Commentary, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Keep calm, stay engaged1. A pep talk for progressives
Keep calm, stay engagedReasons for hope; reasons to keep working

It’s been a devastating last 36 hours or so for millions of caring and thinking people in the United States and around the world. The very notion that Donald Trump (a man that one of North Carolina’s best known arch-conservatives described earlier this year as “completely unqualified to be commander-in-chief and…a contemptible human being”) is soon to occupy the Oval Office as the world’s most powerful human is, in some ways, a profoundly sobering – even terrifying – thought.

All of the anxiety that has accompanied this development is made that much more acute by the visceral reaction Trump provokes in so many as the result of his bluster, coarseness, vulgarity and narcissism. That such a frequently boorish character will soon presume to follow in the dignified footsteps of Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Eisenhower and Obama just rankles to such a degree that it’s hard to get one’s mind wrapped around it. [Read more…]

trump-1108-20162. Trump’s big night lifts most Republicans in NC, but McCrory trails Cooper

Republican businessman Donald Trump shocked the world Tuesday night and his upset victory provided surprising coattails that swept many Republicans into office in North Carolina, neutralizing what was widely expected to be a year of Democratic gains in Congress and the General Assembly.

Instead Republicans rode the Trump wave to maintain control of the U.S. Senate and easily keep their supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature in Raleigh.

The glaring exception was Republican Governor Pat McCrory who at the end of the night remained roughly 5,000 votes behind his challenger, Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper. [Read more…]

McCrory with Trump3. Trump’s coattails fail to help McCrory; HB2 anger motivates split-ticket voters

North Carolina was a legitimate swing state this year, having gone narrowly to President Barack Obama in 2008 and narrowly to his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012.

The state leaned conservative this year, part of a series of swing state Republican flips that put presidential candidate Donald Trump over the top in the electoral college.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

“The split-ticket voter is apparently live and well here in North Carolina,” said Dr. Michael Bitzer, a professor of political science and history at Catawba College. [Read more…]

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson4. Here are the major Election Day outcomes for NC public schools that nobody’s talking about

Much of the discussion this morning, rightfully so, centers around Donald Trump’s surprising coronation early this morning, but followers of North Carolina’s most hot-button education issues were in for their fair share of surprises last night too.

Policy Watch’s Chris Fitzsimon noted this morning that, with the exception of HB2-affiliated politicians such as Gov. Pat McCrory and attorney general candidate Buck Newton, Republicans were swept into office by a wave of their supporters seemingly fired up by the prospect of a Trump candidacy.

That wave extended to the race for superintendent of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, where longtime Superintendent June Atkinson was narrowly defeated by a relatively unknown challenger, Republican Mark Johnson.

According to the state’s unofficial election results, Johnson had claimed 50.6 percent of the vote, compared to Atkinson’s 49.3 percent. [Read more…]

Illustration of Mike Morgan and Bob Edmunds5. GOP legislative leaders could make rare court-packing move to keep partisan control of state Supreme Court

North Carolina voters have spoken, and they tipped the state Supreme Court to a Democratic majority Tuesday, but there’s a possibility that the Republican-led legislature will attempt to gain partisan control again before the end of the year by packing the court.

The high court is currently comprised of a Chief Justice and six associate justices. The races for open seats on the bench are supposed to be non-partisan, but outside money and special interests dominate campaigns, which are supported by the political parties.

In an election upset Tuesday, Democrat Mike Morgan won over Republican incumbent Justice Bob Edmunds, effectively flipping the court from a 4-3 Republican majority to 4-3 Democratic control.

There’s since been speculation that legislative leaders will force a vote in an emergency special session called to address Hurricane Matthew to add two additional associate justices in an effort to reestablish the Republican majority, a move that is allowed by the North Carolina Constitution. [Read more…]

***Upcoming event on Wednesday, November 16th:  Crucial Conversation — Making sense of the 2016 election: What happened? Why? What now?

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