War on democracy

By Steve Woodward

From both ends of the political spectrum a narrative is spinning in response to North Carolina’s embattled U.S Congressional districts. The essence is that the time has come for state Republicans to yield any presumption of controlling how districts are drawn despite their majority status in the statehouse and the U.S. House of Representatives.

This new “logic” dictates that Republicans must yield because the world has changed. Gerrymandering simply has become too precise, too data driven and, thus, overtly racist and unfair. Just ask former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, the ringleader of a national campaign to weaken Republican control of gubernatorial, state legislative and state court seats. Holder’s organization filed the lawsuit that just a few days ago received a favorable ruling from a three-judge NC superior court panel (two members are Democrats, of course): re-draw your U.S. Congressional maps immediately, or else. Republicans hold 10 of the 13 North Carolina seats in Congress. Not acceptable, say the Holderites. The wrong voters voted to impose an unfair imbalance.

E Holder
Obama AG Eric Holder

Now what? Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-8) whose district includes Moore County very likely will be assigned to another district, or Moore will end up in another district. A member of Hudson’s staff acknowledges Republicans are powerless to stop what’s coming. The spokesman said the redrawing easily could result in 10-3 flipping to 6-7, the worst case scenario. This upheaval also handicaps fundraising by candidates like Hudson because he’ll find himself an unknown among new constituents.

Democrats claim they want to kill gerrymandering once and for all by taking map drawing out of the hands of politicians from parties in power, the American way for decades and a fact of life in our state during 140 years of Democrat control of the General Assembly until 2011. Confident in the public’s short memory span, Holder told The New York Times North Carolinians were “forced to vote on manipulated electoral maps … drawn to create a partisan outcome.”

Once a “fair” system of map drawing by independent bodies is in place, Democrats want us to believe they’ll never again try to leverage gerrymandering should they seize power in North Carolina, or elsewhere. (If you buy that, look at what happened in Virginia on Election Day 2019 as a result of new independent maps approved last February shifting Republicans into six Democrat dominated districts).

The Pilot‘s editorial board in November 6 editions declares “it’s time finally to bring meaningful reform to the redistricting process.” In fact, there is a bill pending (HB 140), known as the FAIR Act, proposing a constitutional amendment placed on a future ballot that would afford voters the opportunity to make a choice. The left claims passage would lead to “transparent” map drawing by independent panels. But who will form the panels, and what will stop well funded organizations like Holder’s from packing them with radicals? Nothing.

From the right comes another call for a serious look at the FAIR Act, and from none other than John Hood, author, television commentator and chairman of the Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank. Hood’s November 6 column in The Pilot declares “the handwriting is on the wall”, pointing to how the court-ordered redrawing of General Assembly maps played out in October. “North Carolina now has fairer legislative districts because a court ordered the General Assembly to open up the process and stick to neutral criteria,” Hood writes.

Hood, who should know better, inexplicably gives “court ordered” maps a presumption of purity. Since when are courts devoid of activist Democrat judges? Since when are lawsuits by well funded far Left entities acting in the best interest of all voters rather than Democrat voters and candidates?

The former Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, has a ready answer. Since never. Now chair of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, Walker says Democrats have toiled for a decade using power grabs disguised as well intentioned state lawsuits.

“They pick a state, they sue until it’s blue,” Walker told National Public Radio’s Miles Parks. “Sooner or later their goal is to make those states blue and add as many House seats as they can, to keep Democrats in power for the next decade or more.”

The forthcoming 2020 Census data will bring a new round of redistricting opportunities across the country in 2021. This scenario comes around once every decade. North Carolinians very well might end up living with a FAIR Act and its unaccountable map drawing panels, but numerous states where Democrats are in control will go right back to gerrymandering traditions that are abusive only when Republicans apply them.

 

 

Voter ID hangs on

By Steve Woodward

North Carolinians voted last fall to amend our state constitution to require every registered voter to present valid identification at polling places. Viewed by intelligent human beings in and beyond our state as a no-brainer, the amendment’s passage instead caused Democrat activist craniums to all but explode.

This despite the fact that, at the end of 2018, 35 states required or requested “some form of identification at the polls,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Yet there was North Carolina on a list of states holding the dubious distinction of requiring zero voter ID, including known Democrat-controlled sanctuaries for illegal immigrants such as California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Quite an exclusive club.

Opponents of voter ID view the privilege of voting through the same lens as everything else in their world — race. They believe it is inherently racist to require minorities, people of color (insert your go-to oppressed category here) and those who live in poverty to possess a form of ID. Never mind that this presumption on the left that poor minorities can’t access or don’t need an ID only magnifies their strategic scheme of imposed economic soft tyranny. This keeps certain classes of citizens reliably dependent on government entitlements and, thus, reliably dependable Democrat voters. Or so goes the theory of the past century or more.

Governor Roy Cooper pounced after the amendment won voter approval, attempting to veto what he condemned as a “sinister and cynical” effort to disenfranchise North Carolina voters. His veto was overridden. That merely set off legal challenges to the amendment. This is how the left responds to the “will of the voter” in the 21st century. If they disagree with the outcome — Donald Trump being duly elected President is their highest profile source of outrage — they wait for courts to overturn or stonewall with prolonged appeals.

The state NAACP used the same anti-Trump claim of Presidential “illegitimacy” to launch its request for judicial review of the amendment’s passage. Racist Republicans, argued the NAACP, gerrymandered their way to power and, therefore, represent an “illegal supermajority”. By extension, the votes of those who supported the voter ID amendment don’t count. Let that third-world logic sink in.

But a Wake County Superior Court judge could not see the flawed logic — the prism of racism appearing once again — and agreed with the NAACP’s outrage in a ruling last February. While he was at it Judge Bryan Collins also voided an amendment to cap the state income tax. What if entitlements for those reliable voters run short of cash? We can’t cap the income tax and protect the “rich”, aka, people who carry IDs!

Despite more than 55% voter approval of an ID amendment last November the left and their compliant activist courts were having none of it. They’ve been seething since 2010 when Republicans gained control of the General Assembly for the first time in 140 years. Hell bent on revenge, Democrats appeared to score a major victory when the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 upheld a lower court ruling that erased 28 state house and senate districts that existed only for one reason — so-called “racial gerrymandering.”

That potential mess was remedied by a team led by a Stanford University academic brought in to “fix” NC’s districting lines for 2018. Meanwhile, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a lawsuit in a Wake County court to keep the hope of overturning voter ID alive.

More than eight months later, a three-judge panel ruled July 19 that voter ID will be required, per the amendment, in 2019 elections. The panel dismissed five of the six claims in the suit. However, by keeping one claim on the table and deciding not to dismiss the case entirely, the panel did not enshrine voter ID and continues to ignore the will of the voters.

Democrats charge North Carolina ceased to be a functioning democracy when Republicans surged to power in 2010. But if there is a case to made for deteriorating government accountability to our citizens, it’s clear the finger points at a hijacking of democracy by activist judges and their Democrat allies.

 

Fraud cloud over NC 9

By Steve Woodward

Bladen County has a checkered history as a vote fraud hotbed in North Carolina. Democrats have complained about it for nearly a decade because they rarely win in the 9th District, which includes Bladen. But at least one Republican acknowledges a similar trend.

“Over that period of time authorities have failed to get to the bottom of that problem,” State Senator Dan Bishop said during a recent news conference covered by Carolina Journal. “The problem is not being solved by prosecutorial authority so far, and certainly not by the state board of elections over three administrations” spanning Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, Republican Pat McCrory, and sitting Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

For now, the final count in the race for the U.S. House seat in the 9th finds Republican Mark Harris, a Baptist pastor, holding a 905-vote lead on Democrat Dan McCready, but the state refuses to certify the result because a few volunteers came forward with stories of absentee ballot mishandling. Harris could use some divine intervention about now.

The alleged perpetrator is a Bladen County political activist, an otherwise obscure soil and water conservation supervisor and convicted felon, Leslie McCrae Dowless, Jr., who has worked in at least five campaigns since 2010, The Washington Post reports.

National media outlets have been paying attention, presumably because they salivate at the possibility that another reliably Republican House seat will flip to a Democrat. The right-leaning The Wall Street Journal editorial board has taken notice of the drama in western North Carolina, even while scolding “Democrats (who often) insist that vote fraud is a myth”:

“Forty percent of the mail-in ballots for Bladen County were never returned, and it was 62% for neighboring Robeson County. That compares with 24% district-wide. So one suspicion is that Mr. Dowless could have perhaps destroyed hundreds of Democratic ballots.”

The word “perhaps” hangs over the resulting count because, ultimately, investigators have only the claims of volunteer absentee-ballot collectors recruited by Dowless — and voters who say their ballots were handed over to these collectors — as evidence of fraud. Unlike Broward County, Fla., mysterious boxes of ballots, mailed in or cast on election day, have yet to materialize in Bladen or Robeson.

The WSJ’s editorial did not conclude that fraud occurred in NC’s 9th. But it rightly shed light on the perils of making fraud easier than it should be.

“One lesson from this mess is the folly of pushing to expand ballot access without regard for ballot integrity. North Carolina implemented ‘no excuse’ early voting in 2000, which was expanded in 2002 to mail-in ballots. Previously, a voter had to demonstrate he was sick or would be out of town.”

The point is well taken and should be reviewed thoroughly by the state’s election officials, especially given North Carolina’s growing national reputation as the home of election chaos. And if you think court ordered re-districting wreaked havoc this election cycle, TheHill.com reports there looms a daunting worst-case scenario if the state decides a new election between Harris and McCready in the 9th is not necessary.

Observes TheHill.com: “The U.S. House of Representatives, which has the ultimate authority over congressional elections, can also call for a special election, which would trigger a new filing process, to be followed by a primary and general election (our emphasis added).”

If this happens, not only will Mark Harris be missing as the elected representative of his district on Capitol Hill, our state will have no elected representative in the halls of Congress for the foreseeable future.

The state board of elections holds an evidentiary hearing on Dec. 21.

Judgment day

By Steve Woodward

Moore County citizens, and North Carolinians across the state, should by now be acutely aware of the havoc that can be wrought by activist judges. Exhibit A is the state’s congressional map, redrawn as recently as 2016 when a court ruled the 2011 map unconstitutional as a result of so-called racial gerrymandering, and challenged again this year by a three-judge panel, skewing Democrat, only months ahead of pending 2018 mid-term elections. Fortunately for voters of all parties, an effort to re-draw close to an election was quelled.

Until the recent hard-left turn by the Democrat Party, the phrase “activist judge” rarely was mentioned. But the party gradually has become intoxicated by the practice of overturning the will of voters in courts.

This is relevant in these early days of November 2018 because there are six contested judicial races on the Moore County ballot. Despite their best efforts, Republican judicial candidates, most of whom are incumbents, will go into Election Day this Nov. 6 (Tuesday) likely wondering if their campaign appearances and yard signs will lift them to victory.

Democrats have the same fears, undoubtedly. There are multiple variables in play. Foremost among them is that voters, even some engaged voters, pay little or no attention to judicial candidates. Secondly, judges are not in campaign mode as often as state and federal congressional officeholders. They are less known, less visible, and not always natural campaigners.

Judge Barbara JacksonA prime example is North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson (left), who is running for re-election after an eight-year term. Prior to that, Jackson was six years on the North Carolina Court of Appeals as an associate judge. Despite her experience and reputation as a justice of utmost integrity, with a record to prove it, Jackson is in an uphill battle. In addition to being targeted by Democrat groups outside of the state (one run by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder), which are funding her opponent Anita Earls, Jackson has a second opponent in Chris Anglin.

Anglin appears after Jackson and before Earls on the ballot as a Republican because he simply switched his longstanding Democrat affiliation before filing. That such a loophole exists is a story for after Election Day.

“He is seven years out of law school,” Jackson said during an October appearance before the Moore County Republican Men’s Club. “I posit that he is in here as a spoiler (to confuse voters and take votes away from Jackson).”

We know RESOLVE readers are up to speed and fully aware of Anglin’s dishonesty. Now it’s up to all engaged Republicans to inform friends and neighbors why a vote for Justice Jackson is vital, especially given the defeat of GOP state Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds in 2016.

Also worth noting when you are imploring fellow citizens to vote on Tuesday is that there are two other judicial races pitting Republicans against one another. To be sure your friends vote for the endorsed candidates in these races (Jefferson Griffin for NC Court of Appeals, Seat 2, and Steve Bibey for NC District 19D Court Judge), ask them to carefully review the Moore GOP’s gold sample ballot before heading to the polls.

Finally, in addition to sample ballot “homework”, it’s suggested every Republican planning to vote on Election Day spend time over the weekend visiting the web sites of our judicial candidates.

Here they are:

Justice Barbara Jackson; Andrew Heath for NC Court of Appeals; Jefferson Griffin; Chuck Kitchen for NC Court of Appeals; Michael Stone for NC Superior Court; Warren McSweeney for NC District Court (unopposed); and Steve Bibey.

Historically, a “blue moon” election is a ho-hum affair marked by low voter turn out. But early voting data indicates Republicans outvoted Democrats handily and in atypically high mid-term numbers. The key on the way to Tuesday’s finish line is to fend off complacency when voting for Republican judges down the ballot.

“The game plan (among Democrats) is to start using state constitutions,” Justice Jackson said, “as a means toward political ends.”

Backing McInnis

At last, we move on down the path to the Fall mid-term elections. More than a few Moore County Republicans surely harbor lingering resentment about the lengths to which the state GOP establishment sunk to sink a primary challenge by Whispering Pines Mayor Michelle Lexo against incumbent Tom McInnis in NC-25 (although McInnis was no incumbent in Moore due to haphazard redistricting).

But in conceding defeat last week, Lexo took the high ground and graciously thanked her supporters. Republicans must now rally, reunite and take the high ground in embracing McInnis. Maintaining a GOP supermajority in Raleigh is priority one.

Although McInnis is facing a first-time candidate in Helen Probst-Mills, she is widely known in the community and not long ago hosted a fundraiser attended by Gov. Roy Cooper in her Pinehurst home. And that’s not all.

In its analysis of “races to watch” in 2018, the non-profit public policy web site RealFactsNC.com, makes the chilling observation that “the voters who sent (McInnis) to the General Assembly are gone (our emphasis) from his redrawn district.” Furthermore, fewer than half of NC-25 voters “have seen McInnis on their ballot before.”

Given that Moore County accounts for just under half of all voters in the district, this ostensibly means that Probst-Mills can legitimately make the same argument voiced by Lexo: I live in Moore; McInnis does not. (He counters by saying, legitimately, that he has owned property and paid taxes in Moore for 40+ years, and does, in fact, own a Pinehurst home).

The bottom line is that getting out the vote for McInnis is absolutely vital, and we must now leverage his backing from NC GOP heavyweights. Probst-Mills has fundraising chops, too, due to her status as a member of the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees (and her alliance with far-left SCC President John Dempsey), and ties to Cooper’s inner circle.

But she embraces several positions that will encounter fervent resistance in Moore County. Probst-Mills echoes the baloney from the left that North Carolina teachers are underpaid and that our schools are neglected. (Some are and yet school boards are not held to account). She favors further expansion of Medicaid, fueling the entitlement engine Democrats always seek to expand. And her campaign web site makes the unsubstantiated — if not false — claim that “people’s ability to vote is being curtailed” in our state. What a whopper!

Sen. McInnis holds a significant advantage that can be a double-edged sword for politicians. He has a voting record in the NC General Assembly. Opponents can use this as fodder. Unless, of course, a majority of Moore Republicans support McInnis’s positions on jobs and the economy, education and vocational options, and Second Amendment preservation.

These issues, if communicated effectively, will re-elect our Republican Senator. Get to know the issues and get to work!

 

 

 

 

 

Courting judicial overreach

North Carolina is one of six states facing uncertainty as to how federal court influence could change traditional procedures through which district maps — Congressional and state legislative — are drawn or re-drawn.

The outlook for 2018 is that no significant upheaval looms in our state, owed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s restraint in weighing in on lawsuits related to map redrawing with a mid-term election approaching. Yet, in three other states, SCOTUS rulings are expected to complicate voting dynamics in the short term.

This is but the calm before the storm. Writes NPR’s Domenico Montanaro: “By June, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to decide three major redistricting cases — out of Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas — that will lay some of the foundation for what the maps will look like, not just this year, but after the 2020 census that could affect control of Congress for the next decade.”

Democrats are convinced that activist judges can help them dominate gerrymandering into perpetuity. Courts are increasingly seen as willing policymakers by the left.

The Wall Street Journal, in a February 21 editorial, forecasts the ominous trend:

While the U.S. Supreme Court has held that partisan gerrymanders may violate the U.S. Constitution, it has been unable to articulate a precise legal standard. Democrats are now trying to tempt the Supreme Court into intervening in the intrinsically political redistricting process with social-science methodology that purportedly measures proper representation.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently not only was tempted, but defiantly struck down, with a 5-2 liberal majority, a Congressional map drawn by that state’s GOP legislature in 2011. “With the help of Stanford University law professor Nathan Persily they drafted their own new map (Feb. 19) for use in the May primaries after (Democrat) Governor (Tom Wolf) and the legislature failed to agree,” The Wall Street Journal explained.

And what does Pennsylvania portend? Writes the Journal editorial board:

Pennsylvania will be the future in every state if the Justices decide that judges should be redistricting kings.

 

 

Supreme timing

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday (January 18) suspended a lower court ruling that should eliminate drama and confusion leading to this November’s U.S. House of Representatives races across North Carolina.

Reports North State Journal, the SCOTUS’s decision “reduces the chance that the current district lines will be altered ahead of the November mid-term Congressional elections.”

The action voids a ruling earlier this month by a three-judge federal panel that imposed a January 24 deadline on North Carolina. This was the date by which legislators would have had to submit re-drawn maps for U.S. House districts. The lower court’s panel alleged that the state’s existing maps were unfair to “non-Republican” voters.

Re-districting committee chairmen Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) thanked the SCOTUS for giving potential candidates clarity as to filing and campaigning in the months ahead.

“We are grateful that a bipartisan U.S. Supreme Court has overwhelmingly halted the lower court’s 11th-hour attempt to intervene in election outcomes, restored certainty to voters, and ensured that, in the coming days, candidates for office can file in the least gerrymandered and most compact Congressional districts in modern state history.”