Sunday, September 24, 2023


                                                                     LT. GOV.MARK ROBINSON





By Cash Michaels

An analysis

Last week, when the Republican-led General Assembly finally, after an almost three-month delay, ratified a new $30 billion state budget, it was clear that this was yet another step towards draining more power away from the governor.

However, if 2024 GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson was paying attention, then it had to dawn on him that that power was not just being drained from the office that current Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper holds, but the office that the Black lieutenant governor is vying to win.

Make no mistake, there is a key reason why legislative Republican leaders do not want a strong North Carolina governor of either party in office. They believe that they best represent the interests of North Carolinians, and thus, they, not the governor, deserve to tip the scales of power and influence under the state’s Constitution.

        “It’s a power grab by the majority,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) told The New York Times last week after Republicans passed a budget provision taking away election board appointment power from the governor. “There’s nothing unusual about what autocrats try to do once they get control. They try to keep it.”

       Republican Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger seemed to confirm Sen. Blue's contention, justifying why legislative Republicans also stripped the Governor's Office of appointments to community college boards.

      “I think if you look at the Constitution, the Constitution places responsibility for higher education with the legislature,” Berger told reporters last May. “And it’s my belief that the legislature is in a good position to make those kinds of decisions.”

      It is that belief that explains why North Carolina’s governor is considered one of the weakest in the nation. Ever since Republicans took over the legislative majority in 2011, they have been steadily chipping away at Executive Branch authority, shifting powers away originally granted the governor by the state Constitution.

Gov. Cooper has successfully fought back against at least one of several attempts at legislative power grabbing, but he only has one more year left in office. A year from now, what other current executive powers will be sapped away by Republican legislative leaders?

That won’t be Cooper’s concern, but will be his successor’s. If that successor is either Democrat Josh Stein or Mike Morgan, Republicans couldn’t be happier.

But if it’s Mark Robinson, it will underline a second key reason why legislative Republicans won’t shed too many tears.

Robinson is not one of them.

No, that is not a direct reference to his color, though that may certainly be a factor in ways the GOP would never admit.

If Mark Robinson is elected the 76th governor of North Carolina, what his Republican colleagues very well may hold against him is that he did not arrive at the seat of power the same way that many of his predecessors did - by spending years as a state legislator paying his dues.

The Greensboro native has only served in state government since 2021, after an April 2018 viral video propelled what was a bombastic private gun advocate into politics in 2020. Robinson never served on his local school board or city council. Was never even appointed to an office, local, county or state. Instead, he was chosen to run for lt. governor and won the second highest office in the state because his pro-gun rhetoric, conservative culture war views and Black skin were seen by Republicans as an effective foil against Democrats. 

Robinson effectively leapfrogged over several Republicans who served many years in the legislature, dreaming of the day they might run for the top office of the state. Now at least three of the four Republicans opposing Robinson in the coming March 5th gubernatorial primary can say they've earned their political stripes where he comparatively did not.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell served as a Republican member of the NC General Assembly from 2005 to 2013, and also served as Speaker Pro Tempore. Despite his moderate politics, Folwell’s knowledge of state government is unquestioned.

Former state Sen. Andy Wells served from 2015 to 2020, after serving in the NC House from 2012 to 2015.

Former pastor and Congressman Mark Walker  represented North Carolina’s Congressional Sixth District from 2015 to 2021. While he has no state office experience, his term as a moderate Republican congressman and 2022 run for the US Senate  put him on North Carolina’s political map.

The only Republican primary opponent Robinson faces who has no political experience is retired health care executive Jesse Thomas.

In three out of four primary choices beyond Robinson, Republicans can point to a candidate with a legislative record, and with at least two of these choices, years of a working knowledge of how the state legislature works.

Robinson has nothing of the sort.

But when it comes to power, that’s where not having that working knowledge will cost Robinson if he is elected governor in 2024.

As it stands, the Greensboro native’s only claim to fame is the bully pulpit, an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, and being able to attract more attention to his cause than any other North Carolina Republican standing. What happens when “Governor”  Robinson does not agree with a measure passed by his colleagues in the Republican-led legislature?

Does he pick a public fight with them, calling on his legions of Trump - MAGA supporters to back him up? And how often does "Governor" Robinson do that over a four-year period?

The question must be asked because in all likelihood, Robinson will be facing a veto-proof Republican legislative majority, which would likely ignore his public opining, and not give him the respect he'll feel he deserves.

And if he sues his fellow Republicans to get his way, Robinson will be at the whims of a GOP majority NC Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court, both of which seem predisposed towards favoring the legislature.

If “Governor-could-be” Mark Robinson has any doubt just how tough a Republican-led state legislature can be on a fish-out-of -water Republican governor, he should call former NC Gov. Pat McCrory for advise.

By all accounts, despite a very successful 14-year tenure as mayor of Charlotte, that meant nothing to Republicans on Jones Street when it came to Gov. McCrory flexing power and demanding respect.

         "Critics say the Republican-majority legislature set the agenda even with one of their own in the governor’s mansion," wrote the News & Observer in October 2020. "They led Pat McCrory, as a Republican governor, around by the nose. He essentially was a rubber stamp for them.”

If Mark Robinson seriously intends to be elected a respected, influential governor of the state of North Carolina, he would do well to consider all of the facts above, and then ask himself what purpose is he serving running for an office that is the weakest in the nation, and is he willing to become nothing but a political figurehead, doing the bidding of fellow Republicans with more power than he'll constitutionally have ?



                                                         DEBORAH DICKS MAXWELL




by Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

With the theme of “Fighting Forward,” the NAACP North Carolina State Conference will hold its 80th Annual State Convention today - September 28th through Saturday, September 30th at the Wilmington Convention Center in Wilmington, featuring such notables as Governor Roy Cooper, NAACP Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson and N.C.Associate Supreme Court Justice Allison Riggs.

Other convention notables include National NAACP Board of Directors Chairman Leon W. Russell, retired state Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice and 2024 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Morgan, and state Atty. General and 2024 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein.

The highlight of this year’s convention is scheduled to be the election of  NAACP NC Executive Committee officers, with the spotlight on the top spot of president, currently occupied by Deborah Dicks Maxwell.

That conference vote is scheduled to take place by midday Saturday after the president’s address to conferees.

Sources tell the Black Press that Ms. Maxwell will be challenged for reelection by Pasquotank County NAACP President Keith Rivers, and the controversial electronic Election Buddy balloting system will be employed to determine the winner.

Ms. Maxwell, the first female NAACP NC president in its history and former president of the New Hanover County NAACP, has served since October 2021 when she defeated then NAACP NC President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman in a controversial contest using the Election Buddy system. Dr. Spearman, and over 25 other NAACP NC members, filed a complaint about the 2021 election process, but were denied. Many of those members have since left the civil rights organization. 

Spearman later filed suit against Ms. Maxwell, National Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson, Nat’l Board of Directors Chairman Leon W. Russell, and several others in June 2022, just prior to his untimely death, ruled a suicide.

During the course of Ms. Maxwell’s tenure early on, there were allegations against her for a lack of leadership. Pasquotank County President Rivers was one of those who openly questioned her leadership, at one time accusing her in writing of 'lies and half truths." Rivers had been widely expected to challenge her bid for re-election.

Last March, Pres. Maxwell lost at least two Executive Committee officers to suspension, including long time veteran Conference Secretary Sylvia Barnes, and Conference Treasurer Gerald Givens. Jr., and several other committee members resigned after protesting the contract of Conference Executive Director Da’Quan Love because they had no control over it.

Concerns had been raised about Love’s alleged  reckless spending of state conference funding.


Sunday, September 17, 2023


                                              STATE ATTY GENERAL JOSH STEIN
                                      FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE MIKE MORGAN
                                                         LT. GOV. MARK ROBINSON



By Cash Michaels

An analysis

No candidate has officially filed to run for governor yet in the 2024 elections (the last day for that is December 15th). But already, attacks are flying from both sides as the gubernatorial campaigns heat up, and the candidates jockey for dominant positions.

Bombastic Republican culture warrior Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who finds himself in a primary race with at least four other candidates, has indeed presumed himself the GOP frontrunner, ignoring his Republican opposition, and begun attacking the Democratic frontrunner, state Atty. General Josh Stein.

Earlier in the year, shortly after Stein announced his candidacy, his campaign fell victim to a “sophisticated” $50,000 scam.

The Robinson campaign immediately pounced on the misstep.

         “Josh Stein is supposed to be protecting taxpayers from scams -- not getting duped by them himself. Yet within a week of announcing his run for governor, Stein's campaign willingly sent $50,000 to a scammer. How can the voters trust Stein with a state budget of tens of billions of dollars as governor if his campaign can't even sniff out a $50,000 scam? North Carolina voters deserve better than Josh Stein's incompetence, the campaign said. 

Shortly after news of  a new COVID-19 variant spreading broke, the Robinson campaign pointed the finger at Stein, even though he has nothing to do with COVID-19 health policy.

Democrat politicians and bureaucrats are bringing back mask mandates,” Robinson’s campaign wrote on his Facebook page. “ I call on Attorney General Josh Stein to tell the voters of North Carolina where he stands on reintroducing these kinds of destructive policies of government overreach.”

By most polls, Robinson is leading Stein in the polls, so naturally his campaign feels the state attorney general is not only the dominate Democrat in the race, but also vulnerable to attack.

On June 13th, the Stein campaign posted, “Donald Trump just backed my most extreme opponent. Why? Because he's a MAGA extremist who wants a total ban on abortion, believes women aren’t called to lead, and thinks LGBTQ+ folks are “filth.” North Carolina deserves better.”

Then under the same post, Stein’s campaign displayed an Associated Press story published by ABC News title, “Trump pledges to endorse Mark Robinson for North Carolina governor.”

Days later on June 27th, the Mark Robinson campaign  posted “Josh Stein, Do Your Job,” where the first line read, “Attorney General Stein’s refusal to do his job is perfectly in line with who he is - a liberal elitist who thinks he knows better than the people.”

As documented, the Stein and Robinson campaigns have been going at each other for months.

Then on Sept. 12th, retired NC Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan entered the race, giving Stein, who seemed to be the anointed choice of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the NCDP power structure, a primary opponent.

Upon entering, Morgan seemed to backhand Stein’s popular party appeal.

“As a devoted North Carolinian and a concerned Democrat, I am disappointed by the growing trend — even in my own political party — of a few folks in power trying to select the people’s leaders and determining our destinies,” Morgan said. “I am committed to challenging the status quo that allows a few at the top to choose the winners and losers among us. My vision is to provide all North Carolinians with fair opportunities in which they may thrive and succeed. I am running on a platform that calls for a change to the system that allows the working people, children, and families of North Carolina not to be ignored and taken for granted.”

Then, three days later, in the immediate aftermath of a second well-publicized gun incident on the campus of UNC at Chapel Hill, the Robinson campaign announced that “In his quest to secure votes and raise money ahead of being on the ballot for North Carolina’s next governor, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is hosting an event that’s turning heads.

WNCN-17 further reported, “ On Sunday (Sept. 17), Robinson’s fundraiser will include a VIP cocktail hour, dinner, donor photo-ops with him, and even a raffle. That raffle will put three guns up for grabs, including an AR-15 rifle and two Glock handguns.”

Morgan’s nubile campaign wasted no time jumping on the Robinson campaign’s seeming insensitivity.

NC Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Morgan condemns opponent Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s irresponsible move to host a gun raffle at Robinson’s upcoming fundraising event,” his campaign said in a campaign statement.

“This tone-deaf, political stunt goes against our North Carolina values when it comes to gun violence. Unlike many diseases and other public health problems, every firearm injury and death is preventable,” said Morgan.”

He continued, “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among NC children and youth, the 2018 firearm homicide rate was the highest among Black children ages 0-19 years, and was nearly 10 times the rate among White children.”

         “Robinson is not qualified to be the Governor of NC,” said Morgan.


                                       ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ANITA EARLS





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

When it comes her well publicized federal lawsuit against the NC Judicial Standards Commission (JSC), Associate State Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls is not sitting off in the corner watching grass grow. The progressive jurist is objecting to the two-week time extension the commission has asked the federal court for to respond, and she has also asked that it cease investigating her.

Earls says she may seek a temporary restraining order “if appropriate” to block any further investigation into her First Amendment right activities while the case against her progresses.

The JSC has until tomorrow, Sept. 22nd, too respond to Earls’ request for a preliminary injunction.

An attorney for the JSC filed a motion last week for a two-week extension to respond, but Earls filed an objection.

Earls’ attorneys wrote that her First Amendment rights have been “chilled,” in that she’s had to turn down various opportunities to publicly speak, and contribute the Yale Law Review publication.

“She also described that the effects of the Commission’s investigations have interrupted her ability to perform her job as a Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and even to consider whether statements she makes in judicial opinions might subject her to discipline,” Earls’ court filing states.

“The chilling of Plaintiff’s speech is an ongoing harm,” according to Earls’ court filing. “Between the date of this filing and November 1, Plaintiff has committed to seven different public or quasi-public professional speaking engagements, including audiences such as the Greensboro Bar Association, and a women judges panel at Duke University Law School. Each time she speaks publicly, she risks further investigation by the Judicial Standards Commission. She must self-censor beyond what is reasonably expected of a judge in order to protect her right to serve in the office to which she was elected.”

            Justice Earls found herself in legal hot water after two complaints from an unknown source were filed against her with the JSC. The first complaint was dismissed, but on August 15th, Earls was informed about the second complaint emanating from an interview she did with the online magazine, Law360.

In that interview, Earls complained about the lack of diversity in the inner workings of the state Supreme Court, and how not much was being done about it.

“The Commission has indicated that it believes that Justice Earls’ comments on these issues of legitimate public concern potentially violate a provision of the Code which requires judges to conduct themselves ‘in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary,’ Earls August 29th complaint says.

“The First Amendment allows Justice Earls to use her right to free speech to bring to light imperfections and unfairness in the judicial system. At the same time, the First Amendment prohibits the Commission from investigating and punishing her for doing so.”


Friday, September 15, 2023


                                      Wilmington Journal Breakfast Club Sept. 7th presser
                                                                                (photos by Kevin A. Smith)

                                               WJBC PRESS CONFERENCE SEPT. 7TH

                                                   WJBC SEPT. 7TH PRESSER GROUP

     SINCE THE SEPT. 07 PRESSER AT Gregory Church - As reported last week, the WJBC got decent coverage from the local Wilmington media about the 1898 symposium and the student essay competition, particularly from WHQR-FM, WWAY-TV3 and Greater Diversity News. A story was also sent to the Wilmington Journal.
     On Sept. 7th, we also unveiled our website to the public. Our hopes were that the website would not only advise the community in Wilmington/New Hanover County about the Nov. 11th symposium and the “Bringing the 1898 Assessment Alive “ mission statement, but the 1898 Student Essay Competition as well, so that as many NHC students, grades 8-12 could be informed about it, and go to the website to possibly enter.
    On Saturday, Sept. 8th, I texted Rev. John Thatch (Mary Alice's husband) , advising him of our press conference, our website, and our student essay competition honoring his wife. The next day he texted back, saying that the family "greatly appreciated our efforts," and even asked if there was anything they could do.
     I had also emailed Shawn Thatch, one of Mary Alice's daughters who now publishes the paper. After essentially sharing the same information with her about how we were honoring her mother, she emailed back the following day, "Thank you Cash, that means a lot to me. Thank you for everything and your continued support."
    Key to my contacting the Thatches was that weeks earlier, the WJBC had voted to name the essay competition the "Mary Alice Jervay Thatch Memorial 1898 Student Essay Competition," in honor of the late, great Wilmington Journal publisher/editor.


      However, my youngest daughter, KaLa, who is a Yale University third year student, strongly felt that the website was not properly designed to reach young people about the 1898 essay competition as effectively as possible. In particular, she felt that students would grow impatient scrolling down and looking for information on the essay competition, especially since the symposium was several weeks away. She, along with her friend, Rodney Nguessan, a recent graduate of Baruch College in New York, immediately got to work on developing a separate, designated website for the 1898 student essay competition, so that interested students can not only go directly there, but also learn about Mary Alice Jervay Thatch, the pioneer our essay competition is named in memorial for. Students can also click over to the 1898 symposium  website from there to learn more about that. 

   To keep things simple, KaLa and Rodney decided on the web address “” The site is very attractive, has a large portion devoted to Mary Alice Jervay Thatch, complete with portrait picture super-imposed over a picture of the 1898 burning of the Daily Record newspaper, and a brief bio of Ms. Thatch next to her picture, along with a “Learn More” button link underneath her portrait which, once clicked, goes to the 16 minute video I produced about her life earlier this year.
    In regards to cost, this website cost the WJBC NOTHING. I gladly took care of underwriting the website setup for one month, and  KaLa and Rodney refused my repeated offer to remunerate them.
     They felt the cause and outreach to young people was THAT important.
    In my opinion, all of this was very tastefully done, and represents our efforts substantially per the student essay competition. Both at the top of the webpage and the bottom, are links to the website. Above the bottom button link is the title, “About the Second 1898 Symposium.” Underneath that title, is a paragraph promoting the Nov. 11th, 2023 symposium to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre at Williston Middle School from 1-4 p.m.. Underneath that paragraph, is a linked button that says, “Read more” which, again, takes you to the website for that information. 

   I think the work on this dedicated website is excellent, and very tasteful. I think it will be an asset for us in terms of attracting 1898 student essay applicants. It contains the same links for student essay competition information, including (first slide) a guidelines page, references page, and a submit page at the top. But how can we get students to go to this website? Rodney, who is very tech savvy and a fine young man to work with, developed some new flyers that have a QR code on them containing all of  the information students need to get to the websites to enter the competition. I’m told this is the way young people today access their information, through QR code.

     A version of this flyer was sent to Aidimar Richardson, the new Community Engagement Specialist for New Hanover County Schools. He requested on Monday that I ensure that this disclaimer be included on the flyers before they can be distributed in New Hanover County middle and high schools - This information/publication does not necessarily represent the views of New Hanover County Schools nor does it constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by New Hanover County Schools. I had Rodney add the disclaimer, and I sent it back to Richardson, who stamped and approved the flyer for distribution in NHC schools the next day, Sept. 12th. 

    I’m thinking that the NHC Schools approval was partly due to the fact, at Dr. Bertha Todd’s suggestion, that I sent a press release to all seven members of the NHC School Board on Sept. 8th. Shortly thereafter, on Tuesday, Sept. 12th, I received a positive response from NHC School Board member Josie Barnhart, who said that she passed the flyer onto the community engagement specialist (Richardson). I also got a positive response from NHC board member Hugh McManus, who thanked us for sending the press release to him.
    Principal Madden indicated that once the student essay flyers were officially approved, he could start having them distributed in his school. Ways of getting the approved flyers distributed in other NHC middle and high schools are yet to be determined. 
     After some initial confusion on Tuesday, our Chairman Paul Jervay determined that based on discussions with a Jervay family member “we have permission to use Mary Alice's name and likeness only once this time for the symposium & essay contest. The family wants no further use of it in this manner in the future.” In compliance with Chairman Jervay’s directive, changes were made to a tiktok video already in production. Rodney had designed it, at my request, for the expressed purpose of directing qualifying NHC students, with the hashtag #NHCessay, to the 1898 student essay competition information on either website. The tiktok video, which shows a picture of white, Black and Hispanic high school students walking in a school hallway together, has a popup internal video of Rodney telling  students “who love to write” where to go to enter the essay competition, with him pointing to a line which shows “$500.” The entire tiktok video is less than :30 seconds, and further tells students to go to the video’s “bio” to click on the website for more information. The tiktok video makes no mention of Mary Alice Jervay Thatch, nor does it show her picture, since it finished production after Chairman Jervay’s directive. 

                                 SCREENGRAB OF TIKTOK VIDEO FOR ESSAY  COMPETITION       

      Enclosed with this report are also mockups of the tiktok account screens with the appropriate information.
                           TIKTOK ACCOUNT "BIO" (web address will be

     What makes this direct approach to young people important is a report I asked Principal Madden for Thursday, where he told me at that time, that thus far, we had five student essay applicants (no submissions yet). That is one week after our press conference where we first unveiled our website. If we’re to get those numbers up substantially higher, we have to ramp up  our social media and flyer outreach to the students targeted. I’d personally like to see a minimum of fifty students entered in the essay competition. That would need to happen within the next two to three weeks in order for all students to have the proper time to research and write good 500-word essays worthy of grand prize consideration by Oct. 21st.
      In closing, I put a lot of work into my WJBC report this week, because I believe in what we are doing, and I believe in the hard work of everyone in this club, especially our chair, Paul Jervay. I believe whatever work any of us have done, or will do, is work he does not have to do, which means he can hit the streets with confidence seeking sponsors for the 1898 symposium. There is still a lot of work to be accomplished in that area, primarily because it is not easy to begin with.
       I feel very strongly that we have an extraordinary 1898 symposium planned, with an extraordinary panel. led by Bishop Barber, Dr. Bertha Todd and others. To compliment that, we have the inspiration of the NC Poet Laureate, Jaki Shelton Greene, who I'm looking forward too as well.
    But a very important part of our symposium, and something that so far everyone seems to be very supportive of because of its intrinsic value, is our Mary Alice Jervay Thatch Memorial 1898 Student Essay Competition. 
    In just one week, we've garnered broad support from the community (thank you Sonya Patrick for your hard work), members of the NHC School Board and system, and the local media. But that means we CANNOT take any of that broad support for granted.
   The symposium is on Saturday, Nov. 11th, several weeks away, and that should ultimately be our goal toward making our case about 'Bringing the 1898 Assessment Alive through restoration, rebuilding and reparation."
     But a very important feature of that work is our outreach to NHC students, incentivizing them to learn more about the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, and to share their knowledge through our essay competition. That kind of challenge, I believe, energizes the community, gives it pride and also further establishes the Wilmington Journal Breakfast Club on the map.
    As I close this report, I am heartened by reports from WJBC member Christina Davis McCoy about the letter from the New Hanover Community Endowment forwarding a sponsorship application to us for the symposium, and from Jim Davis earlier in the week about contact being made with the pastor of St. Luke's A.M.E. Zion about allowing Bishop Barber to preach there on Sunday, Nov. 12th.
    Community activist Cedric Harrison, per Jim Davis' report, should also be lauded for his work in this regard.
    The WJBC is moving forward with vigor, energy and positive action on all fronts. This must continue so that all of our collective good work is not for naught.
     Fellow WJBC members, I submit this report for your review.


    Cash Michaels
    WJBC member

Monday, September 11, 2023



                      AND ENTERS THE 2024 RACE FOR GOVERNOR



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer 

Saying that he has a ‘better chance of winning the general election” race for North Carolina’s next governor, retired Associate State Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan entered the Democratic race Sept. 12th, setting up a primary confrontation with state Attorney General Josh Stein.

Stein announced last January that he was running to succeed outgoing Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is two-term limited.

Sounding quite declarative, Morgan told the N&O, “I will be the most qualified, and the best qualified, and certainly the most electable to be governor on the Democratic ticket.”

Morgan, 67, made his announcement Tuesday in a video shot by a News and Observer reporter, not a campaign worker. He said he began thinking about running for governor once he decided not to run for reelection to his state Supreme Court seat because of the imposed age restriction.

“I feel as though that unique blend of what I bring as a judge, a longtime participant in, an observer of, the state government system — traveling the state, meeting people across the board, whether it was in my job or whether it was related to my own personal extracurricular activities — I just felt as though being in the executive spot and being able to make the greatest and most effective difference I could was where I should place my energies,” Morgan told the paper.

When the Democratic jurist left the High Court last week, it was bittersweet.

Morgan posted two pictures of himself on Friday, Sept 8th on Facebook in the hearing room of the state Supreme Court. He was neatly dressed in a dark suit, not the judicial robes he usually wears. In one picture, he was standing, facing the camera with the state Supreme Court judicial panel in the background, slightly smiling. In the other picture, Morgan is seen walking out the courtroom door, his back turned as he steps out. He is holding a black garment bag, presumably containing his robe, if not other garments.

Morgan was not looking back.

The caption over both pictures read, “North Carolina, thank you for the opportunity to serve you. See you soon!”

On a July 31st Facebook post, Justice Morgan posted, “August 2023 marks my 44-year anniversary of service to the people of North Carolina as a representative of our state government. I’m thankful that my abilities have grown with my experience. It’s an honor to serve!”

Even before Morgan, son of a prominent Eastern North Carolina political family, announced his intentions to run for governor, there were some in the Democratic Party who wished out loud that he wouldn’t.

Gov. Cooper, apparently in a bid to fire a rhetorical warning shot across the bow of Mike Morgan’s possible gubernatorial ambitions, publicly endorsed Stein on August 30th while Justice Morgan was still on the state Supreme Court.

“It’s been my honor to have worked shoulder to shoulder with [Stein] over the past two decades,” said Cooper in a video for social media. “And I am immensely grateful for his support of my campaign for governor to continue moving North Carolina forward.”

“Term limits prevent me from running again, but I know he will double down on the progress that we’ve made,” the governor added. “With a record of results and a clear-eyed vision for our future, Josh is ready to do this job.”

Cooper was indeed expected to endorse Stein, given the close political relationship the two men have had in the past.

Why the governor felt it necessary to issue his glowing endorsement now, several months before any challengers to Stein could register as candidates in opposition, can only be a source of speculation. 

But many question the political influence of the lame duck Democratic governor, who failed to save the job of the previous NC Democratic Party chairwoman during the last race.

Democratic political analyst Thomas Mills, the publisher of the weekly Politics NC newsletter, also thinks that Stein should be the next governor, and Morgan should look elsewhere for future employment.

In fact, in a recent column titled, “Run for AG, Justice Morgan. NC Needs You,” Mills said exactly that.

Speculation is swirling in state-politics circles about the future of Mike Morgan,” wrote Mills before Morgan stepped down. “Morgan, a justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court, has announced his retirement from the post he currently holds and has proffered some indications that he plans to seek another office. Most of the earliest rumors have centered on the governorship, a position Roy Cooper’s vacating that will be open for new challengers next year. But more recently other observers have begun to speculate that Morgan may be encouraged to attempt a run at the Attorney General’s office. Consider me supportive of this proposition.”

Mills went on to cite Justice Morgan’s many years serving on various state courts over several decades, and the wealth of experience he would bring as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, an office Stein is leaving to run for governor.

Mills added that Morgan would “…bring a diversity to the ticket,” presumably running for state attorney general while Stein ran at the top of the ticket for governor.

But now, Mike Morgan has made it clear that he has his eye solely on the top spot in state government. He admits that his campaign for governor  will be “lean,” but he got over 2 million votes before to be elected to the state Supreme Court, and feels that he has what it takes to parlay those votes in a run for governor, especially against the likely Republican gubernatorial candidate, conservative culture warrior Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.

If the two were to face-off in 2024, then for the first time in North Carolina history, two Black men would vie for the top executive office of this state.

If Morgan can get past Josh Stein in the Democratic primaries next March, history could be made in 2024.



                                                          JUDGE ALLISON RIGGS




By Cash Michaels

An analysis

When Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Appellate Judge Allison Riggs to fill the unexpired term of former state Supreme Court Associate Justice Mike Morgan Monday (Morgan resigned Sept. 8th), he was sending a very distinct message to the High Court’s Republican majority.

“You think have problems with one Democratic woman standing firm for justice. Now try dealing with two.” 

Like Associate Justice Anita Earls, Judge Riggs cut her teeth as a skilled voting rights attorney, so, like Earls, Riggs will not back down, nor back up when it comes to writing opinions that virtually put her Republican colleagues on the state Supreme Court on trial.

“The need for fair-minded, even-handed, honest, experienced judges is more important than ever as our society and our courts wrestle with many critical issues,” said Governor Cooper in a statement Monday. “I am grateful for the willingness of Judge Riggs…to serve our state’s judicial system in these new roles. [She has]  deep experience and [an] admirable [career] of public service that will continue to bring value, honor and integrity to the judicial branch of state government.”

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office, “Judge Allison Riggs is currently a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Prior to serving on the bench, Riggs held a variety of positions at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice including Co-Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Voting Rights. Riggs was a civil rights litigator and community lawyer who served as lead counsel in numerous voting rights cases, including twice arguing before the United States Supreme Court and many times before the North Carolina Supreme Court. Riggs received her Bachelor’s Degree, Master's Degree and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida.”

“Governor Cooper’s faith in me and the excitement surrounding my service has been truly humbling,” Riggs said .“I’m also immensely grateful to the community-based organizations and leaders across the state of North Carolina who first let me represent them in their fights for justice and now trust me to ensure that the phrase ‘equal justice for all’ lives up to its promise in this state.” 

Morgan’s state Supreme Court seat is up for election in 2024, so Riggs, if she chooses, will have to file by this December 15th to run to keep it. One of her conservative Republican colleagues from the state Court of Appeals, Jefferson Griffin, has already announced that he is running to take that seat in 2024.

In December 2022 after Riggs was appointed to the Republican-majority state Court of Appeals, Dr. Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center of the conservative John Locke Foundation wrote, “Her tenure will also likely be unhappy. When she starts her term in January, 11 of the court’s 15 judges will be Republicans. The Court of Appeals sits in panels of three, so she will usually be in the minority on contentious cases.”

Well now Justice Riggs will be one of two Democratic women on a Supreme Court led by five Republican justices. Gov. Cooper wouldn’t have chosen Riggs to join Justice Earls if he didn’t think she couldn’t handle either the pressure of always being in the minority,  or the opposition.

Judge Riggs seat on the Appellate Court will be filled by former Superior Court Judge Carolyn Thompson.


                                                                 GOV. ROY COOPER




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

With the decisive 2024 presidential and gubernatorial elections just around the political corner, and his time in office waning fast, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper sent up a rhetorical red flare to the nation last week by way of an op-ed on CNN’s website titled, “ Our State is on the Front Lines of Voting Rights Battle.”

The governor’s op-ed on a national news website, in addition to numerous appearances on cable channels CNN and MSNBC, has certainly raised his political profile across the country, with some even suggesting that he’d be a worthy moderate choice for president should Pres. Joe Biden ultimately decide not to run for reelection.

At the very least, Gov. Cooper, who enjoys significant African American voter support, might be considered a viable Democratic senatorial  candidate after he finishes his two-term limited time in office next year.

Thus, the interest in his recent frequent national press appearances, and the political credentials that come with it.

No doubt, taking on the Republican Party machine in North Carolina, as he has done since taking office in 2017, will get the governor the kind of attention he’ll need for running for national office if he decides to do so.

In his blunt Sept. 6th op-ed, Gov. Cooper beats the bully pulpit, stating categorically that there is a “…nationwide Republican war on democracy…raging fiercely in North Carolina.” Cooper continued that the “right-wing” NCGOP are attacking free elections by using “the big lie” of election fraud as cover. He further accuses NC Republicans of “…moving to limit access to the ballot box and sow chaos in our election certification process.”

What Gov. Cooper states is significant because unlike Georgia, which  Donald Trump lost in 2020 and now stands indicted for alleged election tampering in, he actually won North Carolina in the last presidential election. Yet the GOP are behaving like the election was flawed somehow.

Saying that “… these sinister efforts aren’t new…..,” Cooper maintains that many of them have been stopped before in North Carolina, but thanks to Trump, the Republicans are “…back at it.” And he warns that this time, they have the combined power of a legislative supermajority, “…and a court system stacked with ultra-partisan Republican judges.”

The situation is so dire, Cooper warns, that “…North Carolinians and people across the country must take heed.”

Gov. Cooper then goes on to warn of “pernicious” legislation from the Republicans in “a blatant attempt to entrench its power further by targeting young and nonwhite voters who tend to vote more often for Democrats.

Cooper warns of GOP election legislation with “deceptive packaging,”  adding that he considers it “more dangerous”  because “it would change the structure of the state and county boards of elections in a backdoor attempt  to limit early voting and consolidate the legislature’s quest for the power to decide contested elections.”

By calling for an even number of Democrats and Republicans on state and county election boards, political observers say contested elections will be thrown into the “hyper-partisan” state Court of Appeals and Supreme Courts, resulting in, Gov. Cooper says, “..serious harm.”

Cooper then echoed something that has been said before, that North Carolina is a virtual laboratory to test the kind of “diabolical” legislation the GOP plan to launch elsewhere in the nation.

“In this case that means finding ways to exploit our election laws on both ends - making it harder to vote and easier  to create turmoil in the election certification process,”  Cooper opines.

“For all the right-wing fearmongering about near nonexistent election fraud, the truth is that they’re the ones using the long arm of the law to rig elections and threaten our democracy.”

“We can’t let them get away with it,” Gov. Cooper says.