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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One week to go before Election Day 2020 and the votes continue to pour in by the millions. Behind every ballot cast is a voter wielding the pen and filling in the bubbles for who they want to see in office.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, we hear from a handful of voters across the battleground state of North Carolina about what’s on their minds. Host Jeff Tiberii also talks with WUNC politics reporter Rusty Jacobs about Granville County and why it's a region to keep a close eye on this election.
 


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. 
 


Political polling isn’t a crystal ball into election outcomes this November, but it is a useful tool to help us understand where certain groups of voters stand in a given point in time.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, host Jeff Tiberii examines what makes a good poll, and what might make a survey less reliable. Courtney Kennedy, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center, provides a behind-the-scenes look at political polling. And David McLennan, director of the Meredith Poll in Raleigh, talks about the polling process in this battleground state of North Carolina.


The stakes in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race were already significant – with the winner potentially signaling which party could control the chamber in the next Congress. In recent days, the campaign narratives were upended as Republican incumbent Thom Tillis tested positive for COVID and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham acknowledged sending sexual text messages to a woman that is not his wife. 

Rob Schofield and Becki Gray join host Jeff Tiberii to discuss the possible electoral impacts of the news. They also review the latest in mail-in balloting, and offer reaction to a North Carolina Congressman’s racist tweet.
 


Democrats seeking to transform the landscape of North Carolina politics must take back the state House.

Republicans captured a majority ten years ago, expanded it to veto-proof status in 2012, and in doing so have since fundamentally shifted governance in North Carolina. The GOP is aiming to hold on to its majority this election season, and – with redistricting on the horizon – trying to maintain control for another decade.

On this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast, a conversation with state legislators Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange, Caswell) and Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) about the campaigns, key districts and one divisive strategy.
 


This week: Donald Trump’s positive coronavirus test has upended the already unstable political landscape. With just more than a month until Election Day, it is unclear how the president going into quarantine will affect the key battleground of North Carolina. In their review of the week in state politics, Rob Schofield and Becki Gray react to the major news, reflect on the final debate for North Carolina's U.S. Senate race, and discuss whether the State Board of Elections went too far in changing rules for mail-in ballots.


North Carolina's ballot stretches well beyond the top of the ticket. One big question looming in 2020 is whether Democrats will regain control of at least one chamber of the General Assembly, or if Republicans will hang on to the reins with their simple majority. 

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, host Jeff Tiberii dives into a key state senate race in New Hanover County. He speaks with the University of  North Carolina Wilmington's Aaron King about the political landscape for legislative races. And Democratic Sen. Harper Peterson discusses how President Trump's presence on the ballot plays into his bid for reelection in closely contested District 9. 


North Carolina has 13 congressional districts, though only one race is likely to be particularly close this fall. After a judicial panel determined the old map illegally favored Republicans and the boundaries were redrawn last year, the 8th District is now a competitive outlier.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, host Jeff Tiberii talks with Chris Cronin, political science professor at Methodist University, about the impact voters in Fayetteville could have on the outcome in the 8th District race. And we hear from Patricia Timmons-Goodson, the Democratic nominee challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Richard Hudson.
 


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.
 


When Lanisha Jones went to vote in the 2016 election, she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong. She thought she was simply exercising her right to vote. But in 2019, the district attorney in Hoke County charged her with voting illegally because at the time she was still on probation from a felony conviction.

Since then, Jones has been fighting the charges, and says she was unfairly targeted for committing a crime she didn't know was a crime when she voted.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, host Jeff Tiberri joins colleague Leoneda Inge, co-host of WUNC’s podcast Tested, to talk with Jones about the charges, and how her experience fits into a larger story of disenfranchisement in North Carolina.
 


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. 


As COVID-19 cases climb at many colleges and universities in North Carolina, schools are maintaining dashboards to track and present different data and terminology. But are the dashboards enough of a resource to keep students and faculty informed about the virus on their campus?

On this edition of the Politics Podcast, we're featuring an episode from Tested, a podcast at WUNC that takes a hard look at how North Carolina and its neighbors are facing the day's challenges.

Tested host Dave DeWitt talks with WUNC education reporter Liz Schlemmer about the role of dashboards in tracking COVID-19 cases at colleges and universities.
 


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.
 


As an investigative reporter for Carolina Public Press, Kate Martin has been persistently reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina for months.  She’s determined to uncover the answers to questions others are not asking and hold officials accountable. 

As she’s pressed on with her reporting, Martin has been grappling with personal hardship. Her father passed away in late May.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast from WUNC, Martin discusses the grind of reporting in a crisis, her father’s death, and a recent public moment when her family and profession collided.


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.


Jim Hunt was first elected Governor of North Carolina in 1976 when he was just 39 years old. He served four terms in the Executive Mansion, spanning four different decades. 

During his time in office, Hunt remained a steadfast supporter of public schools and prioritized education policy. In 1984, Hunt also set his sights on the U.S. Senate, and lost a bitter race to longtime Senator Jesse Helms.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast from WUNC, Hunt discusses his legacy as a governor, recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and a time he hitchhiked to the Midwest.


 

This week:  Governor Cooper criticizes President Trump and Lt. Governor Forest over their pandemic responses. And close to 150,000 voters have requested absentee ballots for the November election. This week a federal judge ruled that a witness requirement will remain in place, however, voters will have a chance to correct administrative errors on their ballots. Becki Gray and Rob Schofield discuss Cooper's criticisms, the latest in mail-in balloting, as well as a troubling video released by the Forsyth County Sheriff's Department. 


This week:  North Carolina played host to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Meanwhile, David Lewis, a powerful state legislator, will not be on the ballot, as previously expected. And with the State Fair canceled for the first time since the second World War, Becki Gray and Rob Schofield ponder whether college athletics can realistically take place this fall. 

Anthony Jackson has been an educator for more than 30 years, but there's never been a school year that’s begun like this one.

Jackson is the superintendent of Vance County Schools, and like many other districts across North Carolina, his decided to start the upcoming semester with all-remote instruction. 

On this episode of the Politics Podcast from WUNC, Jackson discusses the state of education in his rural district, whether there will be a "COVID-19 slide" for students, and how he stays centered during this unprecedented time.


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.

 


Aisha Dew first volunteered on a political campaign 30 years ago, when she was a young girl. In 2016, she was leading Bernie Sanders' campaign in North Carolina. Today, she works with Higher Heights, seeking to mobilize Black women and increase their participation – and representation – in politics.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast from WUNC, Dew discusses her focus for 2020, and whether one institutional hurdle for Black candidates is getting any lower.
 


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.


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.
 


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.


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. 
 


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