WHY ROBINSON SHOULD BE
CONCERNED ABOUT THE
CONTINUED POWER GRAB
By Cash Michaels
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 ?
WILL THE NC NAACP
ELECT A NEW PRES.
by Cash Michaels
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.