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Election Rundown: The ‘Stab v. the Grassroots

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John Kasich came in third, above Marco Rubio in Buncombe and Henderson, reflecting the statewide trend. Kasich was bolstered by intensive Fox News attention in days leading up to the election. His supporters had tried to get Rubio to swap delegates in Ohio and Florida, and Ohio Cruz supporters were urged to give their vote to Kasich to siphon delegates away from Trump. Rubio plummeted after trying to respond in-kind to Trump’s negativity in the last debate. Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center recently announced that Trump had been getting 52 percent of candidate coverage in the mainstream media. Cruz, who has been running in second place since the Iowa Caucus, has only gotten 1.5 percent, most of which has been derogatory.

Counting delegates is messy, and no two sources seem to have agreed since Super Tuesday. The states have different methods of awarding delegates and some take longer to sort out than others. Another reason is reports have different ways of dealing with uncommitted delegates. To date, according to the Conservative Review’s Republican Delegate Count, Trump has 693; Cruz, 422; and Kasich, 146. 209 delegates have been assigned to candidates now dropped out. A candidate must receive a majority of delegates, or 1237, to win. If that does not happen, the Republicans would hold a contested convention, in which the candidates vie for the votes of uncommitted delegates. If no majority winner emerges from that process, then the process would degenerate to a brokered convention, in which lots of wheeling and dealing go on and, as has been suggested, the Establishment could “parachute in” somebody who hasn’t been running, or doesn’t qualify, like Kasich. The number of rounds a delegate is pledged to vote for their assigned candidate varies from state to state.

Over on the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders 616,758 to 460,434 statewide. But locally, in Buncombe, Bernie clobbered Hillary 30,913 to 17,604. He also beat Hillary in counties all over Western North Carolina. While Uncle Bernie has broad popular appeal, Nurse Ratchet, as Rush Limbaugh calls her, is strongly bolstered by superdelegates. In the Democrat Party, 715 delegates consisting of party leaders and Democrats elected to high office may vote their minds regardless of how the vote goes. Clinton has 465 superdelegates; Sanders, 24. The names of superdelegates are listed on Wikipedia. Patsy Keever and Jake Quinn are superdelegates of local notoriety.

Due to Establishment fears of a Trump presidency, rumor spread this week of secret meetings and attempts to defeat Trump by running a real conservative as a third-party candidate. That was a head-scratcher, since Cruz is billed as being totally Reaganesque in his conservativism, and there is already a third party. The Libertarians ran eleven presidential candidates on their ballot. Gary Johnson, who ran last time, barely squeaked by “No Preference,” securing 2390 votes statewide.

As has been mentioned previously, the election of a president would not be so important if not for recent episodes of executive overreach. President Obama is famous for saying, “If Congress doesn’t act, I will,” and for making threats with his pen and phone. The properly enumerated powers of the presidency are very few. But it is difficult for somebody bent on winning not to promise the moon to voters who have learned to look to the executive branch for salvation. There is no doubt that one reason for the economy’s malaise is the absence of the rule of law at the federal level keeping would-be speculative investors off-balance. Fortunately, the Supreme Court overturned twenty of Obama’s actions that made people angry enough to sue. A conservative president dedicated to appointing an originalist stalwart to fill Antonin Scalia’s vacancy on the court would go a long way to making sure the next president doesn’t get away with twenty overreaches.

These Guys Matter –

Cruz has promised to repeal every un-Constitutional executive order upon taking office. But repealing legislation like Obamacare will take a proverbial act of Congress. Despite what candidates promise, Obamacare may only be repealed with a bill passing both chambers with a 2/3, veto-proof majority, or by a simple majority and the blessing of the president. And so the choice of legislators will be important. Incumbent Senator Richard Burr won in a statewide landslide with 622,074 votes. The next closest candidate was Greg Brannon with 255,030 votes. Burr, considered an Establishment Republican, was sure to win because the grassroots conservatives ran three of their own to split the opposition. That said, all grassroots votes combined were only slightly more than half Burr’s.

Ever since Barry Goldwater’s horrible defeat in his bid for the presidency in 1964, the Establishment has been reluctant to run a hard-core conservative. And yet, guys who have run to the middle, like Mitt Romney and John McCain have not had messages that could resonate across the aisle like Ronald Reagan’s self-evident truths did with Reagan Democrats. Should the Establishment get what it wants in an aisle-reacher like Kasich, here’s what’s on the other side. Winning the Democrat senatorial primary was Deborah K. Ross, whose issues statements are quite foreign to the Republicans’. For example, she wants government to grow the economy, invest in public schools and make college more affordable, address climate change through clean energy supports, enact universal healthcare coverage, provide benefits to seniors and veterans, and fight for women’s issues.

Congressional candidates will have until June to get their votes together. A Supreme Court ruling that came down after absentee ballots were already circulating allowed Districts 1 and 12 to be redrawn, and they couldn’t be redrawn without affecting the borders of adjacent districts and then juggling the boundaries to make sure a goodly number of people were in each district. Consequently, Congressional Districts 10 and 11, currently represented by Patrick McHenry and Mark Meadows, respectively, have been adjusted somewhat. McHenry is running for a seventh term with house re-election rates around 90 percent. He is challenged by former Democrat Jeff Gregory, who is protesting McHenry’s support of Planned Parenthood through the omnibus budget bill; and Albert Wiley, who is one of three candidates living outside their districts – 300 miles away on a barrier island in this case. The Liberty Caucus’ Meadows is one of three Republican congressmen who aren’t being primaried. The other two, George Holding and Richard Hudson, are also viewed as being fairly conservative. Either Thomas Hill or Frederick Bryson will run against Meadows in the general election.

Far less advertised were races for other seats on the Council of State. A very important position in these “perilous times” is that of attorney general. Cruz brought to light the importance of this position on the campaign trail as he told about how Texas’ attorney general, now Governor Greg Abbott, commissioned him as solicitor general to proactively seek out cases elsewhere in the country where Texas had standing, in order to force clarifying, and not activist, votes on the Constitution. As a result, Heller v. District of Columbia was decided so that individual citizens, and not exclusively the well-regulated militia, retained the right to keep and bear arms. Thanks to Elk Grove v. Newdow, school children can still say “under God.” What’s more, it was attorneys general across the country who sued the federal government on various grounds to try to stop Obamacare. North Carolina’s attorney general did not cooperate. Now, Buck Newton will be facing off against Josh Stein. Newton ran as a Constitutional conservative.

Musical Chairs –

Incumbent Pat McCrory won the governor’s race. With 869,487 votes, he won 81.76 percent of the statewide vote. He will be running against the current attorney general, Roy Cooper, who earned 68.76 percent of Democrats’ votes. Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest will be running for re-election against Linda Coleman. Coleman beat out local star Holly Jones with 494,579 over 278,160 votes. Jones had served seven years on Asheville City Council before serving as a Buncombe County Commissioner another seven. Her term on the commission is set to end in 2016. The vacancy she leaves in the downtown District 1 is expected to be filled by Jasmine Beach-Ferrera. Beach-Ferrera’s main selling point was that she is openly LGBT. With 43.85 percent of the votes, she defeated Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith and civil rights activist Isaac Coleman. Having run mid-term, Smith will be able to return to his seat on council.

But there will be another vacancy in District 1. Commissioner Brownie Newman, who served with Jones on city council and followed her over to the commission, is running for commission chair. Incumbent David Gantt opted not to run for reelection. Newman had no opposition in the Democrat primary and so he will be running against Commissioner Miranda DeBruhl. DeBruhl is running mid-term so she will not forfeit her western District 3 seat if she loses. Either way, DeBruhl’s or Newman’s seat will go up for bid. DeBruhl defeated Chad Nesbitt in the primary. Whereas DeBruhl is measured, articulate, and pragmatic; Nesbitt had more of a Trump-like bent for publicity. Fellow partisans had been turned off by stunts like a 911 rappelling event at the Swannanoa Fire Department that officials say was billed as a fundraiser for cancer, but turned out to be a fundraiser for a “guerilla marketing campaign” to “defend ourselves from socialistic terrorism.” Nesbitt had the support of the Asheville TEA PAC and partisans trying to secure two seats instead of one.

Another Tea Party candidate, Jordan Burchette, was running against Mike Fryar, who was seeking reelection for his eastern District 2 seat; even though Fryar takes the most conservative stances of any commissioner. Fryar garnered 57.89 percent of the vote and will be challenged in the general election by Nancy Nehls Nelson, who won a four-way race with 32.05 percent support. Nelson, a former Bell Labs project manager, is running as a centrist.

They Also Ran –

Following the primary, the following face-offs for Council of State emerged: Chuck Stuber (R) v. incumbent Beth Wood (D) for Auditor, Walter Smith (D) v. incumbent Steve Troxler (R) for Commissioner of Agriculture, George Goodwin (D) v. incumbent Mike Causey (R) for Commissioner of Insurance, incumbent Cherie Berry (R) v. Charles Meeker (D) for Commissioner of Labor, incumbent Elaine Marshall (D) v. Michael LaPaglia (R) for Secretary of State, Mark Johnson (R) v. incumbent June Atkinson (D) for Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Dale Folwell (R) v. Dan Blue III (D) for Treasurer. Current Treasurer Janet Cowell is the only incumbent not seeking re-election.

For the state legislature, Frank Moretz beat Robert Chilmonik 4816 to 3356 in the Republican primary for NC House District 115. He will be running against John Ager (D). Unprimaried, Kay Olsen (R) will challenge incumbent Brian Turner for NC House 116. Incumbent Susan Fisher (D) is running unopposed in the heavily-Democrat House 114 district. Republican leadership had searched hard to find a challenger. For state senate, Beau Meredith (L) will challenge incumbent Terry Van Duyn (D) in District 49. No Republican is running in this race, either. For District 48, a three-way Republican primary was settled with Chuck Edwards getting 3074 votes; Lisa Baldwin, 2223; and Dennis Justice, 613. Both Edwards and Baldwin ran as conservatives and both received prestigious endorsements. Baldwin is the same public schools activist who writes for the Tribune Papers. Edwards will run against Norman Bossert (D) in November.

Lastly, the bond referendum passed. The state will now be allowed to borrow $2 billion for a variety of capital projects, including buildings for community colleges and the National Guard.

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