Politics

Political news from around NC and beyond.

This week in state politics: North Carolina lawmakers failed to override the governor's vetoes so that gyms and skating rinks that were shutdown because of the pandemic could reopen. But in court, a group of bowling alleys won their argument that they're no riskier than resturants operating at limited capacity. 

Meanwhile, the tension over how Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is calling the shots during the COVID-19 emergency brought an abrupt end to a meeting of top state elected officials. 

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation discuss those developments, plus record-breaking fundraising in the U.S. Senate race, and one early outcome of protests over police misconduct. 
 


NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

The Republican-controlled General Assembly again fell short Wednesday in overriding several of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's vetoes. The unsuccessful votes for the GOP mean directives within the governor's COVID-19 executive orders that keep many businesses closed remain intact.

Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

The political operative at the center of a North Carolina absentee ballot fraud investigation has filed for reelection for a local elected position.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest speaks to members of the media during a news conference in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, June 29, 2020. Forest plans to sue Gov. Roy Cooper over alleged violations of the state Emergency Management Act during the coronavirus pa
Gerry Broome / AP

President Donald Trump has endorsed the Republican who is aiming to deny Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper another term.

This Week In State Politics: the Governor delayed a decision about whether public schools would open in the fall.

As Democrat Roy Cooper said he needed more time, he was also served with a lawsuit. His political opponent, Republican Dan Forest, contends that the Governor is implementing too much unilateral authority.

And with lawmakers away for a little while, news trickled out of the General Assembly that a lobbyist tested positive for COVID-19. Rob Schofield and Becki Gray discuss those stories, as well as their fireworks plans for this weekend.


Two people walk dogs at a mostly empty Dix Park in Raleigh
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Another two dozen bills were signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper, including one with money to help build a long-planned park to honor the contributions of African Americans in North Carolina.

Last week, conservative Madison Cawthorn, who is 24, won a runoff election in the GOP primary for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, which is centered around Asheville.

Democratic state Rep. Deb Butler made national headlines last September when, following a surprise and controversial veto override vote, she grabbed a microphone and lit into Republican House Speaker Tim Moore.

Gerrymandering, she says, has polarized lawmakers and it's nearly paralyzed the General Assembly. She'd rather they were legislating on middle ground. 

On this episode of the Politics Podcast from WUNC, Butler talks about the hope for redistricting reform. She also reveals the pulse of Wilmington as North Carolina and the nation faces a racial reckoning. And, she explains why she reached for a little champagne last week.
 


Protesters sit outside the N.C. Executive Mansion in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday morning, June 30, 2020. They camped out overnight Monday to protest a new bill that further limits public access to death investigation records.
Ethan Hyman / News and Observer

Days after the North Carolina legislature's passage of a bill that includes a measure to further restrict death investigation records from public access, some lawmakers say they plan to walk back the provision.

Martin addresses a press conference outdoors.
Keely Arthur/WRAL

Former Raleigh City Council member Saige Martin is facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. The Wake County District Attorney asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Monday to review the allegations of four men who accused him of making unwanted sexual advances while he worked at North Carolina State University.

Another bustling week in North Carolina politics included the toppling of Confederate monuments in the state capitol and elsewhere, the governor's decision to mandate face coverings statewide because of the coronavirus, and an after-hours marathon session at the General Assembly.

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation discuss executive actions, legislative inaction, and what the addition of GOP donor and policy wonk Art Pope may mean for the UNC Board of Governors.
 


Two women at a Black Lives Matter Protest
Elvert Barnes

 

American voters have a notoriously short political memory. The United States is struggling to come to terms with the inequities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic and the recent police killings of numerous Black people — and some pundits are wondering which of the issues front of mind today will influence the upcoming elections in November.

After weeks of protests against police brutality and racism, and amid a renewed spike in coronavirus cases, the number of voters disapproving of the job President Trump is doing is at an all-time high, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds.

Trump's approval rating sits at just 40% overall, while a record 58% disapprove.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

North Carolina lawmakers finished most of their work for the year early Friday, setting another Medicaid overhaul date, funding a monument to honor African Americans and trying again to reopen businesses shuttered by Gov. Roy Cooper due to COVID-19.

Madison Cawthorn's overwhelming win Tuesday in the runoff election for the Republican looks like an upset, as the 24-year-old finished second to Lynda Bennett in the March 3rd primary.  His win Tuesday by a 2-to-1 margin wasn't as unexpected as it looks, though the vote totals were.

Madison Cawthorn for Congress

A 24-year-old political newcomer handily defeated a candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump in yesterday’s Republican runoff election in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. 

Patrick Sebastian/Cawthorn Campaign / AP

A 24-year-old real estate investment CEO won Tuesday's Republican primary runoff for a western North Carolina congressional seat over President Donald Trump's endorsed candidate for the nomination.

Demonstrators hold up signs in support of the DACA program.
Courtesy of Laura Garduño Garcia

Last Monday opened the beginning of a tense week for many U.S. immigrants. Then, relief: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects over 600,000 people in the country from deportation. 

Protestors march for DACA.
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The LGBTQ community and DACA recipients are celebrating last week's Supreme Court decisions. In a surprise 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court ruled the Trump Administration could not immediately end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program⁠. 

Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

North Carolina is just one of five states this year with concurrent races for the presidency, U.S. Senate and the governorship. Protesters demanding police reform and racial justice, and the pandemic from the coronavirus, could impact how these elections turn out.


Voters in western North Carolina are choosing the Republican nominee for a congressional seat held by Mark Meadows, before he became President Donald Trump's chief of staff.

North Carolina lawmakers this week approved a plan to provide teachers with a one-time bonus. Meanwhile temperature checks at the General Assembly building were halted — albeit briefly — as the capital city moved to require masks to curb COVID-19. And a group of lawyers sent a letter to the governor and legislative leaders arguing Confederate monuments violate the state constitution. 

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch discuss those developments, and two major rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court.


Journalist Paul Woolverton was covering the protests in Fayetteville the last Saturday in May when he was attacked. He suffered a concussion, and still doesn’t remember some of what transpired outside the Cross Creek Mall.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast from WUNC, the longtime Fayetteville reporter discusses how the unrest has played out in his city, the local landmark that was set on fire, and some of the fallout. 
 


Updated at 7:58 p.m. ET

The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held its first hearing on policing since the May 25 death of George Floyd — a black man who was killed in custody by Minneapolis police — triggered a wave of protests and international outcry for reform of the U.S. police system.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

After weeks of unrest over police brutality and systemic racism, North Carolina lawmakers turned attention back to two pieces of legislation: One would ease expungement of criminal records, another would let judges avoid some sentencing mandates. 

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation talk about how significant these bills are, and where they come down on the idea of renaming military bases named for Confederate generals. 

Also, did they feel any relief with the announcement this week that the RNC is officially heading to Jacksonville, Florida for President Trump's renomination?


North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

When Hurricane Matthew flooded his hometown in 2016, Mayor Bobbie Jones understood the magnitude of the decisions ahead. As the National Guard drained the floodwaters back into the Tar River, some of the 2,200 residents considered relocation. 

The Republican National Committee has tentatively decided to move much of its political convention to Jacksonville, Florida, while leaving some of the business aspects of the convention in Charlotte, according to a story in the Washington Post.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

As protests took place across North Carolina and the nation, calling for justice after the killing of George Floyd, President Donald Trump called for a greater use of force.

In North Carolina two task forces were announced —one by the governor, one by lawmakers — aimed at trying to help bridge the racial divide.

Meanwhile, it looks less likely that the Republican National Convention will take place in Charlotte this August.

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch review what was a historic week in the state and country.
 

Credit: Union County Government

With rare consensus from Democrats and Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives, House Bill 1169 — which outlines provisions for an anticipated increase in absentee-by-mail voting this fall — passed 116-3 last week.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

How does a campaign fundraise during a pandemic? If the RNC departs from Charlotte, does that give anyone a political advantage? Will we see the customary election-year rallies this fall?  

North Carolina political strategist Jonathan Felts offers his answers on this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast. And he talks about working with future candidates for office in Afghanistan. 


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