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Failing Upwards, Revisited

Failing Upwards, Revisited

Last December I put together a little piece examining the fact that former Rep. Justin Burr, from Stanly, snagged a prime job right off of his electoral defeat.

Burr, who has no experience at all in the field for which he would be responsible in this job, skated through without serious scrutiny, it seems. The starting salary was somewhere around $62,000, which is already a lot for a job you shouldn’t have, but the GOP in Raleigh this year snuck into the budget a provision that almost doubles the salary, increasing it by over $50,000.

There’s not really much to say about this. It demonstrates what everyone hates about politics and what everyone knows is happening.

The Republican Party in this state and every other loves to join Trump’s “Drain the Swamp” chorus, yet the tune falls flat when asked to apply it here at home.

As I said half a year ago when this first popped up: Kudos to former Rep. Burr for chasing the American dream: a cushy government job with little responsibility and a hefty salary. If only we could all be so lucky.

New Pew Data on Independents

New Pew Data on Independents

Pew has a new survey out that looks at the nature of politically independent voters, and the upshot is something that is apparent from polling but still goes rather undiscussed on network news: Independents are not just a large cohort of people sitting on the fence, malleable and easily persuaded.

From Pew: “Among other things, it illustrated that independents have lower levels of political participation and are demographically different from those who affiliate with a party – and that their views are often as divided as those of self-identified partisans.”

Independent simply means that these voters are independent from a party label, but not that they don’t feel strongly about a host of issues. From the survey, “only 7% of Americans overall don’t express a partisan leaning,” while the rest of those who are independent “lean” Republican or Democratic.

Image from Pew Research Center

Here are the six facts Pew shared that were most salient:

  1. Nearly four-in-ten U.S. adults (38%) identify as politically independent, but most “lean” toward one of the two major parties.

  2. Independents who lean to one of the two parties are often much closer to partisans in their views than they are to independents who lean to the other party.

  3. On some issues, there are significant differences between leaners and partisans. (e.g., independents who lean Republican are more likely to support same-sex marriage than registered Republicans).

  4. Independents – particularly the 7% of Americans who don’t lean toward a party – are less politically engaged than partisans.

  5. Leaners are much less likely than partisans to say quality of candidates running for office “has been good.” Independents feel more negatively about political candidates and parties than partisans.

  6. Independents are younger and more likely to be male than partisans.


You can find a great breakdown of how North Carolina voters vary in their partisan affiliations and other data at Old North State Politics.

Tillis Faces Primary Challenger

Tillis Faces Primary Challenger

For months now, and especially on the heels of his unexplainable op-ed flip flop in the Washington Post, there have been rumors and speculation that the incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis might face a primary challenger. Now, one has appeared in the form of Garland Tucker.

From the Greensboro News & Record:

RALEIGH — A retired North Carolina investment company executive has taken the first step toward challenging U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis in next year’s Republican primary.


Garland Tucker of Raleigh filed on Monday candidate committee paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. Political adviser Carter Wrenn says people close to Tucker have been urging him to run, and that Tucker will make a formal statement later in the week.

Tucker is the former CEO of Triangle Capital Corp. While long involved in conservative politics, Tucker’s never run for elected office.


The biggest issue Tucker will have to reckon with is his opposition to President Trump prior to the election, at least until it became clear that the only options were Trump and Clinton. He went as far as penning an op-ed in the News & Observer to make the argument for electing Trump because it meant not electing Clinton.

Tucker is independently wealthy, and has deep ties to North Carolina’s conservative intelligentsia. He’s deeply involved with the John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institute, and has written for National Review, The Daily Caller and other publications.

Tillis faces low approval within his own party; a recent Morning Consult poll showed him with 51% of Republicans approving of his job. A recent column on PoliticsNC outlined how those numbers might open the door to a primary opponent.

Tillis being the incumbent certainly makes him the favorite, but a well-funded conservative that has nothing to lose will be a thorn in his side as he seeks to remain North Carolina’s senator.

Perspective: May 6th

Perspective: May 6th

This week’s Perspective, from PoliticsNC: We cover crossover in the NCGA and their upcoming budget, whether that will include Medicaid expansion, and a new challenger to Thom Tillis from within the Republican Party.

NC GOP Tires of Tillis

NC GOP Tires of Tillis

Morning Consult released a poll this morning that showed Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina hemorrhaging support from members of his own party.

In February, Senator Tillis publicly opposed President Trump’s national emergency over the border wall, going as far as penning an op-ed for the Washington Post outlining his rationale and the importance of Congress as a separate and co-equal branch of government.

Soon after, though, when presented with a clear vote — with or against President Trump — Tillis flipped, to the shock of everyone, and voted against a resolution to override the president. Either position was sure to ruffle feathers amongst one part of his constituency, but clutching both sides of the same issue alienated him from everyone. I’m sure some pretzel-like logic convinced the one-term senator that holding dissonant positions was somehow tenable, but it obviously was not.

Instead of biting the bullet and upsetting moderates or conservatives, Tillis has found a way to do both. Of all Republican Senators, Tillis has the second-lowest approval of his own party within the respective states. Only 53% of North Carolina Republicans approve of him, with one-fifth disapproving. Those are bad enough numbers for a poll of all voters, but abysmal within what should be a solid bloc of support.

Tillis was going to have a difficult enough reelection battle in a state trending blue that has a penchant for one term senators (Richard Burr is an enigma in that regard; I suspect it is become he forgoes socks). It is difficult to see his path to victory without consolidating support within his own party.

Republicans in the state will be hard-pressed to find a better candidate to run against the eventual Democrat, but the conservative wing is also faced with a conundrum: They may not like Tillis very much, he’s their best chance for a Republican to hold the seat, even if that Republican is in Name Only.

The Lindberg Debacle [podcast]

The Lindberg Debacle [podcast]

In this week’s episode of Perspective, we tackle the Lindberg bribery scandal that’s rocking North Carolina politics. Listen below, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Anti-Folwell Legislation Passes the House

Anti-Folwell Legislation Passes the House

Continuing our theme of tracking this legislation, today in the North Carolina House both Republicans and Democrats joined together to pass HB184, the bill that creates a Study Committee for the State Healthcare Plan, or, more directly, takes away the power from State Treasurer Dale Folwell to negotiate the prices for the SHP with the state hospitals.

This has been an interesting piece of law to follow, and a good bit of money has been spent on both sides to try and influence the public perception. Ultimately, at least for the time being, I don’t think that this story is resonating much with the average voter. Folwell’s proposed adjustment would not begin until next year, and he has an election to win now without that big achievement. The fascinating story, for now, is the political infighting amongst Republicans.

If you’re into the idea of following the money (which, in recent political scandals for the NCGOP is a good place to start), NC Civitas has a bit of a series going that details who got money from whom. Spoiler alert: NC Hospital lobbying outfits have donated a hefty sum to lawmakers across the state.

HB184 passed 75-36. Here’s the breakdown:

To read more about this from me: Folwell, House GOP face off in PoliticsNC and Folwell, hospitals face off over health plan changes in the Salisbury Post.

ICE bill hits rocks

ICE bill hits rocks

One of the biggest topics of conversation in Raleigh over the past week or two has been proposed legislation, HB370, requiring North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with ICE bills of detainer. Most notably, sheriffs in Mecklenburg and Wake won on platforms of opposition to a lot of the policies regarding immigration that the White House has espoused.

The North Carolina ACLU came out against this measure early on, in March, stating that:

The ACLU of North Carolina opposes HB 370, an anti-immigrant bill that circumvents the local authority of sheriffs by requiring them to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and assist in the federal government’s deportation pipeline or face financial penalties. The proposal is transparent retaliation against the growing number of sheriffs across North Carolina who have pledged to not assist ICE with targeting or detaining community members for immigration offenses. Sheriffs in Wake and Mecklenburg counties, for example, were elected by voters after promising to end the federal 287(g) program, which has led to family separation, the deportation of thousands, and greater mistrust and fear in our communities.

Today, in a bit of a shock, the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association released a statement in opposition as well. They were reportedly asking GOP legislators to pump the brakes on this, but the bill made it through committee and is slated to hit the House floor soon. Part of the Sheriffs’ Association statement:

This will undoubtedly put pressure on Republican supporters of what looked like an easy win for the House GOP. A lot of the implied arguments in favor of the bill is that it would help keep our state safe; that argument is far less compelling when the Sheriffs’ Association adopts the position of OPPOSE-HIGH PRIORITY.

A real labor commissioner, please

A real labor commissioner, please

North Carolinians have long been tickled by Cherie Berry’s name. What a funny rhyme! Compounding the entertainment factor, she installed her picture in every elevator. Behind these gimmicks lay a tenure of negligent enforcement and policies guided by strong anti-labor assumptions. Let’s hope the next labor commissioner actually earns her keep.

Introducing The Feed

Introducing The Feed

Here at PoliticsNC, we’re adding a new feature to the website called The Feed.

Often, events arise in the news that merit coverage and analysis from PoliticsNC, but don’t necessarily rise to the level of a full-length article. Also, given the quick pace of news and in the world of social media, there is value in a shorter, direct take on the events unfolding.

These quick hits will appear in The Feed, a section that collects the articles in a feed. You can scroll through those articles continuously instead of clicking between new articles. We hope that this will allow us to deliver new analysis and commentary to you quicker and more regularly.

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