Rusty Jacobs

Political Reporter

Rusty Jacobs is a politics reporter for WUNC. Rusty previously worked at WUNC as a reporter and substitute host from 2001 until 2007 and now returns after a nine-year absence during which he went to law school at Carolina and then worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Wake County.

As a reporter, he has covered a wide array of topics including military affairs, sports, government and damaging storms.

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Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

As partisan rancor flared in Washington during congressional debate over the second impeachment of President Donald Trump, state lawmakers in Raleigh sounded a note of cooperation at the start of this year's North Carolina General Assembly session.

As state lawmakers begin a new legislative session Wednesday, a top House Republican says it's up to Gov. Roy Cooper and his fellow Democrats whether there will be a negotiated two-year budget plan or more stalemate. WUNC's talks with NC House Majority Leader Rep. John Bell.


North Carolina lawmakers start a new legislative session on Wednesday. In a one-on-one conversation with WUNC's Rusty Jacobs, the incoming Democratic leader of the state house, Rep. Robert Reives, says he believes mob violence by Trump supporters on Capitol Hill last week could actually lead to more civility in Raleigh.
 


Rep. John Bell (R-District 10) is the Majority Leader of the North Carolina House. Rep. Robert Reives (D-District 54) is the new Minority Leader for the 2021-22 session.
Campaign Photos

North Carolina lawmakers start a new legislative session this week at a time when partisanship and bitterness nationwide have reached a peak.

Jerrye & Roy Klotz / Wikimedia Commons with edit

Federal and state law enforcement have arrested 21 people associated with a large-scale drug ring involving the North Carolina campuses at UNC-Chapel Hill, Appalachian State University and Duke University.

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and Senior Associate Justice Paul Martin Newby
Courtesy North Carolina Judicial Branch

Like it or not, Cheri Beasley's tenure as Chief Justice will be defined in large part by her response to COVID-19.

Workers at the Durham County Board of Elections process absentee ballot requests while maintaining safety during the coronavirus pandemic in Durham, N.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.
File, Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Counties across the state are finishing up the ballot count today and will hold canvas meetings to tally final results from the 2020 General Election.

Voters walk past campaign signs at the Graham Civic Center polling location in Graham, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Gerry Broome / AP Photo

North Carolina Republicans are frustrated that national media outlets haven't called the state for President Donald Trump yet in last week's election.

Peyton Sickles / for WUNC

Young voters helped contribute to record turnout for North Carolina's 2020 general elections.

Marchers made their way across downtown Durham on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020 calling for all votes from Tuesday's election to be counted.
Jay Price / WUNC

As North Carolinians await final results in key political battles in an unprecedented election year, state officials say it's business as usual.

Voters walk past campaign signs at the Graham Civic Center polling location in Graham, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Gerry Broome / AP Photo

Updated at 8:15 p.m on 11/4/2020

Unlike some national races, the outcomes of most statewide races in North Carolina are more clear. Still, a few races are up in the air, with more than 100,000 absentee ballots left to count.

The race for president may still be too close to call in North Carolina, nevertheless Election Day did provide conclusions for a number of key races in the state. Republicans are set to maintain control of both chambers of the General Assembly while the Democratic governor keeps his office. 

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, host Jeff Tiberii talks with WUNC politics reporter Rusty Jacobs about the latest results and how the voting transpired. 

A group of people kneeling in front of a building with columns
Rusty Jacobs/WUNC

Law enforcement officers pepper sprayed peaceful protesters in Alamance County this weekend on the last day of early voting. The group of about 150 people were participating in a “Legacy March to the Polls” in downtown Graham that included a stop at the controversial Confederate monument there and a plan to march two blocks to an early voting site. 

Voters line up at the Alamance County Annex Building, a polling site in Graham, NC. Saturday was the final day of North Carolina's early voting period.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

The mood at an Alamance County polling site in Graham on Saturday was fairly festive. It was a mild and sunny Halloween. Volunteers at a table set up by Down Home North Carolina offered voters coffee, donuts and safety kits with gloves and masks.

Roy Cooper Dan Forest 2020 election
Gerry Broome / AP

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican challenger Lt. Gov. Dan Forest faced off Wednesday night in the lone debate of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race. It was a spirited exchange over education, health care, economy and the COVID-19 crisis.

Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

I first spoke with David Quinn a couple of weeks ago, before the first presidential debate. Quinn, 64, was coming out of the post office branch in downtown Oxford, the Granville County seat.

Quinn and his wife are empty nesters, who moved to Oxford from Raleigh.

"You don't have the traffic, you can buy way more house for way less money," he said at the time.

An unmarked envelope and absentee ballot for a voter in Orange County.
Amy Jeffries / WUNC

Tens of thousands of absentee ballots already returned by North Carolina voters have been processed without issue. But a much smaller number has been set aside – held up while elections officials eagerly await guidance on how to cure deficiencies like missing witness information.

Boxes of absentee ballot requests sit at the Durham County Board of Elections office in Durham, N.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. The county has seen an increase in the number of absentee ballot requests for the 2020 election during the coronavirus pandemic
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments over whether North Carolina is providing voters sufficient opportunity to fix absentee ballots that arrive without full information on who witnessed it.

Scandal and litigation have cast a cloud of uncertainty over North Carolina elections. On Friday, incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. He's in self-isolation experiencing mild symptoms.

Notably, Tillis serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee and he’s the second member of that panel to test positive – along with Republican Michael Lee of Utah.

If Tillis and Lee are out for some time, the Republican majority's efforts to quickly push through Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett could be delayed.

Granville County is a swing county in a swing state. In 2008 and 2012, voters there went for Barack Obama by healthy margins. But the county flipped in 2016, going for Trump by two percentage points.

Meet some Granville County residents and see how they're planning to vote this November:

Oxford, NC, the seat of Granville County
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

On a late afternoon in Granville County, Linda Smart took a stroll around beautiful Lake Rogers Park with her husband, Henry, and a friend.

"We're hikers and kayakers and stuff, so we're usually at parks," said Smart, 65.

The Smarts recently moved north from Durham to Granville to find a little more wide open space.

Board of Elections absentee north carolina vote
Gerry Broome / AP

Ken Raymond and David Black suddenly resigned from the North Carolina State Board of Elections late Wednesday claiming they were misled about a proposed settlement of lawsuits over absentee voting rules. It was an abrupt turnaround from the unanimous vote the two members joined just days earlier in a closed session of the elections board.

Board of Elections absentee north carolina vote
Gerry Broome / AP

It didn't take long for a GOP candidate to exploit the resignations of the two Republican members of North Carolina's State Board of Elections.

Boxes of absentee ballot requests sit at the Durham County Board of Elections office in Durham, N.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

The two Republican members of North Carolina's state elections board have resigned after signing off on a legal settlement to alter absentee ballot rules for this fall.

WUNC has all the coverage you need this election season. Check out our 2020 Voter Guide for information on absentee ballots and more. And be sure to check out our Races To Watch stories for everything you need to know about candidates in statewide and legislative elections. Subscribe to WUNC's Politics Podcast, and follow reporters Rusty Jacobs and Jeff Tiberii on Twitter.

This year, North Carolina voters will make crucial decisions at the polls that could impact state politics and laws for at least the next decade.

In addition to casting their ballot in the race for the White House, North Carolinians will also vote in statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. Senate, the state attorney general, the state supreme court, and U.S. House races.

Tiffany Tertipes / Creative Commons/ Unsplash

More than a tenth of registered voters in North Carolina have requested absentee ballots this year — significantly higher than in previous elections.

Louis DeJoy
USPS

United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has long been a political fundraiser in North Carolina. He’s amassed millions for Republican candidates in races for governor, Congress and president. Now that fundraising has come under scrutiny for possibly violating campaign finance law while the postmaster was CEO of New Breed Logistics.

Natalie Dudas-Thomas / WUNC

WUNC has all the coverage you need this election season. Check out our 2020 Voter Guide for information on absentee ballots and more. And be sure to check out our Races To Watch stories for everything you need to know about candidates in statewide and legislative elections. Subscribe to WUNC's Politics Podcast, and follow reporters Rusty Jacobs and Jeff Tiberii on Twitter.

The North Carolina General Assembly recently enacted legislation to ease absentee-by-mail voting this year and to make polls safer for in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Voters fill out their ballots at the Hamilton County Board of Elections as early voting begins statewide, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted along party lines Monday to back plans for early voting on Sundays in some counties.

Tiffany Tertipes / Unsplash / creative commons

North Carolina voters continue to request absentee-by-mail ballots this year at a record pace. Requests are now 15 times ahead of where the number was at the same time four years ago, during the last presidential election cycle. They're expected to surpass 500,000 this weekend.

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