Archive for North Carolina


I love a challenge

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They say write what you know. So let’s do that. I love a challenge.

It’s primary day in North Carolina. Except for congressional candidates. Oh, and supreme court justice candidates. Court actions have postponed those contests until June 7. State Republican leaders are on a losing streak where election changes are concerned. Turnout in early voting has been high.

Confusion abounds here about primaries and court-ordered redistricting. In 2010, I was in one western NC congressional district. In 2011, I got drawn into the next district east. After courts last month forced Republicans to redraw two racially gerrymandered districts downstate, the remapping cascaded down to the state’s other 11 congressional districts. The new map showed me back in the district where I started. Unless the court rejects the new map and makes Republicans draw it again. Don’t get me started on judicial retention elections.

Of course, by the time the courts ruled in February, the state had already printed ballots for the March 15 primary. So if there is a congressional primary in the district you were in (but might not still be in), that race will be on your ballot and you can vote in it today. Of course, those races have been postponed and your vote in those particular races won’t count. Not to worry. You’ll get to vote in them again on June 7, but maybe for a different set of congressional candidates in a different district than you are in. Or were in. This is your state on T-party.

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The new nullification

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George Cruikshank illustration from "Oliver Twist," 1911 edition

George Cruikshank illustration from “Oliver Twist,” 1911 edition

The M.O. of the extremist Republican Party: find the lines, cross them, dare people to push them back. Courts have. So now the GOP is going after the courts.

The new nullification expands on the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Republicans now claim the right to preemptively void any legal decisions they might not like. Rejecting President Obama’s yet-unnamed pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, for example. On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned Judicial Committee colleagues that they were redrawing the lines and setting a precedent, a new normal that will cut both ways.

Senate Republicans have stonewalled Obama’s other judicial appointments. Republicans have refused to hold confirmation votes on presidential nominees to federal agencies they would like abolished. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee wants states to be able to effectively nullify Supreme Court rulings he doesn’t like. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas proposes amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would allow two-thirds of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision or a federal law or regulation they don’t like. As Iowa’s 2014 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joni Ernst told the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.” Don’t even think about it.

What’s not the matter with Kansas?

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Of penises and potties

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Prior to Donald Trump boasting to allies and enemies alike last night about the size of his penis, this dropped into the in-box from the Speaker of the House of (what Charlie Pierce calls) the newly insane state of North Carolina: Read More→

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NC GOP: The weird turn pro

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This is your state on power-drunk Republicans.

What a cluster (of districts) North Carolina GOP has already made of the 2016 elections. Under a federal court order that ruled two existing congressional districts unconstitutional, state Senate Republicans yesterday approved new, more compact congressional districts (above; the old map is here). The NC House proposed moving the congressional primary from March 15 to June 7. And reports indicate a state Court of Appeals panel is poised to strike down as unconstitutional a law passed by Republicans to change the way the state elects supreme court justices. Not exactly a gold-star week for Republican governance in the Tar Heel State.

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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.

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It takes more than an Obama-style campaign

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Photo by Molly Theobald for the aflcio2008 (PA: Working America Voter ID and Persuasion)
[CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Voter ID goes to court in NC

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Rev. William Barber speaking at Moral March on Raleigh2015. Flickr photo by AGFE via Creative Commons

Rev. William Barber speaking at Moral March on Raleigh
2015. Flickr photo by AGFE via Creative Commons

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.

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Thom’s Road Still Tholls For Thee, NC

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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.”

Can’t say we didn’t warn you.

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Pushing back the crazy in North Carolina

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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.”

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Lump Of Coal Or Stocking-stuffer?

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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.

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