What a close Republican win in a North Carolina House race means (maybe) for 2020

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Though Republicans tried to downplay the importance of an off-year special House election in North Carolina, President Donald Trump certainly thought differently. Why else would he have held an election eve rally alongside Dan Bishop, the GOP nominee in the state’s 9th District? And if that was not enough to belie the seeming lack of official party interest, Vice President Mike Pence also managed a North Carolina campaign trip the same day.

It paid off Tuesday, as Election Day turnout gave Bishop a 2-point win over Democrat Dan McCready. Bishop certainly credited Trump — the president, of course, took all of it — who helped the candidate overcome scandal over the race and his own controversial support of a “bathroom bill” that hurt business in the state. The newly elected congressman portrayed himself as Trump’s “mini-me” on every issue, from guns to abortion rights to immigration.

True, it was only one seat and one election, albeit one that has been going on for what seems like decades, and it was in a district Trump won by 12 points in 2016 and where Democrats have not had success since the early 1960s. So you could characterize Trump’s visit as a rescue mission. But a win is a win. On second thought, though, is it?

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: No Charges for CMPD Officer; Racist Letters to CLT Leaders

No charges will be filed for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer who shot Danquirs Franklin at a Charlotte Burger King back in March. District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced on Wednesday that Officer Wende Kerl will not face charges in connection with Franklin’s death.

Many black elected officials in Charlotte- including the mayor- received a racist letter this week that was addressed to city council, the county commission, police, fire and CMS School Board. The letter was directed to black Democrats and said that they should be “tarred and feathered and run out of town.” We’ll talk about reaction to the letter by several local leaders.

New CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston has a 3-year contract, which was announced earlier this month. But this week, school board members clarified that Winston could be fired with 60 days’ notice without giving a reason, making his job security not quite as strong as once thought. We’ll talk about what board chair Mary McCray said about it.

And an update on the push to pass a quarter-cent sales tax vote for the arts in Mecklenburg County.

Guests:

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

Katie Peralta, reporter for Charlotte Agenda

David Boraks, reporter for WFAE 

Jonathan Lowe, reporter for Spectrum News 

Is a blue city in a purple state having second thoughts about hosting a red convention?

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the Democratic National Convention hit town in 2012, the dancing traffic cop made headlines for his smooth moves and entertaining approach to law enforcement. The officer captured the party atmosphere of that event, leading up to the renomination of no-drama President Barack Obama for a second term.

City leaders and residents now look back at that time with nostalgia as they prepare for the Republican National Convention coming to town from Aug. 24-27 next year to renominate a president who is all drama, all the time — as chants of “Send her back” at a Trump rally in Greenville, North Carolina, earlier this month have reminded everyone of exactly what’s at stake.

Anticipating the economic and related benefits for the city after it was chosen by the GOP last year, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray said, “Charlotte has the collaboration, infrastructure and hospitality that will make the 2020 RNC an unforgettable experience for its attendees.”

Now, some are worrying about just how unforgettable the experience will be.

North Carolina’s Republican Party is having an identity crisis

OPINION — All eyes with be on North Carolina next year, when the Republican Party holds its 2020 convention in Charlotte to nominate President Donald Trump for a second term. In truth, though, the state has been the center of attention for a while because of actions of party members — and the gaze has not been kind.

A Growing Charlotte Is Now 16th Largest City. Can We Handle It?

CHARLOTTE, NC — A Growing Charlotte Is Now 16th Largest City. Can We Handle It?

The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that Charlotte has again moved up in the rankings of the country’s largest cities, adding 13,151 residents between 2017 and 2018, for a total population of nearly 872,500. It passes Indianapolis to become the 16th largest city in the country.

And its outlying towns are growing even faster.

Only Phoenix, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Seattle added more new people. So, what does that mean, as Charlotte, though proud of the achievement, continues to struggle with challenges those growing numbers mean, from affordable housing to infrastructure demands to the wealth and education gap?

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: VP Pence Visits CLT; Huntersville Ed Committee Recommendations

On this edition of the Charlotte Talks local news roundup:

The Huntersville education advisory commission recommends that the town operate its own charter school and split from CMS, a move that one CMS official says is “politically driven. How likely is this outcome?

Vice President Mike Pence was in the Queen City this week for an RNC Kickoff Meeting, as next year’s Convention, which will be held in Charlotte, is getting closer. What was the purpose of this visit, and what have we learned about plans for the 2020 Republican National Convention?

As abortion legislation is passed around the country, rallies are taking place nationwide, and here in the Queen City. We’ll talk about a Charlotte rally where anti-abortion and abortion-rights advocates clashed.

In South Carolina, the House and the Senate have now approved around $120 million in tax breaks to offer to the Carolina Panthers to entice them to move practice fields and the team’s headquarters to the state from North Carolina.

And get ready to start your engines — this weekend is the second “Race Weekend” in a row for Charlotte (we hosted the NASCAR All-Star Race last Saturday, and this weekend is the Coca-Cola 600). What should we know to attend the event or avoid the crowds?

Those stories and much more with Mike Collins and a panel of journalists on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.

Guests:

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

Alexandra OlginWFAE Reporter

Glenn Burkins, editor and publisher of QCityMetro.com

Jonathan Lowe, reporter for Spectrum News 

Can Bernie Sanders change his luck in the South?

OPINION — Bernie Sanders spent the weekend on a Southern swing, which makes sense. The Vermont senator’s failure to connect with enough core Democratic voters the last time around — in the South, that means black voters, and black women in particular — stalled his campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. He hit a wall in the early primary state of South Carolina, losing badly to Hillary Clinton, and he never recovered.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: Proposed City Budget; CMPD Updates Body Cam Policy; 9th District

On this edition of the Charlotte Talks local news roundup-

The proposed budget for the City of Charlotte was presented this week by City Manager Marcus Jones. The budget features a revenue neutral property tax rate but even so, with the county’s revaluation, many homeowners could see an increase in their property taxes. The budget also raises pay for some city workers, raising the minimum hourly pay to $16/ hour and offers raises for police. We’ll talk about that and the other major items in the budget.

Early voting ends Friday for the 9th Congressional district special election, and the primary is coming up May 14th. We discuss the final debate this week and where the candidates stand now.

CMPD has updated its policy about body cam video and how it is accessed after an incident. This comes weeks after the Danquirs Franklin shooting and the controversy that followed over the department only releasing short clips of video. We’ll provide an update.

The bill that would incentivize the Carolina Panthers to move across the border into South Carolina passed on Thursday, but not before lawmakers went down to the wire with a vote. We’ll discuss what the Panthers will get for moving, and what team owner David Tepper said about the vote earlier this week.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters will go through those stories and much more on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.

Guests:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal 

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

Katie Peralta, reporter for the Charlotte Observer 

Steve HarrisonWFAE’s Political Reporter

Will Changing Charlotte Neighborhoods Change Charlotte?

CHARLOTTE, NC — This week it was iconic Pike’s Soda Shop closing in South End, a neighborhood that has already seen favorites such as Phat Burrito close or move to make way for high-end shops and new developments. It’s not a new phenomenon for a growing city like Charlotte. But with growth comes new challenges, for example, how to meet the need for affordable housing when prices and rents rise and residents are displaced.

The city searches for solutions to mesh the old and the new in Charlotte.

After gun massacre, Charlotte is now ‘one of those cities’

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “Now we’re one of those schools.” That’s what a  University of North Carolina student, in more sadness than anger, told a local radio station after a gunman killed two and wounded four others on her campus on Tuesday. And now Charlotte, a city already experiencing a spike in homicides, is “one of those cities.”

In the city and state, there is shock, plus questions. A suspect is in custody, but that doesn’t provide answers about why it happened and what can be done to keep it from happening again.

That this latest incident did not make it to the top spot in many national news outlets speaks to how commonplace such incidents have become and how frustrated many citizens are. Is the answer more mental health resources, more “good guys with guns,” more regulations and background checks, or something else?