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Nobody who does politics knows what’s up with politics now.

Republicans can’t explain why Trump is winning. Democrats can’t explain why Clinton isn’t winning.

Ask candidates, consultants, commentators and the media crowd for explanations, and they all mumble, fumble and stumble.

A month ago, everybody thought Republicans were headed for a deadlocked convention and Democrats were headed for a coronation.

But now Republicans are uniting behind Trump, casting aside their doubts about his real principles as he rises in the polls. (Polls obviously trump their principles, as it were.)

It’s the Democrats who are split, dreading a convention battle, worrying about Sanders voters voting Libertarian in the fall and fretting about Clinton’s inability to shed Bernie, the email controversy and all her other baggage.

(By the way, if you want to read a powerful story about how real people see politics, check out The New York Times article “Feeling Let Down and Left Behind, With Little Hope for Better,” which focuses on Wilkes County, N.C. Especially this quote about Trump voters: “You’re talking to people who haven’t won in 30 years, and now somebody is telling them they’re going to win again.”)

Things looks brighter for Democrats in North Carolina, thanks to the HB2 wound that Republicans inflicted on themselves. But Democrats know how the presidential race can shape every race.

Here’s my advice: Pause and take a deep breath as we head into Memorial Day weekend. It’s summer now. We’ve got things besides politics to think about. The conventions are coming. Running mates will be picked. The campaign will come into clearer focus around Labor Day.

And here’s some unsolicited advice for Hillary Clinton: Solve all your problems, and make Elizabeth Warren your VP. You’ll win back the Sandersnistas. You’ll make everybody take a fresh look at you. And you’ll double down on the “woman card.”

You can say, “The men in Washington screwed up this country so bad it’ll take TWO women to fix the mess.”


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I’m appealing to my old friend and comrade-in-arms Dennis Wicker: Don’t solve the HB2 crisis. It’s helping Democrats!

Now, I feel bad saying this. Dennis is one of the finest and most public-spirited people in North Carolina. We lost out big time when we didn’t elect him Governor in 2000.

Now he – and Art Pope! – are leading a group that hopes to resolve the HB2 controversy.

(Side note: Dennis defeated Pope in the race for Lieutenant Governor in 1992, saving us from 20 years of what Pope & Co. are doing now to North Carolina.)

Organizing this group is just a transparent ploy by Republicans to escape the damage that HB2 is doing to Governor McCrory, legislative Republicans and Senator Burr. The thing is being organized by Pope’s John Locke/John Hood Society, for Pete’s sake!

Not coincidentally, Senator Burr says the legislature “botched” HB2. That’s one reason he’s neck-and-neck with Deborah Ross.

The hell with a group of leaders “solving” the problem. Let’s solve it in the elections in November.

“No deal. Just repeal,” as HB2 opponents say.

Plus the old political advice, “When your opponent is drowning, throw the son of a bitch an anvil.”


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A sensible Republican legislator (there is such a thing!) was asked why Senate Republicans want to regulate wind and solar energy to death. After all, don’t these people despise government regulation?

His answer – more accurately, his suspicion – was: “The Koch Brothers.”

The Koch fortune relies heavily on extracting fossil fuels and fouling the planet’s air, land and water.

Renewable energy is good for our lives, our health and that of future generations. And North Carolina has been moving ahead, with government and business working together.

But that’s bad for the Koch Brothers’ bottom line. Their money talks, and Americans for Prosperity, the John Locke Foundation and Republican legislators take their orders. The rest of us are out of luck.


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Here are two more simple arguments for Hillary Clinton.

The first comes, as in yesterday’s blog, from former Senator Bob Kerrey:

“The Clintons did a good job on the economy the last time they were in the White House. I have every reason to think they will again.”

The second is from a big Republican giver, Michael K. Vlock of Connecticut, who says of Donald Trump:

“He’s an ignorant, amoral, dishonest and manipulative, misogynistic, philandering, hyper-litigious, isolationist, protectionist blowhard.”

Well said.


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That’s how former Senator Bob Kerrey says most Americans view the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And a poll by The New York Times last week bears him out.

Trump’s troubles: He is viewed unfavorably by 60 percent of women, 65 percent of voters age 18-29 and 68 percent of non-white voters.

Clinton’s problems are like a photographic negative of Trump’s: She is viewed unfavorably by 63 percent of whites and 58 percent of men.

That said, Democrats shouldn’t panic as polls show the race getting tighter. Clinton has a big advantage if she keeps this simple: She is competent to be President; Trump isn’t. By knowledge, experience and temperament, she is better qualified.

Which leads to a bigger advantage for her: A President can get us into a war. Trump is dangerous, and Hillary isn’t.

Keep this thing simple. And keep Trump talking. He can get his negatives a lot higher.

His act played well when he was running against a host of hapless foes. Now he faces a single tough, smart, battle-hardened opponent – one who has the wit and will to confront him the way Low-Energy Jeb, Little Marco and Lying Ted couldn’t.

And face it: We’re all just waiting for the debates.


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Now Roy Cooper can say he’s protected more jobs against HB2 fallout than Governor Potty McCrory has.

After Cooper met with the CEO, New Jersey-based Braeburn Pharmaceuticals decided to proceed with a $20 million, 50-job manufacturing and research facility in Durham County. The company had been reevaluating its plans because of HB2.

Cooper can say, “I’m doing my best to clean up Pat’s mess. Elect me, and no more mess.”

Meanwhile, McCrory digs his hole deeper. He attacks companies like Braeburn and performers who speak out on HB2. He calls for “dialogue” but never engages in it. One day he says it’s a long-standing problem and, the next day, it’s a new one for all of us. One day he says it the law needs tweaking, the next he says it’s just fine. Always he blames the media and his political opponents for the mess he got himself and North Carolina into.

This issue helps Cooper three ways. One, HB2 clearly is hurting North Carolina, costing jobs, business and income. Two, the suburban women who will decide this election see it as Republicans picking on young people who are already having a tough time. And, three, McCrory has made himself “the Bathroom Governor.”


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This is a high point in my life. One of the people I admire most, D.G. Martin, put forward my name for a panel he suggests to resolve North Carolina’s HB2 crisis.

D.G. wrote in a recent column:

“I believe that a panel of people of goodwill representing both supporters and opponents of HB2 could come up with a solution that would be acceptable, maybe not perfect but acceptable, to a large majority of North Carolinians and would be viewed as nondiscriminatory by the gay and transgender communities.”

He threw out a few names, mine and Carter’s included.

I hope D.G.’s idea flies. I would love to serve North Carolina in this way.

Plus, think of the opportunities for potty humor, like:

We’ll flush it out.

We’ll get to the bottom of this.

We’ll bring the issue to a head.

Our work won’t go to waste.

We’ll wipe the slate clean.

North Carolina will be Number 1 again. And Number 2 to no one.

…Please, add your own.


Posted in: General, Issues
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Republican leaders in Raleigh look like a cross between the Nixon White House and North Korea.

Nixon: “Make an enemies list. We’ll screw ‘em!”

North Korea: “All Facebook and Twitter posts will be monitored. There will be no deviations from the party line.”

WRAL’s Laura Leslie exposed the tawdry mess in a story (“Lobbyists: Lawmakers turn up pressure to quiet HB2 opponents”) that reported:

“While Republican state leaders have complained about being ‘bullied’ by the federal government over House Bill 2, lobbyists in Raleigh tell WRAL News they and the businesses they represent are being bullied by state lawmakers seeking to silence business opposition to the new law.

“Lobbyists say they’ve been told – either directly by legislative leaders or by lawmakers’ staff – that, if they or the businesses they represent speak out publicly against House Bill 2, they can expect retribution from House and Senate leaders.

“Legislation they want won’t move, and other bills could actually target them.”

Leslie interviewed lobbyists who called the pressure a “gross abuse of power” and “vicious.” One said, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Now, lobbyists will get little sympathy from across North Carolina. But the behavior of high state officials screams for attention.

For one thing, you can be certain these same politicians will be demanding that these same lobbyists help them raise campaign money. The politicians expect lobbyists to deliver the party line now – and deliver the money later.

This vengefulness has been a fact of life on Jones Street for some time, even before HB2. And it’s not just legislative leaders, it’s Governor Pat (Potty) McCrory’s office too.

But no one laid out the full deal before now. And Leslie had to quote lobbyists off the record because – wait for it – they’re afraid of retribution.

Here’s proof the story is accurate: Leslie reported that House Majority Leader Mike Hager recently tweeted at a lobbyist, “Wow I would think from all your negative posts about HB2 that u weren’t a lobbyist and didn’t have to work with the majority.”

And, in what Hagar called a “coincidence,” he is trying to remove state tax breaks that benefit American Airlines, NASCAR, Google, Apple and Facebook, all of which have taken public positions against House Bill 2.

What the story reveals among these “leaders” is a smallness of mind and character. And a lack of self-confidence.

Real leaders don’t fear debate. They welcome it. They don’t punish dissent and disagreement. They work on turning adversaries into allies.

But the Republicans seem more interested in settling scores than in making North Carolina great again.

And they act like they’re afraid their power rests on shaky footing. Much like Nixon and North Korea.

As King George sings in Hamilton, “Oceans rise, empires fall….”

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Renee Ellmers was being clever. She thought. By telling voters George Holding had opposed ‘the U.S. Army.’

But it turned out to not be clever at all.

Because when Holding explained that Ellmers was claiming he’d voted against the Army because he’d voted against Obama’s Omnibus Budget Deal – the earth shifted beneath Ellmers’ feet.

Two weeks ago, in his second poll, George Holding and Renee Ellmers were running neck and neck (at around 25% of the vote each). With Greg Brannon trailing, in third place. 

George’s third poll came back yesterday and Ellmers had destroyed her own credibility. She collapsed. Dropping from 25% of the vote to 18% while George Holding soared by over 20 points to 46% of the vote.

That was bad news for Ellmers. But it got worse: Her Favorable/Unfavorable ratings had flipped and turned upside down. Her Favorable had plummeted to 25% while her Unfavorable had soared to 50% — twice as many voters were Unfavorable to Ellmers as were Favorable.

Worst of all, for Ellmers, 60% of the voters said she is trying to mislead them to be reelected – while only 20% said she’s not. And that 60% of the voters – who say Ellmers is playing fast and loose with the truth – are voting for George Holding overwhelmingly.  

Ellmers tried an old Washington Insider trick and, in the end, blew her own foot off. And, with just three weeks left to Election Day, she may well have blown herself out of the race for Congress.

Ellmers now has two toxic problems: Her votes for Obama’s Budget Deal and for $750 billion in Food Stamp spending. And her sleight of hand. Which, in two weeks, turned a horse race into an election where she trails George Holding by 28 points.  

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Governor McCrory is very proud that North Carolina moved up from 42nd to 41st in teacher pay last year. Well, let’s turn back the clock about 20 years.

In 1997, Governor Jim Hunt proposed raising teacher salaries to the national average. At the time, we ranked 43rd.

With bipartisan support (including a Republican-majority House), the legislature agreed.

When Hunt left office in 2001, North Carolina was at the national average. Average teacher pay here rose from $31,000 to $42,000. We were in the top 20 states.

Getting to 41st now isn’t much to brag about. We can do better. In fact, we have.


Posted in: General
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Carter & Gary
Carter Wrenn
Gary Pearce
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
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