North Carolina’s Republican Party is having an identity crisis

OPINION — All eyes with be on North Carolina next year, when the Republican Party holds its 2020 convention in Charlotte to nominate President Donald Trump for a second term. In truth, though, the state has been the center of attention for a while because of actions of party members — and the gaze has not been kind.

Campaign season means ‘law and order.’ Can we break the habit?

OPINION — When mass incarceration in America gets political attention, it’s often so the issue can be used as a cudgel to attack opponents. Thus, the president Twitter-shames former Vice President Joe Biden for his role in promoting the 1994 crime bill even as Donald Trump’s own history of hounding the Central Park Five is highlighted in “When They See Us,” director Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries on the teens accused, convicted, imprisoned and eventually exonerated.

When Democrats and Republicans cooperated on a criminal justice reform bill late last year that made modest changes in the federal system, they congratulated themselves for getting something done in gridlocked Washington.

But it hardly solved the problem. That’s the message of Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. “The presidential election will be important setting the tone,” he told me at a recent appearance in Charlotte. “The hard work has to happen in North Carolina, in the state legislature on issues like sentencing, on issues like prisons, on issues like excessive punishment, and that’s true for every state in the country.”

Team Trump’s Harriet Tubman stumble was a missed opportunity for the GOP

OPINION — It would have been so easy, a way for the Trump administration to honor an American icon and reach out to some of those Americans who believe the Republican Party has no use for them. But did anyone honestly think any member of the team leading the country under the direction of Donald J. Trump was going to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill?

Instead Trump and company’s song-and-dance about why a plan put in place before they moved into the White House would be delayed until well after they leave just confirms that they care little for the wishes of Americans who probably did not vote for them, but who are Americans nonetheless, and that they have no knowledge of or interest in the history that has shaped this country.

The move to again force Tubman to the back was a clarion call to Trump’s base, a signal of who is important and who is not.

Can Bernie Sanders change his luck in the South?

OPINION — Bernie Sanders spent the weekend on a Southern swing, which makes sense. The Vermont senator’s failure to connect with enough core Democratic voters the last time around — in the South, that means black voters, and black women in particular — stalled his campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. He hit a wall in the early primary state of South Carolina, losing badly to Hillary Clinton, and he never recovered.

North Carolina redo sets stage for copycat campaigns in 2020

OPINION — After an election fraud scandal, North Carolina Republicans lost a House candidate. After an indictment and questions about possible bribery, the state GOP lost its chair.

But all that didn’t stop a gaggle of Republicans from vying for the chance to run for a House seat that, thanks to gerrymandering, still favors their party — that is, of course, if voters stay interested in a special election that now will be decided on Sept. 10, if everything goes as planned.

Whatever happens, the race has offered a national blueprint for what voters will see in 2020, with the majority of Republicans clinging close to Donald Trump and trying to brand Democrats as far to the left as imagination allows. Meanwhile, Democrats proclaim their independence and ability to stand up to the president and his bending of constitutional norms while doing the other business of Congress and helping constituents.

An American credo: Justice for some, especially the four-legged

Derby on May 4. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

OPINION — From the current administration’s indifference to congressional requests for information on the Mueller report to its hardening policies restricting those seeking asylum from violent homelands, one would think Donald Trump and company cared little for justice. But the president did manage to speak out recently in support of one particular victim he felt was wronged.

In a signature tweet, he said: “The Kentuky Derby decision was not a good one.” (He has since corrected the spelling to “Kentucky.”) “It was a rough and tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby — not even close!”

Yes, Donald Trump reacted in outrage, in defense of a horse.

After gun massacre, Charlotte is now ‘one of those cities’

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “Now we’re one of those schools.” That’s what a  University of North Carolina student, in more sadness than anger, told a local radio station after a gunman killed two and wounded four others on her campus on Tuesday. And now Charlotte, a city already experiencing a spike in homicides, is “one of those cities.”

In the city and state, there is shock, plus questions. A suspect is in custody, but that doesn’t provide answers about why it happened and what can be done to keep it from happening again.

That this latest incident did not make it to the top spot in many national news outlets speaks to how commonplace such incidents have become and how frustrated many citizens are. Is the answer more mental health resources, more “good guys with guns,” more regulations and background checks, or something else?

A Deadly Shooting at UNCC, and a City in Shock

CHARLOTTE, NC — A shooting at UNCC leaves two dead and four wounded. A city that has seen a sharp rise in homicides this year is now grappling with a horrific shooting that adds Charlotte to the list of cities where a school is the setting for gun violence. A suspect is in custody, but that doesn’t provide answers to the questions of why it happened and what can be done

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: CMPD Releases Full Body Camera Video; 9th District Early Voting

Earlier this week, a Mecklenburg County judge ordered the full release of the body camera video in the police shooting of Danquirs Franklin. The video was released on Wednesday. The ruling came after Monday night’s debate in city council about CMPD’s handling of the initial release of a shorter version of the video.

On the same day as the video’s release, CMPD announced a series of changes in policy to release all relevant video footage of incidents, like officer-involved shootings, to a judge to seek redactions.

Early voting for the special 9th District primary began this week and on Tuesday night, some of the candidates participated in a forum that covered topics from House Bill 2 to the Mueller report and more.

Movement on the incentives from the South Carolina legislature to relocate the Panthers’ headquarters may be on the horizon, as details come out about the plans David Tepper has for the new facility there. The team hopes to begin construction as early as later this year.

Guests:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

David Boraks, reporter for WFAE 

Jonathan Lowe, reporter for Spectrum News

To Impeach or Not to Impeach

CHARLOTTE, NC — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging amid the divide in her own party over whether to impeach President Trump. Pelosi says the party should continue to push for the entire Mueller Report instead of the redacted version released last week.

The Mueller report said the president of the United States did not commit crimes; but it expressly refused to exonerate him on possible obstruction of justice.

Democrats and Republicans face risks and rewards as they choose what to do next. And the process is happening a year and a half before the 2020 presidential election.