What a week last week was. Say that five times in a row. You might as well get used to it. We’ll be saying it a lot heading into 2020.
On the national scene, Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s admission that he asked a foreign government to investigate a political opponent. In North Carolina, another gerrymandering lawsuit aims to overturn the Congressional maps that skew heavily towards Republicans, giving them a 10-3 advantage in an evenly divided state. On the UNC Board of Governors, Harry Smith stepped down as Chair, continuing the instability that’s marked the system since the GOP took control.
The impeachment hearings will almost certainly mute any other political news when they get going. Already, some Republicans seem a little tepid about coming to Trump’s aid. He’s already admitted that he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden and the response from his administration has been a bit chaotic. Polls show people open to the investigation and Republicans don’t want to get too far ahead of public opinion.
In North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis seems to be standing his new-found ground behind President. After years of trying to convince people he’s independent, he’s now trying to convince GOP primary voters that he’s really Trump’s patsy. It’s been a remarkable reversal and a bit startling to watch someone debase himself so thoroughly.
After his initial tweets blasted Democrats for launching “false attacks against President @realDonaldTrump,” it will be interesting to see what Tillis does if public opinion turns sharply against the president. Given his profuse brownnosing to get into Trump’s favor, it’s hard to imagine Tillis can credibly hold the president accountable. That said, Tillis has shown he’s little more than weathervane who seems to think voters either don’t notice or don’t care about his lack of any serious convictions.
In gerrymandering news, we’re already poised to run in new legislative districts. Now the courts will decide whether we have a new set of Congressional districts. Given the timing of the March primaries, the court will need to move fast to change the districts before 2020. However, they could force the primaries to be moved like they did in 2016. Still, there’s not a lot of time to hear a case, make a decision and get through a new map-making process.
Finally, I doubt the UNC Board of Governors’ chaos will have much impact on the election. It’s pretty insider ball. Not many swing voters pay attention of administrative and process problems. That said, the GOP’s failure to effectively manage the state’s public university system probably reinforces the notion of their incompetence among the younger, educated voters who will make up tomorrow’s leaders.
The events of last week will have an impact on the 2020 elections. They continue the uncertainty that’s defined North Carolina politics for the past decade but they also contribute to a favorable political environment for Democrats. We might end up with several highly competitive Congressional races instead of 13 races predetermined by the mapmakers. Thom Tillis appears ready to continue transforming his image from an independent politician who works across the aisle to a Trump sycophant ready tie his political career to the fortunes of the nation’s conman president.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >