Politics

Political news from around NC and beyond.

Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, waves papers around Thursday March 11, 1999 before the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in Raleigh, N.C. where they considered a bill that could make DNA testing as common as fingerprinting.
Karen Tam / AP file photo

Former Democratic state Sen. Tony Rand, a longtime power broker in North Carolina state politics whose legislative acumen helped elevate careers of politicians from both parties, died Friday at age 80.

Rand died about 1 a.m. at a family home in Blowing Rock, according to his son, Ripley, a former U.S. attorney. Rand had battled thyroid cancer and hypopharyngeal squamous cell cancer for several years, he said.

Flickr / Mark Nozell

Former Vice President Joe Biden denies a sexual assault allegation by former Senate aide Tara Reade. The presumptive Democratic nominee spoke publicly about the allegation this morning for the first time. 

In the NC House, Donnny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) reads from notes, as Speaker Tim Moore stands behind. At left (masked) is Principal House clerk James White.
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

Lawmakers in the state House and Senate are still working on a compromise COVID-19 relief package.

On Thursday, House lawmakers approved a $1.7 billion dollar package. GOP Representative Perrin Jones praised the bipartisan effort, and noted that the profound impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have not been equally felt.

Protestor holds a sign that reads 'end the tyranny.'
Kate Medley / For WUNC

State lawmakers are working out details − and their differences − on legislation to distribute more than $1 billion dollars in coronavirus relief funds.

North Carolina House Democrats held a virtual press conference to promote Medicaid expansion.
NC House Democrats / Twitter

Some Democrats in the General Assembly are again pushing for Medicaid expansion as state lawmakers debate emergency funding proposals during the pandemic. 

A group of Democrats in the state House on Wednesday rolled out a bill that would repeal a law preventing North Carolina from expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Legislators look out the window to see packed protestors.
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

North Carolina lawmakers gaveled in Tuesday for a legislative session unlike any other — their first since the coronavirus pandemic hit the state. 

State lawmakers began session Tuesday as REOpenNC protesters gathered on Jones Street in downtown Raleigh.
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

The state House and Senate are split over how much COVID-19 relief to provide in the immediacy. The discord may be typical, but it's hardly business at usual on West Jones Street in Raleigh.

The General Assembly will need to reach agreement on the amount to earmark for small business loans and whether to provide COVID-19 medical coverage for those in the healthcare gap.

A view of the North Carolina legislature building through the Bicentennial Plaza in downtown Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

A North Carolina legislative session anticipated months ago to repeat the acrimony from last year's budget impasse between Republicans and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper begins Tuesday with expectations of consensus to address  COVID-19.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced a couple of tough calls this week in the face of increasing frustration with social distancing restrictions.

He extended his stay-at-home order. And he declared public school buildings will stay shut for the rest of the academic year. 

Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch discuss what lessons could be learned from online learning, and what decisions state lawmakers should make in response to the coronavirus crisis when it's their turn next week.
 


Photo: Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

North Carolina Senate Republicans won't try any more to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's budget veto from last summer, the chamber's leader says, citing state government's precarious fiscal situation due to COVID-19.

The GOP-controlled legislature had attempted for months to cull together enough votes to complete the override and approve its two-year spending plan despite Cooper's objections. But without veto-proof majorities, GOP leaders have needed help from Democrats.

Protestor holds a sign that reads 'end the tyranny.'
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Governors find themselves in the political crosshairs of the pandemic — navigating the threat of an economic depression with a second wave outbreak. This week, states began diverging from the federal government’s recommended strict restrictions. 

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

Governor Roy Cooper extended North Carolina's stay-at-home order until at least May 8. The order was issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

This means the social distancing measures in place since March 30 will continue. Those include the mandated closures of restaurants for dine-in service and bars, along with the closure of other close-contact businesses.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

As the Republican leader of the state Senate, Phil Berger is the most powerful man in North Carolina politics. For weeks, he's been pushing for random COVID-19 testing so the state can get a handle on the outbreak and reopen for business. 

Meanwhile, the legislative leadership decided to close the doors of the General Assembly to the public, just before lawmakers are set to reconvene for an in-person session. Berger says that wasn't an easy call. 

The senate leader talks about protests against the governor's stay-at-home order, social distancing, and missing baseball on this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast. 
 


WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

There were new calls this week for the reopening of business across North Carolina — there was even a protest in Raleigh against the governor's stay-at-home order. 

The General Assembly will soon be convening to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, but top leaders in the state House and Senate have announced the legislative building will be closed to the public. 

Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch discuss the growing discord and whether the evidence suggests the state is ready to ease social distancing restrictions. 
 


Ethan Hyman / ehyman@newsobserver.com

Across the nation, governors are facing grassroots pressure to lift their stay-at-home orders. More than 100 protesters gathered in Raleigh Tuesday to demand that the state reopen for business.

In a statewide special, public radio stations from across North Carolina join together to examine the impact of Coronavirus on our health, schools and economy.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

Unemployment claims surpassed half a million, and various industries across North Carolina asked for help this week.

The coronavirus outbreak took dozens more North Carolinians and led to a hot spot in Orange County. In their usual review of the week's political news, Rob Schofield, of NC Policy Watch, and Becki Gray, from the John Locke Foundation, address some recent pushback to the stay-at-home order, and share how they will celebrate the holiday weekend.


Sen. Bernie Sanders and staff walk down steps on Capitol Hill
Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is out of the Democratic presidential race. Former Vice President Joe Biden is now the presumptive nominee who will face President Donald Trump in November. 

(AP Photo/ Daniel R. Patmore)

As of April 7, a surge of COVID-19 cases at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner sent the total number of infections to 62 — the highest among the nation’s federal prisons, according to The News and Observer.

Empty public space in downtown Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

North Carolina's elected officials on Tuesday pledged cooperation and prepared for prolonged social distancing restrictions as COVID-19- related deaths jumped by a third statewide. Worries also deepened about the growing number of infections behind prison and jail bars.

"We will get through this, particularly we will get through this if everyone does his or her part," Gov. Roy Cooper said during the regular monthly meeting of the Council of State, composed of the 10 statewide executive branch leaders.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

Republican Greg Murphy represents eastern North Carolina's 3rd District in the U.S. House. He's also a urologist, and the only doctor on Capitol Hill still seeing patients. 

He's been on social media in a lab coat or scrubs often lately to update constituents on the coronavirus outbreak. He's delivered a mea culpa about one claim: sunlight, he'd said, can kill the virus — several fact checks rated that false. 

On this edition of the WUNC Politics Podcast, Rep. Murphy talks social distancing, the federal response to COVID-19, and being both a physician and a politician in the middle of a pandemic.


WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

North Carolina is rounding out its first week under a statewide stay-at-home order. 

Two years' worth of unemployment applications have suffocated the state agency charged with handling them. 

And the coronavirus pandemic has now reached into the state's nursing homes, prisons, and even the legislative building. 

Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch discuss what's transpired, what lawmakers should do to prepare for the inevitable budget shortfalls, and the conundrum of political fundraising during a crisis. 
 


North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina has seen more than 50 times the typical number of people applying for unemployment in the past two weeks. Nearly 90% say they're jobless because of the coronavirus pandemic.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

Gov. Roy Cooper ordered North Carolinians to stay at home for thirty days starting 5 p.m. Monday, March 30. Healthcare providers worried about being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients cheered his decision. Businesses not necessarily. 

Meanwhile, lawmakers this week began meeting, telephonically, to consider things like how to provide tax relief and get money to all the people who are suddenly out of work because of the coronavirus crisis. 

From a safe social distance, Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation, weigh in. 
 


The State Board of Elections on Thursday asked legislative leaders and Gov. Roy Cooper to make it easier for people to vote absentee by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.

https://twitter.com/ncgop

The North Carolina Republican Party's state convention is being delayed by three weeks due to the new coronavirus emergency.

Tables sit vacant and pollen-covered at Kabab and Curry
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

State legislators have gathered remotely this week as they consider ways to help North Carolinians affected by the coronavirus crisis. The first tele-meeting was held Wednesday, as lawmakers convened for the first time – from a distance – in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

It's been three weeks since Super Tuesday. Dozens of winners in federal, state, and local races were celebrating that night. But the vast majority of candidates who were on North Carolina's packed primary ballots lost. 

Greg Gebhardt is an Iraq war veteran, once a staffer for powerful state House Rep. David Lewis, and father of three. 

He spent months traversing the state, raising and spending money to improve his name recognition in the crowded race to be the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor.

But he came up short. And losing, he says, is a lonely place. 
 


U.S. Congress

A week before the U.S. stock market started to slump, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr sold off a significant portion of his portfolio — while reassuring the public that the nation was prepared for a pandemic. 

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

As a global pandemic continues to spread throughout the country, a prominent North Carolina politician landed in the crosshairs on Thursday. Richard Burr, the senior U.S. Senator from North Carolina, gave a grim warning about the virus to a private audience, while striking a different message in public. Reporting this week also revealed he made 33 transactions, dumping as much as $1.7 million in stock as COVID-19 prepared to wreak financial havoc.

Becki Gray, a senior vice president with the conservative John Locke Foundation, and Rob Schofield, director with the progressive N.C. Policy Watch, join WUNC capitol bureau chief Jeff Tiberii to discuss the week's news. In a first for this series, which has run every week for three years, Gray, Schofield, and Tiberii were in three separate locations, in order to maintain safe social distancing.


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