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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.
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.
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 The legislature repealed the law in 2017 after the state faced a series of boycotts.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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But compromise measure prevents cities from passing protections for LGBTQ people
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
RALEIGH (CFP) — After a year of turmoil and economic boycotts, North Carolina legislators have passed a compromise bill that rolls back HB2, a law which prohibited transgendered people from using restrooms in public facilities that didn’t conform with their their birth gender.
However, the bill hammered out by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature also forbids local jurisdictions in North Carolina from passing non-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBTQ people until at least 2020, a compromise that left LGBTQ advocates seething.
“Lawmakers and Governor Cooper have failed to resolve the problems with HB2 by doubling down on discrimination,” said Chris Sgro executive director of Equality NC. “Once again, the North Carolina General Assembly has enshrined discrimination into North Carolina law.”
“Lawmakers must reject this disgraceful backroom deal that uses the rights of LGBT people as a bargaining chip,” said Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “It is shameful that legislative leaders and North Carolina’s governor are once again rushing through a discriminatory anti-LGBT measure without proper vetting or an opportunity for public input.”
The bill to repeal HB 2 passed March 30, less than 12 hours after the compromise between Cooper and legislative leaders was unveiled. The House approved the repeal 70 to 48; the Senate, 32 to 16.
Cooper, who as attorney general refused to defend HB2 when it was challenged in court, campaigned for governor in 2016 on a pledge to repeal the law. Just a week before the compromise was reached, Equality NC was lauding Cooper for insisting on full repeal.
In a statement issued after the repeal bill was unveiled, the governor conceded that it was a compromise from the outright repeal initially sought.
“It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation,” Cooper said.
The compromise bill was passed the same day that the NCAA was to decide whether to remove all of its events from North Carolina until 2022 in protest of the transgendered bathroom exclusion.
HB2 was pushed through the GOP-controlled legislature in March 2016 in reaction to the decision by the Charlotte City Council to pass a human rights ordinance protecting LGBTQ people, which included the right of transgendered people to use restrooms and locker rooms that comport with their gender identity, rather than their birth gender.
The new law set off a firestorm of controversy. The NBA, ACC and NCAA all pulled events from the state, and a number of businesses halted plans to relocate or expand there.
The governor at the time, Republican Pat McCrory, bore the brunt of the nationwide backlash to the law. Last November, he was the only Republican governor to lose his seat, in a campaign dominated by the HB2 controversy.
Under the repeal measure, local jurisdictions would no longer be able to regulate use of bathroom facilities in public buildings, as Charlotte tried to do. Only the legislature could enact such regulations, but, after repeal of HB 2, no regulations currently exist. In essence, while transgendered people would not specifically be barred from using facilities that comport with their gender identity, they would also not have a legal right to do so.
However, the second part of the repeal bill prevents Charlotte or any other jurisdiction in North Carolina from passing LGBTQ anti-discrimination measure for the next three years.
State Board of Elections refuses to intervene in canvass; Cooper’s lead grows in governor’s race
♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried Politics.com editor
RALEIGH (CFP) — The GOP-controlled North Carolina State Board of Elections has refused to intervene in a canvass of votes in the state’s hotly contested race for governor, a blow to Republican Governor Pat McCrory’s quest to challenge results showing him trailing Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Meanwhile, Cooper has appointed a transition team and dismissed claims by McCrory and his campaign of voter fraud as “the same kind of misleading and dishonest rhetoric that they’ve used throughout the campaign, rhetoric meant to cause confusion.”
“Governor McCrory is doing everything he can to undermine the results of this election and the will of the people, but we won’t let him,” Cooper said in a video statement posted on Facebook.
But a spokesman for McCrory, Ricky Diaz, said the campaign was trying to ensure that voter fraud had not tainted the process and that “every legal vote is counted properly.”
“Why is Roy Cooper so insistent on circumventing the electoral process and counting the votes of dead people and felons?” Diaz said in a statement. “It may be because he needs those fraudulent votes to count in order to win. Instead of insulting North Carolina voters, we intende to let the process work as it should.”
Should Cooper hang on, North Carolina would be the only state where Democrats flipped a governorship in 2016 and would give them a third Southern governorship, compared to 11 for Republicans.
The latest unofficial vote total from the State Board of Elections shows Cooper with a lead of 6,500 votes, up from the 4,700 vote total Cooper held on election night. Election boards in all of the state’s 100 counties have been adding provisional and absentee ballots to the total.
The McCrory campaign has filed protests in 50 counties, alleged fraudulent absentee ballots and votes by felons and dead people. It asked the state elections panel to oversee official county canvasses across the state, the results of which are scheduled to be certified by the state on November 29. But the board voted to let the counties continue the process on their own.
So far, 40 counties have completed their canvasses and certified final results. However, none of those were large metropolitan counties with vote totals large enough to conceivably allow McCrory to make up ground.
If Cooper’s lead is less than 10,000 votes when the final canvasses are completed, McCrory could request a statewide recount.
In North Carolina, the State Board of Elections and all 100 county boards are appointed by the governor, with the governor’s political party holding a majority on all of those panels, regardless of the political leanings of the county.
The McCrory campaign suffered a major blow when the board in Durham County, despite being controlled by members of his own party, turned down a challenge alleging possible fraud.
On election night, 90,000 votes from the heavily Democratic county came in late, propelling Cooper into the lead and prompting McCrory to cry foul. However, elections officials in Durham said the votes were reported all at once because a technical problem forced them to enter the results from voting machines by hand.
A different technical problem with computerized voter roles in Durham County led the State Board of Elections to extend voting by up to an hour in eight precincts on election day.
While turning down McCrory’s request to get involved in canvasses statewide, the state board did agree to look at allegations of voter fraud in Bladen County, in the southeastern party of the state. However, McCrory actually won in Bladen County and less than 16,000 people voted, making any change there unlikely to alter Cooper’s lead.
McCrory rode a GOP wave into office in 2012, but the Republican-controlled legislature’s passage of a controversial voter ID law and measures favored by religious conservatives made the governor a lightning rod.
The issue that dominated the race was McCrory’s decision to sign a law requiring transgendered students to use bathrooms that match their gender of birth, rather than their gender of identity, in public facilities.
McCrory continued to defend the law, even after a number of businesses scuttled expansion plans and the NCAA, NBA and ACC pulled events from the state.
Cooper not only opposed the measure, but he also refused to defend it in court when students and the federal government took legal action to overturn it.