Each week, staff at Carolina Journal looks back at the week in N.C. politics and chooses what we think are some interesting, relevant stories you may have missed. Here’s a week in review:
Tucker out: Garland Tucker III will no longer challenge U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in the upcoming Republican congressional primary. The Raleigh businessman announced Dec. 2 he’s leaving the race. In a letter to supporters, Tucker blamed a lack of campaign funding and the impeachment proceedings as reasons for bowing out. “Since late September as impeachment has unfolded, it has been increasingly difficult to engage voters on Tillis’ Senate record and to raise campaign money,” Tucker wrote in a letter obtained by the News & Observer.
Ballot listings: The Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Constitution, and Green parties have submitted their presidential primary candidates to appear on the ballot in 2020. Parties are required to submit their candidates to the State Board of Election this week. Both the Republican Party and the Green Party submitted one name each. The Republican Party submitted President Trump, while the Green Party named Howie Hawkins, the national party’s co-founder. The Constitution Party named Charles Kraut and Don Blankenship. Blankenship is noted for criticizing Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, last year during his unsuccessful primary run in West Virginia. The Libertarian Party gave 16 names, including John McAffee, Vermin Supreme, and New Hampshire state Rep. Max Abramson. The Democratic Party gave 15 names, including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. In January, the state election board will meet to finalize the primary ballots, but new names can be added to the list, if approved by the board.
Wake schools: The Wake County Public Schools System has a new president. Former WCPSS Vice President Keith Sutton defeated Jim Martin in a 5-4 vote. Board member Roxie Cash is vice president. Monika Johnson-Hostler, Lindsay Mahaffey, Heather Scott, and Cash voted for Sutton. Bill Fletcher, Chris Heagart,y and Christine Kushner gave their support to Martin. Sutton, who is also an education consultant, is one of five Democrats in the running for state superintendent.
Moore running: Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, announced he will run for a 10th term. “I appreciate the opportunity to continue serving the people of Cleveland County and wish candidates across North Carolina good luck in the upcoming elections,” Moore said in a news release. Moore was first elected to the House in 2002 and had served three terms as speaker.
Horner moving on: Sen. Rick Horner, R-Nash, is retiring. Horner announced Dec. 1 he won’t seek another term next year because of the changing legislative districts. “I have been blessed with an incredible opportunity to serve the citizens of Nash, Johnston, and Wilson counties in the Senate,” Horner said in a statement obtained by the Wilson Times. “Unfortunately, District 11 has changed shape three times in three elections, and the 2020 Census is certain to bring yet another change. Much to my regret, it simply is not in the best interest of my family to seek re-election in 2020.” Horner has been in the Senate since 2016.
Istation motion: The Department of Public Instruction and Istation filed a joint motion asking for a ruling from the Department of Information Technology in the dispute with Amplify over the K-3 reading diagnostic contract. Amplify lost the contract to Istation earlier this year and filed a formal protest challenging the decision. DIT stayed the implementation of Istation while it reviewed the contract award. Despite holding a hearing in October, a ruling has yet to be released. DPI and Istation, in their joint motion, say the lack of a ruling has led to “worsen statewide confusion.” The parties said they will go to the Superior Court if a ruling isn’t made by noon Monday, Dec. 9.
Brown retirement: Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, will not seek re-election. “After nearly 16 years in the Senate, I feel like it’s the appropriate time to focus on my family and businesses,” Brown said, as reported by the Charlotte Observer. “When I was first elected, I ran on three things: do something for career and technical education, tax policy, and term limits.” Brown has served eight terms in the Senate. He is a chair of the Senate Appropriations/Budget Committee and vice chair of the Senate Rules Committee. Brown, a business owner, suggested during a luncheon Dec. 4 that North Carolina should consider shortening its legislative sessions. He says his businesses, including car dealerships, have suffered because of the long recent sessions.
Unspent scholarships: Senate Republicans are accusing Gov. Roy Cooper’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs of holding $9.2 million in scholarship money for children of wartime veterans hostage to gain political advantage. While the DMVA has blamed the budget impasse for delaying the scholarship money, Sen. Danny Earl Britt Jr, R-Robeson, said the money was in the form of recurring funds, so the budget impasse shouldn’t interfere with the scholarships. “Instead of playing the blame game, the DMVA needs to do what is right and give these students — some of them the children of men and women who have sacrificed their lives defending our country — their scholarship funds,” Britt said in the news release.