REPORT: BIDEN 2024
CAMPAIGN SEES NC
AS KEY TO VICTORY
By Cash Michaels
If a story in last week’s Politico is any indication, Pres. Biden ’s re-election campaign sees winning North Carolina as key to its 2024 victory.
The report titled “Biden looks to put North Carolina on the ’24 map” states, “…Biden’s team sees opportunity in [North Carolina] in 2024 amid a fresh abortion ban, a contentious, expensive gubernatorial race and steady population growth that has ballooned urban and suburban areas.”
The story goes on to say, “State and local party leaders are pointing to North Carolina as the next Arizona or Georgia for Democrats. They’re calling on the Biden campaign and DNC (Democratic National Committee) to invest heavily in the state because without [North Carolina, those leaders] say, Republicans don’t have a path to the White House.”
If all of the above is true, that means the most loyal base of the Democratic Party in North Carolina, namely the African American community, must be ignited and involved at the polls if Pres. Biden and Democrats expect to win. And that has to happen in both urban and rural areas of the state.
Already, the marquee race of the 2024 elections in North Carolina is slowly but surely shaping up between the most likely Republican gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, and a Democratic opponent, which right now looks like state Attorney General Josh Stein.
Both men are favored to overcome primary opposition next March, so their likely face-off would certainly help draw a strong turnout to the polls during a presidential year. A Civitas poll in May has Robinson with a one percent lead over Stein.
But the question remains, “Can Stein energize the Black Democratic vote against a fiery Black Republican culture warrior who is assured to get some of the Black vote just because he stands to make history? And depending on who the Republican presidential nominee is, will the Biden-Harris Democratic ticket be strong enough if the GOP ticket is Trump (who is currently leading in the polls) and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who is currently running for the nomination, but could be a viable vice presidential candidate to directly counter Kamala Harris?
There is much that is unknown here, but this much is clear - North Carolina is going to require lots of money to help get the vote out, and strong Democratic Party organizational support to ensure that voters, both urban and rural, indeed show up at the polls. Republicans have now mastered the art of door-to-door campaigning, as they did in 2020. Democrats will have to do likewise.
And Democrats have the incentive. Pres. Biden lost North Carolina to Donald Trump by only 1.4% in 2020. That deficit can be made up with more resources and smarter organization on the ground. Combine those two with a target of delivering more African Americans and young people to the polls, and Democrats could win the state for Pres. Biden, and also usher in a new Democratic governor.
The key will be to not take anything, any competitive area of the state, any voting age population for granted.
The NC Democratic Party’s new chairwoman says she’s ready, traveling all areas of the state, speaking to rural voters and young people at North Carolina colleges.
“All I can do is tell [national Democrats] that North Carolina is excited,” said NCDP Chair Anderson Clayton. “Honestly, we’re angry and energized…the energy on the ground is different.”
Gov. Roy Cooper agrees.
“I told the president that this investment is going to be critical to his reelection, and that I believe we can win this state for him.”
CANDIDATE FOR NC
SPEAKER IS EXTREMELY
By Cash Michaels
An announced Republican candidate for NC speaker of the House is someone who, if elected to succeed current Speaker Tim Moore, would be an ultra conservative to the extreme.
Rep. Keith Kidwell, a third term Republican from Beaufort County (79th District), recently announced that he is running to become the next speaker of the N.C. House, the most powerful position in that body. Kidwell is currently the leader of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of the most hard-core conservatives in the state House, and senior chairman of the House Finance Committee.
Why should Kidwell’s House speaker candidacy be of concern? On matters of race, Kidwell was punished earlier this year when he was heard mocking a Black Democratic House female member who was sharing her painful story about having an abortion when she was younger and a churchgoer.
Kidwell was heard telling someone she must have been attending “the church of Satan.” He was subsequently forced to resign from the House GOP caucus leadership as deputy whip for the remark.
Kidwell was also the Republican lawmaker who tried to sneak a conservative anti-black social studies curriculum that criticized the civil rights movement into a local House bill for Beaufort County Public Schools before being forced to withdraw it, a bill that school system never asked for.
He later suggested that the bill would be reintroduced, but on a larger scale.
Rep. Kidwell was one of 24 House Republicans who voted against Medicaid expansion - the health care coverage for low income residents - after his GOP leadership endorsed it.
On other social issues, Rep. Kidwell was the primary sponsor of a bill that would have banned nearly all abortions from conception. Any person responsible for an abortion would be guilty of a felony and face a $100,000 fine.
Kidwell thoroughly opposed COVID 19 restrictions during the pandemic, many times refusing to wear a mask. However, in August 2021, Kidwell contracted the disease and had to be hospitalized.
Kidwell has rejected certified election results and demanded that election machines in Durham County be inspected for internet connection. That accusation fell short because there as no North Carolina law to support it.
Other Republicans running for House speaker once Tim Moore - who has served since 2015 - steps down after this term, are Republican majority leader John Bell and Rules Committee Chairman Destin Hall.
Kidwell is the only candidate to score 100% on the Civitas legislative scorecard for every session that he has served.
He has refused to address whether he is a member of the right wing radical group, the Oathkeepers.
On his 2021 reelection campaign poster where he is pictured with another conservative stalwart, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Rep. Kidwell lists several promises that include “veto proof legislative majorities, sweep the courts, make [Gov.] Cooper irrelevant, replace [Speaker] Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader [Schumer], and in 2024, take back the White House.
Elsewhere on the campaign poster, Kidwell urges his voters to “Let’s reclaim America and North Carolina and take our country back.”
If Rep. Kidwell were to become the next North Carolina speaker of the House, and Lt. Gov. Robinson the next NC governor, there is little question, observers say, that North Carolina would be considered a strong red conservative state.
WON’T WAIT FOR STATE
By Cash Michaels
Medicaid expansion in North Carolina will begin on October 1st, assuming the state legislature adopts a budget by September 1st, say NC Dept. of Health and Human Resources officials.
"We are thankful for leadership and partnership in passing Medicaid Expansion which will save lives, increase access to care and bring billions of dollars to North Carolina," said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. "Moving forward now sets the department on a path to be able to get health care coverage to thousands of people as soon as possible."
Doing so is part of a compromise agreement between NCDHHS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that would allow North Carolina to move forward with the required public notices for beneficiaries, counties and providers while waiting for the NC General Assembly to act on the state budget.
And if, some reason, the NC General Assembly fails to ratify a state budget by the September 1st deadline, then December 1st, or sometime next year will be the target, NCDHHS officials say.
Their reasoning - that it will take 90 to 120 days to jumpstart the administrative apparatus once Medicaid expansion becomes law, so it makes sense to set benchmarks now so it can be up and running at least 30 days after a state budget is adopted. An estimated 300,000 residents will be covered on the first day.
Republican legislative leaders agreed to a state expansion of the federal program to help lower income North Carolinians last March, but only as part of the still pending budget. Gov. Cooper has been lobbying for the program for several years, saying that passage would help an additional 600,000 state residents, but until now, Republicans have refused.
The hope was that the state budget would be passed in time for the beginning of fiscal year 2024, which began on July 1st, but here it is already the first week in August, and no state budget was passed in July.
Now a budget agreement is expected by mid-August, a NCDHHS spokesman says.
Gov. Cooper had lobbied Republican legislative leaders to separate Medicaid expansion from state budget passage, but was rejected.