Big government Republicans have begun another assault on Asheville and democracy. They’ve been trying to take control of the Asheville city council since former Senator Tom Apodaca’s ill-fated attempt to redistrict it a few years ago. Back when they first got control of the legislature, Republicans redistricted county commission seats and lost two legislative seats in response.

This time, they’re carving up districts, eliminating primaries and setting up winner-take-all city council elections. They hope a crowded field of Democrats will make way for a single Republican candidate. It’s heavy-handed authoritarianism at work again.

The legislators from Buncombe County all oppose the measure. A Republican from Henderson County, Rep. Chuck Edwards, who represents a small slice of Asheville is pushing the legislation. Back when Democrats controlled the legislature, most local bills needed consent of all legislators in a county to advance. In the age of Big Government conservatism, those rules are gone.

Republicans won’t pay much of a price for usurping local control. They’ve already lost the legislative seats they once controlled in Buncombe. The move appears to be sheer vindictiveness and a desire to undermine democracy.

The bill also seems to violate legislative rules, but in the Trump era, norms that once helped maintain good governance are out the window. The deadline for submitting local bills is long gone. However, King…uh, Speaker Tim Moore declared the bill was ok.

Republicans were once the party of local control. Now, they’re just the party of control. They’re doing all they can to limit democracy by gerrymandering districts, rewriting the rules of local and judicial races, making voting more difficult for elderly African-Americans and limiting the power of the governor. What’s clear is that they believe their legislative majorities are intact for the foreseeable future. They believe they’ve insulated themselves from checks-and-balances of our democratic system and they’re going to make all of us who disagree pay a price.

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 >

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