The Party Line

The Party Line: Raising the Curtain on Carolina Politics, is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development.  The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

Now that that the ‘short’ session of the North Carolina General Assembly is underway, we’ll see if ‘short’ truly lives up to its definition. With the Republicans still in super-majority control, the likelihood is that the legislative time will live up to its name.

And it’s not just for the sake of having to bear summers in the capital city, but rather the stakes that are associated with a major mid-term election battle.

Some thoughts from the primary election results:

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis showed that having the experience of running for prior public office, combined with a significant war chest, can pay off. Tillis secured the Republican nomination with what was a comfortable margin of five points over the threshold needed against his seven opponents.

In the end, five of the GOP candidates couldn’t receive even 10 percent of the vote.

Tillis dominated the early voting and Election Day voting, winning 45% of election votes and 47% of the early, in-person voting.

Entering the home stretch and completing the debate hurdles of the past week, we have finally converted a tortoise race into a hare sprint for the May 6 finish line among the GOP Senate candidates.

In the three debates, Heather Grant, whom most would consider in fourth place, argued for what she called a “citizen legislator.” And while there were flashes of passion and conviction through the first two debates, she stated in the final one that “for me this race is not about being the next senator.”

With the start of early voting for the May primary election, many counties are expanding their voting locations and times to adjust to the new requirements under the 2013 VIVA Law, or the Voter Information Verification Act.

As recently reported, Mecklenburg County will offer more than six times as many early voting hours as it did in the 2010 primary election. But as a result of the VIVA Law, those hours will come during fewer days. 

Now that we are entering the home stretch of the May primary election, we still seem to lack a true frontrunner in the GOP nomination contest for the U.S. Senate. 

While most polls show Thom Tillis, speaker of the NC House of Representatives, leading the field, the numbers across several different polls indicate a larger percentage of the potential electorate still has not made up their minds regarding the eight candidates.

“And so begins a critical period in American politics…that almost no one notices,” is the conclusion of a Brookings Institute report about primary elections in the United States.  A key finding is that in the past three midterms elections, turnout in congressional primaries has averaged 5.4%, 4.6% and 7.5% of the voting age population. 

For many, corruption in politics is a given. Those awarded with the public’s trust are always questioned in their motives. 

The allegations that Charlotte’s mayor, Patrick Cannon, was just in a long list of notable scandals and examples of political corruption: most recently, the mayors of Detroit and New Orleans were targets of the criminal justice system at the local level.

My previous post looked at what has become one of the key competitive races for a U.S. Senate seat, following the closing of the filing period. But it won’t be just the U.S. Senate seat that will be up for grabs in May and November, but also all 170 seats in the North Carolina General Assembly. Or so one would think.

In looking at the candidate filing and the past voting patterns of the district lines under the new maps, the overall contest for North Carolina’s state legislature really won’t be as competitive as most would expect. 

The eight Republican U.S. Senate candidates who hope to take on Sen. Kay Hagan in the fall can be divided into three tiers.

Typically, we would consider “top tier” candidates who have run and held public office before, meaning they have financial resources, campaign organization, and some name recognition.

­With the debt ceiling vote now behind the House GOP caucus, the consensus seems to be that the Speaker of the House surrendered yet another confrontation to the president. 

In doing so, the Speaker had to use the votes of all but two Democrats, along with 28 of his own party’s members, to secure the needed votes to pass a clean debt ceiling measure.