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Carolina Journal Radio No. 913: Voters add three new Republicans to Council of State

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
November 16, 2020 8:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 913: Voters add three new Republicans to Council of State

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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November 16, 2020 8:00 am

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will serve a second term as North Carolina state government’s chief executive officer. But voters have added three new Republicans to the group of elected executives making up the Council of State. Rick Henderson, Carolina Journal editor-in-chief, discusses Cooper’s re-election victory, the historic election of Mark Robinson as North Carolina’s first African-American lieutenant governor, and two other newcomers among the council of statewide elected officials. A legislative watchdog group believes North Carolina can help clean up government finances by giving new authority to internal auditors. You’ll learn details of the proposed reform, along with reaction from State Auditor Beth Wood. A former Wake County register of deeds who pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $900,000 from taxpayers has been fighting to keep her government retirement benefits. The N.C. Court of Appeals recently ruled against Laura Riddick in her court fight with the N.C. State Treasurer’s office. You’ll hear highlights from Appeals Court Judge John Tyson’s grilling of Riddick’s lawyer. The number of people with a basic understanding of America’s constitutional system of government is surprisingly low. A group called Constituting America aims to correct the problem. During a recent online forum for the John Locke Foundation, students associated with the group explained why they wanted to help their peers learn more about the nation’s governing document. Republicans will continue to lead both chambers of North Carolina’s General Assembly in 2021. Becki Gray, John Locke Foundation senior vice president, discusses the implications for taxes and spending, school choice, regulations, and other important public policies. She’ll also talk about the legislature’s potential areas of cooperation and competition with Gov. Roy Cooper.


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.

Welcome to Carolina Journal Radio, I'm Mitch Kocai. During the next hour, Donna Martinez and I will explore some major issues affecting our state. A legislative watchdog group wants to help clean up North Carolina government's finances with the help of internal auditors. You'll hear what North Carolina's elected state auditor thinks about that idea.

A public official who embezzled more than $900,000 from taxpayers fights to keep her taxpayer-funded retirement benefits. You'll hear details of the court case tied to that fight. You'll also learn about a group working to boost public knowledge about the U.S. Constitution and its important role.

The group is called Constituting America. And we'll take a look at how this year's elections will affect next year's operations at the North Carolina General Assembly. Speaking of the election, Donna Martinez turns to that topic in this week's Carolina Journal headline. Record voter turnout and a great ground game by Republicans propelled Republicans to victory in multiple statewide races here in North Carolina.

And one of those victors is historic. Rick Henderson is editor in chief of Carolina Journal, of course,, as well as the print edition of the newspaper paying very close attention to what this all means. Rick, welcome back to the program.

Thanks, Donna, very much. Let's start with the historic race first. Lieutenant Governor in North Carolina for the first time is an African-American and he's a Republican.

That's right. Mark Robinson defeated Yvonne Lewis Holly by about three points as of the time that we were recording this and probably as of the time you'll be listening to this. The thing about Mark Robinson is that he and Yvonne Lewis Holly both African-American candidates.

So this would have been historic regardless. Mark Robinson is someone who is a political newcomer, a complete outsider who was activist in Greensboro and a gun rights activist and the like, but certainly swept people off their feet, I think, on the campaign trail. And also the Democrats didn't really take this race very seriously until the very end when Michael Bloomberg poured a whole bunch of money into the race that he might as well have lit on fire because Holly was actually running neck and neck with Robinson in the polls. And one late poll from the Carolina Partnership for Reform, if I'm not mistaken, the group that's affiliated with Senator Phil Berger and our friend Bob Rosser is in charge of that, actually had Holly ahead, if I'm not mistaken. But it's also a relatively low interest race for voters, but it could be I think the reason Democrats got a little bit concerned about the race was that they thought that there was a possibility there would be a 50-50 tie in the state Senate and the lieutenant governor actually would have to hang around and break ties.

But that did materialize and Yvonne Lewis Holly lost also. And you mentioned the potential 25-25 tie in the Senate, which did not occur. The Republicans did very well in the General Assembly. And later on in the program, we'll be talking with Becky Gray a little bit more detailed about what happened with the Republicans securing again their majorities in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Rick, you mentioned the issue of money, tons of money. The bulk of it from Democrats around the country poured into North Carolina to try to turn this state blue and it just didn't materialize. Was it the Republicans' ground game?

What went on here? I think the ground game had something to do with it, to be sure. I think our John Locke Foundation Chairman John Hood stated it very well in a column where he said that Democrats did not take the issue of urban unrest, violence, and rioting seriously.

In fact, they didn't exactly enable it or coddle it, but they just did not denounce it seriously as Republicans did. And I think that made some difference at the margins and it didn't take much at the margins. If you've got basically a 45-45 state to begin with, then you don't have to persuade an awful lot of voters in the middle to make a difference. And all these races up and down the council-state battle were very, very close.

They were all within that 45-45 range. And so that entered into it. And also, I just think that the Democrats sort of took for granted the fact that they had a natural advantage because polling, which was wildly wrong in lots of ways, from all over the map, I mean, from groups, the mainstream media organizations, from advocacy groups left and right, they all got things wrong. And what they got largely wrong, we'll know better when we've got the results to actually dig into and look at, was that Democrats were going to maintain their sort of seven or eight-point lead among registered voters and that unaffiliated voters, which now comprise about one-third of North Carolina, were going to break, you know, 60, 40, or even two-to-one Democratic. And that just didn't happen.

You know, the ground game was interesting. Republicans doing very well. They actually went out and knocked on doors and made contacts with voters. But it also appears that President Trump had coattails and helped a lot of those statewide races really go the Republicans' way.

Yeah. That was the thing that I think will be sort of the underreported story that may well have made a difference in North Carolina and other states for President Trump, was that he, the fact that he was going out and doing these round-the-clock rallies in the final week of the election, and Vice President Biden was maintaining basically his, you know, front porch campaign of going around to much smaller events on WPTF program that you were hosting on election night, Jonathan Felts, Republican consultant, said the Democrats really have to be kicking themselves for not bringing the Obamas into North Carolina and campaign because President Obama went to a number of states and had some extremely enthusiastic rallies in the final days. And that didn't happen in North Carolina. Basically concentrated on Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, who is not a particularly effective, or proved not to be a particularly effective stump speaker. And so that, again, it may have made a big difference, is that Donald Trump was showing this incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm and, of course, you know, flouting all the laws and rules regarding social distancing and mask wearing and the like of the rallies.

And let's hope this doesn't become a problem down the road. Nonetheless, he drove enthusiastic crowds. I was, you know, I kind of treated this like, well, this was like a Grateful Dead tour. You had the same people sort of following around everywhere.

But it turns out that probably wasn't the case. Or if it was the case, the people who went to these rallies then went back to their homes, their neighborhoods and their churches, and they talked it up and they and they really got folks out to the polls. And that showed up on Election Day where Republicans, generally speaking, got about three hundred thousand more votes than Democrats.

They got about maybe 70 percent of the vote on Election Day, which was enough to carry Republicans across the line in many cases. And one of the Republican winners who benefited from the ground game and likely from the Trump rallies is Katherine Truitt, who looks to be North Carolina's next superintendent of public instruction. That's that's a huge win for people who are in favor of education reform in North Carolina and breaking the monopoly of the public schools that she's a big supporter of charter schools. She's she'll be the outgoing chancellor of Western Governors University, North Carolina. Huge proponent of charter schools. She backs public school choice through opportunity scholarships. She's someone who's going to be probably at odds with the North Carolina Association of Educators and the similar union backed groups that are heavily Democratic. It's going to be a 10 year. I think she's someone who also has a very, very strong personality and will be a force to be reckoned with in a way that I think Mark Johnson, her predecessor, will not be. And so that's going to be fun to watch.

Interesting. Katherine Truitt is someone who seems to be able to get along with with everybody, regardless of their political affiliation. But she will be at odds with the with the returning governor, Roy Cooper, the Democrat who got a second term in terms of opportunity scholarships. He does not want to continue that program for low income kids in North Carolina.

Katherine Truitt does. That'll be interesting. Yes, it will be. And it'll be also interesting because to see what happens with the with the courts, which is another topic. But nonetheless, she's going to be backed by the General Assembly, which does favor opportunity scholarships. And so it'd be interesting to see if if the sort of the universal Democratic opportunity scholarship opposition starts to erode a little bit because some African-American Democrats are starting to say, wait a minute, this is really a good deal for kids, for poor kids.

Let's hit one more race. Commissioner of Labor, a Republican, takes that seat. Josh Dobson wins over Jessica Holmes. Former state legislator Josh Dobson is going to be somebody who will be standing in the way of attempts to erode North Carolina's right to work laws.

And so that's, again, going to be, I think, a big win for both employers and employees in the state. Rick Henderson is editor in chief of Carolina Journal. Be sure to check in at Carolina Journal dot com. Also, check into the print edition of Carolina Journal, which will be making its way to your mailbox soon for all of the perspective on what happened in election 2020 here in North Carolina. Rick, thanks very much. Thank you.

Stay with us. Much more Carolina Journal radio to come in just a moment. Tired of fake news, tired of reporters with political axes to grind? Well, you need to be reading Carolina Journal. Honest, uncompromising old school journalism you expect and you need even better. The monthly Carolina Journal is free to subscribers. Sign up at Carolina Journal dot com. You'll receive Carolina Journal newspaper in your mailbox each month, investigations into government spending, revelations about boondoggles, who the powerful leaders are and what they're doing in your name and with your money. We shine the light on it all with the stories and angles other outlets barely cover.

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I'm Mitch Kokai. A watchdog group within the North Carolina General Assembly wants to help clean up government finances by giving new oversight authority to a group of internal government auditors. That group called the Council of Internal Auditing doesn't want the new role. One person who thinks the council should step up its work state auditor Beth Wood.

I respectfully disagree with the stance that the council has taken. We talk about what's in the law, but many times we go back and we did the state auditor's office under less merit, did an audit report on internal auditing functions in the state of North Carolina, state government universities, community colleges, and it was practically nothing being done. The internal audit divisions, if done well across all state agencies, will catch many, many things before I get there. And you can wait for me and my limited staff to go around and do audit by audit by audit and tell you the phenomenal things that we have found. DOT salary adjustment fund and how that was handled inappropriately.

The virtual public schools, the courses that we have online that don't meet standards. DOT's cash spending plan. Again, these take months to get them done and they're done well and they're irrefutable, but it takes months and I have about 18 members, 16 members that can actually do these audits. Or you can take the 187 internal auditors we have across this state that are costing the citizens $18 million and we can have them in there performing the same kind of work that my auditors are doing.

And we will get to the inefficiencies and the wasteful spending much faster. Some critics say there's no need to step up the work of internal auditors. The heads of government departments just need to practice better leadership. Auditor Beth Wood responds.

An agency head has many things that they are responsible for and they don't know what they don't know. And we have, Internal Audit Council has been publishing this report annually since I've been on the council. We have said in the 2019 that DOT put out 389 audit reports. When I actually went back and looked myself at DOT's reports, very few of them, if any, meet the standards. The law says that these internal audits should be conducted in accordance with internal audit standards.

And of the 389, I would bet you my next year's salary, because I've looked at many of them, none of them meet the standards. Yet we have sent, the council has sent a report to the General Assembly saying that DOT did 389 reports. Many reports, about 31% of all the resources that the, to internal auditors are doing around the state are spent on consultative engagements. That is allowed under internal auditing standards, but there are standards by which they must be conducted. We've told the General Assembly how many consultative reports have been put out, but we have not told you if one half or any of them have been conducted in accordance with the standards that the statute says that they should be.

The statute says that we must report to the General Assembly for anybody's audit plan that is late. None of them said, we've never told you if they're any good. I've gone back and I've looked at DOT, I've gone back and looked at DEQ, and I'll also tell you, DEQ put out three internal audit reports, and none of the three met standards.

None. That's State Auditor Beth Wood sharing her concerns with state lawmakers about internal auditing within North Carolina State government departments. Wood emphasized that auditors are sharing incomplete information about their work. We're telling you if the audit plans are late or not, but we're not telling you if they're any good or not. I've looked at DEQ and DOT, and if you look at two years of their audit plans, many of the planned audits on the second year was exactly what they had on the first year, which means they accomplished little to nothing.

If we would just sort of start putting out, and then we tell you how many reports they did, we don't tell you if they were done in accordance with standards or not, and we don't tell you how many they plan to do. I could tell you that on a performance audit or many of these audits where you don't know necessarily what you're getting into, what you start with, you will just go out there and data gather and data gather and data gather, and the next thing you know, a thousand hours has been spent only on data gathering. My point about all of this, and I say, Secretary Boyer is committed to having a great internal audit division, but when he went into the office, he thought he had one, and guess what?

He doesn't know what he doesn't know. He or any other agency head doesn't know what an internal audit shop really should look like, and the fact that you've got people, we've got 187 internal auditors, they have 202 certifications across, and that's what our good old report to the General Assembly said, but if they are a CPA, that doesn't mean they're a great internal auditor. I can tell you right now, you give me the best tax CPA in the nation and put him in my agency, and he's no good to me because we don't do taxes. We do audits. You could have certifications for certified fraud examiners. You could be certified, but if you're not always looking for fraud, that may not be the best certification, and the same thing with a certified internal auditor.

Again, just because you've got these certifications doesn't mean you're qualified. Wood focused specific attention on the State Department of Transportation, DOT, where internal auditors should be doing a better job for Secretary Eric Boyette. The job they're doing, reviewing and approving invoices, that's not an internal audit function.

So again, you can convince the Secretary of DOT, this is what he needs and this is what he needs to do, but when you get down to the intent of the law, they're not in compliance with the law. So in my opinion, this is where the counsel comes in. Wood urged lawmakers to consider more funding for internal auditors. They don't have the resources to date, and we don't need to be hiring auditors that nobody else wants. We need to get those salaries up, because hear what I'm saying. Currently today, we're a $46 billion state and federal budget. We're spending $18 million a year on internal auditors.

We need to make sure we are hiring the most qualified that is the most important function that the General Assembly will ever spend their money on. Because again, you can wait for the great staff at the Internal Auditor's Office, but it's going to be one audit, one audit, one audit. Or we can get the right people into our agency and together, we can fix the inefficient and wasteful spending. Everybody thinks it's corruptive, embezzlement, stealing.

It's inefficient and wasteful spending that's going on across our state government as we speak. But I do believe that the Internal Audit Committee could do a better job. That's State Auditor Beth Wood responding to a recent report about internal auditors in North Carolina government agencies.

Wood believes those auditors could play a greater role in rooting out inefficient and wasteful spending. 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

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I'm Mitch Kokay. Former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick is in prison, serving time for embezzling more than $900,000 from taxpayers. But Riddick wants to keep her state retirement benefits. At the State Court of Appeals, Judge John Tyson grilled Riddick's lawyer Bob Orr. The client entered guilty pleas, six pleas to 1492, which is embezzlement by a public official in excess of $100,000. So all of the elements that that felony could only apply to acts of a public official, period. So I don't understand why some additional finding of being related to the office is when the only way your client could have been convicted of this particular statute of 14-92 is that she was, in fact, a public official and she embezzled public funds in excess of $100,000 on six counts. So why is the aggravator even relevant on a guilty plea?

There was no jury there. Your client pled guilty to a precise felony that were only elected officials stealing more than $100,000, you know, could be convicted on that statute. If the General Assembly had wanted to specifically set out certain crimes that would automatically implicate the forfeiture statute, they could have done it. They've done it in other statutes for whatever reason. And I can't speak for the General Assembly.

They set up a particular scheme that requires the aggravator. And, you know, while this may be terrible legislation, it's not to the court to rewrite the statute in a more reasonable fashion if this is what the General Assembly did. The General Assembly made a decision.

Was it a good one? I can't answer that. All I know is they did not, in this case, they did not comply with it. The specific element of the six offenses your client pled guilty to can only apply to a public official who embezzles in excess of $100,000.

Those are essential elements of that offense. Doesn't the elements of what she pled guilty to, isn't that pertinent to whether or not, you know, she would be subject to forfeiture for that fault? If it is pertinent Judge Tyson and the General Assembly should have written the statute that way.

They didn't. That's attorney Bob Orr explaining why he believes former Wake County official Laura Riddick should keep her state retirement benefits despite pleading guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. You're doubling down on freedom. At Carolina Journal Radio, we're proud to bring you stories that impact your life and your wallet. And now, get twice as much freedom when you also listen to our podcast, Headlock, available on iTunes and at slash podcast. Now Headlock is a little bit different.

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I'm Mitch Kocine. The percentage of Americans who know much about our constitutional form of government is low, too low. But a group called Constituting America is working to address that problem. During a recent online forum for the John Locke Foundation, co-president Kathy Gillespie discussed the group. It started 10 years ago with a focus on young people. And when we think about where our kids these days, they're out on YouTube there. This is the especially back in 2010. They were the American Idol generation.

They all wanted to be stars. And so we thought if kids are going to be making short films and videos and songs, why not have them doing making these projects about the US Constitution and learning something while they do it. So we started constituting America in 2010 with the mission to educate and inspire students and adults and their parents about the US Constitution and enhance their civic knowledge.

We started with a contest, like I mentioned, where kids could commit, submit song, short film, public service announcement. But since we've branched out into many other programs and we're excited that this is our 10th year, Gillespie says she has seen signs of improvement. There has been a little bit of a renewed concentration on on teaching these founding principles, you know, through organizations like the John Locke Foundation and Bill of Rights Institute and and, you know, I civics and the National Constitution Center where we're actually part costume. America is part of the organization now that is that's been in existence for the past three or four years called the Civics Renewal Network, where we're pulling together all of the civics education organizations so that we can pool our resources and have an even larger impact. So we are hopeful.

Gillespie emphasizes working together. The first three words of the Constitution are we the people and America is a is a we country. We are all Americans. And I think so often we've stopped listening to each other. And actually, one of the programs that we started with Constitution America is our civil civic conversation program, where we actually go into schools and we'll take a hot topic issue. We've done everything from whether or not to build the wall to the Second Amendment, to if kids should have cell phones, be allowed to have cell phones in school or not. And we've we've done climate change. So we bring in pro and con articles and we expose the kids who are predisposed to one side, read articles from the other side and vice versa.

Then they have to find three things on the other side they agree with, then they come together and they write a bill and they they see if they can find common ground and some of these issues. And we've had so many kids tell us, you know, I never even heard any arguments for for this position on this issue. And we've had several kids come in and change their mind on certain issues because they had just never been exposed to the other side. That's Kathy Gillespie, co-president of Constituting America. The group focuses on young people. So did the recent John Locke Foundation online forum.

Dakari Chapman is a student ambassador. I read a book by Sean Covey and in it he says, seek first to understand, then to be understood. And I feel like that is a very powerful statement because a lot of times we come into the so-called argument or conversation and we are just thinking about how someone could, how they can, how we can change someone's mind. And I always say you're not going to be able to change someone's opinion, but what you can do is you can tell them how you feel, but it's not going to change their opinion either way. So I feel like we just have to converse with one another and be able to hear each other out.

And I feel like that and that's, again, on both sides. It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican or a libertarian, you know, it just it's about listening to the other person so that we can all move forward because arguing just takes a lot of time. Chapman offered thoughts about so-called cancel culture. A lot of these things, you know, that people are trying to cancel are what you know, these things are what make America so, so great, will make America so amazing.

You know, it's that opportunity to kind of do to do what you can for you to do it, what you need to do to to to allow you to be better. What's Chapman's hope for the future of America? My hope for America is for people to start listening. And that is that is literally all I think that if people will listen to others and and really grasp these different concepts that we would most definitely be a better country. And I feel like if, you know, another thing that that is that I definitely see in the future is that if we're able to listen, I always say things are like a chain chain reaction. If you're able to listen to someone, then you're able to to, you know, you're going to be able to, you know, find common ground and finding common ground, especially in our government, is the is almost the backbone of our legislature, because if we can find common ground, we can write legislation for the people. And I think that that is that is definitely my hope for the future of our country. Another student tied to constituting America is Tova Love Kaplan.

She's the group's national youth director. It's such a big problem among young people. They think it doesn't affect them.

They have this disconnect to the Constitution. They think of it as something in the past. But we like to emphasize that it's a living, breathing document. It applies equally to every generation. It affects us in our generation, just as much as it affected the founders and their generation. It's a continuous document that affects every single person in America. And so it's so important to be knowledgeable about it.

It's not a thing of the past. I think a lot of students when they hear Constitution, they picture this old parchment paper in a museum somewhere that a bunch of old people wrote a while ago. But I love what constituting America does, which is take that image and make it modern appeal to young people to what they know. So whether that's YouTube or videos, young people speaking to young people, that takes the Constitution and makes it real, makes it applicable to your everyday life.

Kaplan also has hopes for the future of our constitutional republic. In this age of massive information, limitless information at our fingertips, I hope that young people have the wisdom to differentiate what information they want to listen to. I hope young people can learn about the Constitution, learn their rights as a citizen.

I hope they stick with it. I hope they become invested in the systems that we have. I hope they are able to create meaningful change by educating themselves, educating others about how they can create change. I hope young people learn how to have these civil civic conversations with one another, realizing that differences of opinion are not only necessary, but they're crucial, they're important, they're healthy. You're never going to live in a society where everybody thinks the same. And that's not an ideal society. We learn at constituting America a lot about how our founding fathers set up this country as a way for people with different opinions to come together, realizing that in any free society, people are going to think differently from you.

That's not a bad thing. We are not God, we don't know everything. We need to realize that other people's differences of opinion are not necessarily wrong just because they're not ours. And we need to take the time to understand other people's points of view, respect other people who have opinions that are different from us, come together to create compromises and decisions that benefit everybody and keep our republic running for many, many more generations. That's Tova Love Kaplan of Constituting America. She participated along with fellow student Takari Chapman in a recent online forum sponsored by the John Locke Foundation. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. You'll influence.

You either have it or you don't. And at the John Locke Foundation, we have it. You'll find our guiding principles in many of the freedom-forward reforms of the past decade here in North Carolina. So while others talk or complain or name-call, we provide research, solutions, and hope. Our team analyzes the pressing issues of the day, jobs, healthcare, education, and more. We look for effective ways to give you more freedom, more options, more control over your life. Our goal is to transform North Carolina into a growing, thriving economic powerhouse, the envy of every other state. Our research has helped policymakers make decisions that ensure you keep more of what you earn, expand your choice of schools for your kids, widen your job opportunities, improve your access to doctors, the recipe for stability and a bright future, for truth, for freedom, for the future of North Carolina. We are the John Locke Foundation. Welcome back to Carolina Journal Radio.

I'm Donna Martinez. North Carolina voters endorsed common sense spending and low fair taxes on election day. Now, how do we know this? Well, it's because they reelected fiscally conservative Republican majorities to the North Carolina Senate and the North Carolina House. And they did so at the very same time.

They also reelected Democrat Roy Cooper for a second term as governor. So what does this all mean to you? Becky Gray is senior vice president with the John Locke Foundation. She follows all of these races very closely. She joins us now to take a look at all of that. Becky, welcome back.

Thank you, Donna. An incredibly positive winning cycle for Republicans in the General Assembly. And running up to election day, there was hesitation.

People weren't really sure. Well, you know, running up to election day, I mean, we were hearing that the Senate could very well be an even split between Republicans and Democrats, 25 on each side. That's why there was a lot of attention in the last days on the lieutenant governor's race, who, of course, in their role, presides over the Senate and could cast a deciding vote.

As a matter of fact, for the Democrat candidate, there was eight and a half million dollars that was put into that campaign just in the last days of the election. So we were hearing that. We also were hearing that, you know, the House could anticipate to lose several seats. I mean, some were saying the Democrats would take over. Kind of the more likely thing that people were talking about was maybe going down from a 65 Republican majority to a 61 Republican majority.

Actually, it was better than people. The outcomes were better than anybody I think had had anticipated, except perhaps for Tim Moore and Phil Berger, who had been working like crazy through the election cycle and the winning candidates, particularly those in the swing districts, Donna. I mean, the efforts that they had was just phenomenal against some pretty big spending in those races too. In fact, we have seen Democrat donors just pour money into North Carolina. There was just a national effort focused on North Carolina to try to flip our legislature over to the Democrats.

It did not work. Our friend Brad Crone, a political consultant and analyst, is saying, wow, those folks have to be waking up and wondering what was the return on their investment. Well, just a quick note on that too. In the governor's race, of course, we're still getting the figures in and, you know, we'll see at the end of the day. But what we're hearing now is about 30 million dollars was spent on Governor Cooper's race. For Dan Forrest, his opponent, you know, it was like four and a half million dollars.

So, I mean, I'm not that good at math. I can't tell you how much that was outspent, but it was a lot. Forrest was dwarfed financially. Exactly.

And so you see that kind of effort. And, you know, really my question in the gubernatorial race was with that kind of financial advantage, with Roy Cooper being on television and radio and many cases, the front page of the newspaper for seven months leading up to the election, he only beat Dan Forrest by about four and a half points. You know, my question is, with all of that advantage, why didn't he do better than that? Yeah, it ends up being only a four point victory for Governor Cooper, which is, you know, a clear victory. But to your point, there have been polls saying it was going to be an eight to 10 point race there. And that just shows the strength, really, of the Republicans who came out to vote. And so many of those Republicans voted in those House and Senate races. Let's talk a little bit about the House, because they now have 68, 69 seats, again, waiting for the final numbers to roll through. And that would be a pickup of six.

Incredible. So, you know, in this cycle with the predictions of gloom and doom, of course, you know, I think we're all kind of questioning polling and predictions at this point, you know, across the board. But yeah, so, you know, to pick up six seats in this environment was pretty amazing. And over in the North Carolina Senate, within a seat or two, it's going to be about the same majority. It looks like, again, as we're talking today, you know, we're still we still don't have the final final tabulations, but it looks like that the Senate will have lost two that they anticipated, one in Mecklenburg, one in Wake, and the demographics and the districts have changed enough.

They knew that going in, but they picked up one, Michael Lee, former Senator Michael Lee defeated, looks like he defeated Harper Peterson in that Senate district down in the new Hanover County area. So that's the politics of it. Becky, let's talk a little bit about the policy that is behind excuse me, that's behind the vote from North Carolinians, because over the past at least half dozen years, maybe close to a whole decade, we have seen the Republicans in the General Assembly be fiscally conservative. They have cut taxes. They've reformed our tax system. So everybody has lower income tax. They've reined in spending.

And this just seems to be a resounding endorsement to continue that. Let me just offer a couple other things to that have been on voters minds. We also have health care.

And you know, what we've heard from the left is the answer to the high cost of health care and the difficulty of people being able to afford health insurance is to expand Medicaid. We've also education has also been a huge, always a big issue in North Carolina, 57% of our budget goes for education in North Carolina, we care about education and have consistently but you know, what we've heard from Roy Cooper is and and the left because that messages resonated on down through the legislative races, you know, the answer of improving education is raising teacher pay what you've heard from the Republicans and we've done at the lot Foundation tremendous amount of work on school choice and offering options for parents and students to best meet their needs to get a sound basic education. So you know, it there's a clear difference up and down the line on issues that are important to North Carolinians and Donna what and go back and review some of the television ads, review some of the mailers were reviewed just what Roy Cooper has been talking about since he went into office.

And that's Medicaid expansion and teacher pay increase. What we saw in the swing districts now, you know, let me be clear, you know, North Carolina is gerrymandered, you know, as most states are, that means that there are some districts now part of this is their gerrymandered because where people choose to live, you know, there's nothing nefarious about this. But you know, there are districts that are solidly Republican, there are districts that are solidly Democrat, where I'm looking for what kind of message are we getting? It's in those swing districts that we were looking at.

And in both the House and the Senate in those swing districts, Republicans prevailed. And I have to believe that it is because the policies and the message and the answers and the solutions to the problems that North Carolinians care about, and that's taxes and budget, the size of government regulation, education, the right investments in infrastructure, that the Republicans, the solutions that Republicans have to offer resonate more with voters than the Democrats answer of Medicaid expansion, more spending, higher taxes, more regulation, and just focusing on the financial part of education rather than looking at what really is going to be best for students. So Becky, based on that, then going forward, because you know, the legislature, you work with the governor, and there's always negotiations among legislators themselves as they work towards some public policy decisions. If some of those leftists, the progressives in the Democratic Party realize that the people they're representing have rejected those leftist ideas, is that going to change the policy guidelines and mileposts here in North Carolina?

You know, Donna, I'm very optimistic about that. And of course, the John Locke Foundation is well positioned to have those ideas and present those to the new members of the General Assembly and the governor as we have been doing. What has struck me is one of the governor's statements just since the election, he said that moving forward, he wants to focus on affordable health care, he wants to focus on a better education, and he wants to focus on the economy and getting people back to work. We have, we being the John Locke Foundation, we have ideas to solve all of those problems. I am very optimistic that given this, that we will have a receptive audience in the governor's office, and that all members of the General Assembly on both sides of the aisle are going to be looking for those ideas that are not partisan, but actually address the problems that face North Carolinians. And so you know, you're hearing all this stuff about we need to have kumbaya, we need to come together.

I just think when you have the best policy ideas on the table, you're going to have people anxious to sit at that table. Becky Gray, thank you. That's all the time we have for the show this week. Appreciate you listening. Hope you'll join us again next week for another edition of 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 / 2024-01-27 10:53:55 / 2024-01-27 11:11:13 / 17

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