WUNCPolitics

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The WUNCPolitics 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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The insurance tycoon accused of trying to bribe the state insurance commissioner with $2 million in campaign donations went on trial this week. 

And a new poll came out showing Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Michael Bloomberg, and Joe Biden essentially tied in North Carolina as we barrel toward Super Tuesday. 

Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch and Mitch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation review all that news and mull whether the North Carolina House Speaker would be a good chancellor for East Carolina University. 
 


Pints & Politics

Feb 19, 2020

Join us for our first-ever Pints & Politics event at Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery in Chapel Hill on Thursday, Feb. 27th. In the final days before Super Tuesday, political reporters Rusty Jacobs and Jeff Tiberii will chat about the 2020 elections, and record an episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast.

Jeff will interview Patrick Woodie of the NC Rural Center. And later in the program Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive N.C. Policy Watch will record their review of the Week In State Politics.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the program set to begin at 7 p.m.

The event is free but space is limited. Please RSVP to rsvp@wunc.org.

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Jim Blaine is an unapologetic and self-identified political hack. He is also one of the most respected political operatives in North Carolina. He was chief of staff to the Republican state senate leader before starting his own consulting company in 2018. 

On this episode of the WUNCPolitics Podcast, Blaine discusses his personal political evolution, why Bernie Sanders makes him trepidatious, and why Republicans should be more worried about the dark horse in North Carolina's Democratic senate primary. 

 


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A judge this week reversed a settlement between the UNC System and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, making the fate of the mangled Silent Sam statue again uncertain. 

The state superintendent, who's campaigning for lieutentant governor, blasted 540,000 text messages to parents and educators voicing his opposition to Common Core and soliciting responses to an online survey. 

And, Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg returned to North Carolina as they're rising in the polls. 

Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation process the developments. 


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Morgan Jackson has been a Democratic political tactician in North Carolina for more than 20 years. He is one of Gov. Roy Cooper's closest advisers.

He doesn't plan on sleeping much in 2020, and he might skip dinner. 

On this edition of the WUNCPolitics Podcast, Jackson explains what's keeping him so busy this election season and why he thinks the Tar Heel State should have a larger role in the national primary process.

  


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Problems with the Iowa Caucuses dominate discussion about the Democratic presidential contest ahead of the New Hampshire primary. And in North Carolina, we get a look at the candidates' campaign finance reports.

Becki Gray  of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch dissect the presidential race and campaign fundraising.

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U.S Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer purportedly imagined a Democrat would have to lock himself in a "windowless basement" and fundraise nonstop to beat incumbent GOP Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina. But, Cal Cunningham's campaign office has plenty of natural light. 

Cunningham got the stamp of approval from the DSCC's national recruiters. His primary campaign has benefitted from lots of outside money, including millions from VoteVets. Though the candidate wants to see an end to dark money. 

On this edition of the WUNCPolitics Podcast, Cunningham discusses the money in politics, who's supporting him, and why he should be North Carolina's next senator. 
 


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While U.S. senators (and our airwaves) were occupied with an impeachment trial, former Vice President Joe Biden picked up a couple of endorsements from notable North Carolinians. 

Becki Gray  of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch weigh in on the questions of witnesses and impeachable offenses and the significance of endorsements these days. 


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State Sen. Erica Smith says she's the progressive, credentialed, electable choice, even if the Democratic Party establishment isn't backing her campaign for the U.S. Senate.

On this edition of the WUNCPolitics Podcast, Smith talks about her fundraising and who she likes in the still-crowded presidential primary race. 

She also discusses what role race plays as she tries to become just the third black woman ever to earn a seat in the world's greatest deliberative body.  
 


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Republican candidate for governor (and current lieutenant governor) Dan Forest claimed that Planned Parenthood was created to, "destroy the entire black race," during a Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Then on Wednesday he compared abortion to slavery. 

This week in North Carolina politics also included an allegation of illegal coordination between a senate campaign and a friendly PAC, and a new order in a decades-old lawsuit over public education funding. 

Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Billy Ball of the progressive NC Policy Watch review the developments. 


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WBTV reporter Nick Ochsner doesn't hesitate to confront a subject who he feels is ducking his questions. He has a reputation for being quick to file a lawsuit when it seems officials aren't following public records laws. 

On this edition of the WUNCPolitics Podcast, Ochsner explains his aggressive approach and whether being from a Gold Star family has influenced his reporting. 


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The North Carolina General Assembly convened for a single day this week. But no budget deal was brokered, and now we'll be without one at least until springtime. 

Meanwhile, incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis has made an unusual request to debate his Democratic opponent in the 2020 general election. 

Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation discuss all that and what concerns they have about the voting machines being booted up for the primaries.  
 


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The state superintendent made a $928,000 emergency purchase that stoked the fight with the state board of education over what tool schools should be using to evaluate reading skills. 

A Democratic state senator who Republicans found both annoying and essential officially stepped down to join the state Utilities Commission.   

And presidential candidates Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer are spending millions on ads in North Carolina as Super Tuesday looms. 

Mitch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch —  our political observers on the right and the left — assess the week's news. 


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North Carolina state Rep. Holly Grange is competing against the sitting lieutenant governor, Dan Forest, to be the Republican nominee for governor in 2020. 

She says she is a "sensible" alternative —  one who can bring the fight to Democratic incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper. 

On this edition of the WUNC Politics Podcast, the military veteran, former lawyer, and current lawmaker discusses rising tensions with Iran, her chances against Forest and Cooper, and how she'd get Democrats and Republicans to agree on a state budget. 
 


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A judge put North Carolina's requirement that voters show photo ID on hold for now. 

Duke Energy agreed to excavate millions of tons residue from burning coal - which will cost billions. 

And it's officially 2020!

Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation catch up with the first big political stories of the new year.
 


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There was a flurry of political retirements (some spawned by redistricting), followed by a rush of candidate filings as the year came to a close in North Carolina. 

2019 was busy for the General Assembly, though the number of bills that became law won't show it. Republican lawmakers lost their supermajorities and the governor's veto got teeth. 

As for the decade: Republicans took full control of the Legislature, North Carolina emerged as a swing state, and there were court battles, court battles, court battles... 

Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation look back. 


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The first black person elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in the 20th Century. ... First to win a statewide election. ... First to be the state's chief justice. 

But he had hurdles to jump to even enter civic life when he went to register to vote in the 1950s. 

Henry Frye, now 87, discusses public life, voter suppression, and one way to a long marriage on this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast. 
 


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Rematches are shaping up for 2020 in some North Carolina legislative districts, while dozens of seats are still unopposed with a week to go for candidate filing. 

A new study came out saying the state needs to drastically increase spending on public schools — maybe by as much as $8 billion over eight years. 

The University of North Carolina agreed to give the Sons of Confederate Veterans the felled "Silent Sam" statue along with $2.5 million for upkeep. Now a civil rights law firm is going to court to try to block the settlement. 

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch recap the week in state politics from the right and the left. 
 


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We knew Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis was running for re-election, but he made a bit of news about impeachment when he filed. And Tillis is not running unopposed.

News & Observer reporter Dawn Vaughan joins the WUNC Politics Podcast to talk about the races for senate, congress, and lieutenant governor in North Carolina, and why she thinks the potrayal of a female newspaper reporter in the new movie Richard Jewell is, "a bunch of crap!"


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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faced criticism this week for its decision to pay the Sons of Confederate Veterans $2.5 million, and hand over the Confederate monument Silent Sam which was erected during the Jim Crow era and loomed over the school’s campus until it was toppled in August, 2018.

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Darren Jackson wants to be the next Speaker of the North Carolina House.

Jackson (D-Wake) is currently the Democratic leader in House. He says if Democrats can take back the chamber he will insist on redistricting reform at the General Assembly.

In a wide ranging conversation, Jackson discusses candidate filing for the 2020 elections, which began Monday. And he addresses a friendship with David Lewis (R-Harnett) that soured after a controversial budget-override vote on September 11th.

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Plans to overhaul North Carolina's Medicaid program are on an indefinite hold — another casualty of the budget impasse. 

A Republican-led investigation concluded Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper improperly handled negotiations over a mitigation fund related to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.

And, on the heels of legislative redistricting, a five-term state senator has announced his retirement. 

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation give their takes — from the left and the right — on what's behind the week's political news. 


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Rufus Edmisten knows something about impeachment hearings.

In the summer of 1973, while working as a staffer to U.S. Senator Sam Ervin, it was Edmisten who hand-delivered a subpoena to the White House. He called it a footnote in American history.

Following his role in the Watergate hearings, Edmisten served as North Carolina Attorney General, and later Secretary of State. Edmisten was also defeated during a bruising 1984 gubernatorial campaign. Edmisten discusses these topics, as well as his passion for gardening, on the latest episode of the WUNCPolitics Podcast.


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North Carolina's General Assembly approved a replacement congressional map. 

Newly elected Republican Congressman Dan Bishop tweeted out the name of the person he believes is the whistleblower at the center of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. 

And state lawmakers adjourned an extra-long legislative session without resolving a budget impasse.  

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch — on the left —and Mitch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation— on the right — weigh in on the week's political news. 


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Republican Dan Forest wants to be promoted to governor of North Carolina.  

Forest, in his second-term as lieutenant governor, says  Democratic incumbent Roy Cooper is too liberal.

On this edition of the WUNC Politics Podcast, Forest gives his take on Medicaid expansion, why he believes a significant expansion of charter schools would benefit public education, and why he's happy to have a primary opponent for 2020. 


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The most powerful politician in North Carolina was accused of misusing campaign funds this week.

But Phil Berger's staff says this is much ado about nothing, and that the Republican from Rockingham County has twice received approval.

Mitch Kokai, of the John Locke Foundation, and Rob Schofield, of NC Policy Watch, review whether or not what Berger did should be illegal. And they also provide thoughts on the latest layer of drama within the UNC System.


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Lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly have begun redrawing congressional districts again. 

Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Walker is in his third term representing what is currently known as the 6th District. The boundaries have already shifted several times since he first took office. 

Walker talks about the frustrations of constant redistricting, why he joined a protest against the impeachment inquiry process, and why he's pushing to let college athletes get paid. 


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The North Carolina General Assembly concluded this week with a decresendo. Legislators adjourned for a two-week recess without overriding a budget veto or finding much in the way of compromise. 

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Mitch Kokai of the John Lock Foundation discuss the heightened acrimony, and the court ruling that all but guarantees lawmakers will be returning to another round of redistricting. 

And Mitch and Rob share their reflections on the career of former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan who died this week at age 66.
 


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Republican State Treasurer Dale Folwell went to battle with the General Assembly earlier this year over healthcare. He lost the battle, but the war over pricing, transparency, and reforming a system in North Carolina may not be over. 

On this episode of the podcast, a conversation with Folwell about that dispute, as well as the State Health Plan open enrollment, and a recent hobby which left him injured.


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More "mini budgets" advanced in the North Carolina General Assembly this week. 

Lawmakers recieved warning that the planned transformation of the Medicaid program could be disrupted by the absense of a complete state budget.

And, for the first time in years, a legislative committee discussed proposals for reforming the redistricting process.

Billy Ball of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation review some of the happenings in North Carolina politics this week. 
 


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