Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.
Welcome to the latest installment of the Political Hit List!
For new readers, we’ll start by rounding up the week’s coverage of local government news, then expand to look at what’s happening in the state and federal realms as it relates to your representatives. If you’re searching for the latest dirt on North Carolina’s increasingly nasty U.S. Senate primary, scroll to the bottom of the barrel (and hold your nose while you’re down there).
Affordable housing mandate?
There was no Asheville City Council meeting this week, but that didn’t stop members of the group from gathering to discuss ideas for ensuring affordable housing for Asheville residents. The issue has been getting a lot of attention in the press lately, and Tuesday’s meeting found participants discussing the idea of imposing an affordable housing mandate on new developments in town. Mark Barrett with the Citizen-Times has a full, albeit paywalled, report on the discussion here.
DA debate gets lively
Right now, the hottest race in town is the Democrat race for District Attorney. Voters will decide between two candidates, incumbent DA Ron Moore and his challenger Todd Williams on May 6 (there are no Republican candidates, so primary winner takes all). Last week, Moore and Williams met in their first debate, and spent significant time sparring over the handling of a sealed audit relating to the 2011 “evidence room scandal” at the Asheville Police Department. Reporter Jon Elliston with Carolina Public Press was there, and has a rundown of back-and-forth. There’s also video of the debate on CPP, and a full transcript for the reading-inclined over at Mountain Xpress.
Van Duyn preps for Raleigh
Do you know the woman who is set to become your new state senator? Terry Van Duyn, who was recently elected by Buncombe County Democrats to fill the seat left vacant by the late Sen. Martin Nesbitt, heads to Raleigh for the short session in May. Citizen-Times reporter Jon Ostendorff penned a profile on Van Duyn last weekend, offering insights on her background, volunteer efforts and political involvement. Among the nuggets—Van Duyn will be the only sitting senator to have been arrested for protesting at one of the recent Moral Mondays.
North Carolina’s rising stars
If you survey the political landscape in North Carolina, who stands out? Unfortunately, no one from Asheville or Buncombe County. At least that’s the take of MSNBC‘s Luke Russert, who anchored a segment on the topic while hosting “The Daily Rundown” this week. Watch it here.
McCrory celebrates Tax Day
The day dreaded by pretty much all of us was a big one for Gov. Pat McCrory. On April 15, our beloved Tax Day, the governor touted his reforms to the state’s tax code, and claimed once more that the changes would revive the state’s economy to the benefit of North Carolinians far and wide. This of course invited rebuttal from his critics, who argue that the changes will benefit only wealthy taxpayers and actually cause the average worker’s tax burden to increase.
In other McCrory news, the governor also announced a plan this week for addressing conditions at the state’s coal ash ponds. The proposal comes three months after 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River, putting a laser-focus on the issue and McCrory’s ties to Duke Energy. The governor’s suggestions include closing at least four of Duke’s coal ash facilities, including one right here in Asheville. You can read a full report on the plan here in the Charlotte Observer.
This may interest you—the slick new “explainer” website Vox.com ran a feature this week on gerrymandering. And what state, you ask, is among the top-five most-gerrymandered state’s in the country? That’s right. “This is a very successful partisan gerrymander,” reads a description of district lines in North Carolina, recently drawn by the GOP-supermajority General Assembly.
Senate race mayhem
Let’s get the important fact out of the way first—only 18 days till the primary fracas is over. Can you taste it? Maybe the better question would be—can smell it? Things are getting kinda gross.
With less than a month weeks remaining before the GOP primary, Democrats entered the ring. This week, they targeted candidate Thom Tillis with an ad accusing him of condoning affairs between staffers in his office and lobbyists during his time serving as Speaker of the House. The move is significant not only because of it being one of the slimiest ads of this year’s cycle, but also because of its mirroring a tactic employed by Democrats in tight-necked GOP Senate primaries in other states. The campaign for U.S. Sen Kay Hagan is on board, shelling out its first ads of the cycle to hit Tillis on the same subject. Tillis responded to the attack with an attempt to raise money, and released an ad of his own accusing Democrats of “meddling” in the primary.
In other ad news, GOP candidate Mark Harris was also out with a new advertisement of his own this week, which you can seehere. It’s more positive, perhaps it will cheer you up.
And now for some developments on the fundraising side—both Harris and candidate Greg Brannon revealed new info about their first quarter fundraising hauls this week. Harris said he raised nearly $400,000 in the time period, while Brannon announced his campaign had achieved a total of $1.1 million raised since he entered the race. Neither of tallies come close to the $1.3 million raked in by Tillis over the last three months. But will the be enough to force a runoff?
Not interested in ads or fundraising? Last Sunday’s New York Times had a good primer on where things stand overall in the GOP primary. You know it’s a big deal because it was featured on A1.
Thanks for reading! See you next week.