Happy Friday, everyone! We’ll have some pretty terrific weather this weekend, and there’s a ton of cool stuff to do, so get out there an enjoy yourselves, before another Monday rips the joy from your soul. Anyway, on to the headlines:
1. The new congressional district map is nearly complete. Some new wrinkles: under the plan the House is about to pass, the congressional primaries will be delayed until June 7, and there will be no runoff elections. The latter part, it’s worth noting, helps incumbents who are facing multiple primary challengers. (Ahem, Renee Ellmers.) The former means we’ll have two primary elections—one headlined by the presidential contests, the other a standalone congressional primary—and the second will very likely have extraordinarily low turnout.
But even then, it’s not that simple:
North Carolina will be dealing with what amounts to two sets of congressional elections over the next month, a chaotic situation brought about by a federal court order over redistricting.
Members of the state Senate approved new congressional district maps Thursday afternoon in response to a federal court ruling that found the General Assembly illegally relied on race during the 2011 redistricting process.
At the same time the maps were redrawn, House members worked out the timing for the new congressional elections.
That bill passed the state House shortly before 8 p.m. on a 71-32 vote. Senators are due to take up the bill Friday, when the House reviews the map.
The elections date measure calls for a June 7 election, unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in to stay the lower court order that demanded the new maps.
So until March 15, candidates running under the maps drawn in 2011 will have to keep running. If no stay is forthcoming, those results will be thrown out, and a new filing period for those who want to run for Congress under the new maps will open on March 16 and run though March 25.
Also worth noting: this new map is designed to do the exact same thing its predecessor did—make sure Republicans always dominate the congressional delegation, no matter what the voters think.
Quote of the day:
Sen. Jerry Tillman said partisan gerrymandering is the way of politics. “It’s been done this way since we had constitutional government.”
Here’s Democratic Senator Jeff Jackson’s explanation:
We were ordered by the court to redraw the congressional map because of racial gerrymandering. So the majority party hired the same consultant who drew the last map to draw this one. They told him to make sure he maximizes the number of Republican seats – just do it using political data instead of racial data.
That means, in a 50/50 state, congressional representation will continue to be 10 Republicans and 3 Democrats.
When asked why they set a goal of 10 to 3, we were told, “Because we can’t find a way to make it 11 to 2.”
2. McCrory’s still trying to make that new logo a thing. The administration wants to allow you to put the state’s new—and widely panned—“Nothing Compares” logo on the back of your car, but the legislature may get in the way, at least this year.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is eager to slap its “Nothing Compares” state branding logo on automobile license plates, but it’s not clear whether an 11th hour proposal will meet the legislature’s requirements for new specialty plates that can be approved this year.
Legislators erected bureaucratic obstacles for new plate proposals two years ago. They wanted to slow the flood of requests from civic groups, charities and other sponsors who didn’t always have enough supporters ready to pay an extra $10 to $50 a year for these optional plates.
According to the 2014 law, the General Assembly this year cannot consider a specialty license plate proposal that did not meet a Feb. 15 deadline for gathering paid applications in advance, from hundreds of individual drivers.
3. House Speaker Tim Moore’s got himself a sweet little deal here.
This lead is basically a nothingburger: “Two former state lawmakers got an unusual payday this month from House Speaker Tim Moore – $67 each for replacing a range hood and taking down two bathroom mirrors in the Raleigh condo Moore rents from his own business.”
But dig a little deeper, and you stumble across this gem:
Moore was updating the condo, which he bought in 2013 through a company he owns called Moore Properties of Kings Mountain. He uses his political campaign money to pay his company the rent on the condo when the legislature isn’t in session. He uses his per diem from the legislature to pay rent during the session.
WBTV in Charlotte first reported that arrangement, which state Board of Elections officials say does not violate election laws.
To recap: Moore uses a mixture of campaign and taxpayer funds to pay himself rent. Nice work if you can get it.
4. Another Republican scheme to consolidate power might be struck down.
Another North Carolina election might be unsettled because of a three-judge panel court ruling. On Thursday, a panel of state Superior Court judges informed attorneys of their plans to strike down a 2015 law that altered how sitting state Supreme Court judges are elected.An order was being drafted by the attorneys in the case for the judges to consider.
Only one state Supreme Court seat is up for grabs this November, that of justice Robert Edmunds. Under the retention election rule, Edmunds would have run against his own record. Voters would have been asked whether he should be retained in the post. Only if voters cast ballots against his retention would another candidate be able to run.
If judges rule as they have indicated and an appeal is filed, the case would then go to the N.C. Supreme Court. It was unclear on Thursday whether Edmunds would have to recuse himself from a vote on the law.
If the law is overturned, the state Board of Elections would have to set a filing period for candidates to the state’s highest court.
Edmunds, not surprisingly, is a conservative Republican who barely won reelection in 2008. The legislature wanted to protect him.
That’s it for this morning’s Roundup, everyone. We’ll see you on Monday. (Stupid Mondays.)