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WUNC Politics

The WUNC Politics Podcast is a free-flowing discussion of what we're hearing in the back hallways of the General Assembly and on the campaign trail across North Carolina. 

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  • Voters in this year's primary will have a few new things to get used to. After years of legal wrangling, photo IDs are required to vote, but there's a process in place for voters who show up without one. And voters looking to use mail-in absentee ballots need to be aware of earlier deadlines. WUNC's voting and election integrity reporter, Rusty Jacobs, joins Capitol Bureau Chief Colin Campbell to explain what voters need to know as they participate in a big election year.
  • Voters in this year's Republican primary will decide whether they want Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson or one of his opponents as their nominee for governor. And elsewhere on the ballot, races for lieutenant governor, Council of State and open congressional seats have drawn a large number of Republican candidates. Candidates spending their personal fortunes on TV ads could have an impact on who wins.To sort through all the races to watch on the GOP side, WUNC spoke with N.C. Rep. Erin Paré, R-Wake, and Anna Beavon Gravely, a political analyst and former executive director of NC FREE. Paré also discusses her decision to switch races from Congress to N.C. House because of the likely cost of running in a crowded congressional primary.
  • As North Carolina’s March 5 primary looms, there’s not much competition at the presidential level on the Democratic side. President Joe Biden will be the only name on the ballot here, but there are plenty of races worth watching further down the Democratic Party ballot for governor, Council of State and legislative seats. Will low turnout lead to some surprise results? Will votes in support of Republican legislation cost several incumbent Democrats their seats in the state House and Senate?To sort through the Democratic primary ballot, WUNC spoke with Sen. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, and Kimberly Reynolds, former executive director of North Carolina Democratic Party and a partner in the consulting firm Maven Strategies.
  • This episode is the sixth installment in our Main Street NC series from the WUNC Politics Podcast.One of the state’s only cryptocurrency mining operations is located a few miles outside Murphy at North Carolina’s far-western tip – and it’s driving the neighbors crazy. Even at a house a mile away, the sound can make it seem like you're next to a busy freeway. It comes from massive computer servers that are running the complex computations needed to power cryptocurrency. The out-of-state companies were drawn here by cheap electricity and a lack of zoning restrictions, forcing the leaders of Cherokee County to balance their conservative love of unfettered property rights with the need to address a modern nuisance. To learn more about how Murphy and Cherokee County are charting a future that brings more tourists while keeping out noisy cryptomines, WUNC spoke with County Commissioner Ben Adams.
  • This episode is the fifth installment in our Main Street NC series from the WUNC Politics Podcast.Dozens of small towns across North Carolina are struggling to replace aging, often failing water and sewer infrastructure. The upgrades are needed to attract industry and residents back to places where textile and manufacturing plants have closed down. The tiny town of Star in Montgomery County, near Asheboro, is leading the way in addressing the problem -- securing more than $35 million in state and federal funds to replace water lines that break often as well as its water tower and sewer treatment plant. To hear more about Star's plans for what its leaders hope will be a bright future, powered in part by an arts complex, WUNC spoke with Star Mayor Bill Hudson and Town Commissioner Ray Mims.
  • This episode is the fourth installment in our Main Street NC series from the WUNC Politics Podcast.The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina is based in the small town of Pembroke, and this corner of Robeson County has one of the highest concentrations of American Indians in the state. The Lumbee Tribe is also a considerable political force across Robeson – and it’s had to fight hard throughout its history to gain that political power. In recent years, many Lumbees have helped shift Robeson County politically from a place with a reliable majority for the Democratic Party to a county that largely supports Republicans. To understand why, WUNC spoke with N.C. Rep. Jarrod Lowery, a Republican who is the state's only American Indian legislator. Lowery discusses how the push for Lumbee federal recognition in Congress and political parties' shifting presence in Robeson County played a part in the change.
  • This episode is the third installment in our new Main Street NC series from the WUNC Politics Podcast. When Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina in 2016, every business on Main Street in the small Columbus County town of Fair Bluff was underwater. A few had reopened by 2018 when Hurricane Florence brought a repeat of the same flood damage. Mayor Billy Hammond and other town leaders ultimately came up with a dramatic plan to address the issue: Build a whole new downtown-style commercial district a few blocks up the street on higher ground. To hear more about Fair Bluff's plans for a flood-proof future, and how it hopes to make its close proximity to the Lumber River an asset, WUNC spoke with Hammond and Town Manager Al Leonard.
  • This is the second installment in our new Main Street NC series from the WUNC Politics Podcast. In the coming months, we’ll be visiting communities across the state to hear from local leaders about the positives going on in their towns, and the challenges they face, from population loss to flooding to aging utility infrastructure. East of Raleigh, the once sleepy suburb of Wendell ranked as the fastest-growing town in North Carolina between 2020 and 2021, with a population that increased by 16% in a single year. Signs of growth are everywhere you look in the Wake County town. It’s a prime example of what the rapid growth of North Carolina’s metro areas means for the once sleepy towns on their outskirts.To learn more about why Wendell is suddenly one of the state’s fastest-growing towns, and the challenges that brings, WUNC spoke with Mayor Virginia Gray and Mayor Pro Tem Jason Joyner.
  • This is the first installment in our new Main Street NC series from the WUNC Politics Podcast. In the coming months, we’ll be visiting communities across the state to hear from local leaders about the positives going on in their towns, and the challenges they face, from population loss to flooding to aging utility infrastructure. Our first stop is the Bertie County towns of Aulander and Lewiston Woodville.Lewiston Woodville Mayor Chris Cordon and recently retired Aulander Mayor Larry Drew discuss the causes of population loss and how it impacts their towns. Both share their optimism about the future of the Bertie communities and what it will take to bring growth and prosperity back to one of North Carolina's poorest, most diverse regions.
  • The state legislature wrapped up votes this week on new Congressional and state House and Senate district maps. The maps make it likely that Republicans will add three or four seats in Congress, while solidifying potential veto-proof majorities in the legislature. But with lawsuits looming over the maps, the fight isn't over. Senate Minority Whip Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake, joins WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Colin Campbell to discuss his concerns about racial and partisan gerrymandering in the districts, as well as the likely legal issues at stake. Chaudhuri also previews what Democrats see as their prospects and strategy for the 2024 election with GOP-advantage maps.