On March 26th, Common Cause will go before the US Supreme Court and  argue that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. Stand with them in Raleigh! Details here.

The candidate filing period for the new NC-09 election is over, and we're looking at a field of 13 candidates: 10 Republicans, 1 Democrat, 1 Libertarian, and 1 Green Party candidate. We all know the Democrat: Dan McCready, who has been campaigning hard since the election was called into question. Mark Harris endorsed Stony "I Wish I Could Be Trump" Rushing, but the establishment favorite seems to be veteran-campaigner Dan Bishop, who authored the much-hated Bathroom Bill, HB2. Chris Anglin– yep, the NC Supreme Court candidate who changed his party affiliation to Republican to run in that election– is also planning to run (as a Republican). A field this crowded will likely mean the primary will be, as Max Greenwood puts it in the The Hill article linked above, bruising.

Dan Bishop sustained a bruise early: to his ego, that is. Former Congressman Robert Pittenger, who lost the primary election in 2018 to Mark Harris, apparently sent out an email to his supporters and press that accused Bishop of conspiring with Harris and McCrae Dowless. After a swift libel suit threat by Bishop, Pittenger retracted his words. What a wild ride.

gif via giphy

While the candidates bully each other– I mean get ready for the May 14th primary, investigations are still turning up new levels (depths) of shady business. Newly-unsealed warrants reveal that McRae Dowless had been under FBI surveillance as far back as 2016. The warrants called for Dowless' cell phone and bank records from 2016 until this past January, as well as ATM transactions and records of FBI surveillance on a meeting Dowless had with another Bladen County operative. One wonders why, if business has been this shady for this long, hasn't there been action before now? It may have something to do with the GOP's tendency to ignore facts and attempt to rewrite history.

If you haven't read last week's post on the issue of voter ID, I recommend it. The NCGA passed a bill to delay voter ID requirements until 2020, partly because the NCBoE won't have time to implement all the rules governing photo ID usage at the polls before the NC-09 and NC-03 elections in May and April, respectively (calendars here). Also, partly, to give UNC system schools time to file the correct paperwork to allow their students to use their student IDs at the polls, something that the original voter ID bill promised would be possible. The UNC system didn't make the deadline. That means it's now up to the NCGA to act, or these IDs won't satisfy the requirements to vote starting in 2020. Contact your legislators and urge them to seek a solution to this stalemate.

While you're on the phone or at your computer, fire one off to Senator Tillis and scold him for doing what we kind of always knew he'd do anyway: going back on his promise to vote against Trump's emergency declaration. Email him here, and call his offices here.

North Carolina sheriffs who are so far refusing to cooperate with ICE might not have a choice under a new bill, which would force them to either cooperate or face fines on the order of $25,500 per day.

The Confederate monument saga continues: there's now a bill on the table to restore "injured" monuments like Silent Sam. Hopefully this'll be one of the ones that dies in Rules.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 has been talked about– and tabled– for several sessions now. Will this year finally be the year it goes somwhere? Lord I hope so.

Despite a procedural blunder by freshman Senator Kirk deViere that risked tabling much-needed Medicaid expansion until the next NCGA session in 2021, it may not be time for the fat lady to sing on Medicaid expansion just yet.

Nobody likes governmental overreach (except the GOP in the NCGA), but perhaps some statewide regulation of requirements and qualifications for substitute teachers might be a good thing. Right now, NC has no statewide regulations governing substitute teachers, and the lack of structure was on stark display last month in Wake County as students alleged a substitute made offensive comments to them. One sub, also in Wake, was charged with assaulting a student in December.

Hurricane Florence recovery is well underway, but slow. Governor Coooper has established the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency, which "provides disaster recovery coordination with services that include oversight of recovery funding, processing of program applications, construction and vendor management, and public outreach and education, among many other responsibilities. With NCORR up and running, North Carolina is now on the road to recovery with a team of state, federal and volunteer partners dedicated to helping communities rebuild to be more resilient and better prepared to weather future storms." Let's hope working with the NCBoE to help affected voters recover swiftly enough to make it to the polls is part of their strategy. You can't have a resilient state without a healthy democracy.

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