A House Race in North Carolina Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Perhaps North Carolina’s 9th District will have a congressman by January; but maybe not.

You see, there seems to have been a mix-up in the count, distribution and collection of absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties, which make up part of the district — what the state elections board (made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent) called “unfortunate activities” when it first refused to certify the results.

For a while, it looked as though the Republican, former Baptist pastor Mark Harris, had beaten the Democrat, Marine veteran and businessman Dan McCready, by a mere 905 votes of about 280,000 cast in the gerrymandered district that may not exist after a court-ordered redraw. But now investigations, possible lawsuits and an absence of official results mean this particular 2018 race may not be decided until 2019.

After This Election, the NRA Is No Longer Calling All the Shots

OPINION — The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It’s the mantra of the National Rifle Association, and a certainty for those who would brook no incursion into Second Amendment rights and definitely no gun control measures, no matter how small or “sensible,” as they are often described by those who propose them.

When children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, and federal legislation that would strengthen background checkswent nowhere, gun control advocates despaired. If the murder of children failed to crack the gun lobby, what would?

But real-life events and political surprises indicate that the landscape might be changing. And the work of groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun ViolenceMoms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and other large and small organizations has made a difference.

Where once politicians were loath to cross the NRA because of the organization’s hefty purse and powerful get-out-the-vote success, candidates in unlikely places are showing that a nuanced position is not a deal breaker. Earlier this month, Democrat Lucy McBath, a onetime spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, won a House seat in Georgia that Newt Gingrich once held, no doubt surprising some leaders in her own party. Though the district has been trending away from its once deep-red hue for a while, a well-financed race by Democrat Jon Ossoff last year that engendered enthusiasm could not achieve what McBath did with far less attention.

The State of America’s Election System

CHARLOTTE, NC — The United States of confusion – at least that’s one way to describe the way we run our elections, with each state responsible for its own elections system. That doesn’t cause much controversy when the margin of victory or defeat is wide enough, so a few thousand votes one way or another won’t affect the outcome. But when elections are close – as many are in these divided times – it’s an invitation to lawsuits, chaos and doubts from voters on whether and if their ballots count, or are counted. The 2018 midterm elections show just how this formula does and does not work.

Did the Politics of Division Work? Yes and No

OPINION — Donald Trump is a celebrity president, more interested in declaring a “great victory” after the 2018 midterms than in vowing to bring the country together. As he sparred with the media Wednesday and bragged about outdoing Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and famous folks who stumped for the other side, he did his best Rodney Dangerfield routine, playing the aggrieved president who has all the power but gets no respect.

When asked about the violent episodes that shook America in the weeks before Nov. 6 and whether he should soften his tone, he boasted about the economy, said he was “sad” to see the violence, and then talked about his great relationship with Israel.

The president did say he doesn’t much like the dangerous and deadly white supremacist movement law enforcement admits it is unprepared for, though he revealed no plans to combat that particular problem, one that worries many Americans, especially those in its crosshairs.

2018 Midterm Takeaways

CHARLOTTE. NC —  North Carolina may not have had a senator or governor’s race on the ballot, but there was no shortage of drama in contests that determined GOP super-majorities in the state legislature, controversial amendments to the state constitution, Charlotte bond issues and judicial races. Several U.S. Congressional contests in North Carolina also drew national attention. (Mary Curtis)

WCCB political contributor, Mary C. Curtis offers more context on key local and national takeaways from the 2018 midterm elections.

President Trump Wants to End Birthright Citizenship

CHARLOTTE, NC — President Trump is returning to one of his presidential campaign themes; immigration. The President claims he can defy constitution and end birthright citizenship with an executive order. The move is seen as President Trump’s latest immigration talking point with less than a week until midterm elections. WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis offers more perspective.

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.

Midterms Show We’re Not Any Closer to a Post-Racial America

OPINION — Remember the time when Trent Lott got in a heap of trouble for remembering the time?

It was 2002, and the Senate Republican leader representing Mississippi was waxing nostalgic for what he considered the good old days at a 100th birthday celebration for South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond. Carried away by the moment — and in remarks that recalled similar words from 1980 — Lott said: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

No surprise that those for whom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential run represented the bad old days objected. Segregation was the heart of the platform for Thurmond’s States’ Rights Democratic Party (a.k.a. the Dixiecrats).

Trump to the Rescue (Maybe) in North Carolina

OPINION — When Donald Trump travels to North Carolina this week, it won’t be for one of the campaign-style rallies that are his oxygen — especially needed now when the air is filled with praise for his nemesis John McCain, who is being lauded in death in terms the president can only dream about.

This Friday in Charlotte, host of the 2020 GOP convention and with the Trump National Golf Club not that far away in Mooresville, the president is scheduled to make a lunchtime appearance at a country club for an audience of those willing and able to pay at least $1,000 ($25,000 will get you admission to a “roundtable” and a photograph with Trump). It is a party with a purpose: to raise enough cash to keep two possibly vulnerable House seats in Republicans hands.