Friday, July 29, 2022

Hell Yes, the Overturning of Roe Has Given the GOP a Good Case of Prickly Heat


No doubt in my mind that the overturning of Roe (combining subliminally with the exposures of the January 6th Committee) are tilting election prospects toward the Democrats, and I'm coming to resent the poor-mouthing I hear from some Democratic activists. Maybe we lose the Democratic House and the Democratic Senate, and maybe we don't. You cherry-pick your intimations of doom, and I'll cherry-pick ... my cherries. The prediction that 2022 is going to rival 2010 for the Democrats has become conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom is a ass and a idiot (to paraphrase Mr. Bumble).

Because some Republican leaders know they're on dangerous, extremist ground, they're actually trying to pump the brakes on the conservative lust to regulate women and punish the queer, because they surely feel the seismic rumbling under the earth beneath them. From the NYTimes, this small wrap-up of the case of nerves some Republican governors have developed (italics added): Nebraska, where an effort to pass a trigger ban narrowly failed early this year, Gov. Pete Ricketts has discussed the possibility of a special session but has yet to call one. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has largely avoided questions about whether he would take immediate steps to pass new restrictions. In South Dakota, where a ban went into effect after Roe was struck down, Gov. Kristi Noem backed away from an initial pledge to call lawmakers to the Capitol to consider more abortion bills....

But they can't stop the runaway train of conservative cruelty and authoritarianism, so Republican-dominated states try to outdo one another on medieval tortures for women who become pregnant by accident or by force. 

"Some Republican-controlled states have enacted, or are in the process of enacting, draconian restrictions on abortion, some banning the procedure almost from conception and with no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Many of these laws are far more extreme than Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban. Some states, most famously Texas, have also put in place highly unusual enforcement mechanisms intended to evade the possibility of court challenges, with a few even attempting to criminalize crossing state lines for the purpose of procuring abortions" (Damon Linker).

Republicans in the US Congress join in the legislative spite-fest by blocking a bill yesterday that would have expanded healthcare coverage for military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. Which roused Jon Stewart so passionately:


That may seem a diversion from the topic at hand, but not really. Republican legislative activity is all part of a pattern of denial, punishment, and subjugation. So I have more than hope that the Republicans who can't help themselves will be hoist with their own petard. By any human measure, they've gone too far, and the interest in seeing them defeated among young women (and other casually haphazard voters) has burgeoned and cannot be denied. 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

A New Third Party -- Forward


Twitter engages me because of the sudden appearance of smoke signals. From one ridge to another, I depend on finding out what I haven't already found out because my brethren on the opposite ridge built a fire and sent up a puff of wood smoke.

This morning it was Judge Bob Orr, who wrote, somewhat cryptically, "I'm all in with this crew," and he linked to a article detailing the start-up of a new political party calling itself "Forward." (Was that name market-tested?) The new party is headed up by Andrew Yang, who used to be a Democrat, and Christine Todd Whitman, who was once upon a time the Republican governor of New Jersey.

The Reuters article names as organizers of Forward mainly former members of Republican administrations, including the Trump one, and not so many Democrats. Forward wants to be "centrist" (but the devil, as always, will be in the details). "How will we solve the big issues facing America? Not Left. Not Right. Forward." (At this moment I can't help flashing on that time when Robert E. Lee sent Longstreet's corps, 15,000 troops, right up the middle.)

"Two pillars of the new party's platform are to 'reinvigorate a fair, flourishing economy' and to 'give Americans more choices in elections, more confidence in a government that works, and more say in our future'." As generalizations go, that one will suffice until a grander one comes along. From the article:

Forward aims to gain party registration and ballot access in 30 states by the end of 2023 and in all 50 states by late 2024, in time for the 2024 presidential and congressional elections. It aims to field candidates for local races, such as school boards and city councils, in state houses, the U.S. Congress and all the way up to the presidency.

Clearly, Forward will hurt the Democratic Party and won't much bother the Trumpists. (Andrew Yang has a big following among 20-somethings.) Lord knows there have been multiple times over the decades when I've cussed the national Democrats and threatened that I'd join an effective third party if one appeared, but nope to Pat Buchanan's Reform Party (essentially, detritus that Ross Perot left behind) and nope too for the Green Party, with which I might share a good deal if it weren't so trifling. I'm not into empty protest votes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Another NC County Says No to Christian Conservatism on Its School Board


"I refuse to adhere to the false teaching of separation of Church and State."

--Lisa R. Buchanan, candidate for the Jackson County school board, who was decisively defeated in a run-off election July 26, 2022 ... in a Facebook post

Lisa R. Buchanan (left) and Abigail Blakley Clayton (right)

Chris Cooper alerted me to the showdown run-off for Jackson County Board of Education, something I had heard nary a thing about.  (Cooper, Western Carolina University master political scientist, tweets and writes interesting stuff backed up with numbers.) Yesterday there was a rare run-off between an incumbent Jackson County school board member, who actually came in second in the four-way primary -- Abigail Blakley Clayton -- and her challenger, Lisa R. Buchanan, a (very) Christian conservative who actually wrote the quote above on her Facebook page and who came in 1st in the primary but with less than the 50% she needed to avoid a run-off. Clayton demanded a run-off and won it yesterday because the Democrats unified to defeat the crusader Buchanan, whose social media is a kind of flame dance.

There's a whole mental attitude there that leads down evolutionary channels to an ending I wouldn't want to encounter in the flesh in a dark alley.

The incumbent Clayton, a Democrat, woke voters up to a threat that's happening all over the political map, the conservative push to take over school boards, particularly in rural counties -- under the banner of ending altogether any focus on the history of American slavery and its effects in the modern world and no more coddling of cultural and gender non-conformance. A Lisa Buchanan appears on ballots in other NC rural counties. We took note of the "Right Wing Attempt To Take-Over the School Board" in Watauga, where a team of conservative candidates bent on censorship did not fare well in the primary. I haven't researched other counties. I should. 'Cause I've heard stories.

Anyway, yesterday in Jackson County, the Democrat Clayton was returned to office for four more years. Clayton took almost 60% of the vote (59.69%, 2,146 votes) to Republican Lisa Buchanan's 40% (1,449). Chris Cooper: "Easy to discount this one as small town (or at least small county) politics, but this one has an unusual # of interesting storylines." We expect Cooper will expand his analysis for Michael Blitzer's blog, Old North State Politics.

Isn't it obvious? Jackson County contains the campus of Western Carolina University. Watauga County contains AppState University. Without those populations of people seeking higher education, counties like Jackson and Watauga would maybe buy what the conservatives are selling.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

*The Madison Cawthorn Campaign Is Broke And Owes A Bunch of Money

“Nobody ever did the math, which baffled me because the spending was so outrageous.”

--Madison Cawthorn campaign staffer, anonymously  

Yesterday, The Daily Beast published an exclusive, dishing inside dirt on Congressman Madison Cawthorn's current bind, details ferreted out by reporter Roger Sollenberger.

Sollenberger talked to a Cawthorn campaign insider who wanted the public to know that Cawthorn had illegally spent money he now can't pay back. Some high-dollar donors are due a refund under law (explained below), but no way can he make those refunds.  Cawthorn owes individual donors $220,080.85, and as of May 5, he has only $137,000 on hand. He also owes $325,000 to various vendors.

The FEC allows donors to max-out double what the law ordinarily allows for individual donors -- a max of $2,900 for the primary, same for the General -- presuming that the candidate advances to the General. Cawthorn didn't. Under the law he must refund those funds designated for the General: 

...a candidate who loses the primary (or otherwise does not participate in the general election) does not have a separate limit for the general. If a candidate accepts contributions for the general election before the primary is held and loses the primary (or does not otherwise participate in the general election), the candidate’s principal campaign committee must refund, redesignate or reattribute the general election contributions within 60 days of the primary....

--Federal Election Commission, rules on contribution limits

Must.  You can't wait for someone to file a formal complaint. Within 60 days (deadline for Cathorn was up last Saturday, July 16), he was required to refund the $220K. Evidently, he didn't, and the campaign is already liable for being a week late (as of yesterday, July 22) filing the quarterly FEC report.

Photo Nell Redmond (AP)

And yes, I do note that there are two other lawful outs in the FEC rule above -- "redesignation or reattribution," whatever those words mean, which I scarcely understand and refuse to take time for right now. You can count on Cawthorn's most ardent supporters to forgive the debt (though I don't see where "forgiveness" is allowed by law. Incidentally, does it seem to you that the FEC's double-max-out rule is a pretty open temptation for candidates to rob their own banks?)

Never mind the FEC. Back to Cawthorn:

This person [the Sollenberger source] pointed to a spree of frivolous charges over the last year that all accelerated into 2022, such as $1,500 in “egregiously” frequent trips to Chick-Fil-A, almost $3,000 at a place called Papa’s Beer, three separate charges at a high-end cigar shop, $21,000 for lodging in Florida and—the biggest drain—hundreds of thousands of dollars in sky-high consulting and fundraising fees, including for Cawthorn’s friend and campaign manager, Blake Harp, who was drawing a salary beyond federal limits....

The campaign also failed to pay several vendors on time, according to two people with direct knowledge of the agreements. [2nd Sollenberger source!]

Cawthorn knew the law and willingly crossed the line:

Cawthorn couldn’t raise money to offset this burn rate, which was so high that, by May 5 [2022], the campaign had just 2 percent of the $3.7 million it had raised since January 2021. In truth, the source said, the campaign had been forced to tap its general election account months ago.

The 60-day clock for refunds began the day Cawthorn lost his primary. It ended over a week ago on July 16.

Also on July 16, Cawthorn's treasurer, who could also under law be liable for the money, resigned and Cawthorn actually designated himself as his own treasurer (didn't know that was legal!) and as his own "custodian of records" (FEC document).

That's some pinch hit. Lordy, the crack that Madison's ass is caught in.

Duh Conclusions

1. Madison Cawthorn is a teenager lacking wisdom.

2. The inside staffer spilling beans to Roger Sollenberger is most likely the hired treasurer who resigned last Saturday. Hence, the highly specific sums reported in the article.

3. The maddest people owed money will be the vendors, the consultants, the operatives who haven't been paid.

4. The FEC can presumably go after Cawthorn's private millions to pay off the debt. The campaign treasurer can also be liable -- another reason for his resignation? He/she was a hired hand, not an insider, not a personal friend, with no particular loyalty to a man who acted like a boy.

5. The obvious fix would be a high concept fundraiser with star power -- "Help Madison Cawthorn Survive the Leftist Assault!!" Such "Help Retire the Debt" fundraisers also have to operate under strict FEC regs.

*Titled corrected 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Former Feminist Virginia Foxx Becomes Aunt Lydia


Virginia Foxx, after she takes
her makeup off

Yesterday, the Right to Contraception Act passed the US House 228-195. The bill affirms an individual’s right to access and use contraceptive methods, health care providers’ right to prescribe them, and allows for the Justice Department and individuals harmed by the refusal of contraceptives to seek legal recourse.

Who voted against it. Why Virginia Foxx did, former feminist and once-upon-a-time supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment back in the day, before she understood that her path to power would necessarily be paved with her discarded former beliefs.

In Boone and its suburbs, she used to be considered something of a fierce warrior for women's rights. Now she signs onto the most repressive, backward, and ridiculous anti-female Republican positions.

Also voting "nay" on the right to contraception were all the other seven Republican reps from North Carolina, including that idiot who wants to be our next senator, Ted Budd, and that other idiot who just lost his primary, Madison Cawthorn. They're all in lockstep and total agreement about what women can expect from the Trumpified GOP.

Nuttin', Baby, but forced status as brood mares.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

What's Gotten Into Thom Tillis?


Many news outlets are reporting that NC Sen. Thom Tillis is among the four Republican senators who've already signaled their willingness to vote YES on the marriage equality bill that just passed the US House.  (And we should point out that the bill would protect both same-sex marriages and marriages between interracial couples.) The other three are Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

This announcement puts Tillis at odds with the entire Republican congressional delegation from NC.

The hard Trumpist right in NC is going bananas over this announcement. For example:

"Seriously. How is it BETTER to have this sniveling cash-gobbling weasel in office instead of a Democrat? This guy, with his very existence in politics, is setting conservatism in North Carolina back DECADES."

Getting six more Republicans to vote for marriage equality appears not impossible, according to national sources. It'll take a total of 10 Republican senators to vote with Democrats to overcome the goddamn filibuster. Here are the other senators in play, according to The Hill:

The “I support same-sex marriage (and even have gay friends!), but don’t want to reveal my stance yet” crowd: Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.).

The “This bill is unnecessary at this time, but I really don’t want to reveal where I stand” group: Sens. John Thune (S.D.), Mitt Romney (Utah), and Chuck Grassley (Iowa).

The “Eh, check back tomorrow — I haven’t read the bill yet”group: Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.), two retiring members.

Could the marriage equality act actually make it through Congress? Yes, and it only took the overturning of Roe v. Wade for those Republican senators to feel the wrath of the voting public. But we're not yet holding our breath.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

No Hope that NC Republicans Become Human Beings

The U.S. House just passed a bill, 267 to 157, that would formally repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law against same-sex marriage that was overturned in the Supreme Court landmark Obergefell decision. It would require states to reciprocally recognize marriages that are legal in other states as valid, and would prohibit discrimination under state law in public acts against married couples based on their race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.

All of the Republicans representing North Carolina voted against it. Specifically...

Dan Bishop (N.C.)

Ted Budd (N.C.)

Madison Cawthorn (N.C.)

Virginia Foxx (N.C.)

Richard Hudson (N.C.)

Patrick McHenry (N.C.)

Greg Murphy (N.C.)

David Rouzer (N.C.)

Astounding, that these "freedom-lovers" and "-defenders" are willing to sacrifice the rights of fellow citizens to satisfy -- what? -- religious fundamentalism and the dictates of an ideology that intends to punish difference. I would say these guys are going to hell, except they're already there. 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Former NC Chief Justice Implicated in Trump Plot To Overturn Election


Mark Martin


"Among those whom Mr. Olson mentioned as speaking to Mr. Trump about the Justice Department getting involved was Mark Martin, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. White House officials believed at the time that Mr. Martin was brought in through Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff."

--Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater, "Little-Known Lawyer Pitched Trump on Extreme Plans to Subvert Election," New York Times, 17 July 2022

Mark Martin was "brought in through Mark Meadows," presumably to bolster the recommendation that Trump might (1) seize state voting machines and/or (2) replace the acting Attorney General and/or (3) Gawd knows what.

It was very recently announced that Martin was returning to North Carolina to become the founding dean of the brand new High Point School of Law. When Martin resigned his seat on the NC Supremes, he went to become dean of the law school at Regent University, the school founded by evangelist and Jehovah whisperer Pat Robertson.

High Point University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

This is the Forsyth County GOP


Reaffirming its brand as a tone-deaf political party very comfortable associated with gun violence, the Forsyth GOP is holding -- yep -- a raffle for 30 firearms of various descriptions, including automatic weapons:

Here are the Forsyth County Republican office holders and candidates running under this brand:

Rep. Jeff Zenger
NC House Dist. 74

Rep. Donny Lambeth
NC House Dist. 75

Rep. Kyle Hall
NC House Dist. 91

George Ware
Candidate, NC Senate
Dist. 32

Sen. Joyce Krawiec
NC Senate Dist. 31

Rep. Virginia Foxx
5th District NC

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Only Question NC G0P Candidates Must Answer

Is Joe Biden the legitimate elected president of the United States?

If a Republican candidate begins an answer with the Big Lie, or equivocates, or waffles, or says I don't know, then that person is unworthy to hold elected office.

That's the bottom line. Republican leaders who continue to participate in the mass hypnosis foisted by the criminal who was willing to burn down our democracy to hold onto power -- they have no business holding any office of public trust.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

A Difficult Wake County District To Flip Blue


Erin Pare

The Wake County House District 37 presents a tangled possibility for a red-to-blue flip this year. The Republican incumbent, Erin Pare, won the seat in 2020 by ousting Democrat Sydney Batch, one of the Blue Wave stars of 2018. Pare is now up against a Democratic woman, Christine Kelly, who's an accomplished professional but also a lightning rod for controversy in the burgeoning suburban town of Holly Springs, which is about 20 miles southwest of Raleigh. Kelly has made some enemies, which could be fatal to her chances to take the seat.

It's risky to unpack the issues and personalities in town battles, especially battles over growth and development, when you don't live there or anywhere near there, but I certainly recognize the eruptive pressures that build when a growing town appears to grow too fast and with too little control. Christine Kelly was at the center of a battle over growth in Holly Springs, and from what I can divine from newspaper accounts, I would probably have been on her side in the controversy, complaining about a city council that made too many decisions without adequate citizen participation. 

Kelly filed an official ethics complaint against members of the Holly Springs Town Council. There's video of Kelly arguing with those town council members. I don't know enough of the background to judge the accuracy of anything, but I was impressed that she was a calm and reasonable voice, while the town council members sparring with her come off as intolerant, defensive, and arrogant. I've also listened to Kelly's appearance on the Holly Springs Deep Dive podcast from last October. She comes across as reasoned and reasonable and as "Canadian nice," because she was born in Canada and only became an American citizen less than a decade ago.

Christine Kelly

Her activism for slower growth and more planning, for more local government transparency, led her to run for Holly Spring Town Council in 2017. She was top vote-getter. But last fall, she attempted to move up to mayor and was soundly defeated, which suggests that her activism wasn't wearing well with the voters.

In the May primary against two other Democratic candidates, Kelly edged out runner-up Elizabeth Parent by only 64 votes, and so much now depends on unifying the Democratic Party, getting volunteers on the ground, and driving turn-out. I wish I felt better about Christine Kelly's chances.

Monday, July 11, 2022

HD62: Youth v. Age, Gay v. Straight


You could hardly imagine a more symbolic confrontation between Millennial and Gen Ancient than the current contest for NC House District 62 between 27-year-old LGBTQ Democratic activist Brandon Gray and Bathroom Bill-supporting incumbent Republican John Faircloth.

Young male Republican "gun-slinger" types, we notice, get elected in North Carolina, or attract enthusiastic white machismo support, like the late Madison Cawthorn or the current threat in CD13, Bo Hines. Don't notice really young male Democrats doing as well, but I'm always prepared to get gob-smacked by surprise.

The good news about HD62: Dave's Redistricting now calculates the lean as very slightly Democratic, 49.1% D v. 48.6% R. NCFree is not as optimistic. They rate it as R+3. The district sits in western Guilford hard against Forsyth on the I-40 corridor but it now has more Greensboro urban precincts. It's going to take an avid volunteer base and some shoe leather to knock doors, find those swing unaffiliateds, and get them to the polls. Faircloth's age and iron conservatism ought to be liabilities, if Gray has the means (and the willingness) to go after his record.

Brandon Gray challenged Faircloth in 2020 too, but in the final tally Gray trailed by 8,000 votes. Still, for a novice candidate, taking almost 43% of the vote against a very seasoned incumbent was nothing to sneeze at. Gray was 25 at the time and perhaps less credible as a challenger than he is now with two more years of experience. Here's an interview Gray did with WXII in 2020:

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Larry Yarborough, Most Endangered Republican in the NC House?


Larry Yarborough

NC House District 2 went through extensive remapping. Person County remains in the new district (up on the Virginia border north of Durham and Orange), but all of Granville County went away, and District 2 now has a big chunk of northern Durham County, the most Democratic county in the state. NCFree now rates HD2 D+2. Dave's: 54.8% D v. 43.2% R.

In other words, incumbent Republican Yarborough is in trouble. See, he's from Granville County, and Granville's been jerked away. He now lives in Roxboro, the county seat of Person though he's a former Granville County Commish, trained as a chemical engineer and lists "self-employed" as his source of income, and he looks like something of a go-getter in the General Assembly (a regular pick for "select committees" on a variety of issues), but he's a rubberstamp voter for whatever the Republican czars want. Tim Moore appointed him chair of the House Committee on the Environment.

Yarborough was first elected in 2014, actually running against the Democrat who's challenging him again this year: Ray Jeffers. In 2014, Jeffers got over 43% against Yarborough. Now Jeffers is shet of Granville County and has a good chunk of Durham. A solid Democrat with relevant experience could flip this district. 

Ray Jeffers

Ray Jeffers -- on paper, at least -- looks like a solid Democrat. Far from a novice newcomer, he's an experienced elected official, serving over a decade on the Person County Commish (ultimately as its chair), and he's been a leader in all kinds of other NGOs and non-profits, from the Rural Action Caucus for the National Association of Counties, "where he and other key county officials represent America's Rural Counties," plus the N.C. Rural Center, NC Cooperative Extension, and the NC Assoc of County Commishes, on which he's served as president.

He knows stuff. He knows especially how to get things done through the channels of government. And he obviously has an affinity for farming. He's been endorsed by Work for Democracy, a Durham PAC that was active for progressives in 2018 and 2020 and which supplies all-important boots-on-the-ground for canvassing along with "substantial cash contributions."

Matching in a way Jeffers' rural lean, Yarborough certainly presents an outdoorsy vibe, but maybe more in the leisure class. He's an accomplished bow hunter and a serious sport fisherman. A member of the NRA (natch) but also a supporter of some conservation groups. A good-guy-Joe, which might make him more popular than a Democratic takeover. I don't know. Yarborough won't be a pushover, but the numbers are against him.

Friday, July 08, 2022

Devious NCGA Majority Whip Jon Hardister, Skating to Reelection


Jon Hardister

Republican Jon Hardister was first elected to the NC House in 2012 from eastern Guilford County. He has risen. He's now the Republican Majority Whip. And through circumstances explored below, he's being given a walk to reelection by a phantom Democratic candidate.

Hardister has a special place in my memory for his being a prime operative in the budget veto override ambush pulled off by Speaker Tim Moore early on the morning of September 11, 2019. Republican leadership had passed the word to the Democratic minority that no votes would be taken that Wednesday morning. It was the 18th anniversary of 9/11, after all, and Democratic members planned to be at official remembrances. But what those too trustful Democrats didn't know was that Whip Jon Hardister was secretly texting Republican members to "be in your seat at 8:30." So with many Democrats missing, the Republicans overrode Gov. Cooper's veto of the Republican budget. (That veto subsequently held in the NC Senate, and as a result the Republican leadership actually began negotiating with the governor. Whether that's produced a net-plus is subject to divination.) 

You might remember the volcanic rage over the Hardister trick expressed by Rep. Deb Butler on the House floor.

Hardister faced a credible Democratic candidate, Nicole Quick, in 2020 but still beat her 52% to 48%, dashing hopes everywhere that he was finally having his comeuppance.

House District 59 has subsequently changed its Democratic prospects during the most recent redistricting. NCFree now rates it R+1, but Dave's Redistricting gives Democrats the edge: 49.4% D v. 48.8% R. So what an opportunity for some credible Democrat to flip this seat.

Actually two Democrats did step forward: Eddie Aday, an ex-Marine (who actually ran a campaign), and mystery woman Sherrie Young, who did not run a primary campaign that could be described as a campaign and who never had any website or social media presence anywhere except for a personal Facebook page that didn't even mention she was running for office. Nevertheless -- and hang on to your butts, O my brethren -- Sherrie Young won the primary on May 17 with 74% of the vote. She's now the official Democratic nominee to take on Jon Hardister.

After that primary win, John Hammer wrote a whole column about her for the Rhino Times, speculating (because there's no other path to take with the Invisible Sherrie Young) about her completely surprising win and her utter lack of effort:

A lot of people get fired up and go down to the Board of Elections office and file to run for office. Often only then do they find out how time consuming and expensive it is to run a campaign and how difficult it is to raise money.

Some spend no more than the filing fee and hope that on Election Day people will like their name or that their opponent drops out or makes a huge mistake....

There were no yard signs and no visible sign of any effort to convince people that she was the best candidate in the race. Voters in District 59 reported they saw no evidence that Young was campaigning.

That candidate invisibility remains unchanged approximately four months from the election. I just spent time trying to find any trace of her.  Still no website. No Twitter. No Facebook (except for the weirdly non-political one linked above that says she's a nurse, though a thread about her on Reddit under the headline, "For those of y'all in State House district 59 who voted democrat yesterday, why did you vote Sherrie Young?" According to that thread, she's a hairdresser, verified (if I've got the right Sherrie Young) on, a kind of personal advertisement service very similar to Linked In. If that's the same Sherrie Young, Fate has pulled a wicked practical joke on Guilford Democrats.

Thursday, July 07, 2022

NC Senate Race To Watch: SD18


NC Senate District 18 is currently held by Democrat Sarah Crawford, who is actually vacating the seat to run in an overlapping NC House district. Democrat Mary Wills Bode is running to succeed Crawford, and obviously it's crucial that this seat remain in Democratic hands. The 18th encompasses a swath of northern Wake County and all of Granville County up to the Virginia state line. NC Free rates the district R+1, but Dave's Redistricting breaks it down 50% D v. 47.7% R. Bode's chances ought to be solid.

E.C. Sykes

Bode is running against Republican businessman E.C. Sykes who describes himself as a conservative but also as "a compassionate Christian" (whatever that means these days). Successful in business: "He was President of a Fortune 500 company and 3 time CEO. He is a member of the NCSU Electrical Engineering Alumni Hall of Fame. He is the founder and current Managing Partner of Aslan Ventures." On his "How Would You Like To Help" checkbox, he lists "Prayer Team" as the first option. Hmmm. Seems like a winning tactic.

Actually, Christian religion dominates his bio. On his website, he doesn't come out as explicitly anti-abortion, but he implies it: "E.C.’s tested leadership skills built on biblical principles reflect his NC heritage and he will fight for us and the generations of North Carolinians who cannot yet fight for themselves." He and his wife home-schooled their two children, and he reminds us that when he ran (unsuccessfully) in 2020 for Secretary of State against Elaine Marshall, he was carrying the endorsements of Dr. James Dobson, the Susan B. Anthony PAC (dedicated to ending abortion), and the NC Values Coalition led by the formidable Tami Fitzgerald. That's some of the most aggressive Christian nationalists going. Militant bully Mark Robinson, our redoubtable lieutenant governor, also endorsed him during the primary.

Democrat Mary Wills Bode

Bode is a lawyer who's practiced mainly fast-track corporate law in big Wall Street firms (though while in law school at Chapel Hill, she interned in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of North Carolina). Governor Cooper appointed her to the NC Real Estate Commission in 2020 (her two-year term ends later this month), and she was until recently the executive director of North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform, a bipartisan non-profit co-chaired by former UNC President Tom Ross and former NC Rep. Chuck McGrady. In fact, she says she left New York City and came back home to NC explicitly to join the fight to end gerrymandering.

She comes from a high-octane political family: "Her mother, Lucy Hancock Bode, was Deputy Secretary and Secretary of the Department of Human Resources under Governor Jim Hunt. Her father, John, is an attorney and lobbyist in Raleigh" (Gary Pearce).

Bode flanked Gov. Cooper yesterday, along with other Democratic women members of and candidates for the General Assembly, as he signed an executive order meant to protect North Carolina abortion providers from being sued by other states.

A win by Bode will not mean a pick-up for Democrats but a crucial holding on to what was already won.

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.


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.