A Radical Solution to the Redistricting Farce

The first speaker at yesterday’s redistricting hearings accused the Republicans of “acting like Nazis” and later speakers called them white supremacists. Fortunately, most of the other speakers, while passionate in the opposition, were more rational. But the emotions evoked by this sham of a process is real.

Duke professor Claudia Koonz likened the political discourse in North Carolina to what occurred in Germany in the 1920s and ‘30s. She did not play the “Nazi card,” but citing from her book “The Nazi Conscience” said that it was this unbridgeable divide that destroyed democracy in Germany, not Adolph Hitler. (I plan to read her book). She feared the same was happening here, now.

Many speakers rightly called this process what it is, a sham and a farce. These maps may be “less squiggly” but not substantially different than the maps ruled unconstitutional. They were clearly drawn to preserve or increase the Republican control of the General Assembly. Rep. David Lewis, committee co-chair, not only doesn’t deny this, he’s proud of it.

These maps may be “legal” but they are not just or fair.

They were released to the public only days before this hearing. The hearings were held in places designed to deliberately limit public input; most of the rooms held less than 100 people and the hearings started at a time when most people are still at work. The limited the time people had to speak and in Raleigh, in the legislative office building, even had the sergeant-at-arms threaten to remove people who applauded or reacted to any speaker. “We cannot allow that here,” he said.

It’s clear the majority party has no interest or desire to consider what the people have to say, let alone to draw fair and impartial maps. They are absolutely not interested in changing to an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process.

Lest anyone think I’m picking on Republicans, the Democrats are no better. They’ve had ample time and the resources to produce alternative maps but they have not. Instead, they preach about unfairness and suppressing the vote, and file lawsuits. As the opposition party they are worse than useless.

Democrats claim Republicans want to suppress the vote. Republicans accuse Democrats of voter fraud. But the real voter suppression, the actual voter fraud is this gerrymandering process.

The Solution

The people need to take charge. The solution is simple – but radical. All Democrats and Republicans who as fed up with this farce as I am should make their voices heard in the only way your tribal party leaders will hear; change your registration to Unaffiliated. Then either run for a seat yourself or get behind some other independent voter who will.

If you’re so inclined, join the Libertarian Party, or work with the Green Party or Constitution Party.

The only way the people are going to get districts free from partisan politics and not drawn to favor any party, any candidate, any lawmaker, or any special interest group – districts which embody the ideal of one-person-one vote – is if the people draw them.

2016 Election Analysis

Looking over the General Assembly results, here are some key points of interest. In the NC Senate, 15 candidates ran unopposed (11 Republicans and 3 Democrats). There would have been two more if not for a Libertarian candidate in districts 20 and 44. (Thank you, Barbara Howe and Nick Haag). Of the contested races, only 4 were decided by 10% or less of the vote. In other words, only 8% of the state Senate races were competitive.

In the House, 54 candidates ran unopposed (37 Democrats and 17 Republicans), one ran only against a write-in, and 9 races were decided by 10% or less of the vote. In other words, only 7.5% of the state House races were competitive.

The Democrats and their sycophants love to moan about how the Republicans are destroying democracy, yet they lacked the courage to challenge the Republicans in 28 legislative races.

In a few of the competitive races, the Libertarian vote “covered the spread” between the Democrat and Republican. In House 49 David Ulmer got 4.15% and the incumbent Republican lost by 1.48%. Over in House 36 Brian Irving got 4.25% and the incumbent Republican won by only 2.77%.

In Senate 17 Susan Hogarth got 4.24% and the incumbent Republican won by only 0.85%. In Senate 15 Brad Hessel came in just under the spread. He got 4.31% and the incumbent Republican won by 4.32%

For comparison, in 2014 there were 18 unopposed races in the Senate and 57 in the House. Three Senate and 21 House seats were unopposed in both 2014 and 2016: Senate 32, 35, and 43, and House 4, 12, 14, 19, 21, 24, 29, 39, 42, 43, 45, 47, 48, 99, 100, 102, 107, 108, 110, 111, and 114.

If you look at a map, you’ll note how the safe districts are clustered. Another point is that both establishment parties benefit nearly equally.

Keep in mind that the district lines a liable to change for the 2018 election. The legislature is contesting a court ruling that some of these districts are unconstitutional and may be forced to redraw the lines.

Libertarians Say Repeal HB2

The Libertarian Party has joined the growing list of organizations calling for the repeal of House Bill 2.

“The state has no authority to determine gender,” the unanimous resolution states. HB 2 also “unduly intrudes state authority into local decision-making and unreasonably limits the ability of the citizens … to govern themselves.”

In addition, the bill reduces individual rights because it “bans citizens from using state courts to remedy discrimination”

Nic Haag, Libertarian candidate for NC Senate 44, introduced the resolution. It was endorsed by General Assembly candidates Brad Hessel, NC Senate 15, Brian Irving, NC House 36, and Rob Rose, NC 37.

The convention was held in Raleigh last weekend.

The convention also passed a resolution calling for the repeal of the ban on counting write-in votes. The state does not count the votes for persons who haven’t gathered enough petition signatures.

This “amounts to the legislature picking and choosing which votes to count, sometimes yielding suspicious results like unanimous vote tallies in our statewide elections,” the resolutions says.

Six candidates for the Libertarian presidential nomination participated in a forum Saturday. They included former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, the party’s 2012 standard-bearer.

In other business, the convention elected at-large members to the state executive committee and adopted a revised platform. It also selected delegates to the Libertarian National Convention and nominated presidential electors.

Read the resolutions here.

Let the People Choose Who Represents Them

Once again, North Carolina’s elections are under a cloud. A U.S. District Court panel just ruled two Congressional districts unconstitutional.

The people of North Carolina deserve a process where they choose their representatives, not the other way around. When it reconvenes in April, the state House should immediately consider and bring to a vote House Bill 92 to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process.

Under this bill, the redistricting plan would be drawn up by a legislative office and submitted to the legislature for an up or down vote. It is based on the system used in Iowa successfully for years.

For decades, North Carolina has had the most litigated redistricting process in the nation. Both Democrats and Republicans put partisan politics ahead of the interests of the people. As a result, elections were delayed and representation denied.

When the Democrats controlled the process, the Republicans cried foul and challenged the plans in court. Now that Republicans are in power, they act no better. Whichever party is on top invariably acts in the same, self-serving way.

Even though only two Congressional districts were ruled unconstitutional, redrawing the lines will have a ripple effect in adjoining districts. The problem goes far beyond using race to draw lines. The process is fundamentally flawed. The people of North Carolina need and deserve better.

The state Libertarian Party supports an independent, nonpartisan, open, and transparent redistricting process. Party registration, voting history data, and the incumbent’s place of residence shouldn’t be considered when drawing district lines.

Brian Irving for NC House 36

Welcome to my blog, which will double as the website for my campaign for NC House 36. Read “Why I Am Running.” In short, I’m running because I believe the people of North Carolina can do a better job of running their lives than politicians.

You can also follow my campaign on Facebook.

Check out my stand on the Issues. Read my responses to the Surveys I’ve received.

Vote No on the Bond Boondogle

Against_the_Bond

There will be a $2 billion bond issue on the March 15 ballot called Connect NC. This is another bipartisan boondoggle with a deceptive name. The loan request is not for transportation funding or K-12 education projects.

The $2 billion will go into the “Connect NC” fund, a committee chaired by a whole host of politicians, who will divvy up 66 percent of the money to the NC college systems, and hundreds of millions of dollars to parks, zoos, agricultural “research,” and other political pet projects across the state.

The only thing this bond will connect is your wallet to the special interest groups that support it. As with most programs touted as bipartisan, the more bipartisan support a bill has, the worse it is for your liberty and your well-being.

Bonds are just deferred taxes. They are taxes on our children and grandchildren. It is simply a lie that this bond issue will not result in a raise in taxes. Someone will have to pay for the the interest when the bonds are repaid, and you can bet it won’t be the Democrats and Republican legislators, or the lobbyists and special interest groups who support this bill.

Since tyranny is usually better organized – and funded – than liberty, the effort to promote this bipartisan boondoggle program to increase the debt is well funded by special interest groups.

But a grassroots referendum committee, NC Against the Bond, is organizing a petition drive to oppose this debt increase. Go to AgainstTheBond.com and sign the petition to oppose this debt increase. Follow them on Facebook.

Vote no on the bond issue in March.

Restrictive Ballot Access Laws Disenfranchise Voters

North Carolina will continue its tradition of unopposed elections in 2016. Seventy-two General Assembly candidates were either “elected” at the close of filing Dec. 21 or will be elected in the March primary. So in November nearly half of North Carolina voters will no choice about who represents them in Raleigh.

While it’s true gerrymandering is a cause, there’s another more significant reason – highly restrictive ballot access laws. It’s very difficult for a party – other than the Democrats or Republicans – to get on the ballot. It’s nearly impossible for independent candidates to do so.

These high barriers to ballot access thus effectively disenfranchise nearly a third of North Carolina voters, the unaffiliated, the fastest growing voter block.

Most voters don’t realize how the establishment parties manipulate the system through gerrymandering and restrictive ballot access. To qualify for the ballot a “new” party must collect in excess of 90,000 signatures. To run for statewide office without a party label you must hurdle the same barrier. Anyone who wants to challenge an unopposed incumbent in a legislative district or local office, needs to collect anywhere from 2,000 to 20,000 signatures from registered voters.

It’s not gerrymandering, voter IDs, or early voting limitations that disenfranchises NC voters. It’s our ballot access lockout.

Libertarians To Host Only Presidential Debate in NC

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina will host the only presidential debate scheduled in North Carolina. It is set for March 7 from 9 to 10:30 p.m. EST and will be webcast on Google Hangouts On Air. The debate will feature candidates for the Libertarian presidential nomination.

Carolina Journal Associate Editor Barry Smith will moderate the debate from a location in Raleigh. Candidate will participate from locations across the nation.

“We’re excited to be hosting a virtual debate with our candidates for president so that the public can see and hear their views on the critical issues neither the Democrats nor Republican candidates and parties will address,” said J.J. Summerell, state party chair.

“We especially encourage the 25 percent of North Carolina voters registered unaffiliated to watch, as well as independents across this nation,” he added. “National polls show that a vast majority of Americans want a choice outside the old parties. The Libertarian Party offers that choice.”

The debate will be held one week prior to North Carolina’s March 15 Presidential Primary. Participants in the debate will be selected by online poll conducted by the LPNC from a list of a candidates who will appear on the March 15 Presidential Primary ballot.

Those candidates are: Marc Feldman of Ohio; John Hale of Kentucky; Cecil Ince of Missouri, Gary Johnson of New Mexico; Steven Kerbel of Colorado; Darryl W. Perry of New Hampshire; Austin Petersen of Missouri, Derrick Reid of California; Jack Robinson of South Carolina; Rhett Smith of Texas, and; Joy Waymire of California.

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Legislative Leaders Subvert Campaign Finance Laws


BREAKING NEWS: So much for Republican grassroots indignation. The “new,” supposedly “grassroots” Republican party chair has caved in to the oligarchs. He agreed to a “compromise” that will now allow an additional “affiliated party committee” to be set up by the senior member of the Council of State (i.e. the governor). Gov. Pat McCrory has siged the bill (or course).

Read more here and here.

“As Chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, I’d like to express sincere appreciation to both Republicans and Democrats in our General Assembly and Council of State for placing particular emphasis on their absolute lack of morals, ethics and professionalism,” commented J.J. Summerell.  “By stooping to new depths you have raised the LPNC, the Party of Principle, to new heights in the eyes of informed voters.”


by J.J. Summerell

In an eleventh hour back-door maneuver, the Republican leadership in the General Assembly rammed through a bill giving them the unlimited and uncontrolled ability to raise as much money as they want for candidates they alone select.

They’ll be able to appoint an “affiliated party committee” that won’t have to abide by the same rules and constrains that apply to parties and candidates. And if that doesn’t make a sufficient mockery of the law, individuals, lobbyists, and special interest groups will be able to give as much money as the want to these faux committee.

We agree with the Republican assistant counsel David Williams that this is a “poison pill” for the Republican Party. But it’s also a toxic potion for Libertarians, unaffiliated voters–and most especially the people of North Carolina.

We also agree with Rep. John Blust, one of 19 Republicans who voted against this bill, who said, “Honorable people do not conduct the publics’ business this way. The attitude reflected by the leaders in carrying this out shows a profound disrespect not only for the other legislators, but for the people we represent.”

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Fortenberry withdraws from NC governor’s race

Ken Fortenberry has dropped out of the race for the Libertarian nomination for governor. The nationally recognized award-winning investigative journalist and former newspaper editor cited financial limits for his decision.

“Despite my hopes to give a ‘early foot’ to my candidacy, the reality is that after more than six months into the race I have come to the conclusion that the financial support necessary for me to run an effective campaign into the general election simply is not going to be there,” he said.

Fortenberry was owner and publisher of news@norman, a weekly newspaper serving the Denver and the West Lake Norman area before it merged with the Denver Weekly.

In 1987, writing for the McCormick (S.C.) Messenger, his coverage of corruption in the sheriff’s office led to federal prison terms for the sheriff, a bribery conviction of the sheriff’s replacement and changes to state law enforcement certification. During the investigation, his home was bombed.

Fortenberry only other foray into politics came in 2012, when he lost the Republican nomination for N.C.’s 10th congressional district to incumbent Patrick McHenry.

“I had wanted to be able to share the Libertarian message far and wide long before next spring, but without digging deeply into my own pockets, that is just not possible.”

He said by withdrawing now he hopes someone more qualified, perhaps younger and stronger financially, will be able to mount a strong campaign.

“I believe strongly in the Libertarian message of maximum freedom and minimum government, but I have decided to enjoy my retirement and leave the heavy lifting to someone else.”

The governor’s race is critical to the Libertarian Party. It must get two percent of the vote in that race in order to retain ballot status. In 2008, the Libertarians were the first party in N.C. history to meet that burden. The repeated the feat in 2012.