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Carolina Journal Radio No. 907: New analysis reveals N.C. Medicaid expansion funding gap

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
October 5, 2020 9:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 907: New analysis reveals N.C. Medicaid expansion funding gap

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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October 5, 2020 9:00 am

Gov. Roy Cooper and other advocates of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina argue consistently that expansion would not cost any state taxpayer dollars. A new analysis from the John Locke Foundation and the Ohio-based Buckeye Institute call that claim into question. A model based on enrollment estimates and Medicaid costs in expansion states suggests N.C. budget writers would face a gap of $119 million to $171 million to cover new Medicaid costs. Jordan Roberts, John Locke Foundation health care policy analyst, highlights key points from the new Medicaid expansion analysis. A Superior Court judge recently struck down Wilmington’s restrictions on vacation rental property. The court decision represents a victory for plaintiffs David and Peggy Schroeder. But it leaves unresolved constitutional claims raised by the Schroeders’ attorneys from the Institute for Justice. Before the ruling, IJ constitutional law fellow Adam Griffin explained why the group had taken the Schroeders’ case. U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., raised recent questions on Capitol Hill about the controversial investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election. You’ll hear highlights from Tillis’ queries of former U.S. Justice Department official Sally Yates. A nurses union won a recent victory at Mission Health hospital in Asheville. The contest prompted a recent John Locke Foundation online forum about union activity in North Carolina. Among the speakers raising concerns about unions were state Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry, Ray Starling of the NC Chamber, and nurse TiAngela Austin. North Carolina will make history in November when voters select the state’s first black lieutenant governor. Both Democratic nominee Yvonne Lewis Holley and Republican Mark Robinson are African-American. But they approach that fact in different ways. Rick Henderson, Carolina Journal editor-in-chief, highlights key differences driving the lieutenant governor’s campaign.

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From Cherokee to Kuretuk, from the largest city to the smallest town, and from the statehouse to the schoolhouse, it's Carolina Journal Radio, your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most important public policy events and issues.

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis had a chance to grill a key witness on Capitol Hill in a discussion of the federal government's questionable investigation of Russian election interference. You'll hear highlights. A nursing union contest in Asheville is prompting new questions about labor union activity in North Carolina. You'll hear details from a recent online forum on the issue of state labor law. And we'll highlight key issues in North Carolina's history-making race for lieutenant governor. Whoever wins, North Carolina will have its first African-American lieutenant governor.

Those topics are just ahead. First, Donna Martinez joins us with the Carolina Journal headline. New economic analysis from the John Locke Foundation shows that Medicaid expansion is not free to North Carolina taxpayers, as Governor Roy Cooper and other activists claim.

In fact, the idea is not only misguided public policy, says our next guest, but it's also a costly plan for North Carolina. Jordan Roberts is healthcare policy analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He is the author of this new report we're going to be talking about now, and he joins us with the details. Jordan, welcome back to the show.

Thanks for having me. Tell us about the economic analysis and this funding gap. So what we found in our study is that Medicaid expansion in North Carolina would leave the state with anywhere between $119 and $171 million gap just alone in the first year. And that gap comes from the difference between what the governor believes he can raise from his taxes on health insurers and hospitals and the total amount of the state cost, the difference between those two. So we believe the governor is underestimating total enrollment and the total cost of the program if we were to expand Medicaid in North Carolina.

What about after the first year? What would happen to the cost? So yeah, that $119 to $171 million is a funding gap just for the first year, and that gap would persist based on the total enrollment and the cost per enrollee, which we get into in the paper. Jordan, your analysis is directly at odds with what Governor Roy Cooper has said repeatedly. He and the Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, at their COVID-19 news briefings over the past several months have mentioned Medicaid expansion. They are really pushing this as a public policy, not only related to COVID-19, but even if we had not gone through a pandemic. So where's the disconnect here between what the governor is saying and what the analysis shows? Well, like I said, I believe that the governor and his administration have underestimated the total amount of enrollment, and we've looked at experiences in other states and looked at several different nationwide studies about Medicaid expansion to come up with these numbers. And the governor, along with the hospitals, have cooked up sort of a tax scheme to where the hospitals and health insurers would provide some of the state costs.

But what we believe is that the amount that the hospitals and the health insurers have agreed to is far less than the 10% state share that North Carolina will be responsible for. So this would leave us with a funding gap, or it would leave the governor to go back to the hospitals and ask for another $100 to $200 million, perhaps, just in one year. So if this tax on hospitals and providers can't cover the state's share, how would it be paid for? Well, that's the question that we're posing to the governor now because he says that it would require no state funds. But what we find is that there would need to be appropriations and there would be this funding gap that would need to be made up somehow. And we believe that that would need to come out of either new taxes, new state funding that's already slated to go somewhere else, or he would have to go back to the hospitals and ask for another $100 to $200 million, perhaps. Jordan, let's talk a bit about the program itself and who the current enrollees are and who it is that the governor wants to add. There's a huge number of North Carolinians that are currently served by Medicaid.

Tell us about that. Right. So we have a very large Medicaid program, upwards of over 2 million people, 20% of our state's population on Medicaid right now. And what we know is that if you expand Medicaid, this opens up the eligibility to adults that are not previously eligible for Medicaid. Because right now, Medicaid is supposed to be about the most vulnerable populations in our country. That's right.

That's right. This is for poor mothers, poor children, the elderly, the blind and the disabled. And that's why we believe that we should not expand Medicaid because we should leave this program intact for, like you said, the neediest in our society. And that's what the program has largely done until the Affordable Care Act came along. And I think it's really just poor health care reform to just expand public funding when there's all these other options out there where we can make a more functional health care system where we won't have to put up all this public funding and expand the role of government in health care, which I believe has led us to this dysfunctional system that we have today.

How many people does Governor Roy Cooper want to add to the program? And do they fit the profile of the most vulnerable? Well, you know, they certainly struggle to afford health insurance, but I think that's more of a knock on our current system in the Affordable Care Act than anything else. But as we go forward and we see that people may need care, there are other options. And so, yeah. So it's about, what, 500,000 to 600,000 people that the governor's talking about here?

Right. And that's one of the things we get into in the paper is that the governor's not really clear on this, and he's making these estimates based on broad guesses. And that's why one of the reasons we believe he's underestimating the enrollment and the cost per enrollee in his final calculations. And, Jordan, one of the really important and fascinating pieces of data in your new report, which by the way, available at, is the profile of that half million North Carolinians or so that the governor's talking about, adding many of them, according to I believe it's the Kaiser Family Foundation, are able-bodied, working-age adults. So clearly outside of the Medicaid profile.

Right. And this is, if we looked at the history of entitlement programs in this country, this is exactly how it always happens. There is our legislators that believe a certain population of individuals deserve government benefits, and they work on behalf just to extend benefits to this new population that's deserving, in their opinion.

And so we need to leave these programs intact for their intended purpose. And able-bodied adults who may just struggle to afford the current products on the market that are set up by the Affordable Care Act, I don't think it's a reason to blow up our Medicaid program and invite all these additional enrollees that will be paid for by the government. Jordan, in your report, you focus on a number of different scenarios based on enrollees and costs, et cetera, in order to do these economic calculations about what would happen if North Carolina did indeed expand Medicaid. But I know that you've also written a lot over the past months about your concern for the people who are currently enrolled in the Medicaid program. There's a phenomenon called crowd out that concerns you. Tell us about that.

Right. So we have one of the most rural populations, and that means that we have a lot of what we call medical deserts or provider shortages in areas. And so just giving someone a Medicaid card doesn't guarantee that they're going to have access to care. We know we have a limited supply, and there are these people that are already on Medicaid right now accessing care. So if we have a very, very limited supply and you overload the system with an increased demand, it could really have impacts on those that are just normally accessing care, and it could overload providers. Not all providers accept Medicaid, so this could all play into the access and supply that we see for the most vulnerable around the state. So Jordan, if not Medicaid, then in our remaining moments here, what is the future for people who are challenged and need affordable health insurance? Well, what I've written about a lot is that North Carolina should apply for a state innovation waiver, and this allows us to waive certain federal regulations, restructure our healthcare subsidies, and lower insurance premiums for everyone across the board. It's been used in a lot of different states.

It's been very successful, and it would help everybody. We've been talking with Jordan Roberts. He is healthcare policy analyst for the John Locke Foundation. Jordan, thanks for joining us. Thank you. Stay with us. Much more Carolina Journal Radio to come in just a moment. Tired of fake news?

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I'm Mitch Kocai. A Superior Court dealt a recent blow to the city of Wilmington. The city had tried to place new limits on vacation property sales, but the plan generated a lawsuit. The Institute for Justice helped challenge Wilmington's proposal on constitutional grounds. While a judge struck down Wilmington's rules for other reasons, the constitutional issues are still important.

Carolina Journal Radio had interviewed constitutional law fellow Adam Griffin of the Institute for Justice before the ruling. First, tell us what Wilmington did that caused a problem. The city of Wilmington has passed a new ordinance in the last year that forces property owners to obtain a permit if they want to rent their property. Prior to the ordinance's enactment, it was perfectly legal to engage in vacation rentals in the city of Wilmington.

You didn't need permission from the government to rent your property. After the ordinance was passed, they're now requiring a permit to rent. And to enforce that permit, they have imposed cap and separation requirements to limit the amount of people who are allowed to have a permit. So it's not just a simple fill out a form and get a permit to rent. They've limited to an exclusive group of people that are allowed to rent their property for a short term. And they've done that by saying only 2% of properties in the beach town of Wilmington can engage in vacation rentals.

And if one property is renting to vacation rentals has this permit, no other property within 400 feet of that property is allowed to vacation rent. So they've really constricted the property rights in the city of Wilmington and limited to a small group the amount of people that are allowed to vacation rent. And this has had a direct impact on the clients that the Institute for Justice is working with.

Tell us about the circumstances of your clients. David and Peggy Schroeder are a retired couple. They raised their family in Wilmington. They were residents of Wilmington for 30 years.

And they recently retired to the North Carolina Mountains. But in order to stay connected to their family, they bought a townhome in Wilmington and they were going to live there as a second home and they were also going to rent the townhome out. They made substantial investments in the townhome, put a lot of money into the townhome to suit it up for renting. And right as they were ready to rent, they had started renting, the city passed this ordinance. And that's what makes this ordinance particularly bad. It doesn't just enforce newcomers to the city. So it doesn't just enforce prospectively. What this ordinance does is it says, even though you already have a right, even though you've made substantial investments, even though you've already started renting, it then takes that right from you after they've started renting.

But the city can't change the rules in the middle of the game and then punish people for following those rules. And that's what happened with the Schroeder's. They were just law abiding citizens who are following the rules, who bought a property that they knew they could vacation rent. And then once they had made substantial investments, the city of Wilmington changed the rules on them and is depriving them of their the use of their property as a vacation rental. And that's unconstitutional under the North Carolina constitution. Everything I suspect that the Schroeder's were doing throughout this process was under the impression that Wilmington is going to operate as it always has.

And people will be able to rent out their homes. They had no idea that that Wilmington was going to change the rules on them. No, they didn't. They actually did their due due diligence. They researched state law, local law, their HOA rules and regulations. They consulted a realtor and a lawyer who all told them that vacation rentals were legal.

They bought in a community where vacation rentals were lawful. But then what happened when the city of Wilmington changed the rules on them? They decided that they would raffle off their property rights. So the city of Wilmington took the Schroeder's use of their property, took everyone's use of their property in the city of Wilmington and put them into a lottery and raffled off their rights.

And because the Schroeder's neighbor was within 400 feet of them and won the lottery, the Schroeder's lost their right to rent. And so the city of Wilmington turned their property right into a raffle ticket and gave it away. And that's just not something that the North Carolina constitution allows them to do. Now, at first blush, those of us who are interested in property rights, we hear this and say this sounds crazy.

Obviously, working on this case, you had to have come across what Wilmington says is its justification. How does the city say that this makes sense and that it's constitutional? Well, the city of Wilmington, you know, we don't think that they have constitutional arguments, but their basic argument is that the constitution and state law doesn't prevent them from zoning. They can do anything they want with zoning. You know, if that means raffling off people's property rights, if that means capping and limiting the amount of people that can engage in this, if that means taking people's property rights by changing the rules in the middle of the game, then they think that they can do that.

And they think that their zoning power is just not limited by the constitution. And that's why we filed this lawsuit to demonstrate to the city that they are in fact found by the constitution and to stand up for the Schroeder's and other families who want to keep their property rights and not be arbitrarily deprived of those property rights through a raffle system. What sort of impact has this decision had on the Schroeder's?

It was really devastating to the Schroeder's. This was their retirement dream home. This is where they raised their children. This is where they spent their entire lives and they've done a lot in the community to give back to the community.

And so it really felt like the city of Wilmington had turned its back on them, that they would, they would change the rules on them in the middle of the game and they would take away their property rights through a raffle. And the thing about with the Schroeder's is that, you know, they, they're hardworking people and they've saved their money all their lives and their retirement is in rental property. So they sold to other properties to purchase this town home and they put a lot of money in substantially renovating it and they can't afford to keep it if they can't vacation rent it. The only way they can afford to have this, this home, this second home is to be able to rent it when they're not using it. And so if they lose this right, if the city is allowed to raffle off their property right, then they are probably going to be forced to sell their town home and be disconnected from the community that they spent their lives in and the place where their children and grandchildren and all their friends are. So it's been, it has been really challenging for the Schroeder's and, but they've been tough and they've stood strong and they're partnering with the Institute for Justice to show that you can fight city hall and that the constitution was designed to put limits on government and what government can do to infringe your property rights.

What is the ultimate goal of this suit? We want to establish precedent in North Carolina that a very pernicious idea called amortization has constitutional limits. Amortization is this idea that government can take your property and rather than pay you for that property, it can force you to pay yourself for their taking. Under the North Carolina constitution and under the US constitution, it's well established law that when the government takes your property, they have to pay you just compensation. But what amortization does is they take the Schroeder's right to rent from them and then they say, you know, now that we've taken that right, you can rent for one more year.

So what happened is the Schroeder's lost the lottery and they were allowed and then the, they lost the lottery and the city said, well, you can rent for one more year and then you can work and keep the property up and pay yourself. We're not going to pay you for taking that property right away. We're going to allow you to pay yourself for it. And that's unconstitutional. If someone's going to take, if the government's going to take their, your property away, they have to pay you for it.

They can't require you to pay for it yourself. And so what amortization really is, is it's a loophole around eminent domain and it is a ticking time bomb on the Schroeder's rights. And that's unconstitutional under North Carolina's law of the land clause. If the Schroeder's lose, what does this mean in terms of protection of property rights? It is dangerous if the Schroeder's lose. It means that, that property rights are even more in jeopardy, that they're more at the whim of, you know, municipalities and cities who think that they can just change the rules in the middle of the game and that that's perfectly fair and that they can take people's property and not pay for it and require them to compensate themselves when they take that property and that they can give, you know, rights to small groups of people.

In this case, 2% of people with a 400 foot buffer around them have the exclusive right to rent. And so property rights are very much threatened if Wilmington is not held accountable here. Once again, this interview took place before a superior court judge struck down Wilmington's vacation rental rules, but the constitutional issues are still important.

Adam Griffin has a constitutional law fellow at the Institute for Justice. We'll return with more Carolina Journal radio in a moment. If you love freedom, we've got great news to share with you. Now you can find the latest news, views and research from conservative groups across North Carolina all in one place. North Carolina It's one stop shopping for North Carolina's freedom movement. At North Carolina, you'll find links to John Locke Foundation blogs on the day's news. reporting and quick takes, Carolina Journal radio interviews, TV interviews featuring CJ reporters and Locke Foundation analysts, opinion pieces and reports on higher education from the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, commentary and polling data from the Civitas Institute and news and views from the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

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Help support the John Locke Foundation. Welcome back to Carolina Journal Radio. I'm Mitch Kocay. North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis asked questions recently about the controversial Russian collusion investigation. Tillis aimed his questions at former acting Attorney General Sally Yates. You characterized Comey. I think you said that when Senator Graham used the word rogue, you said that's a word you could use. And you said that there was certainly a violation of some of the rules of the norms and some of the behavior of those involved in the investigation was not ideal. Let me clarify one thing here, because I think it's important that we be accurate. I said that Director Comey's decision to go interview General Flynn without coordinating that interview with us could be characterized as rogue. I was not characterizing Director Comey generally as well.

So I think it's important to be accurate and fair there. I'm not an attorney. I'm not a prosecutor, but I have read Horowitz's report. Does any of that just make you angry with the lack of what I consider to be professionalism? These folks that were involved in this investigation are highly trained and educated. Is it fair to say that there weren't any rookies put in a position to provide you with evidence or provide you with information to make a decision?

Well, I would certainly agree with you that errors and omissions here were totally unacceptable. The cynic in me makes it hard to believe when they knew what they knew about the credibility of the Steele dossier, that they wouldn't think that that's important to bring up the chain of command when you're making critical decisions. Is that something that you feel like anybody in that whole process, anyone, whether they were working for you or around you leading up to information that you were acting on? It seems to me that some of these people should have been disciplined or fired.

Do you agree with that? Look, I don't know what is going on within the FBI and the internal discipline process, so I can't speak to that. I can say that I believe that this information should have been provided to the lawyers in the National Security Division. But I also trust Inspector General Horwitz's conclusion that he did not find any evidence that any of these agents were acting with bias. What you seem to have are agents who superimposed and used their own judgment for what was material or what was exculpatory and decided then what they would provide to the lawyers in the National Security Division. And that's not how it should work. Could you at least understand if you combine some of their actions, their errors and omissions, and some of the personal communications between some of those involved?

Why a skeptic would maybe find it hard to believe to take a generous view of it just being an honest mistake? Senator, the Inspector General reviewed over a million documents. I believe he did over 170 interviews. So I think he's in a better position than I am to be able to answer that question.

And he found again that there was no evidence of bias or a political motive. That's former acting Attorney General Sally Yates answering questions from North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis. The topic? Russian collusion. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. We're doubling down on freedom.

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I'm Mitch Kogine. A national nurses union is trying to gain a foothold in North Carolina. It's pushing to unionize at the Mission Hospital in Asheville. The union vote prompted an online discussion from the John Locke Foundation, the topic unions and North Carolina's history as a right to work state.

Republican State Representative Sarah Stevens of Surry County started by explaining what the right to work means. It means that you can hire people and then you can fire them. That could be involving personality disagreements.

You just simply don't feel like this person's jiving with your team. Where there's a union or collective bargaining, you really have to go through a lot of steps to get rid of unpleasant or difficult employees. Now, what it doesn't mean is that you can't be fired just because you're female. You can't be fired because you're disabled. You can't be fired over any other discrimination tactic, but you can be fired for no reason at all. And that's basically what right to work means. You have the right to apply for a job. Your boss has a right to decide if they really like you and want to keep you.

I think that's sort of the simple explanation, but you still can't be fired for other things that would constitute discrimination in the eyes of the federal law. Ray Starling of the North Carolina Chamber turned attention to the history of right to work states. Look at what's happened through the years. We actually have more states now that are right to work states that are not 27. In the last three or four years, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky have all sort of come our way.

And I think what those states have seen and what their economies have experienced is that there is no correlation between union activity and economic growth. That in fact, in some cases, there's the opposite. And so the question becomes, what is the problem we are trying to solve here? That's a great question in any number of contexts. But here, when a union is looking to come to North Carolina, the real question is, what's broken? What do we need to fix?

And from the Chamber's perspective, I would make a couple of observations. One of those is that we consistently hear from North Carolina employees, we poll folks all the time, and we ask them what they think about the employee-employer relation and relationship. What we consistently hear from North Carolina employees is that they think highly of their employers and vice versa, and that they realize that that relationship is mutually beneficial.

It seems to me at least that there's no problem to be solved if that's the case. And so I think the argument for the union, we've got to come in and protect you here, is really not on firm footing, at least based on the data that we've seen. The second point is basically that, will the union actually make things any better? Take the situation in the hospitals today in light of COVID. We know that her colleagues absolutely deserve the greatest debt of gratitude from the rest of us for what they've been doing. Sometimes with PPE shortages, sometimes with long hours.

There's no question. This is a stressed and highly important group of people, the nurses and the folks working in healthcare. With that said, part of what I think the effort here, the argument for the union is, oh, the folks at Mission don't have adequate PPE. Well, compare what kind of PPE employees have at hospitals that are already unionized. And what you'll learn is the union hasn't actually solved that problem anywhere.

They just like to talk about it. It's just sort of a clarion call to come join the union. And so I think it all goes back to what is the problem we're trying to solve?

We've got 10 consecutive years of being ranked number one, number two, number three place to do business in the country. With that said, what's the problem here? What are we actually trying to fix?

From the Chamber's perspective, employer relationships are really good. You know, the things that the union would point to, they're not actually going to be able to fix. That's Ray Starling of the North Carolina Chamber, one of the featured speakers during a John Locke Foundation online forum. It focused on questions surrounding an effort to unionize nurses at a Western North Carolina hospital. One of those nurses, Ty Angela Austin, offered her perspective. The union organizers and supporters here inside of the hospital are actually saying that they will help with better staffing ratios, that we demand and deserve PPE that we've not had, and that they will have uninterrupted breaks, things like that. So the things that the union organizers are promising here are things that we actually already have. It's a sad situation because what is happening is the union organizers are driving fear in our community and raising doubt about our ability to provide our patients with the level of care that they need. It's been very disheartening and very divisive among nurses and co-workers here at the hospital. Union supporters have said the hospital needs more personal protective equipment, or PPE. Do nurses actually face a shortage of PPE? That has been one of the things that has astounded me most because we have never been without PPE. We have had everything we've needed every step along the way through COVID, pre-COVID, and I don't really understand that we've even actually seen some of the people who are organizing and protesting wearing hospital PPE out when they're doing a news conference or things like that. That's a bit frustrating for me because we're here to take care of patients. We are here to serve 18 counties. And without Mission Hospital, there are so many people in Western North Carolina that would not receive the care that they need.

So that is a very big source of dissension for me. Ty'Angela Austin has been working against the nurses and why. My rationale for joining the Vote No movement is just one absolute fundamental premise. Nurses have taken an oath. We took our Florence Nightingale oath to do no harm. Flatline that is absolute bottom line what it means to be a nurse. And when we have people organizing for a union in our hospital, we have to realize and understand that their goal is to strike and pull nurses on strike.

This organization, the NAU, is historically known to be very abrasive and divisive and bullying. And we have experienced all of those things here with their presence in our hospital. There is absolutely not a union at Mission Hospital yet, but we have folks acting as if there is already some time.

And that is also a hard thing for me to deal with. We have patients that are really sick and that need nurses to be in the hospital and not on a picket line. When you make a stance and you say, if you don't give me what I say we need, then I'm going to walk out that door and I'm going to stand in a picket line until you do. I'm going to leave these patients in the hospital with no one to care for them or haphazard care. When I know for a fact we are the only level two trauma center in this area and we have to take care of these patients that don't have anywhere else to go. We're going to go on diversion and we're going to send people with having a heart attack two hours down the road.

Let's hope they make it when they get there. When they can get what they need right here. It is up to us as nurses and professionals to go and talk to our leaders about things we feel we may need.

I've not had an instance where I've talked with a leader here at Mission about a need in any of my various roles at the hospital and those needs not being addressed. That's Ty Angela Austin, a featured speaker during a recent John Locke Foundation online forum. She's opposing a campaign to unionize hospital nurses in western North Carolina. We'll return with more Carolina Journal radio in a moment. Real influence.

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I'm Donna Martinez. Whether the Democrat or the Republican wins the race for North Carolina Lieutenant Governor, it will be historic either way. Both major party candidates are African-American. Mark Robinson, the Republican, Yvonne Hawley, the Democrat. It will be the first time North Carolina will elect an African-American Lieutenant Governor. Rick Henderson is editor in chief of Carolina Journal. He's following this race, joins us now to talk about the dynamics here.

Rick, welcome back to the show. Thank you, Donna. First of all, just briefly, what do we know about each of these two candidates? Let's start with Democrat Yvonne Hawley first. She is a state legislator, four terms, I believe, from Wake County. She was a lifelong state employee. She worked in procurement, I believe, for state government and has retired from state government.

So this is sort of a swan song to her career, I think, because she's in her late 60s and so doesn't have aspirations for higher office or anything like that. She's someone who's a very traditional Democrat, a progressive Democrat, and is someone who is running the campaign along those lines of the progressives. She won her primary without any trouble. That was a little bit of a surprise because Senator Terry Van Dyne, who's a very well-known progressive Democrat from the Buncombe County area, ran very poorly.

But Yvonne Hawley coalesced all of the sort of the interest groups, these traditional Democratic interest groups and liberal interest groups behind her very quickly and had no problem with the primary. Mark Robinson, the Republican, is in his early 40s, I believe, became known to voters around the state because of a very impassioned speech he gave for gun rights for the Greensboro City Council several years ago and is someone who also surprisingly won his primary because his opponents in the primary included Renee Elmers, the former member of Congress and also Mark Johnson, the superintendent of public instruction. And they both did very poorly in the race.

And Robinson had no problem winning whatsoever. And he's running very much of an insurgent campaign and is someone who's quite a motivational person on the stump. And so he's someone who's running a very energetic campaign against a candidate a generation older than him. Interesting that Republican Mark Robinson has now teamed up with the Republican candidate for governor, Dan Forrest, and they're doing some ads together. They're running almost as a ticket, which is, of course, something that you don't have to do in North Carolina because the offices are elected separately. I think some of the dynamism of Robinson's style on the stump, of course, may be drawing energy from that. They also seem to have similar ideas about COVID-19 and public gatherings and things like that because they have not been shy about holding rallies and things like that. But they're really trying to play off each other. Are we seeing anything similar with Yvonne Hawley?

Has she teamed up with Roy Cooper? I haven't seen a whole lot of that necessarily. And so, for one thing, the governor really hasn't done any public events to speak of. And so... He's getting lots of exposure from his COVID-19 news conference. Yes. So, from a campaign perspective, you can see how they might think, you know what, he's already out there.

Yeah. He has that, you know, hour or so, sometimes several times a week to speak directly to the people and, of course, has a huge campaign war chest. So, he's able to run ads and things like that. Yvonne Hawley has done town halls and things like that, virtual events like that, but they're not joined at the hip as the two Republicans seem to be. We mentioned at the top that both of these candidates are African-American. So, this will be a historic election in North Carolina, no matter which person wins the seat.

That'll be the first time. And race actually became a topic of discussion and a debate that they held. And they have very different views about race and racism.

Yes, very much so. The debate was sponsored by the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership. They've been doing these debates around the state for several election cycles in which the Council of State Candidates have debates that are televised on the Spectrum News is now doing the telecasts. Yvonne Hawley came up in the civil rights movement and she's running as a very traditional civil rights era candidate. Mark Robinson is basically saying he doesn't agree with the continuing that narrative about the civil rights movement. He says he doesn't see himself as a black leader. He sees himself as a leader who happens to be black. He doesn't see race as an issue that should dominate the debate so much anymore. And so, it's a different view on race. Mark Robinson, if he were elected, would be the first African-American elected Republican statewide since the 19th century.

So, this is how this race would be something completely different and such a historic race, whoever wins. But views of race relations in America, these two of them couldn't be more different. As I say, Robinson says that very much it believes that people pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. They shouldn't use race as an excuse for falling behind. And so, a completely different view than Yvonne Hawley on these issues. And that's very interesting, obviously, for the times that we're living in and the civil unrest that we are seeing and calls for racial justice, etc. One has to wonder, and I guess we really don't have an answer to this, but wonder if part of the differing points of view, number one, it could just be their personal outlook on life, but also perhaps a generational difference there with Yvonne Hawley, as you said, coming up during the civil rights era and Mark Robinson being a younger person. Right.

It could well be. It does show up in some of their talk about the issues, of course, because when it comes to, say, education, Yvonne Hawley is very much the traditional Democrat view, although she does support charter schools, public charter schools. She does not support the Opportunity Scholarship Program. She thinks that North Carolina ought to raise teacher pay to the national average. I mean, all the sorts of things that we've usually heard from Democratic candidates when it comes to education and education reform. Mark Robinson is a big supporter of school choice and opportunity scholarships, a big supporter of having the money follow the child, if you will, for funding schools. He is a supporter of a stronger law enforcement presence, of being tougher with civil unrest and the like, and Yvonne Hawley talks about redirecting some funding from law enforcement to more community-oriented substance, more social work kind of things. And so two of them have contrasting views on a lot of issues like that.

And so it'll be it'll be interesting to see how those play out. Rick, what does the lieutenant governor do in North Carolina? The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate as a member of the State Board of Education. And that's really about all the assigned duties of the governor can give the lieutenant governor additional duties, can put things on his or her plate.

But that used to not be the case. The lieutenant governor used to be a relatively powerful individual, had the ability not only presiding over the Senate, but was in charge of the Senate schedule, had a lot of the duties that the Senate Rules Committee chairman now has as far as scheduling bills and legislation. And that was all taken away by Democrats when Jim Gardner was elected lieutenant governor or Republican.

And so basically, it's a largely ceremonial position right now. And so that's one reason why you tend to have candidates who really aren't as well known run for that position. And part of the relationship that develops is probably dependent on who sits in the governor's seat as well, whether or not that person is of the same political party or the opposite party. Going forward, that would be fascinating to see exactly how those folks work together or don't work together. Yeah, it would because Terry Van Dyne made this infamous statement that the lieutenant governor's job is to support the governor.

And I'm sure that Dan Forrest didn't agree with that statement with Roy Cooper. Rick Henderson is editor in chief. Thank you, Rick. Thank you.

That's all the time we have for the program this week. Thank you for listening. I'm Donna Martinez. Hope you will join us again next week for more Carolina Journal Radio. Carolina Journal Radio is a program of the John Locke Foundation. To learn more about the John Locke Foundation, including donations that support programs like Carolina Journal Radio, send email to development at or call 1-866-JLF-INFO.

That's 1-866-553-4636. Carolina Journal Radio is a co-production of the John Locke Foundation, North Carolina's free market think tank, and Carolina Broadcasting System, Incorporated. All opinions expressed on this program are solely those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of advertisers or the station. For more information about the show or other programs and services of the John Locke Foundation, visit or call us toll free at 1-866-JLF-INFO. We'd like to thank our wonderful radio affiliates across North Carolina and our sponsors. From all of us at Carolina Journal Radio, thank you for listening and please join us again next week.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-23 17:02:30 / 2024-02-23 17:20:09 / 18

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