By Steve Woodward
What spell did Democrats cast over Republicans when both sides, by a nearly unanimous joint-session vote, approved three nominees to the State Board of Education on October 2? Before that date, Republican majorities within the House and Senate refused to vote on Governor Roy Cooper’s nominees, and had declined to put forth nominees of their own.
In fact, a post on the Governor’s web site dated January 2019, accuses the GOP-controlled General Assembly of holding up approval of nominees as a tactic to postpone a January 11 hearing on allegations of voter fraud in the 9th Congressional district.
Prior to October 2, it seemed perfectly logical that a Republican-controlled legislature in Raleigh would stop a Democrat governor from attempting to stack the deck within the Board of Education. These days, the classroom is where American values go to die.
What changed in October? Even a left wing site, The Progressive Pulse, had no tangible explanation, characterizing the board confirmation as “a major turnaround.” This blog (RESOLVE) derives its name from an acronym: “Republicans for Security, Opportunity, Liberty and Victory that Endures”. Liberty requires transparency. Victory endures only when the victors prevail in the day to day of legislating.
In this case, it looks as if the Republicans caved. But, if that’s true, what leverage did Democrats bring to the joint session?
We asked Carolina Journal reporter Lindsay Marchello through an email exchange. Marchello reported the approval of J.D. Buxton, Wendell Hall and Donna Tipton-Rogers in a piece entitled, What You Might Have Missed. But it did not delve into an explanation for the about-face among all but a handful of Republicans.
“I assume Republicans liked the batch of nominations this year better than last year,” she replied by email. “As for J.B. Buxton’s nomination—which was denied last year with no explanation—I assume they approved him this year as a sort of olive branch to the Governor while the budget stalemate continues.”
It’s certainly a possible scenario, but why wave an olive branch at a governor who refuses to recognize the financial peril of Medicaid expansion, the cause of the budget stalemate? We are awaiting a reply from the office of NC-25 Sen. Tom McInnis in an effort to unravel this mystery. Also mysterious was a post on the web site of Republican House Speaker Tim Moore following the vote. It reported the General Assembly’s approval of the trio of board nominees, while introducing another surprising thread:
“Two other current board members re-nominated by the Governor (our emphasis) – James Ford and Jill Camnetz – were not voted on and will continue to serve on the SBOE pending further action by the General Assembly.” Do the math. Five Cooper supported board members now preside on the 12-member Board of Education. That’s five Democrats. A sixth is Reginald Kenan, a Southeast region board member. A seventh is SBOE vice chairman and Cooper appointee Alan Duncan, former chair of the Guilford County BOE. In other words, Republicans inexplicably helped tip the scales toward Democrat control of the SBOE.
And lastly, why were Republican lawmakers quoted within Tim Moore’s web site post gushing about the newly elected board members?
Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union): “I am happy the General Assembly is moving forward in confirming the Governor’s appointments.”
Rep. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga): “Each of the nominees confirmed today have distinguished backgrounds in education and are qualified for the role.”
Let us RESOLVE to keep asking questions about the October 2 surprise.