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Editorial: NC must avoid ‘bad government’ brand

Was a Wake County Republican legislator so spooked by his chances in a fair fight last week that he threw in the towel?

Three-term N.C. Sen. John Alexander told The News & Observer of Raleigh that he decided not to run for re-election because he wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren.

Some progressives say the real story is that Alexander preferred retirement to running in an ungerrymandered district. The old map had seemed tailor-made to draw him into a winnable district. The new map placed Alexander in the same district as a Democratic incumbent.

Either way, the election landscape is shifting. The redrawn maps are now under court review.

Meanwhile, North Carolina has been looking bad (again) to the rest of the nation — and not just for the extreme gerrymandering that prompted a panel of judges to order the revised districts in the first place.

Most recently, there were the shenanigans by state House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, to time a vote on overriding Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the GOP-drafted state budget when few Democrats were around to oppose it. (And allegations by Democrats that they had
been snookered into believing there would be no vote that day.)

Before that was ballot fraud in the election in the 9th Congressional District.

And before that was House Bill 2, the ugly “bathroom bill” that forced transgender people to use restrooms that comported to the genders listed on their birth certificates.

And before that, numerous attempts by Republicans to reduce the power of a Democratic governor barely before Cooper could warm the seat.

All of a sudden, a state once nationally regarded as smart and forward-thinking was looking like less the home of Research Triangle Park and more like a banana republic. (Columnist Paul Krugman of The New York Times held up North Carolina as an example that “Republicans don’t believe in democracy.”)

Of course, some portrayals of the state in national media have gotten it wrong. For instance, the Democrats who were absent for the veto override vote were not attending 9/11 commemorations.

But on the broader brush strokes the national media were right. We are a mess.

As for John Alexander, you should know he’s a moderate. He is married to a Democrat and was one of only a handful of Republicans to call for the repeal of HB 2.

Then again, Alexander also appeared to try to persuade a legislative staffer to draw district lines that were more favorable to his re-election prospects before announcing his fishing plans with the grandkids.

Beyond that, the division and the deception and the quest for world domination by Republicans now — and the Democrats before them — need to end.

The redrawn districts will be a start. Better yet maps should be drawn by an independent commission.

It would be nice to see a sense of fairness in elections, versus manipulation and self-interest.

Then maybe North Carolina, which once was known as “The Good Roads State,” won’t need to be rebranded as “The Bad Government State.”

— Winston-Salem Journal

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