Observations On The Midterm Elections

The pollsters took another election on the chin. Few races turned out anywhere near what was predicted. The so-called red wave or tsunami has turned into, at best, a red rivulet. The US House may be Republican majority but it will be only so marginally. We still don’t know about the Senate. The Georgia senate runoff may be the deciding factor there.

In North Carolina, it was generally a good night for Republicans and conservatives. Rep. Tedd Budd (R-NC) defeated former Ch. Justice Cheri Beasley. He had a positive vote margin of approximately 135,000 votes. In my district, St. Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) beat Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara (R) by over 30,000 votes.

In the North Carolina statewide judicial races for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, it was a Republican sweep. Republicans will now have a 5-2 majority on the Supreme Court with the addition of Judge Richard Deitz and Trey Allen. With the US Supreme Court hearing Moore et al v. Harper et al, a case involving redistricting and the legislative prerogative, redistricting will probably come before the NC Supreme Court again.

Speaking of redistricting, the forced redistricting of Congressional districts by the NC Supreme Court resulted in a 7-7 split between Republicans and Democrats. Without this forced redistricting, it probably would have been 9-4.

The other NC results of note are that the Republicans regained a supermajority in the State Senate and are only one short in the State House. This bodes well for both the elimination of the pistol purchase permit as well as allowing church carry when the church has an attached school. Both bills were vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) and had his veto sustained in this past session.

Moving on from NC, let’s look at Pennsylvania. I think it was widely expected that AG Josh Shapiro (D) was going to win the governorship over St. Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) and he did. It was the Senate race between Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman that got most national attention. It appears that Fetterman, damaged as he was from his stroke, has won that race by about 200,000 votes. I have looked at the results and one thing stands out to me. The PA Secretary of State’s office shows the votes on the day of the election and “mail in” votes. Fetterman got 886,217 mail in votes versus 217,932 for Oz. A 4-1 split like that is statistically suspicious in my opinion. This is especially true given that Oz had about 45,000 more election day votes than Fetterman. It just doesn’t pass the smell test.

As to Fetterman serving a full term, I’m going to go out on a limb and say he will be gone by mid-year 2023 due to “health reasons” with Shapiro then appointing a replacement to serve until Jan. 2025. I just can’t see Fetterman as being much more than a placeholder given his condition.

J. D. Vance along with Republicans in general had a good day in Ohio. They took the governorship, Vance’s senate seat, and the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court along the rest of the Council of State offices.

Oregonians decided that they wanted to stick with the leftist policies of Gov. Kate Brown and elected Tina Kotek (D) as governor. Again, polls were deceiving as it appeared that Republican Christine Drazan might have been in the lead. Also, voters barely passed anti-gun Measure 114 which contains a magazine ban as well as requirements to obtain a permit before purchasing any firearm. Multnomah County, the home of Portland, provided the most votes for it. Why am I not shocked. I foresee that this will be challenged in Federal court given the Bruen precedents.

One last observation is that former President Trump was good at pushing candidates in the primaries. He was not so good at getting candidates that could actually win a general election. If you look at both New Hampshire and Georgia, Republican governors cruised to re-election while the Trump-backed Senate candidates struggled. Bolduc lost in New Hampshire and Hershel Walker is slightly behind Warnock at they are headed to a run-off. Meanwhile in Florida, both Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio who have been dissed by Trump won handily. I know Trump wants vindication for his 2020 loss to Joe Biden but there comes a time when you just have to suck it up and move on. Now that I’m officially a senior citizen, I think I can say we need a 2024 presidential candidate that is younger than me which automatically precludes him.

Early 1-Stop Voting Starts Tomorrow In NC (Updated)

Early one-stop voting starts on Thursday, October 20th, in North Carolina. The premier race is for the US Senate. It pits Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC13) against former NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. This is going to be a very, very close race as they are virtually tied.

For those who value the Second Amendment this is a critical race that we must win. On one side you have Ted Budd who not only supports gun rights but owns a gun store and range. He isn’t afraid to be seen shooting in his campaign photos and ads. You may remember I mentioned running into him at Montgomery Community College while he was touring the gunsmithing department.

BRUCE HENDERSON bhenderson@charlotteobserver.com

On the other side, Beasley is an Everytown Gunsense endorsed candidate. She also put this on her campaign website. Need I say more?

Cheri also believes that we must keep our children and communities safe by also implementing common sense gun safety measures like universal background checks, encouraging safe storage and closing loopholes to prevent domestic abusers and those with mental health issues from being able to obtain a gun. We must also do more to stop the plague of mass shootings across our communities by keeping combat-style weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets and away from our schools. 

I have highlighted all the buzz words used by gun prohibitionists.

There are many other races as well that are just as critical ranging from Congress to the appellate judicial races to the state house and senate.

In my own Congressional district, you have self-made businessman St. Sen. Chuck Edwards who just happens to hold a FFL against Buncombe County Comm. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara. While neither has made gun rights a part of their campaign, you have to know that Edwards will support gun owners and Beach-Ferrara will not. Her main campaign focus seems to be abortion where she portrays herself as a caring, pro-abortion minister. Edwards’ focus is on the economy and inflation.

Two NC Supreme Court seats are up for grabs. If the Republicans take both of them, they will then be in the majority on the court and we probably won’t get rulings overturning the vote on constitutional amendments dealing with tax reform and voter ID. While both Republican candidates are good, Judge Richard Dietz who is now on the NC Court of Appeals really stands out. He has argued the Abramski case before the US Supreme Court. While he unfortunately lost, we know he is pro-Second Amendment and pro-self defense.

The other seat has Justice Sam J. Ervin IV (D) versus Trey Allen (R) who serves as the General Counsel for the Administrative Office of the Courts. I met Jimmy Ervin (who now goes by Sam) years ago when in college. He and I were both heads of our respective chapters of College Democrats. (Yes, I was young, stupid, and a Democrat at one time.) Despite his Harvard Law degree, he never has been seen as one of those brilliant lawyers who must be on the bench. What he does have is a famous last name. Grandpa (Sam Jr) served like Jimmy on the NC Supreme Court and as a US Senator while Daddy (Sam III) served as a NC Superior Court judge and on the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. We don’t have hereditary rights to office in this country though it seems that the sons and grandsons of politicians often “inherit” a seat. He is running an “aw, shucks” kind of ad saying he works to balance the law and the facts. If that was really the case, then he would have broken with the Democrat majority on the NC Supreme Court in voting down voter ID.

In the State House and Senate, if the Republicans can flip just a handful of seats, they will regain their super-majority. In terms of gun rights, this would mean the end of the Jim Crow era pistol purchase permit who Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed.

To see where the legislative candidates – state and Federal – stand on gun rights, Grass Roots North Carolina has their candidate evaluations posted. You can search by name or by district. The GRNC-Political Victory Fund recommendations have been released and have gone out by email. As soon as I get a link to it, I will post it. One thing I should note, if a candidate didn’t have a voting record and didn’t return the GRNC survey they are rated zero stars. For the life of me, I cannot understand Republican candidates who just ignore the survey. You don’t have to be great; you only have to better than the Democrat.

The Judicial Fairness Project has their recommendations posted for NC appellate level judges. These are candidates who have pledged to uphold originalist interpretations of the Constitution.

One thing I heard at the recent Gun Rights Policy Conference was that over 30% of gun owners don’t bother voting. Just imagine if the majority of them did vote and voted for gun rights.

UPDATE: I now have an updated link to the Grass Roots North Carolina – Political Victory Fund candidate recommendations for the General Election.

Cawthorn Loss – A Win For WNC And GRNC-PVF

Yesterday was primary day here in North Carolina. One race in particular grabbed national attention. That was the Republican primary for the 11th Congressional District. This district has been represented this term by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC11) who is the youngest member of Congress. Cawthorn faced seven challengers in this primary. Multiple stories had been written on this race over the last couple of months by every media organization ranging from Politico to the National Review with the NY Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal in the middle.

Cawthorn was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and the NRA-PVF. As the incumbent, Cawthorn was given the PVF endorsement. Given his issues discussed later, I think this was a mistake.

Meanwhile, his strongest challenger was St. Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson). Edwards was supported by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), and NC House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) among others. Edwards was recommended by the Grass Roots North Carolina-Political Victory Fund. GRNC-PVF noted that Edwards had a 100% pro-gun voting record in the NC Senate, holds a FFL, and had helped GRNC pass pro-gun legislation in the General Assembly.

Other challengers included Matthew Burril, a financial advisor; Rod Honeycutt, a retired US Army colonel; Bruce O’Connell, a businessman and owner of the Pisgah Inn; Michelle Woodhouse, former 11th District GOP Chair and businesswoman; Wendy Navarez, a Navy vet and volunteer; and Kristie Sluder, a social worker. All the challengers except Navarez are conservatives. Navarez is a moderate who was being pushed by Moe Davis who was the Democrat that Cawthorn beat in 2020.

The results came in quickly. Edwards held the lead the entire evening and Cawthorn conceded in a call to him a bit after 10pm. Under North Carolina election law, in a multi-candidate primary, the candidate who has 30% or more is the winner without a runoff. If more than one candidate gets about 30%, then it is the candidate with the most votes over 30%. In this case, Edwards won 33.4% of the vote to Cawthorn’s 31.9%. While Cawthorn did better in the smaller, far western counties of the district, Edwards took both Buncombe and Henderson Counties which are the two largest in the district. Henderson, it should be noted, is the home county of both Cawthorn and Edwards.

This primary was as much a referendum on Cawthorn and his performance than anything else. Cawthorn had issues and I’m not talking about political positions. Some could be overlooked and some were just beyond the pale. He had been stopped twice by TSA for trying to board a plane with a firearm. He had been stopped for driving on a suspended license while speeding. Pictures surfaced of him dressed in women’s lingerie and engaging in questionable behavior with his cousin. His marriage ended in divorce after eight months. His unfounded allegations of cocaine parties and orgies on Capitol Hill for which he recanted. The list goes on.

However, what could not be overlooked was his immaturity, his ineffectiveness in Washington, his lack of constituent service, and, most importantly, his willingness to abandon the district for another when he thought it would put him in a larger media market. When the state’s original redistricting plan was overturned by the NC Supreme Court on a partisan vote, Cawthorn announced he would run for re-election in his original district. Meanwhile, a number of candidates including Edwards had already declared they were running in the 11th District when Cawthorn had to return to the 11th. They did not drop out as he may have expected.

When all was said and done, over 68% of the primary voters went for someone other than Cawthorn despite his endorsement by Trump and his advantage of incumbency. I supported Edwards because I think he will get stuff done and he was stronger on the Second Amendment. When you look over the field of candidates, everyone other than Cawthorn had held a real job, had success in their careers, had managed people, and many had been responsible for meeting a payroll.

Cawthorn, despite his age and injuries, could have grown in the job but didn’t. He went for the publicity and fawning accolades as opposed to effectiveness. It was show over substance and that is what caught up with him. He got political success too soon in life and I don’t think he had the intellectual maturity to handle it. I think we all wish him well in life but are relieved that he won’t be in office much longer.

What District Was That Congressman?

I live in the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina. Our current congressman is Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) who is the youngest member of Congress.

Cawthorn is facing a stiff challenge in the Republican primary for a number of reasons. These include a poor voting record, doing dumb shit like trying to take a firearm on an airplane (twice), driving on a suspended license while speeding, lots of embarrassing videos coming to light, and crappy constituent service. Topping this all off is that before the Democrat-controlled NC Supreme Court threw out the General Assembly’s redistricting plan, Cawthorn had planned to ditch the 11th District for a new, more heavily Republican district, closer to Charlotte. The rationale was that he would gain more media attention from the Charlotte media than he could from the local Asheville media outlets.

I got an email today from Cawthorn trying to raise money. Here is how it concluded:

I’ll be traveling across my district here in North Carolina and hope to have your support as I make this critical push to stay in the race!
Madison Cawthorn
Congressman, NC-14

I don’t know about you but I prefer a congressional representative who remembers what district he or she actually represents.

As an aside, Cawthorn still got the NRA-PVF endorsement given their pro-incumbent bias. Grass Roots North Carolina-PVF however has recommended St. Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) who not only has helped pro-gun legislation in Raleigh but actually holds a FFL.