang. My low budget, pandemic year campaign is proof that Democrats can have crossover appeal in today’s political market.

Pat McCrory Hits Back at Ted Budd


Putin, he said.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

When Your Governor Breaks Your Best China


Kirk deViere

Last Sunday, I asked -- sincerely -- what Democratic state Senator Kirk deViere had done to warrant a primary challenge from two other Democrats.

Yesterday, at least part of the answer seemed to arrive in Governor Roy Cooper's endorsement of one of deViere's rivals, Val Applewhite. Whaaa? A sitting Democratic governor gets himself publicly involved in a Democratic primary by sticking a stiletto between the ribs of a sitting Democratic state senator. I know this sort of thing goes on all the time behind the scenes, but Cooper decided to go public. Val Applewhite was only too happy to publish the endorsement on her Twitter feed.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan attempts to unpack the politics behind this surprise development (posted to the News and Observer last night). The implications point to deViere's willingness to agree with Senate Republicans on some budget issues, particularly on expanding Medicaid and school funding, and those are precisely the two issues Cooper highlighted in his endorsement of Applewhite: "I need legislators who will expand Medicaid [and] pay teachers more...." DeViere's appointment to the Republican budget conference committee, which put him in direct negotiation with the governor's office, may have triggered the governor's spite.

I don't know. (But reading between the lines, deViere might be the type of "moderate" Democrat I'd be loath to support too, all things being equal, which they aren't.)

Val Applewhite

WRAL reporter Travis Fain says he asked Val Applewhite when she filed to run whether she'd been recruited by the governor to challenge deViere: "No, she said. Morgan Jackson, a key Cooper political strategist, said the same." Judging from Applewhite's campaign infrastructure, which is de minimis (no website, nothing on Twitter except the governor's endorsement), I'm inclined to believe she wasn't recruited and also wasn't really ready to capitalize on the endorsement. She looks like a total novice from this distance, hardly ready for primetime.

Applewhite and deViere are old rivals for the mayorship of Fayetteville, so there's probably a lot more history between them than meets the eye. Whatever. Governor Cooper has chosen to violate the accepted etiquette for staying the hell out of Democratic primaries, and I'm sorry for that.

Who benefits most from this? Wesley Meredith, the Republican deViere narrowly beat for the Senate seat in 2018. Meredith is running again. He has his own primary but will likely win it, and he can't wait to capitalize on the squabble among the Democrats.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

If Mark Meadows Were a Black Woman, He'd Be Prosecuted For Voter Fraud


The New Yorker article that outed Trump's last chief of staff Mark Meadows is here, and it's not behind a pay-wall. The fact seems to be that after Meadows sold his only North Carolina home in March 2020 and moved permanently to northern Virginia, he had no residence in North Carolina from which to vote, so he changed his registration and gave as his residential address a mountain cabin his wife had once rented for two months and which he had never visited, let alone slept a night in. A 14-by-62 foot mobile home in Scaly Mountain.

Mark Meadows' voting "residence" in Scaly Mountain

From a News and Observer editorial published yesterday:

Meadows was one of the most fervent peddlers of voter fraud conspiracies following the 2020 election, which Trump lost. He made baseless accusations of election fraud involving mail-in ballots — even attempting to pressure the Justice Department into investigating them — and assisted in numerous efforts to overturn the election. He’s stonewalled the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, only agreeing to cooperate after the House recommended criminal contempt charges, which could still be brought against him....

Others have been arrested and even imprisoned for honest mistakes that resulted in illegal voting, including a Black woman from Wake County who voted while on probation in 2016, not knowing it wasn’t allowed. 

Lying, on the other hand, is hardly an honest mistake. As a former elected official and top-ranking member of the White House staff, Meadows has no excuse for not knowing the law, and despite his power and influence, he is not above it. As with any instance of potential voter fraud, the North Carolina State Board of Elections should investigate it. And if it’s found that Meadows did fraudulently register for and vote in an election, he ought to bear the consequences of doing so.

Sunday, March 06, 2022

After the Close of NC Candidate Filing -- The Smoke Clears, the Dust Settles, And So Does the Dandruff


If 2018 was "the Blue Wave" year, 2022 might be the blue-in-the-face year. Whereas every state House and Senate race had a Democratic contender in 2018, this year some 28 House seats (out of 120) have no Democratic candidates, and it's worse in the Senate, where 13 seats (out of 50) will plop into Phil Berger's pocket uncontested by Dems. If you love math (as I don't), that's 23% of the House and 26% of the Senate, where the Democrats aren't even playing.

To be fair here, the Republicans fell down too in candidate recruitment, but only in 9 House Districts, where no Republican thought it a good use of time and treasure to challenge incumbent Democrats Allison Dahle, Vernetta Alston, Zach Hawkins, Abe Jones, Pricey Harrison, and John Autry. Three other open House seats with no Republican on the ballot have 2- and 3-way primaries among Democrats to take an otherwise safe Democratic seat -- Cumberland (Dist. 44), Orange (Verla Insko's HD56), and Forsyth (HD71). Total of 13 House seats where no Republican filed.

NC House Districts. For a larger map, go here.

(For sure, I'll be taking a closer look at those three Democratic primaries. Later.)

On the Senate side, Republicans failed to recruit anyone to challenge Democratic incumbent Mujtaba Mohammed in Dist. 38 (Mecklenberg), but that is the only Senate race conceded to the Dems. All others have Republican candidates.

NC Senate Districts. For a larger map, go here.

Democrats failed to show too often, and when they did show, they sometimes piled on in districts where incumbent Democrats were already running for reelection. Debilitating primaries. Why is Kirk DeViere, elected in the 2018 Blue Wave, now facing not one but two fellow Democrats? What did Kirk DeViere do to earn this brutality? Same for Graig Meyer in the 23rd SD and Julie Mayfield in the 49th, down in Buncombe. What did they do to deserve a primary in a year Democrats are already stressed and stretched?

(I'm focussing on NC House and Senate in this post, but I also noticed a regrettable 5-way primary for US Congress in the NC13, where out of the blue and on the last day of filing, former state Senator Sam Searcy added his name to the ballot. Searcy was first elected to the NC Senate by a very narrow margin in 2018, defeating incumbent Republican Tamara Barringer (who's now on the NC Supreme Court). Blue Wave, indeed. Searcy was reelected in 2020, served a little over 30 minutes (almost literally true) and then resigned "in order to take a new position serving the people of NC, which he did not specify" [Wikipedia]. And so far as I know, never has specified. That broken promise reminded me that before Searcy decided to ran against Barringer in 2018, he had been all in to run for Congress against incumbent Republican George Holding. Then without warning, he dropped that race and pursued the NC Senate seat instead. Seems kinda flighty, that guy.)


Senate districts, no Dem: #1, #2, #6, #8, #9, #26 (Phil Berger), #31, #35, #36, #37, #43, #44, #47

House districts, no Dem: #1, #3, #7, #10, #16, #19, #22, #46, #52, #55, #67, #68, #75, #76, #77, #79, #83, #86, #89, #90, #91, #96, #97, #108, #110, #111, #113, #120