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State Senator Dan Bishop wins GOP primary in North Carolina’s 9th U.S. House District

Bishop will now face Democrat Dan McCready in September special election

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

CHARLOTTE (CFP) — State Senator Dan Bishop from Charlotte has easily won the Republican primary in North Carolina’s 9th U.S. House District and will now defend the seat against Democrat Dan McCready in a September special election.

Bishop took 48 percent in the May 14 vote, well above the 30 percent he needed to avoid a runoff.

State Senator Dan Bishop

Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing came in second at 20 percent, followed by former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour at 16 percent.

McCready, who fell 900 votes short of winning the seat last November but got a second chance when the results of that election were tossed out, was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Bishop’s victory sets up what is likely to be an expensive special election contest against McCready that will garner national attention for a seat Democrats hope to flip.

In his victory speech, Bishop came out swinging against what he called “liberal crazy” ideas like “socialism, open borders, infanticide [and] 90 percent tax rates.”

“Dan McCready went through two elections without telling anyone where he stood on anything,” Bishop said. “Voters in the 9th District deserve a clear choice, and we’re going to give them one.”

The 9th District seat has been open since state elections officials refused to certify the results of last November’s election amid allegations of absentee ballot fraud by a contractor linked to the 2018 Republican nominee, Mark Harris.

After the State Board of Elections ordered a new vote, Harris — who had defeated McCready by just 900 votes in November — opted not to run, clearing the way for Republicans to pick a new candidate.

Bishop, 54, is a social conservative best known as one of the authors of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” a law passed in 2016 which required transgendered people to use the restroom assigned to their birth gender in public facilities. After a public outcry and organized boycotts of the state, the law was repealed in 2017.

His campaign has been endorsed by the North Carolina Values Coalition, a conservative group that supported the restroom restrictions.

McCready, 35, is a Marine Corps veteran and solar energy entrepreneur making his first bid for political office.

Since losing to Harris, McCready has raised more than $2 million and will start the general election campaign with a $1.6 million war chest.

The district stretches across south-central North Carolina from the Charlotte suburbs to near Fayetteville.

The special election will be held September 10.

Residents of the 9th District have been without representation in Congress since Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger left office in January.

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GOP voters in North Carolina 9th U.S. House district picking new candidate for race rerun

Tuesday’s primary will narrow field of Republican challengers to face Democrat Dan McCready

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

CHARLOTTE (CFP) — Voters in North Carolina’s 9th U.S. House District will go to the polls Tuesday to vote in primaries for a seat that has been vacant since state elections officials refused to certify the winner of last November’s election over allegations of absentee ballot fraud.

On the Democratic side of the ballot, Dan McCready, who narrowly lost the seat in November, faces no opposition. But on the Republican side, nine candidates are jockeying for their party’s nomination after last year’s GOP nominee, Mark Harris, dropped out of the election rerun.

State Senator Dan Bishop

To clear the primary without a runoff in North Carolina, a candidate needs 30 percent of the vote, and pre-election polling has shown State Senator Dan Bishop of Charlotte right at that threshold and ahead of the other candidates in the crowded field. He has the backing of much of the Republican establishment, including Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

The only other candidate in double-digits in polling is Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing, who has gotten Harris’s endorsement.

The district stretches across south-central North Carolina from the Charlotte suburbs to near Fayetteville.

Democrats have high hopes of flipping the seat, which McCready lost to Harris by just 900 votes. He has raised more than $2 million since November and will start the general election campaign with a $1.6 million war chest.

However, Republicans in the legislature changed state law to force a primary in the special election, which cleared the way for the party to jettison Harris, whose campaign had seriously wounded by allegations that one of his campaign operatives had engaged in absentee ballot fraud in Bladen County, a rural outpost at the eastern end of the district.

After a new election was ordered, Harris — citing health concerns — declined to run.

Bishop, 54, is a social conservative best known as one of the authors of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” a law passed in 2016 which required transgendered people to use the restroom assigned to their birth gender in public facilities. After a public outcry and organized boycotts of the state, the law was repealed in 2017.

His campaign has been endorsed by the North Carolina Values Coalition, a conservative group that supported the restroom restrictions.

Stony Rushing as Boss Hogg

Rushing, 47, who owns a gun range, has drawn attention for dressing like Boss Hogg, the fictional political boss in “The Dukes of Hazard,” during his re-election campaign to the county commission in 2018. During the congressional campaign, he has defended Harris, saying the fraud allegations had been “blown out of proportion” and that state elections officials had erred by ordering a new vote.

McCready, 35, is a Marine Corps veteran and solar energy entrepreneur making his first bid for political office.

If no Republican candidate clears 30 percent, a runoff will be held in September. The GOP winner will face McCready in November.

Residents of the 9th District have been without representation in Congress since Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger left office in January.

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Republican field set for July runoff for vacant North Carolina 3rd District U.S. House seat

State Rep. Greg Murphy will face newcomer Joan Perry in runoff; winner faces Democrat Allen Thomas in September

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com

GREENVILLE, North Carolina (CFP) — Two medical doctors will compete in a July 9 runoff for the Republican nomination for fill a U.S. House vacancy in Eastern North Carolina.

Greg Murphy and Joan Perry

State Rep. Greg Murphy from Greenville and Joan Perry, a pediatrician from Kinston and former member of the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors, took the top spots in the crowded April 23 primary for the 3rd District seat, which featured 17 Republican candidates.

The seat has been vacant since U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, who had held it for 24 years, died in February.

Murphy took 23 percent in the first round to 15 percent for Perry. Under state law, primary runoffs are held when no candidate gets 30 percent of the vote.

Among Democrats, former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas won his party’s nomination outright in the first round, with 50 percent of the vote.

The winner of the Republican runoff will be prohibitive favorite in the 3rd District, which includes 17 mostly rural counties along the state’s Atlantic coast. President Donald Trump carried the district by 14 points in 2016.

In addition to the special election in the 3rd District, voters in the state’s 9th U.S. House District will also vote in a May 14 primary to fill a seat that has been vacant since the State Board of Elections ordered a redo of last November’s election amid allegations of absentee ballot fraud.

Ten Republicans are running that that primary. Democrat Dan McCready, who narrowly lost in the district in November, is the only Democrat on the ballot.

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Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax calls for criminal investigation of sexual assault allegations

Fairfax issues new denials after his accusers describe encounters in graphic, emotional detail on CBS

By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

RICHMOND (CFP) — Days after two women vividly described for a national television audience how they were sexually assaulted by Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, he called a news conference to once again deny the allegations and release results of polygraph examinations that he insists clear him.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax denies allegations in April 3 news conference (From CBSN via YouTube)

“Sensationalizing allegations does not make them true,” said Fairfax, who admitted having sexual encounters with both women but said they were consensual. “Yet airing salacious allegations without evidence does enormous damage.”

Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic leaders in the House of Delegates continued to spar over whether to let Fairfax’s accusers, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, testify in a public hearing, as the women have requested.

Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox has proposed forming a special committee to hear their testimony, but House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn and Fairfax have resisted, saying a law enforcement agencies, not lawmakers, should investigate to keep the process from becoming politicized.

Tyson has alleged that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him when both were working at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Watson accused Fairfax of raping her in 2000, when they were personal friends while both attending Duke University.

This week, CBS This Morning aired the first national television interviews with the women since their allegations became public in February, during which both described their encounters with Fairfax in graphic and emotional detail to correspondent Gayle King.

“It was a huge betrayal. He was my friend,” Watson said, after describing how Fairfax invited her to his apartment, came into a room, locked the door, and then pinned her down and raped her. “I don’t understand how you do that to someone that you’ve been a friend to.”

She also she had confided to Fairfax that she had been raped by another student at Duke and that he told her after the assault that he thought her previous experience would make her too afraid to report his actions.

Tyson told King that after meeting Fairfax at the Democratic convention, he invited her to accompany him to his hotel room on an errand, and she agreed. As the two began kissing, with her consent, at the end of the bed, she said he grabbed her by the back of the neck and forced her face into his crotch.

“And I’m choking and gagging,” she said. “I was completely caught off guard. It was almost as if I was dumbstruck.”

She told King that prior to the assault, she had discussed with Fairfax her work as an advocate for sexual assault survivors and disclosed that she had been the victim of incest. She said he believes Fairfax “took advantage” of that disclosure to victimize her.

Tyson and Watson both said did not know each other prior to making their allegations and have never met. And Watson insisted she would have no incentive to make untrue allegations against Fairfax.

“The only thing coming forward has done is invited criticism and chaos and scrutiny of me and put me under a microscope,” she said.

At his news conference, Fairfax said he has asked prosecutors in Boston and Durham, North Carolina, where Duke is located, to investigate the allegations, which he said would lead to a “fair, serious and respectful process.”

“I will answer any and all questions, and I am willing to do so under oath and under penalty of perjury,” he said.

Fairfax said he had undergone two polygraph examinations from a nationally recognized polygraph examiner in which he was asked about the women’s allegations. He provided results that showed that the examiner concluded he had been truthful.

Polygraph examinations, commonly know as “lie detector tests,” are used as a law enforcement tool in dealing with suspects. However, results cannot be admitted in court because the reliability of the tests has not been conclusively established.

Fairfax denied the statements attributed to him by the women in their CBS interviews. He also said that neither women appeared upset after their consensual encounters with him, and both stayed in contact with him after the alleged assaults took place.

“If the facts alleged by Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson were true, they conduct would be criminal,” he said. “Such conduct is against everything I have stood for in both my public and private life.”

He said the allegations have been “incredibly hurtful to me and my family and my reputation, which I spent a lifetime building.”

Fairfax, 40, a former federal prosecutor, was elected as Virginia’s lieutenant governor in 2017. He was considered a rising star in Democratic politics until the allegations surfaced in February.

Tyson came forward in February when it appeared likely that Fairfax could become governor, as Governor Ralph Northam was fighting to stay in office after a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page came to light.

Despite calls from fellow Democrats for him to resign, Northam has remained in office.

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North Carolina GOP Chair Robin Hayes, top donor accused of trying to bribe insurance commissioner

Committee supporting U.S. Rep. Mark Walker got $150,000 donation from indicted donor as he was being enlisted to lobby on donor’s behalf

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

CHARLOTTE (CFP) — Robin Hayes, a former congressman who chairs the North Carolina Republican Party, and the state’s top political donor have been indicted in what federal prosecutors allege was a “brazen” scheme to bribe Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey with $2 million disguised as campaign contributions.

North Carolina Republican Chair Robin Hayes

The indictment, unsealed April 2, charges Hayes with wire fraud, bribery and three counts of lying to the FBI. Also charged with wire fraud and bribery in the case is Greg E. Lindberg, 48, a Durham businessman who federal prosecutors allege initiated the scheme to bribe Causey in order to get more favorable treatment from insurance regulators for one of his companies.

The indictment of Lindberg is likely to reverberate through state Republican politics. He has contributed generously to various GOP groups and political committees supporting Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest and U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who appears to have been mentioned in the indictment but was not accused of any crime.

Also charged were John D. Gray, 68, from Chapel Hill, a consultant working for Lindberg, and John V. Palermo, Jr., 63, from Pittsboro, an employee at one of Lindberg’s companies and former GOP chair in Chatham County.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey

Causey, who notified federal law enforcement of the bribery attempt and cooperated with investigators, was not charged.

In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said the men had engaged in a “brazen bribery scheme in which Greg Lindberg and his co-conspirators allegedly offered hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in exchange for official action that would benefit Lindberg’s business interests.”

Prosecutors allege that Hayes agreed to use the state GOP to funnel Lindberg’s money to Causey’s campaign to keep the source from becoming public, and then lied to FBI agents when he was asked about the contributions and his contacts with Causey on Lindberg’s behalf.

Also mentioned in the indictment, but not accused of wrongdoing, is an unnamed “Public Official A,” who was allegedly enlisted to lobby Causey on Lindberg’s behalf after Lindberg donated $150,000 to a political committee supporting him.

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-North Carolina

Citing Federal Election Commission records, Politico identified “Public Official A” as Walker, from Greensboro, a member of the House Republican leadership.

FEC records show that Lundberg made a $150,000 contribution to the Mark Walker Victory Committee, which was dated Feb. 17, 2018. Lundberg was the first contributor to the committee, which was registered on Feb. 13, 2018. His contribution was 10 times the amount of any other donor and accounted for about one-fourth of all of the money taken in by the fund during 2018.

The indictment said that on Feb. 5, 2018,  Gray contacted “Public Official A” to lobby Causey on behalf of Lindberg, who wanted the insurance commissioner to remove a deputy he felt was “maliciously” hurting his reputation and replace her with Palermo.

After Gray reported his conversation with Public Official A to Lindberg, he donated $150,000 to a political committee supporting that official, according to the indictment. Two days later, the official called Causey to “explain that Lindberg was doing good things for North Carolina business,” according to the indictment.

Responding to the Politico report, Walker’s office released a statement saying he was not a target of the investigation, has not been accused of any wrongdoing and that he had cooperated with federal prosecutors investigating the case.

The statement also noted the Lindberg has also donated money to Democratic officials and that the victory fund was controlled by the Republican National Committee.

Walker, 49, was elected in 2014 to represent the state’s 6th District, in and around Greensboro. He is part of the GOP House leadership as vice-chair of the House Republican Conference.

Hayes, 73, who served in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2009 and has chaired the state GOP since 2016, had announced on the day before the indictment was unsealed that he would not seek re-election as state chair in June.

His attorney issued a statement saying Hayes “steadfastly denies the allegations made against him” and is looking forward to clearing his name.

In a statement, the state GOP’s legal counsel, Josh Howard, said the party has been “cooperating with the investigation for several months, including staff members providing statements and responding to various document requests” and “remains fully operational and focused on its mission at hand.”

Lindberg’s attorney, Anne Tompkins, told the McClatchey newspapers that his client was innocent of the charges and was also looking forward to his day in court.

The Raleigh News & Observer had previously reported that Lindberg had become the largest political donor in the state over the last two years, contributing more than $3 million to candidates from both parties since 2016. Most of those contributions were made to political committees and political parties instead of directly to candidates, whose donations are capped.

About half of that money went to groups supporting Forest, who is expected to run for governor in 2020, the newspaper reported.

Lindberg is chairman of Eli Global, an investment company, and Global Bankers Insurance Group, which is regulated by Causey’s office.

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10 Republicans file to run for disputed North Carolina 9th District U.S. House seat

Winner of GOP primary will face Democrat Dan McCready for a seat Democrats hope to flip

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

CHARLOTTE (CFP) — Ten Republicans have filed the paperwork to run for their party’s nomination for the disputed 9th District U.S. House seat in North Carolina, setting up a primary battle to pick an opponent who can stop Democrat Dan McCready from flipping the seat from red to blue.

Dan McCready

By the close of the filing deadline for the special election on March 15, no Democrats filed to run against McCready, who lost the seat by 905 votes in November but is getting another chance after state elections officials ordered a new election amid allegations of absentee ballot fraud.

The seat has been vacant since January, and residents of the district could be without a representative in Washington until November, if the crowded Republican field requires a primary runoff.

The 10 Republicans running in the May 14 primary include four current or former elected officials: State Senator Dan Bishop from Charlotte; Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing from Wingate; former Mecklenberg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour from Charlotte; and Fern Shubert, a former state legislator from Marshville.

Also running are Stevie Rivenbark Hull, a sales manager from Fayetteville; Kathie Day, a real estate agent from Cornelius; Gary Dunn, a Charlotte businessman; Leigh Thomas Brown, a real estate agent from Harrisburg; Albert Wiley, Jr., a physician and frequent candidate from Salter Path; and Chris Anglin, a Raleigh attorney.

Dan Bishop

Bishop is best known for being a lead sponsor of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” a controversial 2016 law which required transgendered people to use bathrooms that matched their birth identity in public buildings. The legislature repealed the law in 2017 after the state faced a series of boycotts.

Bishop also also drew critical press coverage for his investment in Gab, a social media site popular with white supremacists and anti-Semites. He has said he was not aware that the site promoted hate speech when he made a crowdfunding investment in August 2017, a week after white supremacists ignited a riot in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Rushing, who owns a gun range, is serving his third term as a commissioner in Union County. He has been endorsed by Mark Harris, who was the Republican nominee in November’s disputed vote.

The State Board of Elections refused to certify Harris as the winner amid allegations that an operative hired by his campaign had improperly collected absentee ballots. After the board ordered a new vote, Harris bowed out of a rematch with McCready, citing health concerns.

Ridenhour, who lost his seat on the county commission last year after a single term, is a Marine veteran who has been active in the Tea Party movement in Charlotte.

Shubert served three terms in the House and one in the Senate. She made unsuccessful bids for governor in 2004 and state auditor in 2012.

Hull and Day are both political newcomers who live outside the 9th District, which stretches from Charlotte east along the South Carolina border toward Fayetteville. Federal law does not require candidates for Congress to live in the district they want to represent.

Brown is a Charlotte-area realtor. Dunn ran unsuccessfully for Charlotte mayor in 2017 and for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2012.

Wiley ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the neighboring 10th District in 2016 and 2018. Anglin ran unsuccessfully for the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2018. Neither man lives in the 9th District.

If none of the Republican candidates captures a majority in the May vote, a primary runoff is scheduled for Sept. 10, with a general election on Nov. 5. If a runoff isn’t required, the general election will move up to September, which could give the district representation in Washington sooner.

McCready, 34, a former Marine officer and businessman who has raised more than $500,000 since November, starts the race with a significant cash advantage over his Republican rivals and won’t need to spend any of it in a primary.

If McCready wins, the 9th District will be the only Republican-held district in North Carolina to flip Democratic in the 2018 election cycle.

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4 Southern GOP senators defy Trump on border emergency; North Carolina’s Thom Tillis makes about face to support president

Rubio, Paul, Wicker and Alexander break with Trump in voting to overturn emergency declaration

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

WASHINGTON (CFP) — With the support of four Southern Republicans and all four Southern Democrats, the U.S. Senate has voted to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to find money for a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis

But one GOP senator who had come out publicly in favor of overturning the declaration — Thom Tillis of North Carolina — reversed course and voted no, after intense lobbying from the White House and an avalanche of criticism from Trump partisans back home.

Trump has vowed to veto the resolution overturning the declaration, which passed by a 59-41 margin in the Republican-controlled Senate on March 14. The House passed it in late February by a vote of 254-182.

However, opponents of the declaration do not have enough support in either House to override Trump’s veto, which will be the first of his presidency.

The four Southern Republicans who broke the with president were Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

All four Southern Democrats in the Senate also voted yes — Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Doug Jones of Alabama.

Frustrated by the unwillingness of the Democrat-controlled House to vote money for the border wall, Trump declared a national emergency on February 15, which will allow him to shift $8 billion from other federal programs and use it for wall construction. Most of the money will come from appropriations for military construction and drug interdiction.

Alexander

In a floor speech before the vote, Alexander said he objected to Trump’s use of an emergency declaration to provide border wall funding after Congress failed to appropriate the money.

“The problem with this is that after a Revolutionary War against a king, our nation’s founders gave to Congress the power to approve all spending so that the president would not have too much power. This check on the executive is a crucial source of our freedom,” Alexander said.

Rubio

Rubio said he agreed with Trump that an emergency exists at the border but said he objected to shifting money out of the military construction budget to finance the border barrier.

“This would create a precedent a future president may abuse to jumpstart programs like the Green New Deal, especially given the embrace of socialism we are seeing on the political left,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

Paul and Wicker also cited constitutional considerations as the reason for their vote to overturn the declaration.

Wicker

Paul

“I stand with President Trump on the need for a border wall and stronger border security, but the Constitution clearly states that money cannot be spent unless Congress has passed a law to do so,” Paul said in a statement.

Wicker said he regretted “that we were not able to find a solution that would have averted a challenge to the balance of power as defined by the Constitution.”

“The system of checks and balances established by the Founders has preserved our democracy. It is essential that we protect this balance even when it is frustrating or inconvenient,” he said in a statement.

Tillis made a splash when he published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post on February 25 saying he would vote to overturn the emergency declaration because it would set a precedent that “future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies that will erode economic and individual freedoms.”

Tillis faced an avalanche of criticism from the president’s supporters in the Tar Heel State and was facing the likelihood of a primary challenge in his 2020 re-election race.

“A lot has changed over the last three weeks — a discussion with the vice president, a number of senior administration officials … a serious discussion about changing the National Emergencies Act in a way that will have Congress speak on emergency actions in the future,” Tillis said.

Republican senators had considered changing the National Emergencies Act to make it more difficult to declare emergencies in the future, but the plan faltered when House Democrats came out against it.

Tillis said he concluded that the crisis at the border was sufficiently serious to warrant the emergency declaration.

“We have narcotics flooding our country, poisoning our children and adults of all ages, and a lot of it has to do with the porous border and the seemingly out of control crossings,” Tillis said.

But Democrats back home pounced on Tillis for his change of heart.

“Tillis again reminded the entire state who he is — a spineless politician who won’t keep his promises and looks out for himself instead of North Carolina,” said Democratic Party spokesman Robert Howard in a statement.

Rubio and Paul do not face re-election until 2022; Wicker’s current term lasts through 2024.

Among the Democrats who voted against Trump, Jones is the only one who is running for re-election in 2020. Warner isn’t up for re-election until 2022, and Manchin and Kaine’s current terms last through 2024.

Jones is considered among the most vulnerable Democrats up for election in 2020, in a state where Trump remains popular.

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