News: CJ Exclusives

CJ politics week in review, Feb. 10-14

Each week, staff at Carolina Journal looks back at the week in N.C. politics and chooses several interesting, relevant stories you may have missed. Here’s this week’s review:

• Governor polling: A Feb. 12 High Point University poll found 40% of respondents approve of Gov. Roy Cooper’s job performance, and 31% disapprove. The poll surveyed 1,100 N.C. residents from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6. The credibility interval is plus or minus 3.6%. A majority of Democratic primary voters would pick Cooper over Ernest Reeves in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Eighty percent picked Cooper, and 8% chose Reeves. Republican primary voters overwhelmingly support Lt. Gov. Dan Forest as the Republican nominee for the governorship. Sixty-seven percent of Republican likely voters would pick Forest; 8% would pick Rep. Holly Grange, R-New Hanover. 

• Superintendent text: State Superintendent Mark Johnson sent texts to some 540,000 parents and educators Feb. 11, urging them to take an online survey about Common Core and financial literacy courses. Last week, Johnson announced the Department of Public Instruction would re-examine the use of the educational standard. In addition to the text message, Johnson sent 800,000 emails with the Common Core survey. The inquiry comes as Johnson is campaigning for lieutenant governor. Even though Johnson is on the campaign trail, he still has a job to do as the state superintendent, Graham Wilson, Johnson’s spokesman, told WRAL. Multiple ethics complaints were filed against Johnson, including one from Justin Parmenter, an education activist and frequent critic of the state superintendent. “Mark Johnson’s use of state resources for personal campaign purposes has been a pattern for quite some time,” Justin Parmenter told the News & Observer.

• Civitas records requests: The Civitas Institute, a conservative public policy organization, is considering legal action against 38 House Democrats for failing to respond to public records requests. The organization sent the requests Sept. 13, 2019, for documents pertaining to a legislative redistricting meeting allegedly held the morning of Sept. 11, 2019. Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, alluded to a meeting while decrying the surprise House vote on the budget veto override. None of the 38 lawmakers has complied with the request. Several weeks is plenty of time to screenshot calendars or print notes, Donald Bryson, president of Civitas Institute said in a news release. “At best, 38 legislators are refusing to comply with state law, and at worst they are conspiring to cover up a redistricting meeting that occurred out of the public eye and against court orders,” Bryson said in a news release.

• Disaster legislation: A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects Act on Feb. 12 to speed up disaster recovery efforts. U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, both from North Carolina, are among the bipartisan group behind the legislation. Under current law, local municipalities and states applying for federal disaster relief funds must wait for FEMA to give them the final go-ahead before buying land or starting construction on a project. The HELP Act would allow local officials to move forward on buying land and starting simple construction projects. “State and local municipalities know what they need to recover better than bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., and this bipartisan legislation will give flexibility to those who are affected by future storms,” Tillis said in a news release. 

• Conservative legislators: The most conservative U.S. lawmaker resides in North Carolina, a new ranking from GovTrack shows. U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-11th District, earned the top spot on the 2019 Report Card. GovTrack analyzed the voting records and bill sponsorships of all U.S. lawmakers to determine a ranking of most- to least-conservative. Meadows took first place as the most conservative legislator, but it’ll be the last time he’s on the list. Meadows announced in December he won’t seek re-election in the 11th District.

• Nazi comparison: On Facebook, the No. 2 official with the N.C. Democratic Party compared the U.S. Senate’s impeachment vote to acquit President Trump to the German Reichstag’s 1933 move making Adolf Hitler a dictator, the News & Observer reported. Bobbie Richardson, a former state lawmaker from Franklin County, posted the comparison Thursday, Feb. 6, the day after the Senate’s vote. When the N&O contacted Richardson, she deleted the post and apologized. Richardson also serves on the board of the Golden LEAF Foundation. Gov. Roy Cooper appointed her to that position.