A blue wave in NC

No, not the storm surge.  But, if I had spent the time blogging this week that I have spent obsessively checking computer models of Hurricane Florence, I’d have had a good dozen posts for you.  Sorry.  Big fan of the Cyclocane site and the Weather Underground models summary.  Also, quite happy for the moment that I just make it into the “moderate” impacts, rather than “high” impacts region.

Anyway, leaving aside the storm surge that really scares me for my beloved NC beaches, might there be a blue wave in NC politics.  So, suggests this WP story, that features my friend, Julie von Haefen running for NC legislature just south of me in Apex, NC (NC-36).

Democrat Julie von Haefen, center, who is running for the North Carolina House, talks with Stefan Franzen, left, and his daughter Kirsten Franzen while canvassing last week in Apex, N.C. (Madeline Gray for The Washington Post)

So, how are things looking?

An unusual political battle is unfolding across North Carolina, where national and state Democrats have recruited an army of candidates and are spending millions of dollars on a campaign to loosen a years-long Republican grip on a state legislature that has turned an otherwise evenly split state into a bastion for some of the country’s most conservative measures. Among them: a limit on transgender access to bathrooms that was ultimately repealed under pressure from business leaders, congressional district maps that courts have ruled were designed to curtail the voting power of African Americans, and education spending levels that have sparked mass protests at the State Capitol.

“North Carolina has been a beacon in the South, and I had to try and stop this Republican leadership from tarnishing our brand,” said the leader of the campaign, Gov. Roy Cooper (D), who has watched the GOP’s legislative super­majority override his vetoes 20 times since he narrowly ousted a Republican incumbent two years ago.

The effort reflects a subplot of the Democratic Party’s broader push to engineer a “blue wave” across the country in the November midterms — tapping into voter anger over President Trump as well as Republican policies on school funding, taxes and health care to chip away at GOP dominance in state capitals.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee plans to spend $35 million on state legislative races across the country, twice as much as in 2016, with hopes of flipping 15 chambers nationwide, according to a spokeswoman. The group’s Republican counterpart expects to spend more — over $45 million, according to a spokesman.

In North Carolina, where Democrats have recruited candidates in all 170 legislative districts for the first time anyone can recall, the party’s contenders are knocking on doors and holding town halls to persuade voters that Republicans hold too much power in Raleigh. Many Republicans, meanwhile, seem to sense that they are vulnerable and are emphasizing centrist positions on school spending and health care. Both parties, and many outside groups, are planning to blitz the airwaves with ads for the next two months.

Democrats say they are encountering enthusiasm on front stoops and at volunteer recruitment events — a sign, they say, of a building voter backlash against GOP policies.

Alright, let’s go NC Democrats.  But, then this is pretty sobering:

Democrats hold just 45 of 120 seats in the North Carolina House and just 15 of 50 seats in the Senate. While they face steep odds in their quest to win the legislature outright, some Republicans here have begun to acknowledge their party appears increasingly likely to lose the veto-proof supermajorities that have been key to much of their success in thwarting Cooper. [emphasis mine] For that, Democrats must pick up just four seats in the House and six seats in the Senate. If they do, Cooper has promised to check the Republican agenda with his veto pen, try to expand Medicaid and try to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission to put an end to gerrymandering.

Ummmm, ending an absurd super-majority (damn are these legislative districts gerrymandered) is not exactly a blue wave.  That’s really a pretty low bar.  But Democrats really do have the energy and enthusiasm on their side.  If not for the state gerrymander, I suspect we’d almost surely get a Democratic legislature.  But, gerrymanders are good because Republicans are good.  Or something like that.

Anyway, we’ll see, and I did love seeing my friend’s campaign in the Post.  Looking forward to her as a guest speaker next time I teach Gender & Politics.

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