Early Voting Starts in North Carolina, with a Lot at Stake

CHARLOTTE, NC — Though the general election is not until Nov. 6, early voting sites open today in Mecklenburg County. 19 sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 28 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The final day for early voting will be Sat., Nov. 3, with all 19 sites open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

What’s at stake? A lot, nationally and at the state level, with six controversial amendments to the state constitution causing additional electoral drama.

Is enthusiasm high? Voter registration numbers are up, with more people, especially younger voters, registered unaffiliated.

WCCB Political Contributor, Mary C. Curtis weighs in.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: Hurricane Michael; Nikki Haley Resigns; Land Deals by Council

On this edition of the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup…

Just weeks after the Carolinas were pounded by Hurricane Florence, another major Hurricane—Michael—hit the region again. How did North and South Carolina brave the storm this time around? We’ll discuss.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has resigned her post as Ambassador to the UN after less than two years in that position. In a joint press conference, the President praised her work and Haley said she’s not running against him in 2020.

There was plenty of action taken by the City Council this week, in approving land deals to help with Charlotte’s Affordable Housing goals, and disagreement among members of council about a contract to clean CATS facilities and whether the contractor will pay its workers a living wage. We’ll talk about those items as well as reaction to the discussion of whether council members should move to four year terms.

Speaking of pay, CMS bus drivers have gotten a raise, in an effort to draw more drivers to jobs with CMS, and to stop the bus driver shortage that the system is currently struggling to fix.

Former Charlotte Mayor and former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has a new job in the transportation industry- he’s joined Lyft as their new Chief Policy Officer.

Mike Collins will go over those stories and much more with our roundtable of reporters on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

Guests:

Erik Spanberg, senior staff writer for the Charlotte Business Journal

Kirstin Garriss, government reporter for Spectrum News 

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

David Boraks, reporter for WFAE

In North Carolina, the Midterms Are Not Just About 2018

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When President Donald Trump last visited the Carolinas, it was a relatively nonpartisan stop to offer sympathy and aide to those affected by Hurricane Florence. But now the big names heading South are placing politics front and center.

It’s a sign of the high stakes of November’s midterm elections, particularly in North Carolina, a state that mirrors the turbulent national political scene. At issue in the state and across the country is not only getting out the vote, but also who gets to vote, and how gerrymandering affects the fairness of the vote.

That is the message of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, whose chairman, former Attorney General Eric Holder, called North Carolina “ground zero for gerrymandering on both a partisan basis and on a racial basis” during a visit this week. It’s one of 12 states the organization is targeting in its quest to help Democrats earn seats at the next redistricting table.

What’s Next for Nikki Haley?

CHARLOTTE, NC — Nikki Haley Resigns at UN Ambassador. Why Now and What’s Next for Her?

Nikki Haley rose quickly in politics, from governor of South Carolina to a player on the international stage as ambassador to the United Nations. She became a standout in the Trump administration, one of few high-profile women serving. She says she is stepping down at the end of the year because it’s time for a break, though many are speculating on the timing and what her future political plans may be. At a White House appearance with Trump on Tuesday, both expressed admiration for one another — and she denied plans for a 2020 run for office. (Mary C. Curtis)

Kavanaugh Fight Goes Full On Knute Rockne

OPINION — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week lamented that Democrats would never be satisfied with a one-week FBI investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying he expects “soon enough the goal posts will be on the move once again.” McConnell, going full Knute Rockne, also has said of the Kavanaugh nomination and investigation: “We’re going to be moving forward. I’m confident we’re going to win.”

Thankfully, the Kentucky senator did not channel another Republican, Ronald Reagan, with an exhortation that the win would be for “The Gipper.”

Still, McConnell sure knows his way around a sports metaphor. “So, my friends, keep the faith, don’t get rattled by all of this. We’re going to plow right through it and do our job,” McConnell said to religious conservatives at a recent Value Voters Summit, sounding like coach sending his star running back out to crash through the opponent’s defense.

How Will Charlotte Stay Above the Partisan Fray for RNC 2020?

CHARLOTTE, NC — Charlotte was out in front, and almost alone, in vying to host the 2020 Republican National Convention, set – for now – to nominate President Trump for a second term. The city won, and now we have more details.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel made the announcement at the Charlotte Convention Center this week alongside Mayor Vi Lyles and White House Senior Advisor (and presidential daughter-in-law and North Carolina native) Lara Trump: The convention will take place at the Spectrum Center in uptown Charlotte from August 24, 2020 through August 27, 2020.

So, as planning seriously starts, how will the Queen City pull it off, peacefully and professionally?

They’re Laughing. We’re Cringing. Trump’s Tweeting. Macron’s Leading

OPINION — When President Donald Trump, at the United Nations this week, boasted that “my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” it was familiar rhetoric to anyone who has paid even passing attention to his rallies before friendly crowds. But when the audience consisting of world leaders gathered in New York, the enthusiasm was absent.

Instead, laughter.

Later, when asked about it, Trump said “that was meant to get some laughter, but it was great” — trying, I suppose, to brush it off as a joke that landed just the way he intended. Any American, whether a Trump fan or not, probably cringed a bit at the whole episode. This is what the world thinks of our country’s leader and by extension, us — a braggart to be laughed at.

President Trump’s U.N. Speech: ‘America First’ and an Iran Rebuke

CHARLOTTE, NC — President Trump did not say “America First”; but he didn’t have to. His message this week to world leaders was the same one his administration has been sharing since he was elected.

In a speech influenced by his senior domestic adviser Stephen Miller and national security adviser John Bolton, Trump rejected globalism and affirmed the U.S. withdrawal from international agreements.

“America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control and domination,” Trump said.

President Trump’s boasts about accomplishments in the first two years of his presidency also drew laughter from the assembled leaders.

WCCB political contributor, Mary C. Curtis weighs in on Trump’s speech and the reaction.

Brett Kavanaugh Isn’t Clarence Thomas, but It’s Still About Race

OPINION — Orrin G. Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, is nothing if not consistent.

His words about distinguished lawyer and professor Anita Hill in 1991 — when she testified in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings before the Judiciary Committee on which he sat — were clear. He said there was “no question” in his mind that she was “coached” by special interest groups. “Her story’s too contrived. It’s so slick it doesn’t compute.” Hatch mused she may have cribbed some of her testimony from the novel “The Exorcist” — the horror!

And when considering current nominee Brett Kavanaugh — sitting, as Thomas was, on the verge of a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court — Hatch had this to say about professor Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when she was 15 and he 17: “I think she’s mistaking something. But I don’t know, I mean, I don’t know her.”

Kavanaugh’s Accuser Wants FBI Investigation Before Testifying

CHARLOTTE, NC — The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault isn’t ready to testify just yet. Christine Blasey Ford’s legal team says their client won’t testify in a public hearing offered by Republicans unless the FBI first investigates her allegations. Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were at a high school party in the 80’s. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the accusations.

The allegations brought against Kavanaugh echo a similar incident in 1991, when Anita Hillaccused then SCOTUS nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment and was called to publicly testify.