GOP greets North Carolina election scandal with crickets, excuses and misdirection

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — America might know the name of the next president before voters in North Carolina’s 9th District have a representative in the House.

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

But one sure thing is that Mark Harris, the Republican who thought he won last fall, attended an orientation for new members of Congress and was picking out an office — won’t be the new congressman. He cited health reasons in taking himself out of the race that has no end in sight.

What’s next in 9th Congressional District election after Mark Harris drops out?

CHARLOTTE, NC — Former pastor Mark Harris has certainly had a tough couple of months. In January, he was attending a meeting in Washington for new U.S. House members and picking out his office. And this week, he announced he will not run in a new election in the North Carolina’s 9th congressional district after the state election board, after hearings into allegations of election fraud, ordered a do-over. That throws the primary wide open, and leaves the district without representation for months.

Why politicians, and everyone, need to think about legacy

OPINION — At least the bill was approved on a voice vote. That was the bill that would make lynching a federal crime, passed in the Senate late last week — in 2019.

Let that sink in. The legislation still must be approved by the Democrat-controlled House, which is expected to happen with no problem, and be signed into law by President Donald Trump. But it would be unwise to take anything for granted since similar legislation has stalled for more than 100 years, held up by elected public servants who felt that taking a stand would be too politically risky.

How Ralph Northam is spending his Black History Month

OPINION — The lessons of this February’s Black History Month commemorations have already veered far beyond the usual ones that begin and end by quoting a snippet of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — the part about judging folks not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. A new curriculum is being written in real time, affecting real-life politicians and their constituents. And Virginia is hardly the only state not ready for the big exam.

Of course, the politician in question, Gov. Ralph Northam, has been learning as he goes — about blackface, about apologies and about redemption.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: BB&T and SunTrust Merge; No New Funds for Cross CLT Trail

Monday night’s City Council meeting brought with it suggestions on how to finish the Cross Charlotte Trail, which has come up $77 million short in funding, but the new plan left council members frustrated. We talk about the proposed solution and council member reactions.

BB&T and SunTrust Bank announced Thursday that the two banks would merge and move their new headquarters to Charlotte. What are the implications of this merger here and around the Southeast?

Charlotte City Council plans to vote next week on whether they’ll start the referendum process to extend their terms from two to four years. We discuss what council members said about the process.

United Way is experiencing budget problems, with plans to cut grants by 25 percent and cutting $1 million from its yearly budget. The reasons for the cuts go back several years.

Governor Cooper calls for the resignation of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam after a racist 1984 yearbook picture surfaced.

Guest host David Boraks from WFAE News and our roundtable of reporters discuss those and other stories.

Guests:

Ann Doss Helms, reporter for the Charlotte Observer

Glenn Burkins, founder and publisher of QCityMetro.com 

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

Steve HarrisonWFAE political reporter

Trump’s 2019 State of the Union Address

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The president’s State of the Union speech was delayed because of a government shutdown, which said something about the state of the union. President Trumppromised to reach out to make bipartisan deals now that Democrats control the U.S. House, under the leadership of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. So, what was the message of his SOTU speech and the Democrats’ response by rising party star Stacey Abrams. “Visionary” or “American carnage.” On script or off? Compromise or national emergency? Any “You lie” moments? (Mary C. Curtis)

Stacey Abrams has already delivered her message

OPINION — Move over Beto O’Rourke, the candidate who brought Texas Democrats closer than they had been for years in his eventually unsuccessful Senate race against GOP Sen. Ted Cruz last year.

Will he or won’t he run for president? That’s the question that’s been following him during his postelection adventures. But another Democrat who caught the attention of national leaders and celebrities in her midterm contest is getting ready for her moment on the national political stage.

Though Stacey Abrams lost her race to become Georgia’s governor in November, she will be the face and voice of the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union on Feb. 5, a speech that most anticipate will be less unifying oration than politicking to shore up the GOP base.

Campaign 2020

CHARLOTTENC — Campaign 2020 Is Up and Running!

So, you want presidential candidates? According to the Federal Election Commission, almost 500 people have registered to run. You probably have not heard of most of them, though at the top spot is Donald Trump, hopeful to repeat his 2016 win. Other contenders see his volatility creating an opening for a challenger. What are the chances of anyone on what looks to be a long and growing list?

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis weighs in.

A Kamala Harris candidacy is a test, and not just for the candidate

OPINION — Of course, a reporter asked Kamala Harris how she would describe her identity. The California senator, a new entry into a crowded and growing Democratic field to challenge Donald Trump next year, answered simply, “I describe myself as a proud American.”

It’s a question no other candidate has been asked, and one that Harris will no doubt be asked again before the long slog to November 2020 is completed.

It’s not just her competitors Harris will be confronting in the months until then (or until her campaign comes to an end). It’s also questions like that one, understandable in the coverage of her historic quest. But it’s the extra scrutiny that can be exhausting for anyone just trying to live as herself or himself while being seen as an “other” by so many.

Judge Denies Mark Harris’ Request to Be Certified

CHARLOTTE, NC — On Tuesday, a Wake County Superior Court judge turned down the request of Republican Mark Harris to certify him as the winner in his race against Democrat Dan McCready. “This is an extremely unusual situation, with no board in place,” said Judge Paul Ridgeway. He said asking the court to step in and declare the winner, when that is the authority of another branch of government, was inappropriate, especially in the middle of an ongoing investigation. (Mary C. Curtis)