Week In State Politics

2020 was an exhausting year for North Carolinians, and in the world of news and politics.

Host Jeff Tiberii, Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation review some of big stories from the past year, and turn their attention to 2021. Will it be more of the same, or different?



It was unprecedented, exhausting, unrelenting and — to at least one local reporter — bananas. The 2020 calendar will be remembered for a pandemic, racial reckoning and a once-in-a-generation election. On this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast, journalists reflect on what they will remember most from this wild year.



What is the typical gubernatorial profile in North Carolina? Are there patterns in the background, upbringing or political composition of those who have occupied the Governor's Mansion during the last 50 years? And what might these patterns tell us about who could be chief executive going forward?


County elections boards have finalized their official vote tallies. Still, on Friday the race to be chief justice of the state Supreme Court looked almost certainly headed for a recount.  

Meanwhile, the Democratic challenger in the U.S. Senate race conceded this week. And a former Wake County Public Schools superintendent moved into a top (interim) role at the Pentagon. 

Host Jeff Tiberii, Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation review those stories along with the latest grim pandemic news.


Election Day brought little closure for our nation or our state in 2020.

There will be counts and recounts and court filings and calls to concede before all is said and done.

Guest host Will Michaels walks us through a week of the democratic process at work — and assesses some of what we do know regarding election outcomes with Becki Gray, of John Locke Foundation, and Rob Schofield, of NC Policy Watch.
 


At least 4 million North Carolina voters won't be at the polls next Tuesday because they've already cast their ballots. And the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week officials can keep counting mail-in ballots for nine days after Election Day. 

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch join host Jeff Tiberii to weigh in on what the high court had to say, how huge the huge turnout will ultimately be, and whether or not we'll see North Carolina voters split the ticket again. 
 


With less than two weeks until November 3, more than two million people have already voted. In our review of the week in state politics, Democratic strategist Aisha Dew and former chair of the North Carolina Federation of Young Republicans Clark Riemer discuss when they expect to have results and how they’re feeling about the races. Plus, what to make – if anything – about the Governor’s comment on Cal Cunningham. 



North Carolina is again home to the most expensive U.S. Senate race in the nation's history. During this 2020 election cycle, billions of dollars will flow through the somewhat mysterious apparatus of campaign finance.

On this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast, Jeff Tiberii speaks about the financial landscape with Anna Beavon Gravely of the NC Free Enterprise Foundation, journalist Jeremy Borden, who is also a volunteer leader with the Open Raleigh Brigade of Code for America. and UNC-Charlotte political science professor Eric Heberlig.


This week: North Carolina voters turned out in record numbers for the start of in-person early voting. Lines were made longer by social distancing — the polls are open as cases of COVID-19 across the state are surging. 

Democratic strategist Aisha Dew and Republican Clark Reimer join host Jeff Tiberii to offer some insight into those developments, as well as a confrontational gubernatorial debate between incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper and challenger Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. 
 


This week:  Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham had their first debate. The Democrat's answer to a hypothetical question about the COVID-19 vaccine caught some attention. 

On the reopening front, Gov. Roy Cooper announced elementary schools could welcome back all their students soon — as long as they wear masks and practice social distancing. Meanwhile Cooper's opponent, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, said face covering requirements would be dropped come January if he were to win the governor's race.

Offering insight and making their debut as our commentators are Aisha Dew of Higher Heights and Clark Riemer, former chair of the North Carolina Young Republicans and a staffer in the state House.
 


This week: A Washington Post story alleged Postmaster General Louis DeJoy cajoled GOP campaign donations from employees of the logistics business he ran in Greensboro. 

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation consider whether the latest controversy surrounding DeJoy will affect Republican candidates in North Carolina this year.

Also, census watchers are sounding the alarm to Congress about a potential undercount in the state, and the major party candidates for U.S. Senate have their first debate next week. 


This week: State legislators gaveled in for a brief two-day session and don't intend to return until next year — that is, until after the elections are over. Their singular charge was to allocate North Carolina's remaining pandemic relief funds from the federal CARES Act.

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch discuss the good – and the bad – in the latest relief package. And they react to President Trump's visit to Wilmington, where he tacitly encouraged people to vote twice.
 


This week: American political history was made as Joe Biden introduced U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate in the presidential race. Her presence on the ticket might impact voter turnout in North Carolina. Then again, it might not.

Meanwhile, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest dropped a lawsuit against his gubernatorial opponent, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Mitch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield from NC Policy Watch discuss those developments, plus: what Postmaster General Louis DeJoy means for 2020, and signs of relief for North Carolinians who are still out of work.


This week in state politics: The effects of the pandemic continue to be felt in wide and various ways. From touchscreen voting machines to an annual bar exam, there are questions about risk and necessity.

In their weekly review of state politics, Becki Gray and Rob Schofield discuss remote learning, elections preparations, and President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back plans for the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville.

This week in state politics: More remote learning became a reality this week when Gov.  Roy Cooper announced North Carolina public schools will not return like normal next month as COVID-19 cases have been on the rise.

Rob Schofield and Becki Gray discuss the governor's choice to recommend a mix of online and in-person schooling for K-12 students. 

Meanwhile, the latest campaign finance reports show Democrats are building a financial advantage. And in Asheville, city council members unanimously voted to provide Black residents with reparations.

 


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. 
 


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.


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.
 


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.


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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?


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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.
 

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This week began with President Trump trying to lure Gov. Roy Cooper into a tussle on Twitter.

It concluded with North Carolina's health secretary pressing for more details about how the organizers of the Republican National Convention plan to safely hold the event in Charlotte this August. 

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch ponder that, and also state lawmakers' bipartisan agreement on an elections bill and discord over letting bars reopen sooner rather than later while COVID-19 remains a threat.  
 


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As restaurants, salons and pools reopen (partially) in North Carolina over the Memorial Day weekend, there are varying levels of worry about the coronavirus. 

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation chat about the loosening of public health restrictions, more record-setting unemployment numbers, and the news that there will be no criminal charges against the chemical manufacturer Chemours for contamination in the Cape Fear River. 


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Several sheriffs across the state signaled this week they won't enforce North Carolina's ban on church services held indoors. 

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are getting ready to meet in Raleigh again next week for a session where the coronavirus pandemic will still be looming large. 

The John Locke Foundation's Becki Gray and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch consider those developments and whether it's a matter of if or now when U.S. Sen. Richard Burr steps aside as he's dogged by an insider trading investigation. 


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North Carolina is entering the first phase of reopening after the coronavirus-related shutdowns. Outdoor church services are OK now, shoppers can return to malls, and the gates on state parks are coming up. 

As they review the week's political news, Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray from the John Locke Foundation say wheher they'll be venturing out. 

And they offer their reactions to more outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat processing plants, the governor signing a pair of coronavirus relief bills, and the state transportation agency getting a scathing audit report. 
 


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This week in state politics, lawmakers returned to the North Carolina General Assembly to deliberate how much of the available federal aid should be dolled out immediately.  

Meanwhile, another wave of unemployment claims rolled in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

And a giant of the state Legislature died. 

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch discuss balancing economic health and public health, and the legacy of the dry-witted former Sen. Tony Rand. 


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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.
 


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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. 
 


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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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North Carolina's response to the coronavirus is changing every hour. Gov. Roy Cooper has strongly advised against gatherings of more than 100 people. And the courts will largely postpone hearings, beginning next week. 

Rob Schofield of the progressive N.C. Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation discuss what more government can — and should do — and how the state response compares to how federal leaders have handled this global pandemic.

UPDATE: Since initial taping of this podcast, the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) has suspended performances through March 29 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
 


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