The Morning Roundup: Republican Governors Put a Pot of Gold to Good Use Attacking Roy Cooper | News

The Morning Roundup: Republican Governors Put a Pot of Gold to Good Use Attacking Roy Cooper


Good morning, everyone, and Happy St. Patrick's Day! The NCAA tournament kicks off today, with Duke taking on UNC-Wilmington, and UNC squaring off with Florida Gulf Coast University in Raleigh this evening. Will the Triangle teams have the luck o' the Irish on their sides? Don't forget to fill out your brackets. Don't forget to wear green!

Here are your headlines for Thursday.

1. Now that the state primary is over, it's on between Governor Pat McCrory and Roy Cooper. It's been said that this will be the most expensive governor's race in the country, and the Republican Governors Association announced yesterday that it's dropping six figures on a digital ad buy. Oh my!

The ad hammers at Cooper’s 30 years in public office. It poses the question, what has Cooper done while in office, and answers by saying he supported the federal healthcare law and higher taxes.

Jared Leopold, spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, issued a statement in response:

“National Republicans are in panic mode over the race in North Carolina. Pat McCrory is the most vulnerable incumbent in the country, and he will be sharing a ballot with Donald Trump. Pat McCrory has served in elected office since the 1980s, and has left North Carolina middle-class families with a higher tax burden, crumbling schools and broken promises on women’s health.”

Sounds like Cooper's unfazed at the moment, but he's got so much to go after McCrory for, we're sure it's just a matter of time before he hits back with a ludicrously expensive digital ad buy of his own. 

2. Speaking of the primary, there were some long, long lines Thursday, as well as confusion at the polls, which the elections watchdog group Democracy NC attributed to the state's voter ID law. Here's my colleague, Paul Blest:

College students all over the state were turned away at the polls yesterday. In Watauga County, home to Appalachian State University, Democracy NC executive director Bob Hall said that voter disenfranchisement seemed to be happening on purpose. "Watauga is a poster child for bad practices," he said. And at a precinct in Chapel Hill - Chapel of the Cross on Franklin St. - he said that the precinct suffered from inadequate preparation and poor management. "They misinterpreted the rules," he said.

Native Americans were disproportionately affected as well. Although Native Americans represent less than 1% of the vote in North Carolina, they made up 5.6% of the provisional ballots cast as of Sunday, many from Robeson County in the southern part of the state. Hall said that this was partially due to a misunderstanding of the information needed on a tribal enrollment card in order for it to be considered an acceptable form of ID.

"The word may have gotten out that [any tribal ID] was acceptable, but it turns out that it needed a photograph and an expiration date. Some that were issued some years ago don’t have one or both features,” Hall said.

Hall said that some of the longest lines in the state were in Durham County, with some precincts closing at 9 or 9:30, two hours after they were supposed to. One voter in Durham County who contacted the hotline had voted at the same polling place for 30 straight years, but was missing from the voter rolls and had to go to the Board of Elections to cast a non-provisional ballot, where she waited for 45 minutes. "The preparation, staffing, equipment, and training were not up to the task," Hall said.

If yesterday's primary caused a lot of problems, it's likely that the general election could be even worse. “It’s very worrisome," Hall said. "It’s not like there was a super big turnout, but it was enough to stress the system out in certain places."

"The election administrators need to do a much better job preparing for a bigger group of voters, some of whom aren’t educated about the process."

While there were long lines in Wake County just like in Durham and Orange, Wake board of elections director Gary Sims said everyone in line got their chance to vote, even if it was late into the evening, and even if that meant ballots were still being counted after midnight.

And precinct officials were instructed to allow everyone who showed up to fill out a provisional ballot, including those without ID, and people who weren't registered in Wake County. Now that's service! Sims said all the ballots will be reviewed, and the official election results posted, by next Tuesday. 

3. Still speaking of the primary, the N&O reports that 500,000 voters skipped some of those down-the-ballot races, especially Council of State ones. 

Down-ballot drop-off is common in most elections because some voters only want a say on the most high-profile races. It’s less common in general elections because North Carolina voters have had the option to vote a straight partisan ticket.

In the Republican primary, only 72 percent of voters in the presidential primary picked one of the three candidates for insurance commissioner – meaning that more than one in four voters left that part of their ballot blank.

The insurance commissioner race lacked a prominent candidate. The participation numbers were higher in the GOP gubernatorial primary – 93 percent made a choice – and in the party’s U.S. Senate primary, where 89 percent voted.

Down-ballot participation was higher in the Democratic primary, where labor commissioner appeared to get the fewest votes of the Council of State races. About 82 percent of voters in the presidential primary made a selection for labor commissioner, while 86 percent voted for U.S. Senate and 91 percent made a choice for governor.

We've still got a whole 'nother primary left to go, y'all. Let's do better next time, elections boards (get prepared!) and voters (get informed!) alike. 

4. In Raleigh news, former longtime city manager Russell Allen never left the city, and he is now a real estate developer. He and his twin brother formed Allen Ventures and, in partnership with Raleigh-based Five Horizons Development,  they have big plans to build two five-unit condominium buildings along New Bern Avenue, between East and Swain Streets, just east of downtown.

“I decided I really wanted to stay in Raleigh rather than move to another place as a city manager,” he said. “I always had great respect for what the private sector development community has done here ... always enjoyed that part of the business.”

Allen said the 3-story condos will each have 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, with a single-car garage on the first floor. Pricing for the units has not been decided, but Allen said they would likely be under $400,000.

Both buildings will feature modern-style architecture.

“We think it’s going to be very modern and creative but not so much that only a handful of people would want to buy it,” Allen said.

This is the second downtown project for Allen Ventures. The company earlier bought and renovated a house in East Raleigh on Freeman Street, which it sold in January. The company hopes to begin construction of the New Bern condos this summer.

Allen said he’s purposely tried to keep a low profile in his new role given his previous role.

“I’ve tried not to be the principal out-front partner,” he said.

5. In other Raleigh news, the cherry blossoms are a-blooming, and the blue heron are a-nesting. It must be spring! Go see the blue heron this weekend on the Neuse River Greenway in North Raleigh. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from Raleigh City Councilman David Cox. 

Blue heron - DAVID COX
  • David Cox
  • Blue heron

May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you. Thursday is Little Friday!

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