Editorial: What NC voters told our still gerrymandered legislature

Be sure to check out this morning’s excellent Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com — “Voters to legislators. Stop fighting governor. Cooperate and compromise.”

As it explains, the idea being pushed by North Carolina Republicans that they somehow won a mandate by virtue of continuing their gerrymandered majorities in the General Assembly is absurd:

The notion that winning a majority of seats in a still-gerrymandered legislature is a mandate doesn’t match reality. In the state House of Representatives, Democrats captured 53% of the votes – while they only won 52 (43%) of the 120 seats. All this in districts so lacking in competition that the winning margin in 77% of the seats exceeded 20 percentage points.

In the state Senate, where Democrats did pick up two additional seats, they still hold just 44% of the 50 Senate seats even though they captured 48% of the vote. Sixty-two percent of the state Senate contests had landslide victory margins exceeding 20 percentage points.

…At best, the Republican legislators have no more of a claim to a mandate than does Gov. Roy Cooper – a Democrat who won a statewide race, non-gerrymander-aided contest – receiving more than 2.8 million votes and a victory margin that exceeded ANY statewide candidate as well as combined totals in the General Assembly.

We hear a clear message from North Carolinians in their vote for governor. They want a government that meets the state’s needs with quality services and is striving for the best – whether that be schools, health services, economic opportunity or quality of life. They have had enough of the legislature’s wasteful, bargain-basement mediocracy. Being just OK, muddled and middling, isn’t good enough and doesn’t meet the expectations of the electorate.

The editorial then goes on to spell out the kind of commonsense policy agenda that should be on tap for 2021, including:

  • Uniting behind state health and emergency officials to fight and effectively address the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Expanding Medicaid – which comes at little cost to taxpayers but the years of failure to expand have cost thousands of lives and tens-of-thousands of new jobs that should have, but have not been created.
  • Implementing the action plan agreed, by the plaintiffs and defendants and adopted by Judge David Lee in the Leandro settlement. There needs to be a sincere effort to meet the state’s constitutional promise to make a quality education available to every school child.
  • Adopting major bond issues for local school construction, community colleges and the University of North Carolina building needs, historic and cultural sites, as well as for local water and sewer projects.
  • Providing resources so the state’s prisons are properly staffed and properly equipped to assure the safety of those who work – and those incarcerated – in the state’s correctional institutions.

The bottom line: last week’s results may have been a disappointment for North Carolinians looking for a full-throated, across-the-board repudiation of Trumpism, but as the editorial explains, voters still made clear that they want an end to the petty obstructionism that has been the hallmark of the state’s legislative leadership in recent years.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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