...Politics & Current Events In N.C.

Saturday, November 29, 2003


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The Asheville Citizen-Times has an article about a (another?) possible rift in the Baptist Convention.

ASHEVILLE - Following the dominating win by conservative candidates at November's Baptist State Convention annual meeting, more moderate members are assessing whether they have a future in the state's largest religious group.

On Tuesday, some of those Baptist moderates will gather at the First Baptist Church in Greensboro to discuss the election results. Conservatives, who believe in interpreting the Bible literally, swept the elections during the Nov. 10- 12 convention in Winston-Salem.

The Rev. Buddy Corbin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville and a former Baptist State Convention office holder who will attend Tuesday's meeting, said moderates must face the reality of what took place.

"The outcome of the recent election pretty well entrenches the Southern Baptist Convention connection," he said.

At issue, Corbin said, is the right to autonomy by an individual church. He said he believes Tuesday's meeting won't lead to an outright decision, but will result in a "strategy" for the 400 or so moderate Baptist churches to consider.

As the largest denomination in the state-any major events within the Baptist Denomination is worth considering.

Mecklenberg's Budget 

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Steward Spencer has a column in the Charlotte Observer outlining the tough choices before the County Commissioners.

His biggest point is that even though some things need to be cut to keep taxes low, education should be spared the axe. Get used to hearing that meme--the Democrats will be using it every day for 12 months.

Decker's Party 

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I've heard a variety of opinions about Rep. Decker's chances in next year's elections. For a man who switched parties twice in as many years, there are an awful lot of people who think he has a good chance of holding his new seat.

But these kinds of articles cannot help.

When House Democrats held a private caucus meeting Monday to discuss new maps for legislative districts, they saw a familiar face.

But the fact that it was Rep. Michael Decker's face had some of them scratching their heads later, because Decker switched parties two months ago and became a Republican again.

How Bad Is It? 

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We all know the economy is bad. But it's good to keep track of how bad it is.

Today's sign is the article on how more veterans are being forced to use VA health care now that they have lost their own.

WINSTON-SALEM -- The lukewarm economy is prompting more former soldiers and sailors to seek health insurance through Veterans Affairs offices in North Carolina, officials say.

Since July, the state Division of Veterans Affairs has averaged more than 2,000 claims a month for medical care, with many applications coming from textile-heavy areas.

On a side note--I know for a fact that this article ran in the W-S Journal first, but I can't find it on their website.

The Charlotte Observer has this article on food banks running out of food.

The economy is going to be an issue in next years elections no matter how much the national GDP grows. The only question is who is going to be blamed--Bush or Easley.

What is it with these guys? 

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Pol 1: There's a big problems that the voters want us to fix!

Pol 2: We can't fix that problem.

Pol 1: I know, but they will expect us to anyways.

Pol 2: Let's start a meaningless committee.

I imagine that was the gist of the conversation between Reps. Howard Coble and Mel Watt when they started the ineffective Caucus on Furniture Industry Job Losses.

Friday, November 28, 2003

News Roundup 

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Not much in the way of political news these past couple of days.

Yesterday the only thing I saw was in Under the Dome.

Former state Sen. Fountain Odom, a Democrat from Charlotte, says he plans to run for the new open seat that includes northern Mecklenburg County and part of the Queen City.
"Aha!" say Senate Republicans.

During the special session this week to draw new legislative districts, Senate Democrats listed that seat as one an African-American candidate would have a chance to win.

But Senate Republicans say District 40 fits the Democrats' pattern of parceling out black Democratic voters to prop up white Democrats. African-American voters were pulled from surrounding districts to create the new one.

"The last time I looked at Fountain Odom, he was a white man," said Sen. Robert Rucho of Matthews. "An old white man."

Today's Under the Dome covers a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge and the delay in federal recognition of the Lumbees.

The only really important story I saw was that Thomas E. Strickland, 5-term state legislature, passed away.

Other than that all of the stories were about turkeys.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving!! 

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I have a flight at 7am, and a family to spend time with the rest of the day.

We all have things to be thankful for. Let us all take a day to appreciate them and thank the one who gave them to us.

I have internet where I'm going so I should be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Elizabeth Edwards and Monkeytime 

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Todd over at Monkeytime has decided to come back and play.

He put up a fantastically interesting e-mail exchange that he had with Elizabeth Edwards that is worth reading (or at least skimming).

No Wingnuts Here 

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Some moderate Republicans (yes, they do exist!!) have started a website called The North Carolina Center For Public Trust to take on the wingnuts over at the John Locke Foundation.

Here is a highlight.

The Goldwater Conservatives have been replaced by an unholy alliance between fundamentalist Christians and the modern day robber barons of multinational corporations. In this coalition, the corporate giants compromise their libertarian ideals of personal freedom in order to secure less government regulation and lower corporate taxes. The Christian conservatives willingly ignore New Testament teachings of obligations to the poor in exchange for legislation that imposes their Old Testament view of morality on society.

You may notice that I put up a lot of links to the John Hood and his John Locke friends. Believe me...this is not voluntary. It is just that they do a pretty good job of keeping up with current events in the state. I almost never agree with them (in fact I rarely believe them), but they have a lot of links.

But I will add the new guys to my list and read it regularly.

HTML and Me 

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Ed Cone linked to one of my posts on his blog, and noted that the permalink does not work. Sorry about that.

HTML and me are brand new friends and we are still getting to know each other.

Update (8:34 AM): Apparently Blogger requires a title for the permalink to work, and I just figured out how to put on titles a few days ago. I have fixed it on the entry called Murky Waters below that Mr. Cone highlighted. I would do it on the rest, but who is going to link to those?

Tom Gilmore For State Ag. Commissioner 

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This is also in Under the Dome.

State Rep. Tom Gilmore has been lobbying Gov. Easley to be appointed to replace Phipps as the Ag. Commissioner.

In a letter sent to party officials in all 100 counties, the chairman of the Guilford County Democratic Party asks Easley to appoint Gilmore agriculture commissioner now so he can run as an incumbent.

That's not likely to happen. Easley, a Democrat, already named longtime department official Britt Cobb interim commissioner. The governor is expected to announce as early as this week that he's taking the interim off Cobb's title and encouraging him to seek the office in 2004.

Who Is Going To Run? 

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Several articles today start looking at who is going to run under the new district maps.

David Rice at the WSJ (no not that one) talks to some people eying the new 30th NC Senate district.

Mark Johnson at the Charlotte Observer notices that former State Senator and appropriations co-chair (who lost because of the last maps) happens to live in one of the new open, Democratic leaning Senate districts.

In the course of drawing the new lines this week, Senate leaders carved a district in north Mecklenburg that includes University City. That's where Odom and his wife, N.C. Secretary of Health and Human Resources Carmen Hooker Odom, rented a condominium and moved in October. They also have a condominium in Raleigh, since Hooker Odom works there.

Odom said he rented in University City because he will be lecturing at UNC Charlotte. His house in lower Steele Creek is under contract with a buyer.

"All of the planets may have been aligned for good things to happen," Odom said.

Yep...it was the planets.

Recruitment is an important part of the campaign game. If you hear or read about other possible candidates let me know.

More Audits 

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Problems with Planes
Two agencies rented private aircraft for trips while state-owned planes sat in hangars. Some planes never get used, and others are used infrequently. Some pilots get paid for a 40-hour workweek but spend most of their time on the groung. State Auditor Ralph Campbell said Tuesday that those findings and others show the need for the state to consolidate its flight operations and develop consistent

The Greensboro N&R also has the story.

Under the Dome 

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If you are interested in NC politics then you probably read Under the Dome every day. If you don't you should. Today I can't even summarize it. There is just too much good info.

The Day After 

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Over the next few days and weeks there will be a slew of articles about the new legislative districts in papers around the state. The main purpose will be to analyze and summarize their impact, but they will also include little pieces of information on which races will be contested, and who will run.

At least for a little while I will let the professionals deal with this. I am not a journalist, and I do not have the time to analyze this map. I'll let the people who get paid do it first, and then criticize them for not doing it right. That is--at least in part--the fun of blogging. In addition to that--the maps may be changed by the courts within a matter of weeks. I'll wait until things settle down before I take a race by race look at these things.

But I will provide some links and some highlights. At the very least it will help me keep track of the articles I read.

Lynn Bonner at the Raleigh N&O outlines the 10-races where incumbents will run against incumbents.

Although the new maps put 12 pairs of incumbents in the same districts, two incumbents plan to retire or seek another office. Sen. Virginia Foxx, a Banner Elk Republican, is running for Congress, and Rep. Stan Fox, an Oxford Democrat, is retiring.

The close Senate vote is a byproduct of the court-drawn districts. Just last year, Democrats enjoyed a 35-15 majority. This year, the gap narrowed to 28-22. Pitt County Democrat Tony Moore, who was put in the same district as veteran Sen. John Kerr, a Goldsboro Democrat, jumped parties this week, further flattening Democrats' cushion.

David Rice at the W-S Journal previews the next round of the redistricting saga--the court challenges. He points out that the first challenge will be about where the case is heard.

A major question of debate in the N.C. Senate yesterday was whether the challenge would be heard by the same Johnston County judge who heard the Republican challenge last year.

The district plan that legislators approved yesterday says that any challenge to the plan must be heard by a three-judge panel in Wake County.

The panel would include the senior resident Superior Court judge and two judges to be appointed by the chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, one from the eastern part of the state and one from the west.

He also has this interesting tidbit which I didn't know.

The plan also orders the State Board of Elections to delay primary elections for all offices next year if the new districts are not approved by the U.S. Justice Department or the courts by Feb. 9, 2004.


Here is an article from the Fayetteville Observer.

And from Newbern, Kinston, and The Daily Reflector

And finally John Hood at the John Locke Foundation has this analysis:

On the Senate side, I now count 23 seats as safely or moderately Democratic, 22 that are safely or moderately Republican, and five swing seats. The latter group again include some old reliables: District 2 (Democrat Scott Thomas) and District 6 (Democrat Cecil Hargett) on the coast, District 16 (Democrat Eric Reeves) in Wake County, District 24 (Republican Hugh Webster) in the Piedmont, and District 46 (Democrat Walter Dalton) in the foothills just west of Charlotte.

On the House side, I now consider 52 seats to be safely or moderately Democratic and 52 seats to be safely or moderately Republican. The remaining 16 swing seats can further be divided into three groups: seven districts that tilt somewhat Democratic, six that tilt somewhat Republican, and three that are pure toss-ups. The latter group includes districts that were competitive last time, too: District 25 (Republican Bill Daughtridge), District 77 (Democrat Lorene Coates), and District 111 (Republican Tim Moore).

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

More News That I missed 

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The Wilmington Star-News examines whether elections outcomes are becoming more or less dependent on ticket splitters

The Rocky Mount Telegram looks at possible primary challengers for U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance

And the AP's Scott Mooneyham takes a look at the Elon poll, jobs, and Gov. Easely.

Ed Cone Wrote Me A Letter... 

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...and he says he is going to link to Carolina Progressive!!

I feel like a young musician who has been spotted by a talent agent at a seedy back-country bar. Admittedly I wrote him first, but still...

Ed Cone was one of the people who inspired me to start this thing up. I'm pretty sure that blogs and the internet in general are and will be a critical part of politics. He has been busy trying to explain that to people for years and he is one of the guys who first got my attention.

Blogging is hard 

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During my first week, I have found two things about blogging to be difficult.

1) When I first started I thought I would just throw up some witty pithy comments a couple of times a day. But writing is hard. Spelling things correctly and having good grammar is even harder. Making the posts flow and make sense is proving to be impossible. Reading over some of my entries below I think it is clear that I need some practice. But hey--that's why I started this thing--more practice.

2) I was reading the copy of Al Frankin's Lies, and the Lying Liars who Tell them my brother lent to me. While I was laughing at Anne Coulter it occurred to me that it would be very easy to do a lot of distortion and lying on a blog. If I am going to rant and rave about all of Richard Burr's lies I need to be pretty careful about my fact-checking.

The Game Has Ended, Let The Games Begin 

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The new legislative districts have passed, and it's all over but the court challenges.

Republican legislators argue that Democrats have diluted minority majority district. This if funny to me because the provision under which the original maps were challenged back in 2001, that counties should not be divided, was originally designed to do just that--prevent or reduce the chances of majority minority districts.

So this year we will all be treated with the spectacle of the Republican legislators who tried to enforce the undivided county provision claiming that the districts should divide more counties and preserve more minority majority districts.

The Democrats, who last year appealed Judge Jenkins' decision to the NC Supreme Court based on the dilution of majority minority districts, are wearing the other shoe. They are arguing, based on last year's Ashcroft v Georgia, that they no longer need to focus solely on protecting majority minority districts and can instead focus on increasing the "influence" of Black voters.

...a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling provided more leeway to draw minority districts.

In a 5-4 ruling, the justices said lower courts reviewing redistricting cases should consider all factors and not focus solely on whether minorities can elect a minority candidate.

If hypocrisy were a crime there couldn't be a legislature.

John Hood over at the John Locke Foundation usually goes around trying to sell his right-wing crazy, but today he does a pretty good job of summing up the outcome of the redistricting process and his article is worth a read. I disagree with him on a few points, but I cannot add too much.

I especially agree with his last statement. There is no real point in analyzing the new maps until all of the court challenges--and there will be many--are finished or thrown out.

But that's the best part. The Republicans are about to shoot themselves in the foot. With no clear front-runner in the Governors race, the Republicans need to get the primary behind them as soon as possible. The court challenges will probably push back the election date just like in 2002, and allow primary battle wounds to fester and grow until mid-summer or maybe even September. If that is the case, Democratic Gov. Mike Easley will bury the eventual nominee with a bloated war-chest worth of Tarheel attack ads.

It should be a good show. I plan on getting popcorn.

Dangerous Game 

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Co-Speaker Richard Morgan is playing a dangerous game. He has essentially split off to form his own legislative party. It got him the co-speakership, but it severely pissed off many of his Republican colleagues, spurned the Republican leadership, and alienated at least some of the base.

In the short-term it was a good play. He leveraged his handful of votes into serious political muscle. This is true of third parties around the world. Small parties within the legislature are able to exercise undue influence over the process in proportion to their support within the electorate. The Green party in Germany and the Progressives in New Zealand are a few examples that jump to mind. Even though they only have a few seats in the legislature they are needed to form a majority, so they get a lot of influence.

In the long-run Morgan's actions could back-fire. Morgan and Democratic Co-Speaker Black have been playing chummy in the press about these redistricting maps, but it cannot last forever. They both know that if Black even gets a majority of 61 that he will be elected speaker without Morgan's support. In order to ease the passage of bills Black may offer Morgan a co-chairmanship of the appropriations committee, but his influence would significantly lessen. To me this seems like the most likely outcome.

Even worse there is a chance that the Republicans could sweep this election and get 61 seats without Morgan or his supporters. This is the goal of former Daugherty supporters. If these guys ever took back control Morgan and his allies would become virtual pariahs within the party and probably in all of Raleigh. This does not seem too likely.

Morgan seems to be a smart man and is betting on another marginal Republican majority that he can use to re-gain a co-speakership. If he purges enough Daugherty supporters (and probably Daugherty himself from the looks of things) he may be able to set up shop as the sole speaker himself.

Whatever the outcome the sure beneficiary of Morgan's actions are sane people in North Carolina. Morgan is a Republican, but besides this hefty fault he is not a bad man. He is a Conservative in the "shrink the government sense" as opposed to Conservative in the Leo Daugherty "save the oppressed white-Christian-wealthy-heterosexual-male" sense. Anything someone does to remove power from the hands of Daugherty and his ilk is fine by me.

New Zoning for Charlotte 

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This would be big news if it weren't today. Charlotte gets a plan to end the sprawl.

The new General Development Policies are designed to direct the densest growth to areas that can support it with public infrastructure. The council approved the policies after two years, dozens of meetings and seemingly endless wording changes.


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Sometimes even news junkies have a hard time caring. Maybe it's because I never went to UNC.

Amy Gardner in Under the Dome today describes the battle between Gov. Easely and UNC Central over their mold problem.

More than mold may be in play in the chess match under way between Gov. Mike Easley's office and University of North Carolina system honchos over who pays for N.C. Central's moldy mess.

University administrators say fixing mold in two 4-year-old dorms and at least 10 other buildings will cost at least $13 million. They cite an overall price tag of $58 million for mold and other urgent building repairs.

Easley sent in his own crew -- the State Construction Office -- to judge the need for himself. The governor is also holding back so far on saying whether he'll help the university find new money to pay for the work. And he's making a point of jabbing the university for what he believes has been a too-slow pace of repairs.

No Tobacco Buyout 

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Well....at least not this year. Raleigh N&O Greensboro News-Record

Our Elected Leaders Turn Into Drama Queens 

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Recently in Texas we watched high drama over congressional redistricting maps. The balance of power in Washington depended on the outcome as legislatures fled to the borders. I can't help but feel that the battles here in North Carolina over legislative districts are more for drama queens sipping lattes at Borders. The balance of power is still depending on the outcome of the process, but with the added bonus of tantrums and dramatic gestures that few other people in the world care about.

Lynn Bonner and Dan Kane team up at the Raleigh N&O to bring us this report from the legislative buiding complex. Some highlights:

...Senate Republicans immediately vowed to challenge the maps in court, saying the plans improperly dilute black voting power. And some GOP House members who would have to run against other incumbents next year said angrily that Republican Speaker Richard Morgan was out to get them.


Without a public hearing and with only a half-hour debate, the House voted 84-32 to approve its plan for 120 districts. The Senate plans to vote on its 50-district map this morning; then the House will take final votes on the plans.

Meanwhile the Republican party has suddenly become very concerned with minority rights.

The Senate moved Monday night to force redistricting lawsuits to be filed in Wake County and heard by a three-judge panel drawn from throughout the state. Also, the state Board of Elections would have the power to postpone next year's May primary if legislative districts weren't approved by the time candidates are to begin filing for office.

Senate Republicans said the Justice Department would reject the plans because African-American voters were moved out of key districts. "You've taken minority voters out of minority districts to protect white Democrat incumbents," said Senate GOP Leader Patrick Ballantine, a Wilmington Republican.

Black senators, however, defended the proposed districts, saying that they give African-American voters wider influence.


Statistics prepared by Senate Democrats show their proposal gives black voters a chance to elect black candidates in nine Senate districts, compared to seven in the existing plan.

Expect Vernon Robinson to be involved in a lawsuit. Then the Republicans whine about Morgan.

The new House map drew plenty of criticism from Morgan foes. All four Republican districts that pit incumbents against one another include those who did not back Morgan for speaker.

Reps. Leo Daughtry and Billy Creech would have to square off in a district covering northern Johnston County, and the plan creates an open seat next door. "We expected it because I'm not loyal to Morgan," Creech said. "Nor is Leo, and so if you're not loyal, you are his enemies, and he wants to get rid of his enemies."

But our Drama Queen award goes to...

Reps. Connie Wilson and Ed McMahan would run against each other in Mecklenburg County. Wilson stormed off to Morgan's office when she saw the map.

David Rice also offers us a few juicy details in the W-S Journal.

In a day that started with a disgruntled Democratic senator switching parties, state legislators haggled over plans for new districts that would pit eight pairs of incumbents against one another in the House and four pairs in the Senate.


Black and Republican Co-Speaker Richard Morgan predicted that under the House map, partisan control of the chamber, where Republicans currently hold a 61-59 advantage, would remain about even.

"For some time to come, I don't see either party gaining a huge advantage - huge being more than one (seat)," Black said. "There are 15, 20 districts that could go either way, depending on the candidate and the blow of the winds."

The district plan approved by a vote of 84-32 in the House includes eight pairs of incumbents who must run against one another next year to return to the House.

They include Reps. George Holmes, R-Yadkin, and Frank Mitchell, R-Iredell; Leo Daughtry and Billy Creech, both R-Johnston; Connie Wilson and Ed McMahan, both R-Mecklenburg; and Wayne Sexton, R-Rockingham, and Nelson Cole, D-Rockingham.


Republican critics of Morgan contend that he used the new maps to combine several of them - including Holmes, Mitchell, Daughtry, Creech and McMahan - in districts intended to force them to face off with one another.


Though he was lumped into the same district with Holmes, Mitchell said that he instead intends to declare his residency in eastern Iredell in a district represented by Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, and face Howard, rather than Holmes, in a primary. Mitchell said that he established residency in what would be Howard's district before Nov. 2, because legislators must live in a district for a year before the general election under the state constitution.


Wilson said she won't run against her Republican colleague McMahan. "I told them I'm not running," she said. "I'm not running against another Republican."

And now to the Senate...

The plan under consideration by the state Senate drew four sets of incumbents into the same districts:

Sens. John Garwood, R-Wilkes, and Virginia Foxx, R-Watauga. But Foxx is campaigning for the seat representing the 5th District in Congress;

Sens. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, and R.B. Sloan, R-Iredell;

Sens. Bob Rucho and Robert Pittenger, both R-Mecklenburg;

And Sens. John Kerr, D-Wayne, and Tony Moore, D-Pitt. But Moore announced yesterday that he is switching parties to become a Republican, which would thin the Democratic margin in the Senate to 27-23.

And more crocodile tears from the Republicans over a diluted Black vote, but Rice gives it more of a bi-partisan spin.

Though drawers of the House maps said they increase the number of districts with a black majority from 14 to 15, both Republicans and black members said they are suspicious that the new districts dilute black voting strength.

And Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, said that the districts could be challenged in a lawsuit on a variety of grounds, including the possible dilution of black voting strength in eastern North Carolina and the fact that the district maps weren't released before public hearings.

And more coverage. The Asheville Citizen-Times tell us that:

Reps. Martin Nesbitt, a Democrat, and Republican Wilma Sherrill opposed the redistricting maps despite the fact both said they would stand to benefit from the proposed districts. Nesbitt and Sherrill said they rejected the maps because of the consequences it would have on their constituents.

And Kerra Fisher from the voice of the mountains does her own summary of events with some lyrical prose.

It was a tale of two chambers on Monday when the General Assembly considered new political districts for the state.

The House of Representatives is generally chaotic by nature. There are 120 people from various parts of the state with ideas, accents and viewpoints arguing for their constituents. It's also ruled by a tight bipartisan coalition led by Democrat Jim Black and Republican Richard Morgan.

But the proposed redistricting plan sped through the state House like a subway through an urban tunnel. House lawmakers approved the plans less than an hour after Black and Morgan unveiled them to lawmakers and the public.

The Charlotte Observer's Mark Johnson weighs in here.

Five out of a group of 10 Charlotte-area lawmakers will lose their seats in the General Assembly under new district maps the legislature was voting on Monday night.

The Greensboro News-Record also chimes in.

NC House Plans Are Posted 

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The NC House redistricting plans have been posted.

Monday, November 24, 2003

News of the Obvious 

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Driving faster increases the risk of dying if you crash.

Here They Are 

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The Proposed Maps for the NC Senate are up on the website.

Take a look.

Breaking News: Sen. Moore Switches Parties 

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Sen. Tony Moore has joined the Michael Decker Club and switched parties.

The AP has the story:

As the special session began, Democratic Sen. Tony Moore of Pitt County announced he would change party affiliation to Republican after he was lumped in a proposed district with incumbent Sen. John Kerr, D-Wayne.

They also provide more info on the maps.

The map drawn by Senate leaders would also place Republicans Bob Rucho and Robert Pittenger of Mecklenburg County in the same district.

The plan contains four open seats, including one district made up of Vance, Warren, Franklin and Granville counties and another with Caldwell and Burke counties place together.

The map was not yet complete. Lines for an area of four districts _ including all or part of Gaston, Lincoln, Cabarrus, Catawba and Iredell counties _ had not yet been drawn. The area contains five incumbents, Republicans R. B. Sloan, Jim Forrester, Austin Allran and Fletcher Hartsell, and Democrat David Hoyle.

Apparently the rest of the Democrats weren't much of a fan of Moore, and from this article it is clear that he didn't like them much either.

"I felt like it was time to make a stand, especially last week when the public was denied any input," Moore said, a reference to public hearing on redistricting in which no proposed maps were shown. "I'm a very conservative person."

GOP chairman Farrell Blount says this is good.

"Part of the GOP strategy has got to be to pick up seats in the east," Blount said. "Most people in the east are conservative and they feel like the Democratic Party has left them. We are making a home for them in the Republican Party."

Presumably the rest of their strategy is to pick up seats in the middle and the west of the state as well. Probably this will have exactly zero impact on the total outcome because the Democrats were discounting him in any case after the '04 elections. The majority is now 27-23, and I think Sen. Basnight will be able to get the Democratic agenda through.

Murky Waters 

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I really shouldn't be doing this right now, but I was kind of pissed off this morning when I read the Michael Easterbrook article on public opinion towards immigrants in the Raleigh N&O.

I thought it was and excellent article until I got to the last two paragraphs. That's where I found this.

Ron Woodard of Cary, the founder of a Triangle group that supports immigration curbs, said he thinks immigration will remain a sore point for most Americans only until the U.S. government reduces the flow to roughly one-third of what it is today.

"If it's brought back into balance, people will again be looking at it as a positive thing," Woodard said.

Now I don't have a problem that he interviewed this man. I'm all for the first amandment. The problem is that Ron Woodard should be better identified than "the founder of a Triangle group that supports immigration curbs...".

In fact, Ron Woodard is the founder of a group called NC LISTEN which is affiliated (or identicle I can't tell from the website) with Carolinians for Immigration Reform.

These groups are affiliated with a national group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Here's where it starts getting murky. The Southern Poverty Law Center, the leading monitor of hate groups in the United States, has discovered that FAIR and at least twelve other national anit-immigration groups were all founded and are somehow funded through one man - Jon Tanton. Link. Link.

Three of the groups founded or funded by Jon Tanton have been officially labelled as hate groups: The American Immigration Control Foundation, American Patrol/Voice of Citizens, and The Social Contract Press

I suppose you might consider this association with hate groups to be a bit tangential, and many critics have argued that the Southern Poverty Law Center can be a bit over zealous in associating people with hate groups.

But it is important for journalists to give us all the information we need, and I would like to know a little bit more about Ron Woodard, his organization, and where his funding comes from.
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Daily News Roundup

For you journalist students out there, take a look at the different styles of covering the life and memorial service of former Agricultural Commissioner Jim Graham in the Raleigh N&O, W-S Journal, and the Charlotte Observer.

I'm going to try to avoid the breathless "must-read" language of so many blogs, but if you have the time there are two articles that you should read today.

Redistricting Pre-Game Show

The first is one from David Rice at the W-S Journal who has come out of the blocks covering the redistricting battle. Today he has a profile of Co-Speaker Richard Morgan and all of the controversy surrounding him. Here are the highlights.

To his admirers, Morgan is a serious, studious, strategic thinker who often works until midnight in his dimly lit legislative office. He is single-minded and intensely focused - he even eats one thing at a time from his plate.

To his Republican critics, though, Morgan is a mysterious, conniving, vengeful sellout.

Is it better to be loved or feared?

"It is a lust for power that drives him, 24 hours a day. He craves power. He's gone over the limit now when he starts going after his own members," Rep. Frank Mitchell (R-Iredell) said. "We feel he wants us out of the way so that he can control the freshmen that come in."

This is exactly the kind of over the top language that I was talking about yesterday. However, Morgan does not go out of the way to mollify his scared Republican collegues.

[Morgan] says that some incumbents will find themselves in the same district with another, if only to satisfy court requirements for compact districts. And he says that the House Republican caucus needs a "cleansing," and that he looks forward to an active primary season next year.

"There's no target list. There are folks that I think less highly of than others," he said.

Finally, Rice gets John Davis on the record pointing out how strange it is that the two co-speakers can so easily co-operate on this topic.

Davis says that as they draw new districts, Black and Morgan face what could be one of the most stressful periods in their power-sharing arrangement.

"Those two leaders are morally obligated to beat each other," Davis said. They must seek the advantage for their party."

More on this last point later

The News-Record also has a short article on redistricting.

It's a challenge to think of another exercise state senators and representatives undertake that is more self-indulgent and chaotic than debating where election lines go. Lawmakers, after all, are deciding how to draw their own districts.

Finally, David Rice takes the time to let us all know about the names Co-Speaker Morgan gives to his cattle.

Richard Morgan likes to name his cattle for his favorite legislators - but not necessarily for the governor.

Send Us Your Tired, Hungry....

The new poll by the Raleigh N&O showing that immigrants are not voters' favorite neighbors is the second article of the day.

Three-fourths of North Carolinians think the United States admits too many legal immigrants, according to the poll commissioned by The News & Observer. About the same number think Mexicans who came here illegally for work should not be allowed to remain, even if they are otherwise law-abiding.

The number of immigrants we can easily accomodate in the state and their impact are important issues. However, I fear that these kinds of numbers will prove an irresistable temptation for biggoted appeals in the '04 election cycle.

In Other News

Under the Dome has three useful factoids.

Jerry Schill, president of the N.C. Fisheries Association, is looking to step down after 16 years leading the trade group. He has told the association's board of directors to start looking for a replacement whom he can train before he leaves in about a year.

The state Division of Services for the Blind has a new director. Assistant Director Debbie Jackson will assume those duties Dec. 1 at an annual salary of $80,916.

Another employee with the state Department of Health and Human Resources is in hot water for misuse of a state cell phone.

Guilford County is doing its own redistricting of the school board.

Finally Richard Vinroot gives an interview to the Fayetteville Observer where he blames his loss in the Governors race in 2000 on President Bush.

The Republican Party's effort to unseat Gov. Mike Easley will be tied to the fortunes of President Bush, Richard Vinroot said last week.

"It's important to have a tailwind from President Bush," Vinroot said of the 2004 elections. Each time North Carolina has elected a Republican governor, there were strong GOP presidential candidates: Jim Holshouser and Richard Nixon, and Jim Martin and Ronald Reagan.

Vinroot said he would have won the governor's race in 2000 if President Bush had received 60 percent of the vote in North Carolina.

Now I'm all for blaming President Bush for a lot of things, but I'm pretty sure Vinroot lost because he runs bad campaigns.

At the bottom of the article is a little piece of info on some early fundraising.

State Rep. Rick Glazier raised at least $42,000 at his 2004 election campaign kickoff in Fayetteville last week, said his aide, Carin Savel.

At least 300 people attended the event at Richard Shereff's home, she said. The guests included state Rep. Joe Hackney, leader of the Democrats in the state House.
Glazier represents the 44th House District and first won the seat in 2002.

'Ata Boy!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Comments[ ]
Redistricting II: The Revenge

The best thing about this round of redistricting is watching the Republicans tear themselves apart. For months there have been sly allusions in the press to a "purging" of the Republican Party by Republican Co-Speaker Richard Morgan. Supposedly Morgan is going to "double-bunk" Republicans who are not allied with him, forcing them to run against eachother in the primaries. This is not suprising since reportedly several Republican representatives are not even on speaking terms with Morgan since he splintered off from the caucus to ally himself with Democrat Co-Speaker Jim Black in 2002.

And early reports indicate that some representatives will indeed be running against eachother. The W-S Journal gives us some of the details today.

Black said that the new House map will create five or six cases where incumbents must run against one another to remain in office.

But the effect seems to be more bi-partisan in its effects, and certainly falls far short of the chicken little predictions that Morgan opponents have been spouting for the past couple of months.

Here are two areas of contention. First, is Cumberland and Bladen.

The map places six incumbents from Cumberland and Bladen counties into five districts, Black said. Two incumbents from Granville County, Democratic Reps. Jim Crawford and Stan Fox, are also in the same district under the proposal.

Second is Stokes and Rockingham.

Democratic Co-Speaker Jim Black said that when the House map is unveiled this week, three incumbents - Democrat Nelson Cole and Republicans Rex Baker and Wayne Sexton - could wind up running for two House seats in Stokes and Rockingham counties.

Black said that Stokes and Rockingham, which are currently represented by Baker from King, Sexton from Eden and Cole from Reidsville, will be grouped together to create two single-member districts.

So what does all of this mean?

It's too hard to tell without seeing the full maps and taking more time than I have tonight to look closely at them. However, if this is all of the "double-bunking" that we are going to get this is a much more mundane story than pundits would have preferred. There was more double-bunking as a result of Judge Jenkins maps from the last round than these are offering.

The real drama of this round of redistricting will take place in the courts instead of the floor of the legislature.

In the meantime the Republican representatives will be busy hurling insults at eachother in the press, which essentially gives Speaker Jim Black and the Democrats a free pass. Even better the discord within the Republican Caucus and the imminent court challenges may again push back the primary date, erroding what little chances the Republican candidates for Governor have of mounting an effective challenge to Gov. Easley.

At least in North Carolina it's a good year to be a Democrat.
Comments[ ]
Let The Fun Begin!!

Today Gov. Easley formally called the Legislature into session on Monday to start redistricting.

The Winston Salem Journal's David Rice is all over it with a great early look at some of the double-bunking we all expect to see. He also says that Forsyth may get an extra Rep.

Republican House Co-Speaker Rich-ard Morgan disclosed that he has met with Forsyth County Commissioner Debra Conrad-Shrader to discuss a new open seat that the map will create in northern Forsyth County.

The Wilmington Star News thinks splitting counties is fine as long as it doesn't happen here.

For years, Pender was a redheaded stepchild when the Honorables redrew the districts from which they get elected. The county was used as a convenient reservoir from which voters could be dipped for adjoining districts.

The News Observer's Rob Christensen looks at districts near Raleigh.

In non-redistricting news:

The N&O examinesGov. Easley and the death penalty.

Easley, a former prosecutor and attorney general, has never wavered in his advocacy of the death penalty, and he does not believe a moratorium to study the fairness of the system is necessary. Still, the Democratic governor could find himself caught next year between like-minded voters and core Democrats: the black and urban white voters who are pushing for a moratorium.

The Charlotte Observer previews the upcoming vote by the city counsel to revamp long-term planning and zoning in the Charlotte area.

Sen. John Kerr gets credit for getting Boeing's interest in NC. Will he get the blame if they go to Oklahoma?

Meanwhile Sen. Edwards is in Oklahoma.

It has become clear that Edwards is counting on Oklahoma. The trip was his 10th to the Sooner State since launching his campaign.

Maybe he could help them out with getting those jobs from Boeing.

Comments[ ]
It's a Good Thing I Don't Have a Job

This is all a little harder and more time consuming than I imagined, so expect for this page to keep changing for several months until I get it right. I've put up a few more links and I'll keep tinkering as I go along.

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