Archive for North Carolina
Folks, this is your captain speaking. It looks like we’ve hit some unexpected turbulence and I’m going to turn on that seatbelt sign “DIIIIIING.” Flight attenands please return to your seats. As soon as it smoothes out, we’ll continue our service.
North Carolina last night hit a patch of turbulence in the form of a federal court ruling. This was still breaking last night (emphasis mine):
RALEIGH, N.C. — Three federal judges on Friday threw out the congressional voting maps the Republican-led General Assembly drew five years ago, ruling that two districts were gerrymandered along racial lines.
The ruling throws the March 15 primary into chaos, as the judges ordered state lawmakers to redraw the maps within two weeks and not to hold any elections for U.S. House until the maps are in place. A special session of the legislature would have to be called to approve new maps, and they might have to pass federal muster again.
People began asking early in 2015 if the local Democratic party was working on 2016. I told them we started working on 2016 the day after the election in 2014.
Each week I pick up messages at our local Democratic headquarters. For months, people have called to ask how they can get in touch with the Bernie Sanders campaign. (Even a disenchanted Republican now and then.) For months, I’ve directed them to the grassroots group organizing for Sanders here. Several hundred volunteers. On the ground it looks like 2008 all over again. They are phone banking out of our offices twice a week. Bernie Sanders is not a registered Democrat, but the memo from DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says he’s running on our ticket.
I also get (fewer) calls from people asking how they can get in touch with the local Hillary Clinton campaign. I tell them I wish I knew. They are nowhere to be seen. Unless you’ve got the money to attend a high-dollar fundraiser downstate. Clinton volunteers could use our space too. But so far there aren’t any.
U.S. federal Judge Thomas Schroeder in Winston-Salem, North Carolina today hears a case against the state over its sweeping voter ID bill. HB 589 changed overnight from about 17 pages to over 50 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that weakened the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP, the U.S. Justice Department and others claim the photo ID requirement unduly burdens black and Hispanic voters:
The trial over North Carolina’s voter ID law is set to begin Monday in front of Schroeder, a federal judge since 2008 who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush.
The legal battle is one of several being watched across the nation as the courts address questions of the fairness and lasting impacts that ID laws have on voting rights.
In North Carolina, voters will be required this year to use one of six specified IDs when they cast ballots — unless they can show they faced a “reasonable impediment” for getting one.
Thom Tillis’ toll road deal on I-77 is still a headache for those he left behind when he went to Washington. From the Charlotte Observer:
Should it stay or should it go now? If it goes there will be trouble. If it stays it will be double.
The contract to build toll lanes on I-77 must have Charlotte’s City Council and the region’s transportation planning board feeling as tortured as the protagonist in that classic from The Clash.
The council is expected to vote Monday on the plan, and the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization would vote the following week. Unfortunately, the N.C. Department of Transportation and regional leaders have created such a deep morass that there is no good answer.
Cancelling the heads, we win, tails, you lose contract NC should not have signed will cost taxpayers a fortune. This cluster truck is the gift that keeps on giving. From last November 4:
Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain and two town commissioners were booted from office in this week’s elections because of residents’ anger about the state’s plans to widen Interstate 77 with toll lanes, people on both sides agreed Wednesday.
Incumbent commissioner Danny Phillips, a toll opponent and the top vote-getter in the board race, said he believes the election “was a referendum on the toll issue.”
“The citizens wanted to have their voice heard, and they did it through the ballot box,” Phillips said. The incumbents who lost “got complacent and weren’t really listening to the citizens.”
There is enough crazy (and crazies) in NC to fill several wildlife refuges. Still, Gov. Pat McCrory is rated one of the most vulnerable Republican governors seeking reelection this fall. With state agencies allegedly dragging their feet over complying with federal voter registration laws, activists are not sitting around waiting for Bernie or Hillary to swoop in and save the day. The North Carolina NAACP and Democracy North Carolina are mounting a multi-pronged get-out-the-vote effort across the state. Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the state NAACP and leader of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement came to Asheville, North Carolina this week to promote the “It’s Our Time — It’s Our Vote” campaign. The coalition announced the campaign on December 1, the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ protest on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Mountain Xpress reports:
“Others have had their time over past few years to vote on regressive policies. It’s our time now,” Barber commented. “In North Carolina, we have been fighting the worst voter suppression law in the country.” In partnership with other organizations, the NAACP has challenged new voting laws passed in 2013, including voter identification requirements, the elimination of same-day voter registration and the elimination of out-of-precinct voting. Barber asked attendees to spread the word about a July 2015 change in the North Carolina General Assembly statute which allows voting without ID in the case of a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining identification.
“Go and vote,” urged Barber. “The law has not been fully adjudicated. They had to water it down because they knew what they had passed was totally unconstitutional. That came from our efforts and those of our partners.”
Pat McCrory as Trump’s VP in charge of the Senate? He can’t even run the state:
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, an outspoken Donald Trump supporter, apparently thinks the business mogul and reality star leading the GOP presidential field should look to the Tar Heel State for a vice presidential pick.
Trump would give McCrory a “you’re fired” before he’d make him VP.
Pat McCrory drew a primary challenge. Campaign filing is still open. There’s still time for others to jump in.
Adrift without their towels.
According to the Washington Post, panic is setting in at the RNC as Donald Trump and Ben Carson continue to top polling in the party’s nomination for president. Insiders are flailing, seeing no path to toppling the two they see as a disaster for the party’s 2016 prospects. The approach of the holiday season will only accelerate the process, believes former Romney 2012 advisor Eric Fehrnstrom. There’s even talk of drafting Romney who appears uninterested:
For months, the GOP professional class assumed Trump and Carson would fizzle with time. Voters would get serious, the thinking went, after seeing the outsiders share a stage with more experienced politicians at the first debate. Or when summer turned to fall, kids went back to school and parents had time to assess the candidates. Or after the second, third or fourth debates, certainly.
And it gets worse:
It was their party and they’ll cry if they want to. Centrist Democrats threatened by the party’s Warren Wing find themselves out of step with a more populist message. Is it really a “lurch” to the left, or are Democrats beginning to find their voices again? Liberal is no longer the epithet conservatives once made it.
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank explained last week how a few remaining Blue Dogs made protest votes during the election for Speaker of the House. “Colin Powell,” declared Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper. “Jim Cooper,” voted Gwen Graham of Florida, another centrist Democrat. Other Democrats voted in unison for Nancy Pelosi. Except for Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. She voted for Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat.
Third Way, “a vestige of the New Democratic movement,” issued a report that blames the populist wing for the Democrats losing ground and registration since 2008. Democrats should “rigorously question the electoral value of today’s populist agenda,” Third Way argues. Milbank is not so sure:
It was a good effort, but Third Way came up short. First, there really aren’t two wings of the party anymore; the pro-business Democrats have lost. “There’s zero question,” Jonathan Cowan, president of Third Way, acknowledged in an interview Tuesday, “that the party is now a populist party.”
It’s also dubious to say, as Third Way does, that the elections of 2010, 2012 and 2014 were about Democratic populism; that theme has only become prominent recently. Also suspect is the Third Way argument, often heard from corporate interests, that reducing inequality could hurt growth. Plenty of evidence says otherwise.