The state of state legislative races, 5 weeks out

OK! We’re 5 weeks out from the end of this campaign.

Edits: Kirk Ross pointed out that I had somehow missed the fact that Chaz Beasley’s opponent, Charles Jeter, resigned his seat & dropped out of the race. I have updated below accordingly. Also, while Googling to see what else I might have missed, I came across this post from the right-wing Civitas Institute, outlining what races they deem important. I was gratified to see a huge degree of overlap with my list. It’s worth a read.

This post is a followup/update to my earlier post about state races. For the statewide races, not a lot has changed from my earlier post — they’re all crucial, and thankfully, in many cases, the Democrats seem to be winning, albeit by ultra-narrow margins. If you have money to give, absolutely, go visit that earlier post and make some donations to Roy Cooper, Deborah Ross, Josh Stein & the rest of our slate. None of these races are slam-dunk victories. Not for another 5 weeks.

Today I want to revisit the state legislative races. My friend Russ Dean pointed out recently that in the absence of publicly available polling data, election observers frequently use fundraising data as a proxy for campaign vitality. He very helpfully went through the available fundraising data & dumped it all into a spreadsheet, which you can play with yourself in Google Docs here. It has two tabs — one with all the data, and one with a subset of races that Russ highlighted as close, based on fundraising info + the margin of victory in the 2014 election.

For this post, I took Russ’s spreadsheet & compared it to my own earlier analysis of potentially winnable seats. You’ll find the results below — a few races have dropped into the “long-shot” column, but a few others have been promoted to potential contender status. I should note that I’m not a political scientist or a campaign operative or anything — just an interested observer.

Here’s the TL;DR version (which is still kinda long, but this is IMPORTANT): Consider supporting some or all of these listed candidates, and then read on for the deeper dive, including rundowns of all the candidates from my earlier list.

House candidates to focus on NOW:

  • District 9: Brian Farkas
    This one is interesting — this seat only went Republican by 51.5% in 2012. It was 60/40 in 2014, probably because the Democrat was a [really awesome] college student named Uriah Ward who looked like he was 16 years old. Brian may actually have a real chance, much moreso than Uriah did. I can’t find any policy statement from Brian about HB2. He has come out strongly in favor of non-partisan redistricting, however.
    UPDATE: Brian is behind in the money by around 2:1; however, he has received small donations from roughly 10x as many donors. This is a smallish district in/around Greenville, and there is a Clinton office in the district. Clinton GOTV may help, but so would a direct donation.
  • District 13: Rodney Alexander
    UPDATE: This race wasn’t even on my radar when I made my original post. If nothing else, click the link to check out Rodney’s Geocities-style website. But also be aware that he’s anti-HB2, and has raised a respectable $11K vs his opponent’s $21K. This is another one to watch & potentially contribute to. It’s a huge district (1040 square miles) so he won’t be able to rely on Clinton GOTV. (In 2014, this district went Republican 70/30, so don’t get your hopes too far up — but it’s great to see a challenger doing as well as Rodney is doing.)
  • District 15: Dan Whitten
    UPDATE
    : Dan is a true progressive, who is passionate about helping people with substance abuse issues. He is opposed to HB2. And he has been campaigning tirelessly over the past few months, while holding down a day-job. He has raised just over $5K, vs his opponent’s ~$18K, so it’s an uphill fight, but I’m going to invest in his campaign. This seat wasn’t even contested in 2012 & 2014, so I have no hard numbers. This is another longish shot, but a good one to take.
  • District 26: Rich Nixon
    UPDATE
    : Rich has a significant fundraising advantage over his opponent — ~$47K vs ~$12K. He’s a beloved teacher in his district, and his students are working hard for him. He hasn’t made the strongest statements against HB2, but he did state opposition to it. This was Leo Daughtry’s seat, but he’s not running again, so the incumbent effect isn’t there. And based on the fundraising numbers, Rich may have a serious chance.
  • District 35: Terence Everitt
    This is the seat in northern Wake County that covers Rolesville & parts of Wake Forest. Republican incumbent Chris Malone won his 2014 race with 56% of the vote. I reached out to Terence to ask for a statement on HB2, and I got a private response from his campaign manager, offering to let me talk to Terence on the phone. No public statement was offered. I didn’t call him.
    UPDATE: Everitt & his opponent are virtually tied, money-wise, although Everitt has 2x as many donors as his rival. This is a Wake district so there will be a lot of GOTV happening. Also: Everitt has come out definitely in opposition to HB2.
  • District 36: Jen Ferrell
    This is the Apex/Cary seat currently held by Republican Nelson Dollar, who got 54% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Jen Ferrell is enthusiastic and media-savvy, and is a very strong opponent of HB2. This seat is a must-win.
    UPDATE: Jen is well behind Dollar (one of the most powerful NC Republicans) in dollars, but she has received 5x as many discrete donations as he has. Hopefully she will benefit from Clinton GOTV.
  • District 49: Cynthia Ball
    This is one of the core Raleigh seats in the NC House. Republican incumbent Gary Pendleton only won it with 51.6% of the vote in 2014. Cynthia Ball is endorsed by Lillian’s List, and has expressed her opposition to HB2.
    UPDATE: Huge amounts of money being raised here — per the spreadsheet, $200K for Cynthia & almost $300K for Pendleton. She has 2x as many donors as he has. He’s one of the few Republicans to state his regret about HB2, which means he’s running scared. Given that this is Raleigh, GOTV could make the difference.
  • District 88: Mary Belk
    This is one of the Mecklenburg County/Charlotte metro area seats. Republican incumbent Rob Bryan took 55.4% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Mary Belk has expressed some opposition to HB2.
    UPDATE: Run Mary Run! She has raised ~$80K vs her opponent’s $102K, from 3x as many donors. She has come out more strongly against HB2. And she should have strong Clinton GOTV support.
  • District 92: Chaz Beasley
    This is a super-thin slice on the far western edge of Mecklenburg county. Chaz Beasley is strongly opposed to HB2, and is a strong campaigner. Republican incumbent Charles Jeter only took 52.5% of the vote in 2014.
    UPDATE: Jeter dropped out of the race in July, & the GOP didn’t name a new candidate until August. Not counting chickens here, but Chaz would seem to have the edge here. He still sends me a fundraising email every couple of days, though.
  • District 93: Sue Counts
    This district includes Boone, but is nonetheless in Republican control. This is a rematch of the 2014 election, in which Republican incumbent Jonathan Jordan took 53% of the vote. Sue Counts should have more name recognition this time around. She is strongly opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE: Sue is nearly even with her opponent dollar-wise, from 7x as many donors. This race is getting a lot of attention, but it’s a pretty big district geographically, so I wouldn’t count on the statewide races to have as much impact. Some targeted donations could make a difference here.
  • District 103: Rochelle Rivas
    UPDATE
    : Rochelle has raised ~$27K vs her opponent’s ~$61K. She has 3x as many donors as he does, however. She has stated soft opposition to HB2 (however, judging from her social media posts, she seems to be an All Lives Matter person). This is a compact district in Mecklenburg county, so she may benefit from Democratic GOTV activity. This is one to watch. Incumbent William Brawley was unopposed in 2012 & 2014, so it’s hard to gauge her chances.
  • District 105: Connie Green-Johnson
    UPDATE
    : Connie is anti-HB2, very pro-Black Lives Matter, and has raised $21K to her opponent’s $28K, from 273 donors vs his 16. I would LOVE to see this one land in the win column. This is another compact Mecklenburg county district, so statewide GOTV investment may pay off. Her opponent, Scott Stone, was appointed to his seat in May, & has thus never stood for election for this seat.
  • District 113: Maureen Mahan Copelof
    UPDATE
    : Maureen has booked $24K in donations vs her opponent’s $957 (as in under $1K. Not a typo). Not only that, she’s outspokenly anti-HB2, and anti-gerrymandering (as are many of her peers in these races). This is a pretty large district without a Clinton office in it, so hopefully that fundraising advantage will pay off. This seat went 63/37 for Republicans in 2012 and 2014, although there’s no incumbent running this year. It’ll be interesting to see how far that will take the underfunded Republican candidate this year.
  • District 118: Rhonda Cole Schandevel
    This is a district in far western NC, including Maggie Valley. Republican incumbent Michele Presnell only took 51.3% of the vote in both 2012 and 2014. Rhonda Cole Schandevel is a pro-choice progressive Democrat supported by Lillian’s List, although I’m unable to find any statement from her regarding HB2.
    UPDATE: Rhonda has outraised her opponent by a huge margin — $100K to $12K, and from 6x as many donors. This is a very large district (1244 square miles) & the closest Clinton office is outside the district, in Asheville. Given how much ground there is to cover in WNC, some direct donations would help in any of the races out there.
  • District 119: Joe Sam Queen
    Joe Sam Queen is from Waynesville & represents parts of far Western NC. He didn’t travel to Raleigh for the special session, but spoke out against HB2. He won his most recent election in 2014 with 52.6% of the vote.
    UPDATE: This is another huge Western NC district (1116 square miles) without a Clinton office within it. Joe Sam has raised a relatively modest $30K, but his opponent has only raised around $1K. Still, some quick donations to fund mailers/signs could prove useful.

Senate races to focus on NOW:

  • District 9: Andrew Barnhill
    This district covers all of New Hanover county, which includes Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach. But it still went Republican with 55.4% of the vote in 2014 (though only 54.2% in 2012). Democrat Andrew Barnhill has stated his opposition to HB2.
    UPDATE: This is an exciting race — Barnhill is dead even on fundraising dollars vs his opponent, & with 3x as many donors. This is a compact district centered on Wilmington, so there’ll be Democratic GOTV activation to rely on as well.
  • District 17: Susan Evans
    This district covers southern Wake, including Holly Springs, Apex, and Fuquay-Varina. It went for Republican Tamara Barringer with 58.5% in 2014, but only 53.7% in 2012. So it’s perhaps more in-play than it first appears. Democrat Susan Evans is supported by Lillian’s List, and has stated her opposition to HB2.
    UPDATE: Susan Evans is tidily out-fundraising her opponent in this hotly-contested race. Between that fundraising & the Democratic GOTV effort in this key Wake district, this one’s looking potentially good.
  • District 18: Gil Johnson
    This district covers the far east/northeast portion of Wake, as well as all of Franklin county. Republican incumbent Chad Barefoot only took in 52.9% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Gil Johnson has not made any public statement about HB2 that I can find.
    UPDATE: This is a tight one. Chad Barefoot has raised over $100K to Gil’s $62K. Gil’s donor #s are only 2x what Chad’s are. It’s clear that both sides are motivated. It’s possible that this district is close enough to Raleigh get some spillover GOTV benefit, but some dollars direct to Gil could help.
  • District 27: Michael Garrett
    This district covers eastern & southern Guilford county, in sort of a half-donut around Greensboro. Republican incumbent Trudy Wade was unopposed in 2014, but she only took 57.6% of the vote in 2012, so this one is a possible win. Democrat Michael Garrett is opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE: Garrett reported $76K to his opponent’s $138K. This district is close enough to Greensboro that Clinton GOTV efforts could have some effect — but it’s still uphill.
  • District 45: Art Sherwood
    UPDATE
    : Thanks in part, perhaps, to the fact that Watauga county is much more in-play than expected, Art Sherwood is making a run for it. He has raised $31K from 176 donors vs his opponent’s $20K from 20 donors. I have also enjoyed reading Art’s position papers — he’s a hardcore Christian in the actual Christ sense of the word. He’s anti-HB2, pro-voting rights, and focuses a lot of attention on helping the poor. This is a BIG district (1704 square miles) so this isn’t a done deal yet. Consider donating. This district went 60/40 Republican in 2012 and 2014, but that incumbent isn’t running.
  • District 48: Norman Bossert
    This is one of two NC Senate seats that covers part of Asheville. It is currently held by Republican Tom Apodaca, who took 57.4% of the vote in 2014. My friends from out west *really* dislike him. He’s retiring, so there will be no incumbent running. Democrat Norm Bossert is strongly opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE: Well, the Republican has raised around 3x as much money as Norm has, but Norm has 143 donors to the Republican’s 9. So there’s some name recognition & activation working in our favor. And given the proximity to Asheville, some GOTV assistance as well. This one’s worth sliding some money to, if you have it to spare.
  • District 50: Jane Hipps
    This is the district that covers far western NC, including Murphy, Highlands, Cashiers. This is the second time that Democrat Jane Hipps has run against Republican incumbent Jim Davis; in 2014, he beat her 53.9/46.1. Jane is endorsed by Lillian’s List, but as of now she hasn’t made a public statement about HB2.
    UPDATE: Jane is thoroughly trouncing her opponent in fund-raising this time around, with $189K from over 1000 donors, compared to his $28K from 60 donors. She’s going to need it, given the size of this district (3105 square miles) and the lack of direct GOTV support.

One thing to consider at this point is where to target money to do the most good. For many of these races, candidates will benefit greatly from the fact that NC is a full-on battleground state in this year’s presidential election. The Clinton campaign has 20+ offices across NC, and they’ll be running a coordinated get-out-the-vote effort through them. So for races in compact districts in close proximity to a campaign office, it may make sense to donate to one of the statewide campaigns, such as Cooper or Ross, in the assumption that the money will flow to those GOTV efforts.

Here’s a Google Map with the NC House & Senate districts I’m most interested in (well, they’re actually all there, just set to invisible), and all the Clinton/NCDP headquarters I could find:

For races in the more geographically sprawling districts, further from Clinton campaign offices, I suspect the candidates are going to be more directly responsible. Things like direct mail, phone banking, signs, etc. can make a big difference. So direct donations to those candidates could really help.

Of course, in any of these races, volunteering is also something you can do to make an impact.

Other thoughts: Thanks to the Republicans in the NC Legislature, there were changes made in 2013 to all ballots in NC that will continue to have an impact in 2016. First, they eliminated straight-party voting, which cuts down heavily on any coattail effect from races at the top of the ticket. Second, they passed a provision that sorts the parties on the ballot alphabetically — BUT with the current governor’s party listed at the top. So in every race, the Republican candidate is listed first on the ballot. This has been shown in studies to be worth several percentage points vs random ordering.

Below you can find the bulk of the text from my earlier post, including updates for most of the listed candidates. The important info is above this line, but for the completists:

Likely NC State House candidates

So where do we start? Let’s begin with Democratic candidates in potentially winnable districts that are currently held by Republicans, since that’s where the most potential impact is:

  • District 2: Joe Parrish
    This seat that covers Roxboro & Creedmoor was held by Democrats until 2014, when it flipped to Republican, with current incumbent Larry Yarborough taking 56.7% of the vote. Joe Parrish is strongly opposed to HB2, and has a shot at returning this seat to Democratic control.
    UPDATE: Yarborough has out-raised Parrish 10:1 in dollars, although Parrish shows a larger number of contributors. This is a mid-sized district, but it’s fairly close to the Triangle, so it may benefit from Clinton GOTV. Still, this has dropped almost to long-shot status.
  • District 6: Warren Judge
    This is the seat currently held by Paul Tine, elected as a Democrat, now an “unaffiliated” who caucuses with the Republicans. Tine won this seat with 53.6% of the vote. Tine isn’t running for reelection, which makes this an excellent chance to retain this seat for a [hopefully] actual real Democrat. This district covers the Outer Banks and Belhaven. I have not been able to find a public statement from Warren Judge regarding HB2.
    UPDATE: Judge has out-raised his GOP opponent by roughly $100,000. This is a *huge* district (>2000 square miles) but Judge appears to have this well in hand.
  • District 9: Brian Farkas
    This one is interesting — this seat only went Republican by 51.5% in 2012. It was 60/40 in 2014, probably because the Democrat was a [really awesome] college student named Uriah Ward who looked like he was 16 years old. Brian may actually have a real chance, much moreso than Uriah did. I can’t find any policy statement from Brian about HB2. He has come out strongly in favor of non-partisan redistricting, however.
    UPDATE: Brian is behind in the money by around 2:1; however, he has received small donations from roughly 10x as many donors. This is a smallish district in/around Greenville, and there is a Clinton office in the district. Clinton GOTV may help, but so would a direct donation.
  • District 35: Terence Everitt
    This is the seat in northern Wake County that covers Rolesville & parts of Wake Forest. Republican incumbent Chris Malone won his 2014 race with 56% of the vote. I reached out to Terence to ask for a statement on HB2, and I got a private response from his campaign manager, offering to let me talk to Terence on the phone. No public statement was offered. I didn’t call him.
    UPDATE: Everitt & his opponent are virtually tied, money-wise, although Everitt has 2x as many donors as his rival. This is a Wake district so there will be a lot of GOTV happening. Also: Everitt has come out definitely in opposition to HB2.
  • District 36: Jen Ferrell
    This is the Apex/Cary seat currently held by Republican Nelson Dollar, who got 54% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Jen Ferrell is enthusiastic and media-savvy, and is a very strong opponent of HB2. This seat is a must-win.
    UPDATE: Jen is well behind Dollar (one of the most powerful NC Republicans) in dollars, but she has received 5x as many discrete donations as he has. Hopefully she will benefit from Clinton GOTV.
  • District 40: Joe John
    This is the northwestern Wake County seat currently held by Republican Marilyn Avila, who took 54.3% of the vote in 2014. Her challenger, Joe John, has been silent on social media since just before HB2 was passed, so I don’t know his position. It would be great to see all of Wake go Democratic this year, however.
    UPDATE: Joe has only reported one donation (for $10,000). If that’s accurate, he’s being outspent 7:1. This is a Triangle-area seat, so hopefully Clinton GOTV will help here. If it were anywhere else, I’d demote it to long-shot. Also: Joe has come out definitely in opposition to HB2.
  • District 49: Cynthia Ball
    This is one of the core Raleigh seats in the NC House. Republican incumbent Gary Pendleton only won it with 51.6% of the vote in 2014. Cynthia Ball is endorsed by Lillian’s List, and has expressed her opposition to HB2.
    UPDATE: Huge amounts of money being raised here — per the spreadsheet, $200K for Cynthia & almost $300K for Pendleton. She has 2x as many donors as he has. He’s one of the few Republicans to state his regret about HB2, which means he’s running scared. Given that this is Raleigh, GOTV could make the difference.
  • District 53: Jon Blum
    This district covers the portion of Harnett County that includes Angier, Dunn & Erwin. Republican incumbent David Lewis took 55.7% of the vote in 2014. His challenger Jon Blum is strongly opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE
    : Blum shows contributions of $2800 vs his opponent’s $318,500. Gonna have to demote this one to long-shot.
  • District 88: Mary Belk
    This is one of the Mecklenburg County/Charlotte metro area seats. Republican incumbent Rob Bryan took 55.4% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Mary Belk has expressed some opposition to HB2.
    UPDATE: Run Mary Run! She has raised ~$80K vs her opponent’s $102K, from 3x as many donors. She has come out more strongly against HB2. And she should have strong Clinton GOTV support.
  • District 92: Chaz Beasley
    This is a super-thin slice on the far western edge of Mecklenburg county. Chaz Beasley is strongly opposed to HB2, and is a strong campaigner. Republican incumbent Charles Jeter only took 52.5% of the vote in 2014.
    UPDATE: Jeter dropped out of the race in July, & the GOP didn’t name a new candidate until August. Not counting chickens here, but Chaz would seem to have the edge here. He still sends me a fundraising email every couple of days, though.
  • District 93: Sue Counts
    This district includes Boone, but is nonetheless in Republican control. This is a rematch of the 2014 election, in which Republican incumbent Jonathan Jordan took 53% of the vote. Sue Counts should have more name recognition this time around. She is strongly opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE: Sue is nearly even with her opponent dollar-wise, from 7x as many donors. This race is getting a lot of attention, but it’s a pretty big district geographically, so I wouldn’t count on the statewide races to have as much impact. Some targeted donations could make a difference here.
  • District 118: Rhonda Cole Schandevel
    This is a district in far western NC, including Maggie Valley. Republican incumbent Michele Presnell only took 51.3% of the vote in both 2012 and 2014. Rhonda Cole Schandevel is a pro-choice progressive Democrat supported by Lillian’s List, although I’m unable to find any statement from her regarding HB2.
    UPDATE: Rhonda has outraised her opponent by a huge margin — $100K to $12K, and from 6x as many donors. This is a very large district (1244 square miles) & the closest Clinton office is outside the district, in Asheville. Given how much ground there is to cover in WNC, some direct donations would help in any of the races.

Next, let’s look at current House Democrats in tight reelection races. If we don’t win these, we lose ground:

  • District 41: Gale Adcock
    Gale represents parts of western Wake County. She flipped this district from Republican to Democrat in 2014, taking 51.3% of the vote. She was absent when the House voted on HB2 and I have been unable to find a statement from her regarding it. She was a Lillian’s List candidate in 2014, so I know she is progressive and pro-choice, but I don’t know her definitive stance on HB2.
    UPDATE: Adcock has a huge financial advantage over her opponent (like $150K to $1.2K). This is a compact Triangle-area district. I’m not calling any races yet, but this looks good. Also: Adcock co-sponsored an attempt to repeal HB2 in the short session.
  • District 44: Billy Richardson
    Billy represents Fayetteville, and is one of the 11 House Democrats who voted for HB2. But he has subsequently apologized for that, in a meaningful way. He won his last race, in 2014, with 52.5% of the vote.
    UPDATE: Richardson has out-raised his opponent by a substantial margin, in a compact district with a Clinton office dead-center in it.
  • District 54: Robert Reives
    Robert represents Chatham county in the NC House, along with just enough of Lee county to cover his home in Sanford. He won his 2014 election with 56% of the vote. Despite that fairly close margin, he voted against HB2.
    UPDATE: The GOP challenger here is showing one donation for $100. Reives has raised roughly $65K.
  • District 115: John Ager
    John represents parts of Buncombe County. He flipped his district from Republican to Democrat in 2014, but he only took 50.8% of the vote. He voted against HB2.
    UPDATE: John has out-raised his opponent 2:1 in dollars, and with 8x as many donors. This is a comparatively compact district (by WNC standards) with an office (the Asheville office) within the district.
  • District 116: Brian Turner
    Brian is our other Buncombe County success story from 2014, when he successfully flipped his district from Republican to Democrat. He took 52% of the vote in 2014. He voted against HB2.
    UPDATE: Brian’s opponent actually dropped out of the race in mid-August, a week or two before the final filing deadline. The GOP was unsuccessful in finding a replacement. Barring some insanity, this one is over.
  • District 119: Joe Sam Queen
    Joe Sam Queen is from Waynesville & represents parts of far Western NC. He didn’t travel to Raleigh for the special session, but spoke out against HB2. He won his most recent election in 2014 with 52.6% of the vote.
    UPDATE: This is another huge Western NC district (1116 square miles) without a Clinton office within it. Joe Sam has raised a relatively modest $30K, but his opponent has only raised around $1K. Still, some quick donations to fund mailers/signs could prove useful.

And one open seat currently held by a Democrat who isn’t running for reelection:

  • District 46: Tim Benton
    This seat went to the Democrat with 53.4% of the vote in 2014, and 54% of the vote in 2012. It represents all or part of Bladen, Columbus & Robeson counties. Democrat Tim Benton hasn’t made any public statements about HB2.
    UPDATE: Benton has only reported $257 in donations, vs $23K for his opponent. This a huge district (1227 square miles) & the Clinton office is way at one end of it. I’m afraid this one’s going into long-shot status.

Here’s a list of other current House Democrats whose races aren’t quite as close, but are still contested. I’m not seeing/hearing anything that would suggest moving these out of this section:

  • District 7: Bobbie Richardson
    Bobbie was unopposed in 2012 and 2014. She’s opposed now, but this seat is comparatively safe. Bobbie voted against HB2.
  • District 11: Duane Hall
    Duane is a Wake County representative who voted against HB2. He won his 2014 election with 61.5% of the vote.
  • District 18: Susi Hamilton
    Susi is from Wilmington. She voted against HB2. She won her 2014 election with 66.5% of the vote.
  • District 30: Paul Luebke
    Paul Luebke has represented Durham for something like 18 years. He was unopposed in 2012 and 2014. He was absent from the HB2 vote, but he is a progressive Democrat.
  • District 34: Grier Martin
    Grier Martin represents portions of Raleigh in the NC House. He was unopposed in 2012 and 2014. He voted against HB2.
  • District 50: Graig Meyer
    Graig Meyer represents Orange & parts of Durham county. He voted against HB2. He won his 2014 election with 57% of the vote, which is lower than I would have expected. It might be worth shooting some dollars his way, for insurance.
  • District 101: Beverly Earle
    Beverly Earle represents a big chunk of Charlotte in the NC House. She was absent during the vote on HB2, and I have been unable to find a statement from her. She was on Lillian’s List in the past, so I know she is a progressive and pro-choice, but I don’t know her exact stance on HB2. She was unopposed in 2012 and 2014.

Conspicuously absent from that list is Brad Salmon, of District 51. Brad flipped his district from Republican to Democrat in 2014, in a closely-watched race. But he was one of the 11 turncoat Democrats who voted FOR HB2. He hasn’t made a public statement about that since so doing. As far as I’m concerned, he’s no different than the Republican he replaced.
UPDATE: Brad STILL hasn’t apologized for voting for HB2. Every post on his Facebook wall is filled with people trolling him for that, which is entertaining, but apparently not effective.

Here are the races that I called as long-shots in my earlier post. Most still are, but these six with updates are notable exceptions:

  • District 13: Rodney Alexander
    UPDATE: This race wasn’t even on my radar when I made my original post. If nothing else, click the link to check out Rodney’s Geocities-style website. But also be aware that he’s anti-HB2, and has raised a respectable $11K vs his opponent’s $21K. This is another one to watch & potentially contribute to. It’s a huge district (1040 square miles) so he won’t be able to rely on Clinton GOTV.
  • District 15: Dan Whitten
    UPDATE
    : Dan is a true progressive, who is passionate about helping people with substance abuse issues. He is opposed to HB2. And he has been campaigning tirelessly over the past few months, while holding down a day-job. He has raised over $5K vs his opponent’s ~$18K, so it’s an uphill fight, but I’m going to invest in his campaign.
  • District 26: Rich Nixon
    UPDATE
    : Rich has a significant fundraising advantage over his opponent — ~$47K vs ~$12K. He’s a beloved teacher in his district, and his students are working hard for him. He hasn’t made the strongest statements against HB2, but he did state opposition to it. And he has a good chance of winning.
  • District 28: Patricia Oliver
  • District 37: Jonathan Graham
  • District 55: Kim Hargett
  • District 59: Scott Jones
  • District 69: Gordon Daniels
  • District 70: Lois Bohnsack
  • District 78: Bill McCaskill
  • District 81: Andy Hedrick
  • District 83: Jeremy Hachen
  • District 91: Eugene Russell
  • District 94: Michael Lentz
  • District 103: Rochelle Rivas
    UPDATE
    : Rochelle has raised ~$27K vs her opponent’s ~$61K. She has 3x as many donors as he does, however. She has stated soft opposition to HB2 (however, judging from her social media posts, she seems to be an All Lives Matter person). This is a compact district in Mecklenburg county, so she may benefit from Democratic GOTV activity. This is one to watch.
  • District 104: Peter Noris
  • District 105: Connie Green-Johnson
    UPDATE
    : Connie is anti-HB2, very pro-Black Lives Matter, and has raised $21K to her opponent’s $28K, from 273 donors vs his 16. I would LOVE to see this one land in the win column. This is another compact Mecklenburg county district, so statewide GOTV investment may pay off.
  • District 109: Susan Maxon
  • District 113: Maureen Mahan Copelof
    UPDATE
    : Maureen has booked $24K in donations vs her opponent’s $957. Not only that, she’s outspokenly anti-HB2, and anti-gerrymandering (as are many of her peers in these races). This is a pretty large district without a Clinton office in it, so hopefully that fundraising advantage will pay off.
  • District 120: Randy Hogsed

The biggest heartbreaker on that list is Jonathan Graham in District 37, which covers Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, and parts of Graham & Apex. It’s the seat currently held by Paul “Skip” Stam, the evil Wake County Republican. He’s retiring, which gives Wake County Democrats their best chance in a while to flip this seat. But Jonathan Graham has, as of now, steadfastly clung to his refusal to accept any campaign donations whatsoever. Sigh.

Likely NC Senate candidates

Don’t worry, the Senate is a smaller body, so this is necessarily a shorter list. Remember, Democrats need a net gain of 4 seats here as well, in order to remove the Republican supermajority & secure veto power for the governor (who had better NOT be Pat McCrory).

Again, let’s begin with Democratic candidates in potentially winnable districts that are currently held by Republicans:

  • District 1: Brownie Futtrell
    This district includes the Outer Banks and several sound-front counties behind them. Republican incumbent Bill Cook took 53.5% of the vote in 2014. This district was Democratic up until 2012, when it flipped by a margin of literally 21 votes. Brutal. Democrat Brownie Futtrell has a lot of posts on his Facebook page about his Senior Games pool & ping-pong wins, but nothing about HB2.
    UPDATE: Still almost nothing on social media about policy — just lots of glad-handing at events. Futtrell’s dad was a state senator & he seems to be running an old-fashioned campaign. He’s also being out-fundraised $20K to $10K (and his $10K came from just 5 sources). It’s a huge district, even by senate district standards (3352 square miles), including the Outer Banks and a lot of sound-side territory. There are Clinton offices out there, but  this one’s going into the long-shot column.
  • District 9: Andrew Barnhill
    This district covers all of New Hanover county, which includes Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach. But it still went Republican with 55.4% of the vote in 2014 (though only 54.2% in 2012). Democrat Andrew Barnhill has stated his opposition to HB2.
    UPDATE: This is an exciting race — Barnhill is dead even on fundraising dollars vs his opponent, & with 3x as many donors. This is a compact district centered on Wilmington, so there’ll be Democratic GOTV activation to rely on as well.
  • District 12: Susan Byerly
    This district covers Harnett, Johnston & Lee counties, aka several rural counties that immediately border the core Triangle counties. Democrat Susan Byerly ran for an NC House seat in 2014 but lost 56/44, which is the same margin by which this district went for Republican Ronald Rabin in 2014. I can’t find any public statement by Susan Byerly re: HB2.
    UPDATE: I’m moving this one into the long-shot column. Susan has reported zero fund-raising activity vs her opponent’s $18K. This is a mid-sized senate district (930 square miles) & it’s midway between RTP and Fayetteville, with 2 Clinton offices within it. But I see no reason at this point to expect this race to break any differently than it did in 2014.
  • District 15: Laurel Deegan-Fricke
    District 15 is one of the Wake County districts, covering the northwest 1/4 of the county, including parts of Raleigh & most of Wake Forest. Republican incumbent John Alexander only took the district with 50.4% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Laurel Deegan-Fricke has a real chance. She is also opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE: If Russ’s spreadsheet is correct, Laurel has raised a whopping $225 from 3 ppl, vs her opponent’s $41,781. Sorry to have to say that this one’s moving into the long-shot column, even though it’s a Wake district that the GOP won by a tiny margin in 2014. Sigh.
  • District 17: Susan Evans
    This district covers southern Wake, including Holly Springs, Apex, and Fuquay-Varina. It went for Republican Tamara Barringer with 58.5% in 2014, but only 53.7% in 2012. So it’s perhaps more in-play than it first appears. Democrat Susan Evans is supported by Lillian’s List, and has stated her opposition to HB2.
    UPDATE: Susan Evans is tidily out-fundraising her opponent in this hotly-contested race. Between that fundraising & the Democratic GOTV effort in this key Wake district, this one’s looking potentially good.
  • District 18: Gil Johnson
    This district covers the far east/northeast portion of Wake, as well as all of Franklin county. Republican incumbent Chad Barefoot only took in 52.9% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Gil Johnson has not made any public statement about HB2 that I can find.
    UPDATE: This is a tight one. Chad Barefoot has raised over $100K to Gil’s $62K. Gil’s donor #s are only 2x what Chad’s are. It’s clear that both sides are motivated. It’s possible that this district is close enough to Raleigh get some spillover GOTV benefit, but some dollars direct to Gil could help.
  • District 19: Toni Morris
    This district is one of two that divide Fayetteville like a jigsaw puzzle. That map is one of the most embarrassing examples of gerrymandering in NC. (The other Fayetteville district is safely Democratic, with no Republican opposition in 2012 or 2014.) Nevertheless, Republican incumbent Wesley Meredith only held this district with 54.4% of the vote in 2014, so a flip is a possibility. Democrat Toni Morris is opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE: The incumbent has raised $137K, to Morris’s $18K. This is right in the middle of Fayetteville, so GOTV might help a bit, but this is also a district that was created to be Republican, so it’s an uphill battle.
  • District 25: Dannie Montgomery
    This district covers a big chunk of rural southern NC. It was Democratic in 2012 (53/47) but flipped to the Republican side in 2014. Republican Tom McInnis only drew 50.4% of the vote. There was a Libertarian candidate in 2014 who drew 2.5% of the vote, apparently largely from the Democratic side. This is a key opportunity to flip this seat back. Democrat Dannie Montgomery hasn’t made any statements on social media since February, before HB2 passed, so I don’t know her position on HB2.
    UPDATE: Dannie has raised $300 to her opponent’s $27,000. She also has no social media presence. This one goes firmly into the long-shot column.
  • District 27: Michael Garrett
    This district covers eastern & southern Guilford county, in sort of a half-donut around Greensboro. Republican incumbent Trudy Wade was unopposed in 2014, but she only took 57.6% of the vote in 2012, so this one is a possible win. Democrat Michael Garrett is opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE: Garrett reported $76K to his opponent’s $138K. This district is close enough to Greensboro that Clinton GOTV efforts could have some effect — but it’s still uphill.
  • District 39: Lloyd Scher
    This district is currently represented by Republican Bob Rucho, who took 55.2% of the vote in 2014. He’s retiring; the Republican running to replace him is the vile Dan Bishop, co-sponsor of HB2. This is a Mecklenburg County district, so I guess we’ll see which side of the Charlotte electorate is more motivated this year. Lloyd Scher is strongly opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE: This will definitely hinge on a motivated electorate, as Scher has raised like $200 to his opponent’s $130,000. Long-shot column.
  • District 48: Norman Bossert
    This is one of two NC Senate seats that covers part of Asheville. It is currently held by Republican Tom Apodaca, who took 57.4% of the vote in 2014. My friends from out west *really* dislike him. He’s retiring, so there will be no incumbent running. Democrat Norm Bossert is strongly opposed to HB2.
    UPDATE: Well, the Republican has raised around 3x as much money as Norm has, but Norm has 143 donors to the Republican’s 9. So there’s some name recognition & activation working in our favor. And given the proximity to Asheville, some GOTV assistance as well. This one’s worth sliding some money to, if you have it to spare.
  • District 50: Jane Hipps
    This is the district that covers far western NC, including Murphy, Highlands, Cashiers. This is the second time that Democrat Jane Hipps has run against Republican incumbent Jim Davis; in 2014, he beat her 53.9/46.1. Jane is endorsed by Lillian’s List, but as of now she hasn’t made a public statement about HB2.
    UPDATE: Jane is thoroughly trouncing her opponent in fund-raising this time around, with $189K from over 1000 donors, compared to his $28K from 60 donors. She’s going to need it, given the size of this district (3105 square miles) and the lack of direct GOTV support.

I can’t give you a list of current Senate Democrats in tight reelection races, because there aren’t any. The candidate with the narrowest margin in the 2014 election was Gladys Robinson in district 28, who won that race 59.4/40.6. She could definitely use your support, if you have it to give.

Here are the other Senate Democrats up for reelection this cycle. They all seem to be doing fine so far:

  • District 4: Angela Bryant
    Angela represents Rocky Mount & parts of Wilson. She won her seat in 2014 with 65.5% of the vote. During the HB2 vote, she walked out of the senate along with the entire NC Democratic Senate Caucus.
  • District 13: Jane Smith
    Jane represents Columbus & Robeson counties. She won her 2014 election with 62.8% of the vote. I asked her on Twitter what her position was on HB2, and she said that she was upset with the provisions that had been inserted into it. I couldn’t get her to elaborate on that. As of this writing, her website is down.
  • District 21: Ben Clark
    This is the crazily gerrymandered district that covers the other half of Fayetteville. Ben was unopposed in his 2012 and 2014 races; that’s how gerrymandered the district is. He’s strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 22: Mike Woodard
    Mike Woodard was a Durham city councilman before running for this senate seat. He won his 2014 race with 67.1% of the vote. His Republican opponent this time is T. Greg Doucette, a defense attorney who has had some great things to say about bias in policing. Oddly, Greg hasn’t had anything to say about HB2, whereas Mike Woodard is strongly opposed.
  • District 23: Valerie Foushee
    This is the Orange + Chatham seat formerly occupied by Ellie Kinnaird, so it’s sort of the epitome of a safe seat. Valerie won her 2014 race with 68.2% of the vote; her 2016 challenger, Mary Lopez-Carter, was also her 2014 opponent. Valerie is strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 37: Jeff Jackson
    Jeff Jackson represents a big chunk of downtown Charlotte, plus a stripe of Mecklenburg running south towards the SC border. Jeff is one of the most articulate & astute NC politicians. I highly recommend following him on Facebook or Twitter. He ran unopposed in 2014, and won his 2012 race with 67% of the vote. He’s strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 38: Joel Ford
    Joel Ford represents the northwest half of Charlotte; he won his race in 2014 with 79.7% of the vote. He faces the same challenger, Richard Rivette, this year. Joel is opposed to HB2.
  • District 40: Joyce Waddell
    Joyce represents northeastern Charlotte & Mecklenburg county; she was unopposed in 2014, and won 84.1% of the vote in 2012. She walked out of the HB2 vote along with the rest of the NC Democratic Senate Caucus. I haven’t seen a public statement from her since then.

So what about the other 10 contested NC Senate seats? They are a mix of seats where Republicans haven’t been opposed in the previous two elections, and ones which Republicans have previously won by LARGE margins. In some cases their Democratic challengers lack support from the party, or are in need of organizational assistance (if I can’t find any web presence, that’s generally a bad sign). If you have a lot of time on your hands, these folks could use your help — but any wins from this list would be a welcome (highly unlikely) surprise.

  • District 2: Dorothea White
  • District 11: Albert Pacer
  • District 24: John Thorpe
  • District 26: Eric Fink
  • District 30: Michael Holleman
  • District 33: Jim Beall Graham
  • District 36: Robert Brown
  • District 41: Jonathan Hudson
  • District 45: Art Sherwood
    UPDATE
    : Thanks in part, perhaps, to the fact that Watauga county is much more in-play than expected, Art Sherwood is making a run for it. He has raised $31K from 176 donors vs his opponent’s $20K from 20 donors. I have also enjoyed reading Art’s position papers — he’s a hardcore Christian in the actual Christ sense of the word. He’s anti-HB2, pro-voting rights, and focuses a lot of attention on helping the poor. This is a BIG district (1704 square miles) so this isn’t a done deal yet. Consider donating.
  • District 46: Anne Fischer
  • District 47: Mary Jane Boyd

The state of state legislative races, 5 weeks out

2016 Hopscotch Google Calendar

As per longstanding tradition, here is a Google Calendar of all the bands playing Hopscotch, including everyone on all of the day parties. Note that this info was pulled from the Hopscotch website this past weekend, so if there are inaccuracies (especially with the day parties), please let me know. I’ll make another pass through everything next Tuesday.

Here is a link to the Ical

And here is a link to the HTML version

You should be able to subscribe to this calendar in GCal by doing Other Calendars | Add by URL. If you want, you can then customize your own schedule by doing “add to my calendar” for those events you’re interested in.

Enjoy!

2016 Hopscotch Google Calendar

Rebar return to Greensboro, June 25, 2016

Last night I drove to Greensboro to see one of my all-time favorite NC bands, Rebar. Their heyday was the mid-late 90s, and their claim to fame was a catalog of songs that took the skewed guitar-driven indie-rock of the time, and intermittently fucked with the speed control. They’d be cruising along at a semi-normal tempo & then suddenly everything would smear and slow down to a crawl.

(Their other claim to fame was an unexpectedly brilliant end-to-end cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, which they performed maybe a half-dozen times to crowds of people with mouths hanging open in astonishment.)

Rebar split up nearly 20 years ago. Their breakup was an odd one — guitarist Masa Koyama had to return to Japan (maybe something to do with visa expiry — it was a long time ago & my memory is fuzzy). They briefly reformed around the turn of the millennium with guitarist Scott Hicks but couldn’t regain the momentum.

Cut to this summer: some oldschool Greensboro folks decided to throw a homecoming/reunion weekend, complete with band reunions. Conversations started. The next thing we knew, word trickled out that Masa had booked a plane ticket & Rebar would be playing.

So it was that ~75 middle-aged people (and maybe 25-30 of their kids) convened on a farm outside of Greensboro last night to sit around in the twilight, catch up on old times, and watch Rebar (as well as even-older Greensboro band Slowchange Madagascar) shamble through a set of songs that sounded as fresh and weird now as they did 20 years ago.

I only shot video of one song, “Acquaintances.” Here it is:

As sometimes happens, the momentum built up via the reunion planning overflowed & resulted in the band finally getting it together enough to master & release the full-length album that they had completed but never released. It is phenomenal. You can buy it here. I strongly encourage you to do so.

Rebar return to Greensboro, June 25, 2016

TL;DR: Politics in NC, the 90% shorter version

Hi! I just posted an update to this information, which you can read here.

My post yesterday breaking down all the contested NC House & Senate races was pretty long (3700 words). Here’s a bare-bones distillation. It necessarily omits a lot of info.

OK, that’s it. I still think you should go read my other post, but I totally understand if you don’t.

TL;DR: Politics in NC, the 90% shorter version

Concrete things you can do to fix NC politics

HI! I just posted an update to this, which you can read here.

Say you wanted to do something about actually changing NC politics, apart from all the typing you’re doing on social media. What are your options?

EDIT(s) based on ppl’s comments:

  • I wrote a TL;DR for this, in case you get halfway through this & feel overwhelmed.
  • This post assumes that you are already highly educated about the races in your area. If not, FIX THAT. City councils matter. County boards of commissioners matter. School board races matter. One resource for unbiased candidate info is the League of Women Voters. If you live in the Triangle, the Indy does a great job (even if they endorsed the wrong presidential candidate this year). If you live in Durham, the People’s Alliance takes its endorsement process very seriously.

Donate to, or volunteer with, progressive organizations

Here’s a list of organizations doing good & important work, work that will hopefully help shift NC politics in a more positive direction come November. There are only seven groups on this list, so you can take the 10-15 minutes necessary to click and read about them.

Donate to, or volunteer for, statewide candidates

These are all solid candidates, even Roy Cooper, who as Attorney General has stood up to Pat McCrory and the NC legislature in refusing to enforce or defend extremist and unconstitutional laws on multiple occasions, even though he knew it would result in negative campaigning against him. (I didn’t vote for him in the primary because he jumped on the “no Syrian refugees to NC” bandwagon, but he’s still 10000000x better than Pat McCrory)

There’s no way to recover Democratic control of either branch of the state legislature this year, so having a strong set of executive-branch folks will be crucial in mitigating the damage that the legislature is likely to continue to do. And getting rid of Senator Richard Burr would be outstanding, to boot.

  • June Atkinson for State Superintendent of Public Instruction
    June Atkinson has been NC schools superintendent since 2005; she won her most recent election in 2012 with 54.2% of the vote.
  • Linda Coleman for Lieutenant Governor
    Last time Linda Coleman faced Dan Forest, in the 2012 Lt. Gov race, he only won 50.1% to 49.9%, or under 7000 votes. We can take this one!
  • Roy Cooper for Governor
    Any one of the stuffed animals at the TROSA Thrift Store would make a better governor than Pat McCrory, so this is a no-brainer no matter what. The fact is that Roy has been a good Attorney General, and has been remarkable in his willingness to shirk his nominal “official duty” when it comes to defending laws that are patently unconstitutional.
  • Dan Blue III for Treasurer
    Democrat Janet Cowell has been our treasurer for two terms, but she’s not seeking reelection. Democrat Dan Blue III, the son of one of the most powerful (and popular) NC legislators, is running. He has a background in law and finance, although he obviously grew up steeped in NC politics as well. Cowell won her last election with 53.8% of the vote.
  • Elaine Marshall for Secretary of State
    Elaine Marshall has been the NC Secretary of State since 1996. She won in 2012 (when McCrory was elected governor) with 53.8% of the vote, which is hardly a landslide, but still impressive, considering.
  • Charles Meeker for Commissioner of Labor
    Meeker was the hugely popular mayor of Raleigh, but can he overcome Cherie K Berry’s unfair photo-based advantage?
  • Deborah Ross for US Senate
    Deborah Ross is currently polling behind Richard Burr, but she’s not out of the running. This is a key race where donations & volunteering could help.
  • Josh Stein for Attorney General
    In the primary, there were more votes cast for Josh than for his Republican opponent (and more for the Democrats than the Republicans overall), but it was a tight margin. Again, this is winnable, but it will take work.
  • Beth Wood for State Auditor
    Beth Wood is seeking her third term as state Auditor. She has held the job since 2009. She won reelection in 2012 with over 53% over the vote.

Donate to, or volunteer for, NC state legislature candidates

Here’s where it gets interesting. In the NC State House, Republicans have a veto-proof supermajority (60% of members are required to override a veto; the Republicans currently hold 75 seats, with Democrats holding 45, giving them 62.5%), but they only need to lose 4 seats in order to lose that supermajority.

Likewise, in the NC Senate, Republicans currently hold 33 of 50 seats (Democrats hold 15, and 2 are vacant). Republicans would only need to lose 4 of those 33 in order to lose their supermajority.

Thanks to the extremely partisan gerrymandering of NC legislative districts, only 46 NC House districts are actually contested this November, although all 120 seats are elected every time. Likewise in the Senate, only 32 of the 50 seats are actually contested.

Among those seats that are even contested, only perhaps 1/3 of them are even remotely competitive. Nevertheless, if Democrats can win all or most of those, those 4 necessary seats in the House & the Senate could be obtained. We’re highly unlikely to flip control of either body, but securing the veto for a Democratic governor would be a huge step forward.

A few notes: pretty much all of these candidates are running on a platform of improving education in NC. Some of them, particularly in coastal & mountain areas, are also pretty actively pro-environmental causes. Some of them have Lillian’s List endorsements, which means they’re women who are on the record as being strongly pro-choice (and whom Lillian’s List has decided have a chance at winning). I have noted those.

It is much harder to get a reading on their positions re: HB2. Those in more urban districts are far more likely to have made public statements in opposition to HB2. Some others have made slightly vaguer statements about legislative overreach. It can be hard to run as a Democrat in a rural district in NC.

You’ll have to make your own decisions about whether to support rural Democrats who haven’t made anti-HB2 statements. I wish I could say that they’d vote in a bloc with Democrats once elected, but the HB2 vote itself taught us that we can’t rely on that, with 11 Democrats voting for it. Nearly all of those were men over the age of 60 in safe districts with no Republican opposition. Maybe that’s a template for whom to avoid this time around.

Likely NC State House candidates

So where do we start? Let’s begin with Democratic candidates in potentially winnable districts that are currently held by Republicans, since that’s where the most potential impact is:

  • District 2: Joe Parrish
    This seat that covers Roxboro & Creedmoor was held by Democrats until 2014, when it flipped to Republican, with current incumbent Larry Yarborough taking 56.7% of the vote. Joe Parrish is strongly opposed to HB2, and has a shot at returning this seat to Democratic control.
  • District 6: Warren Judge
    This is the seat currently held by Paul Tine, elected as a Democrat, now an “unaffiliated” who caucuses with the Republicans. Tine won this seat with 53.6% of the vote. Tine isn’t running for reelection, which makes this an excellent chance to retain this seat for a [hopefully] actual real Democrat. This district covers the Outer Banks and Belhaven. I have not been able to find a public statement from Warren Judge regarding HB2.
  • District 9: Brian Farkas
    This one is interesting — this seat only went Republican by 51.5% in 2012. It was 60/40 in 2014, probably because the Democrat was a [really awesome] college student named Uriah Ward who looked like he was 16 years old. Brian may actually have a real chance, much moreso than Uriah did. I can’t find any policy statement from Brian about HB2. He has come out strongly in favor of non-partisan redistricting, however.
  • District 35: Terence Everitt
    This is the seat in northern Wake County that covers Rolesville & parts of Wake Forest. Republican incumbent Chris Malone won his 2014 race with 56% of the vote. I reached out to Terence to ask for a statement on HB2, and I got a private response from his campaign manager, offering to let me talk to Terence on the phone. No public statement was offered. I didn’t call him.
  • District 36: Jen Ferrell
    This is the Apex/Cary seat currently held by Republican Nelson Dollar, who got 54% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Jen Ferrell is enthusiastic and media-savvy, and is a very strong opponent of HB2. This seat is a must-win.
  • District 40: Joe John
    This is the northwestern Wake County seat currently held by Republican Marilyn Avila, who took 54.3% of the vote in 2014. Her challenger, Joe John, has been silent on social media since just before HB2 was passed, so I don’t know his position. It would be great to see all of Wake go Democratic this year, however.
  • District 49: Cynthia Ball
    This is one of the core Raleigh seats in the NC House. Republican incumbent Gary Pendleton only won it with 51.6% of the vote in 2014. Cynthia Ball is endorsed by Lillian’s List, and has expressed her opposition to HB2.
  • District 53: Jon Blum
    This district covers the portion of Harnett County that includes Angier, Dunn & Erwin. Republican incumbent David Lewis took 55.7% of the vote in 2014. His challenger Jon Blum is strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 88: Mary Belk
    This is one of the Mecklenburg County/Charlotte metro area seats. Republican incumbent Rob Bryan took 55.4% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Mary Belk has expressed some opposition to HB2.
  • District 92: Chaz Beasley
    This is a super-thin slice on the far western edge of Mecklenburg county. Chaz Beasley is strongly opposed to HB2, and is a strong campaigner. Republican incumbent Charles Jeter only took 52.5% of the vote in 2014.
  • District 93: Sue Counts
    This district includes Boone, but is nonetheless in Republican control. This is a rematch of the 2014 election, in which Republican incumbent Jonathan Jordan took 53% of the vote. Sue Counts should have more name recognition this time around. She is strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 118: Rhonda Cole Schandevel
    This is a district in far western NC, including Maggie Valley. Republican incumbent Michele Presnell only took 51.3% of the vote in both 2012 and 2014. Rhonda Cole Schandevel is a pro-choice progressive Democrat supported by Lillian’s List, although I’m unable to find any statement from her regarding HB2.

Next, let’s look at current House Democrats in tight reelection races. If we don’t win these, we lose ground:

  • District 41: Gale Adcock
    Gale represents parts of western Wake County. She flipped this district from Republican to Democrat in 2014, taking 51.3% of the vote. She was absent when the House voted on HB2 and I have been unable to find a statement from her regarding it. She was a Lillian’s List candidate in 2014, so I know she is progressive and pro-choice, but I don’t know her definitive stance on HB2.
  • District 44: Billy Richardson
    Billy represents Fayetteville, and is one of the 11 House Democrats who voted for HB2. But he has subsequently apologized for that, in a meaningful way. He won his last race, in 2014, with 52.5% of the vote.
  • District 54: Robert Reives
    Robert represents Chatham county in the NC House, along with just enough of Lee county to cover his home in Sanford. He won his 2014 election with 56% of the vote. Despite that fairly close margin, he voted against HB2.
  • District 115: John Ager
    John represents parts of Buncombe County. He flipped his district from Republican to Democrat in 2014, but he only took 50.8% of the vote. He voted against HB2.
  • District 116: Brian Turner
    Brian is our other Buncombe County success story from 2014, when he successfully flipped his district from Republican to Democrat. He took 52% of the vote in 2014. He voted against HB2.
  • District 119: Joe Sam Queen
    Joe Sam Queen is from Waynesville & represents parts of far Western NC. He didn’t travel to Raleigh for the special session, but spoke out against HB2. He won his most recent election in 2014 with 52.6% of the vote.

And one open seat currently held by a Democrat who isn’t running for reelection:

  • District 46: Tim Benton
    This seat went to the Democrat with 53.4% of the vote in 2014, and 54% of the vote in 2012. It represents all or part of Bladen, Columbus & Robeson counties. Democrat Tim Benton hasn’t made any public statements about HB2.

Here’s a list of other current House Democrats whose races aren’t quite as close, but are still contested:

  • District 7: Bobbie Richardson
    Bobbie was unopposed in 2012 and 2014. She’s opposed now, but this seat is comparatively safe. Bobbie voted against HB2.
  • District 11: Duane Hall
    Duane is a Wake County representative who voted against HB2. He won his 2014 election with 61.5% of the vote.
  • District 18: Susi Hamilton
    Susi is from Wilmington. She voted against HB2. She won her 2014 election with 66.5% of the vote.
  • District 30: Paul Luebke
    Paul Luebke has represented Durham for something like 18 years. He was unopposed in 2012 and 2014. He was absent from the HB2 vote, but he is a progressive Democrat.
  • District 34: Grier Martin
    Grier Martin represents portions of Raleigh in the NC House. He was unopposed in 2012 and 2014. He voted against HB2.
  • District 50: Graig Meyer
    Graig Meyer represents Orange & parts of Durham county. He voted against HB2. He won his 2014 election with 57% of the vote, which is lower than I would have expected. It might be worth shooting some dollars his way, for insurance.
  • District 101: Beverly Earle
    Beverly Earle represents a big chunk of Charlotte in the NC House. She was absent during the vote on HB2, and I have been unable to find a statement from her. She was on Lillian’s List in the past, so I know she is a progressive and pro-choice, but I don’t know her exact stance on HB2. She was unopposed in 2012 and 2014.

Conspicuously absent from that list is Brad Salmon, of District 51. Brad flipped his district from Republican to Democrat in 2014, in a closely-watched race. But he was one of the 11 turncoat Democrats who voted FOR HB2. He hasn’t made a public statement about that since so doing. As far as I’m concerned, he’s no different than the Republican he replaced.

So what about the other 19 contested NC House seats? They are a mix of seats where Republicans haven’t been opposed in the previous two elections (meaning I don’t have data because I’m lazy & just use Ballotpedia for my data), and ones which Republicans have previously won by LARGE margins. In some cases their Democratic challengers lack support from the party, or are in need of organizational assistance (if I can’t find any web presence, that’s generally a bad sign). If you have a lot of time on your hands, these folks could use your help — but any wins from this list would be a welcome (highly unlikely) surprise.

The biggest heartbreaker on that list is Jonathan Graham in District 37, which covers Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, and parts of Graham & Apex. It’s the seat currently held by Paul “Skip” Stam, the evil Wake County Republican. He’s retiring, which gives Wake County Democrats their best chance in a while to flip this seat. But Jonathan Graham currently has no visible campaign infrastructure, only a personal Facebook page (with literally 6 friends, including me). He’s strongly opposed to HB2, but he’s also strongly opposed to (for example) yard signs with his name on them. Sigh.

Likely NC Senate candidates

Don’t worry, the Senate is a smaller body, so this is necessarily a shorter list. Remember, Democrats need a net gain of 4 seats here as well, in order to remove the Republican supermajority & secure veto power for the governor (who had better NOT be Pat McCrory).

Again, let’s begin with Democratic candidates in potentially winnable districts that are currently held by Republicans:

  • District 1: Brownie Futtrell
    This district includes the Outer Banks and several sound-front counties behind them. Republican incumbent Bill Cook took 53.5% of the vote in 2014. This district was Democratic up until 2012, when it flipped by a margin of literally 21 votes. Brutal. Democrat Brownie Futtrell has a lot of posts on his Facebook page about his Senior Games pool & ping-pong wins, but nothing about HB2.
  • District 9: Andrew Barnhill
    This district covers all of New Hanover county, which includes Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach. But it still went Republican with 55.4% of the vote in 2014 (though only 54.2% in 2012). Democrat Andrew Barnhill has stated his opposition to HB2.
  • District 12: Susan Byerly
    This district covers Harnett, Johnston & Lee counties, aka several rural counties that immediately border the core Triangle counties. Democrat Susan Byerly ran for an NC House seat in 2014 but lost 56/44, which is the same margin by which this district went for Republican Ronald Rabin in 2014. I can’t find any public statement by Susan Byerly re: HB2.
  • District 15: Laurel Deegan-Fricke
    District 15 is one of the Wake County districts, covering the northwest 1/4 of the county, including parts of Raleigh & most of Wake Forest. Republican incumbent John Alexander only took the district with 50.4% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Laurel Deegan-Fricke has a real chance. She is also opposed to HB2.
  • District 17: Susan Evans
    This district covers southern Wake, including Holly Springs, Apex, and Fuquay-Varina. It went for Republican Tamara Barringer with 58.5% in 2014, but only 53.7% in 2012. So it’s perhaps more in-play than it first appears. Democrat Susan Evans is supported by Lillian’s List, and has stated her opposition to HB2.
  • District 18: Gil Johnson
    This district covers the far east/northeast portion of Wake, as well as all of Franklin county. Republican incumbent Chad Barefoot only took in 52.9% of the vote in 2014. Democrat Gil Johnson has not made any public statement about HB2 that I can find.
  • District 19: Toni Morris
    This district is one of two that divide Fayetteville like a jigsaw puzzle. That map is one of the most embarrassing examples of gerrymandering in NC. (The other Fayetteville district is safely Democratic, with no Republican opposition in 2012 or 2014.) Nevertheless, Republican incumbent Wesley Meredith only held this district with 54.4% of the vote in 2014, so a flip is a possibility. Democrat Toni Morris is opposed to HB2.
  • District 25: Dannie Montgomery
    This district covers a big chunk of rural southern NC. It was Democratic in 2012 (53/47) but flipped to the Republican side in 2014. Republican Tom McInnis only drew 50.4% of the vote. There was a Libertarian candidate in 2014 who drew 2.5% of the vote, apparently largely from the Democratic side. This is a key opportunity to flip this seat back. Democrat Dannie Montgomery hasn’t made any statements on social media since February, before HB2 passed, so I don’t know her position on HB2.
  • District 27: Michael Garrett
    This district covers eastern & southern Guilford county, in sort of a half-donut around Greensboro. Republican incumbent Trudy Wade was unopposed in 2014, but she only took 57.6% of the vote in 2012, so this one is a possible win. Democrat Michael Garrett is opposed to HB2.
  • District 39: Lloyd Scher
    This district is currently represented by Republican Bob Rucho, who took 55.2% of the vote in 2014. He’s retiring; the Republican running to replace him is the vile Dan Bishop, co-sponsor of HB2. This is a Mecklenburg County district, so I guess we’ll see which side of the Charlotte electorate is more motivated this year. Lloyd Scher is strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 48: Norman Bossert
    This is one of two NC Senate seats that covers part of Asheville. It is currently held by Republican Tom Apodaca, who took 57.4% of the vote in 2014. My friends from out west *really* dislike him. He’s retiring, so there will be no incumbent running. Democrat Norm Bossert is strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 50: Jane Hipps
    This is the district that covers far western NC, including Murphy, Highlands, Cashiers. This is the second time that Democrat Jane Hipps has run against Republican incumbent Jim Davis; in 2014, he beat her 53.9/46.1. Jane is endorsed by Lillian’s List, but as of now she hasn’t made a public statement about HB2.

I can’t give you a list of current Senate Democrats in tight reelection races, because there aren’t any. The candidate with the narrowest margin in the 2014 election was Gladys Robinson in district 28, who won that race 59.4/40.6. She could definitely use your support, if you have it to give.

Here are the other Senate Democrats up for reelection this cycle:

  • District 4: Angela Bryant
    Angela represents Rocky Mount & parts of Wilson. She won her seat in 2014 with 65.5% of the vote. During the HB2 vote, she walked out of the senate along with the entire NC Democratic Senate Caucus.
  • District 13: Jane Smith
    Jane represents Columbus & Robeson counties. She won her 2014 election with 62.8% of the vote. I asked her on Twitter what her position was on HB2, and she said that she was upset with the provisions that had been inserted into it. I couldn’t get her to elaborate on that. As of this writing, her website is down.
  • District 21: Ben Clark
    This is the crazily gerrymandered district that covers the other half of Fayetteville. Ben was unopposed in his 2012 and 2014 races; that’s how gerrymandered the district is. He’s strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 22: Mike Woodard
    Mike Woodard was a Durham city councilman before running for this senate seat. He won his 2014 race with 67.1% of the vote. His Republican opponent this time is T. Greg Doucette, a defense attorney who has had some great things to say about bias in policing. Oddly, Greg hasn’t had anything to say about HB2, whereas Mike Woodard is strongly opposed.
  • District 23: Valerie Foushee
    This is the Orange + Chatham seat formerly occupied by Ellie Kinnaird, so it’s sort of the epitome of a safe seat. Valerie won her 2014 race with 68.2% of the vote; her 2016 challenger, Mary Lopez-Carter, was also her 2014 opponent. Valerie is strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 37: Jeff Jackson
    Jeff Jackson represents a big chunk of downtown Charlotte, plus a stripe of Mecklenburg running south towards the SC border. Jeff is one of the most articulate & astute NC politicians. I highly recommend following him on Facebook or Twitter. He ran unopposed in 2014, and won his 2012 race with 67% of the vote. He’s strongly opposed to HB2.
  • District 38: Joel Ford
    Joel Ford represents the northwest half of Charlotte; he won his race in 2014 with 79.7% of the vote. He faces the same challenger, Richard Rivette, this year. Joel is opposed to HB2.
  • District 40: Joyce Waddell
    Joyce represents northeastern Charlotte & Mecklenburg county; she was unopposed in 2014, and won 84.1% of the vote in 2012. She walked out of the HB2 vote along with the rest of the NC Democratic Senate Caucus. I haven’t seen a public statement from her since then.

So what about the other 10 contested NC Senate seats? They are a mix of seats where Republicans haven’t been opposed in the previous two elections, and ones which Republicans have previously won by LARGE margins. In some cases their Democratic challengers lack support from the party, or are in need of organizational assistance (if I can’t find any web presence, that’s generally a bad sign). If you have a lot of time on your hands, these folks could use your help — but any wins from this list would be a welcome (highly unlikely) surprise.

There are no Republican incumbents running in 11, 33, 36 and 45. Of those, only Art Sherwood has any sort of web presence. Of the folks who *do* have some kind of web presence, John Thorpe, Michael Garrett, Michael Holleman, Art Sherwood *and* Anne Fischer are strongly opposed to HB2. Of those, Anne Fischer probably has the best chance.

OK. That’s it for this post, all 3700 words of it. I hadn’t intended to spend so much time on this — but I feel like I know a lot more about NC politics now than I did when I started it a few weeks ago. If you have read this far, I hope you learned something as well.

And I really hope you’ll invest some time, money, or both in assisting these candidates. The pressure being put on NC from all directions, as a result of HB2, is a potentially huge chance to flip some seats that wouldn’t have even been considered in play 2 years ago. Let’s get some benefit from this awful situation.

Concrete things you can do to fix NC politics

January 11 – 22, 2016

Big couple of weeks. Yesterday there was a sleet storm here. In Raleigh it was apparently an ice storm; throughout much of the Mid-Atlantic states it’s a 2-foot blizzard. If you have a theater near enough to walk to, go see The Revenant. It complements the weather perfectly.

I’m tempted to just make a bulleted list of pros/cons of the movie.
Pros:

  • Absolutely gorgeous cinematography. If it doesn’t win an Oscar, there’s something wrong. Or too many Academy voters watched DVD screeners. I’m not usually one of those “see it on the big screen” people, but seriously.
  • Second-most horrifying grizzly bear attack of any movie ever in the history of movies. Permanent top spot reserved for Grizzly Man because, well, it’s a documentary & Tim Treadwell actually died in real life. But it’s hard to imagine any other fiction film ever topping The Revenant, grizzly-bear-attack-wise.
  • Tom Hardy’s accent must be heard to be believed.

Cons:

  • If people start giving Leo awards for acting then I guess we’re redefining acting as stunt-manning. He did some impressive stunt work, for sure. I haven’t read enough of the deep-dive articles to know how much of it was actually him, but I have the impression that he’s one of those goofballs who wanted to do it all.
  • You sit through a 150-minute-long movie & it turns out the whole thing was just a buildup to one of those dumb bro-on-bro dude-man fight scenes at the end.
  • The portrayal of Native Americans is actually more nuanced than in most classic westerns, but they’re still portrayed almost entirely as inscrutable unstoppable murder machines. OTOH, as someone who has grown increasingly uncomfortable with the entirety of the history of white ppl in North America, I actually enjoyed the fact that the Native Americans win every skirmish in the movie. If you’re rooting for them, there’s a lot to root for. And man, the scene early on of the raid on the trappers’ camp, with arrows flying in silently from all directions, is nearly as harrowing as the opening sequences of Saving Private Ryan.

The day after we saw The Revenant, David Bowie died.

It’s nearly impossible for me to say anything about David Bowie, particularly now, a week or so later. I will say that for the entirety of my adult life, my appreciation of Bowie has been heavily skewed by an ill-advised purchase of the Sound+Vision box set in 1989. Nobody made it clear to me that it was mostly alternate takes & deep cuts. So the versions of many Bowie songs in my head are literally incorrect. And in many cases inferior, although I like the “John I’m Only Dancing” in the box better than the album version.

One other thought: I can’t remember whether I pooh-poohed Let’s Dance when it came out. It was so early in the history of MTV that they played those videos ALL THE TIME. And I was pretty much glued to MTV during as much of the early 80s as was physically possible. This despite the fact that I was mostly a huge nerdy Rush fan during the period 1981-1985.

So yeah, I know I never owned a copy of Let’s Dance, but the singles are *all* fully embedded in my brain, in the same way that every other MTV single from the first half of the 80s is. And the Bowie stuff has definitely held up better than the majority of what it was surrounded by.

Anyway. The enormity of the collective mourning on social media was like nothing else I’ve seen on Teh Internets. It was fascinating to see the different subcategories of ppl — the Hunky Dory ppl, the Berlin Trilogy ppl, the Modern Love ppl. No infighting, though.

I do recommend watching the BBC Five Years documentary. The biggest takeaway for me was that all of the many musicians interviewed seemed to have extraordinarily fond memories of their time working with Bowie, and of the music they made.

Last night we tried to go to the brand-new sushi restaurant next door to the Durham hotel, but Michael had decided (sanely) to send his staff home & not open. Which is a drag for him, because yesterday was supposed to be his first day open, and he said he’d bought like $2k worth of fish.

Anyway, he & his wife & the folks from Alliance Architecture (who own the building) were hanging out, so they invited us in, showed us around, and shared some bourbon with us. The space looks *totally* different than it did when it was a cavelike bike shop, to be sure. But the ceiling is still ultra-low, which gives it a nice intimate feeling. The decor is super-simple, and it’s clear that the focus is going to be on the food. I’m unquestionably excited to have a high-quality sushi place three blocks from my house, but I’m guessing it’ll be a monthly splurge rather than a weekly staple.

Yesterday I got fabulous new albums from Savages, Naked Naps, and al riggs. Fabulous.

January 11 – 22, 2016