Political notebook: Former NC governors make 2020 predictions

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Former Govs. Jim Martin, Jim Hunt and Pat McCrory on Wednesday looked back on the state’s changes and made predictions about 2020 at NC Priorities, hosted by the Charlotte Observer and moderated by reporter Jim Morrill.

Together, the three governors have 28 years of experience. They spoke about the biggest differences in the state.

Martin, a Republican, said the polarization of the political parties across the country. Hunt, a Democrat, said the realization that a lot of poor people, African-Americans and Hispanics have not been treated fairly and “have not been given an opportunity to become all they can be and ought to be.” McCrory, a Republican, spoke of the transformation of the urban centers like Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, Greensboro and Wilmington and the decrease in population in small, rural areas, which has a caused a political divide.

Infrastructure is the way to connect the rural and urban areas, McCrory said.

The state does not have a budget and hasn’t for months. 

And McCrory said he sees the stalemate “more as a power struggle than an issues struggle.”

Hunt, a Democrat, said legislators ought to come back to Raleigh “right now” and work on funding for education, healthcare and transportation.

“We can work together,” Hunt said. “You all should make them work together, but we have got to get this done. We have to get something done, by the way, about our school and we have to do something about health care.”

Martin said public education should be the state’s No. 1 priority.

McCrory voiced concerns about the financial problems North Carolina has, with $50 billion of unfunded liability for its pension program and health care. He said Medicaid is already underfunded to take care of the needs of the elderly, poor and children. 

The former governors also talked about whether they would support an independent redistricting commission to draw legislative and congressional lines.

Hunt said he did. McCrory said all three probably agreed with an independent commission, but that everyone is for the idea as long as they get to appoint the independent commission. He said the governors have talked about how to do more fair types of gerrymandering.

“Both parties are very guilty of this not wanting competition, and I think competition is good,” McCrory said. “I like competition.”

Martin said the definition of an independent commission needs to be figured out.

In another question, the governors were asked: Will Republicans keep control of both chambers this year?

Hunt replied, “No, it’s going to be close.”

Tillis campaign enters 2020 with strong cash on hand advantage

The Tillis for Senate campaign announced Thursday that it outraised each of its challengers during the fourth quarter and maintains a strong cash on hand advantage entering 2020.

Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, raised $1.9 million, roughly matching his best haul of the cycle. Despite advertising aggressively during the fall, Tillis still had $5.3 million cash on hand at the beginning of January, more than three times as much as his best-funded challenger.

“In a cycle where multiple Senate incumbents are being outraised by their challengers, we enter 2020 in a position of strength,” said campaign manager Luke Blanchat. “While our Democratic opponents are currently draining their resources in order to win their competitive primary, we know full well the dynamics of the race will change next quarter when national liberals coalesce behind the winner and begin pouring everything they have into flipping this seat.”

In the March primary, Tillis faces Paul Wright, Larry Holmquist, Sharon Y. Hudson.

Five Democrats are running for the Senate seat, which includes Erica D. Smith, Steve Swenson, Cal Cunningham, Trevor M. Fuller and Atul Goel.

Cooper for North Carolina reports nearly $4 million raised in second half of 2019

Cooper for North Carolina released the following statement Friday announcing it raised nearly $4 million in the second half of 2019, which puts the campaign at more than $8.2 million in cash-on-hand.

In 2019, Cooper for North Carolina raised $8.5 million, the most any candidate for governor in the state has raised in the year before the election.

“With more than three-quarters of our contributions $100 or less, it’s clear North Carolinians are chipping in whatever they can to make sure Gov. Cooper is re-elected so he can continue his mission of moving North Carolina forward to a place where people are better educated, healthier, and have more money in their pockets,” said Liz Doherty, communications director for Cooper for North Carolina. “We’re heading into 2020 well-equipped to communicate with North Carolinians in all 100 of the counties from which we’re lucky to have support.”

Cooper faces a Democratic challenger, Ernest T. Reeves, for the primary. He then will face the winner of the Republican primary, Dan Forest or Holly Grange.

Rep. Ted Budd leads NC delegation to tackle federal debt

U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R-13, introduced a resolution last week stating the debt ceiling should not be raised without significant fiscal and spending reforms.

Reps. Richard Hudson, R-8, Mark Meadows, R-11, Dan Bishop, R-9, and David Rouzer, R-7, support the resolution.

The resolution, H. Res 818, states the national debt exceeds $23 trillion, which is about $70,000 for each American citizen.

“We have to take action and reverse course,” Budd said in a statement. “That’s why I introduced a resolution this week to make it plain what Congress’s priority should be: Ending Washington’s spending addiction.”

The resolution continues to state the reducing government spending is more efficient than raising taxes.

“I’ve fought to cut reckless spending and tackle our nation’s debt, and today’s legislation underscores a common sense point that Washington can’t seem to grasp – our federal government can’t keep spending more than it takes in,” Hudson said.

Civitas Institute polls voters about education preferences

The annual School Choice Civitas Poll findings released Wednesday says 32% of parents would select a traditional public school if cost and location were not factors. 

That was followed by 23% who chose a private religious or parochial school. The poll was in partnership with Civitas Institute and EdChoice. The majority of respondents, 64%, said their child attends a public school.

Differences emerged among Republicans and Democrats on several school choice issues:

  • Republicans, 12%, were four times more likely to send their child to a religious or parochial school than Democrats, 3%
  • Democrats, 12%, were more than twice as likely than Republicans and unaffiliated voters, 5% and 6%, respectively, to say that the government —rather than a child’s parent or guardian — is best suited to determine where a child should attend school
  • The top reason Republicans, 18%, gave for opposing school choice was, “it hurts public schools financially.” The top reason Democrats, 23% gave for opposing school choice was, “it encourages de facto segregation.” 

Unity around several core aspects of school choice was found:

  • Support for the Opportunity Scholarship, which provides vouchers for low-income families, was 70% with Republicans, 67% with Democrats and 62% with unaffiliated.
  • A plurality of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters said the most compelling reason for school choice was it gives families the ability to, “choose the best educational option.”  
  • A majority from all three political identifications said that they agreed with the statement, “Parents should have the ability to choose where their child attends school.”

The sample size for the survey was 800 registered voters. The survey was conducted Jan. 20-22.