Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Who Will Be the Next Speaker of the NC House?


Slick and Aw, Shucks

At the moment, the struggle to succeed Tim Moore as Republican Speaker of the NC House comes down to a contest between "slick" and "aw, shucks" -- that is, a rivalry for the job between current Majority Leader John Bell ("aw, shucks!" from Wayne Co.) and slick Caldwell County lawyer Destin Hall, chair of the all-important House Rules Committee and the also very important Redistricting Committee. I profiled Bell not so long ago; Hall is better known up here because of his redistricting shenanigans, which included his snatching Blue Ridge precinct, Watauga's biggest precinct which has trended "blue," for his own Caldwell County House district, thus safely diluting the Democratic vote -- no threat to himself -- while strengthening Ray Pickett's hold on Dist. 93.

Hall is like a walking knife blade, as sleek and polished as rival John Bell is rumpled and scruffy. Hall cuts, too, is willing to draw blood. He was once caught in the act:

RALEIGH A political trial that has mostly been dominated by math and academic research erupted in drama late Wednesday [Jan. 5, 2022] , when a top Republican redistricting leader said on the witness stand that he had used secret maps, drawn by someone else, to guide his work.

That statement, made under oath, appears to directly contradict what he told Democratic lawmakers at the legislature in November, shortly before the Republican-led legislature passed those maps into law over Democrats’ objections.

More recently, Carolina Forward outed two video messages that Hall had posted to his Twitter account, one accusing North Carolina sheriffs of being "woke" because they don't persecute enough brown people. Those videos do not appear to be on Hall's Twitter feed any more.

Back after the terrible redistricting of 2018, Hall had the gall (I made a rhyme!) to tell an audience at the Caldwell County Public Library that “I can tell you that the way the maps are drawn now are much, much, much more fair than they ever were.” That comment elicited prolonged laughter from the crowd. It was not complimentary laughter. It was derisive. Which appeared to stun Hall (sometimes slickness backfires). You can see the footage here.

Lucille Sherman, reporter for Axios Raleigh, has written a good primer on why House Spkr is so important, and notes details about these first two announced candidates. Undoubtedly there'll be at least one more, possibly grinning Jason Saine, who got exposed recently as Tim Moore's bitch.

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