The federal government is open again, but it could close in 3 weeks. Meanwhile, federal workers are still hurting, many with no guarantees of back pay. Find out how you can help federal workers here. One major way is to donate to food banks. See more resources for federal employees. Continue to call, fax, or text Senators Burr (202-224-3154) and Tillis (202-224-6342). Tell them to  support a "smart wall" (increased border security without a physical wall) and a permanent fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA).

The long legislative session begins today at noon and Republicans in the NCGA wasted no time getting back up to their old slimy tricks, this time out of apparent desperation: Speaker Moore announced on Friday that he would bring back "floaters" (no, not that kind of floater): Republicans in the NCGA that can vote in any and all committees. These were created by Republicans– surprise surprise– in the 90s, and they were even used by Democrats in the 2000s. Regardless, I'm at an utter loss as to how this is legal and I've been calling Moore (919-733-3451 and 704-739-1221) and emailing him (Tim.Moore@ncleg.net) and even reaching out to his assistant Brittany Eller to express my bafflement and displeasure at this tactic. I suggest you all do the same.

The Chief Justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court, Republican Mark Martin, is stepping down from his post next month to become dean of Regent University law school in Virginia. This is a chance for Governor Cooper to appoint a judge of his choosing to the post, which could mean the already-left leaning NCSC could lean even further left. Not, evidently, if Justice Phil Berger Jr. has his way. The son of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has announced that he would like to run for a seat on the NCSC in 2020.

Good luck.

Speaking of new candidates in 2020, Democratic State Senator Erica Smith has announced her intention to run for Senator Thom Tillis' seat. She's the third Democrat to put in for it, after Trevor Fuller, a Democrat and former chair of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, and Eva Lee, a Democrat and Raleigh tax attorney.

Good luck!

The new Board of Elections, to be created January 31st, has two new Republican offerings. Governor Cooper will pick two Republicans and three Democrats to sit on the committe which will pick up the NC-09 investigation.

If you've managed to keep up with the NC-09 chaos, let me know what magic you used! It's been difficult at best to follow the convoluted chain of events into and out of Bladen County, through the NCBoE and the NCGA, through Mark Harris' notorious fire door escapade and back and around McCrae Dowless' suspicious shoulders. But the good folks over at the UNC School of Government have put together what may be the best summary of the whole business that I've yet read. It balances detail with brevity, and is well worth your time. It's also important, in this case and in all other things political, to not let politicians' bullhorns sway you into unquestioning acceptance. It's sad that it's come to this– we're supposed to be telling them what to do instead of the other way around– but one way we fix that is to make sure we think critically and elect leaders who will serve us properly. That's what 2020 is for.

Want to know what's on the NCGA's docket for 2019? Check out this list of NC advocacy groups' legislative priorities for the new session. If any of these strike you one way or another, contact your legislators and make your voice heard!

More than 300 people packed into a conference room at Duke University last week for the Reason, Reform, and Redistricting Conference. There, people from both sides of the aisle, along with panelists and constituents, tackled gerrymandering in North Carolina as it represents a threat to democracy. There's a long way to go, especially in light of Kavanaugh's presence on the Supreme Court, but the conference proved there are a lot of people willing to fight.

If top GOP political consultant Paul Shumaker is to be believed, "in the [2020] race for governor, U.S. Senate and for the state’s electoral votes, the margin of victory will likely be no more than 100,000." That means that get-out-the-vote efforts on our part will be critical between now and November 2020. I'd rather have a whole blue tide rather than a single wave anyway– let's keep it rolling!

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