Cooper Lead in NC Exceeds 10K Votes, Democrats Call on McCrory to Concede

Democratic candidate Roy Cooper’s lead in the North Carolina governor’s race has passed the critical 10,000-vote threshold. Why is this important? Because under state law, once the margin of victory exceeds that number, the losing candidate can’t ask for a recount. Democrats are now calling on Gov. Pat McCrory to concede.

Cooper campaign manager Trey Nix:

“Roy Cooper’s lead has now grown to over 10,000 votes. Game over. It’s time for Governor McCrory to concede. It’s clear there is no path to victory for Governor McCrory. It’s time for Governor McCrory to accept the election results and respect the will of the voters.”

Democratic Governors Association executive director Elisabeth Pearson:

“Congratulations to Gov.-elect Roy Cooper on his clear victory in North Carolina. North Carolina was 2016’s marquee gubernatorial race, and we are thrilled to claim it as a Democratic pick-up. Gov.-elect Cooper’s lead has now grown beyond a 10,000-vote margin, eliminating Gov. Pat McCrory’s path forward. North Carolina voters have spoken, and it is time for Gov. McCrory to concede this election.”

There is no statement yet from the North Carolina Republican Party and the McCrory campaign, but in a series of tweets, they are urging citizens to call the State Board of Elections to request a recount in Durham County:

There is no statement yet from the Republican Governors Association, either.

Mark Warner Won’t Run for President in 2020

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told the Wall Street Journal that he would not be running for president in four years, despite the fact that he flirted with a possible run back in 2008. “I think that window is probably shut,” he told a group of WSJ reporters and editors. He also said he would look for areas and issues where he could cooperate with Republicans and the Trump administration. Warner is up for re-election to the Senate in 2020.

James Clyburn Endorses Jaime Harrison for DNC Chair

South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison picked up his first big endorsement today in his race for to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Rep. James Clyburn (R-S.C.), his former boss and the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, sent out an email to DNC members this morning endorsing his former aide, according to Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti.

Harrison’s response on Twitter:

UPDATE: I’ve obtained a copy of the Clyburn email. A good part of the email is biographical in nature, but here are the key excerpts:

I write to strongly encourage you to support Jaime Harrison for Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  He has the experience, vision, and commitment to rebuild our party and to return us to victory on national, state, and local levels.

Jaime’s experiences have made him adept at connecting with people at all levels – from South Carolina fish fries and Maryland crab boils to the hallowed halls of our finest colleges and universities.  Jaime is well regarded by many of my colleagues here and by Democrats from around the country.  We need someone who understands, appreciates, and values the diversity of our party. Jaime Harrison is pitch-perfect for the job.

Our next DNC chair must work full-time to rebuild our party.  The Chair must bridge the divide between those who navigate our political corridors and those who work hard, play by the rules, and want little more than to care for their families and to create stability and opportunity for their children and grandchildren.  I know from over 20 years of experiences with Jaime that he is the right person for the job.  His unrelenting work ethic, keen intellect, collaborative spirit, and utmost integrity will serve our party well.  I commend him to you for your sincere consideration and, hopefully, strong support.

Rust Belt Democrats Want to Meet With DNC Chair Candidates in December

Here’s a good scoop from Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti:

Top Democratic officials in four Rust Belt states that voted for Donald Trump earlier this month have invited the candidates for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship to formally share their thoughts on how the party can compete there at a meeting next month.

A letter obtained by POLITICO and circulated by officials with the Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania Democratic parties on Tuesday evening invites the candidates to the Ohio group’s executive committee meeting on Dec. 10.

“As Chairs and Vice Chairs of states in the industrial Midwest — traditional bellwether or ‘red’ states — we are particularly concerned to hear the ideas and plans you and other candidates have to help us turn this critical region blue again. How will you continue to energize the coalition that has performed so well to elect Democrats at times, while also making inroads in the areas where President-Elect Trump did so well across our states? We are also eager to share our ideas,” the letter reads.

“Bottom line: We’d be honored to have you come to our region to hear directly from Democrats, present your plans and ideas, and engage our grassroots activists who are eager to be part of the conversation.”

If any of the candidates accept, the letter notes, the hosts will invite all DNC members to attend.

Hillary Clinton’s losses in this region were perhaps the most alarming development of the election for state and national Democrats. With the exception of Ohio and Indiana, Democrats had a lock on Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in presidential races since the 1980s. A combined margin of victory of approximately 107,000 votes in those three states secured the presidency for Donald Trump, despite a 2.36 million vote lead in the popular vote for Clinton as votes are still being counted.

Will be keeping an eye on the DNC candidates to see how they respond to this invitation. Any responses will be updated and added here.

Federal Court Orders New Election in 2017 for 28 North Carolina State Districts

There was an interesting development in North Carolina this afternoon that didn’t have anything to do with the recount in the governor’s race. From the Raleigh News & Observer:

A federal court on Tuesday ordered North Carolina to hold a special legislative election next year after 28 state House and Senate districts are redrawn to comply with a gerrymandering ruling.

U.S. District Court judges earlier this year threw out the current legislative district map, ruling that 28 of them were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. They allowed the 2016 election to continue under the old maps, but ordered legislators to draw new districts in 2017.

Tuesday’s order settled the question of whether the new districts would take effect for the regularly scheduled 2018 election cycle, or if a special election would be required.

“While special elections have costs, those costs pale in comparison to the injury caused by allowing citizens to continue to be represented by legislators elected pursuant to a racial gerrymander,” the three-judge panel wrote in the order.

“The court recognizes that special elections typically do not have the same level of voter turnout as regularly scheduled elections, but it appears that a special election here could be held at the same time as many municipal elections, which should increase turnout and reduce costs.”

The order gives legislators a March 15 deadline to draw new district maps. Every legislator whose district is altered will have their current term shortened.

A primary would be held in late August or early September – the legislature is responsible for setting the exact date – with the general election in November, the order says.

This is the latest in a series of court rulings on voting laws and practices in the state, going back to last summer when the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the state’s voter ID law. In its ruling, the court concluded, “the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” and called it, “the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow.”
This means that there will be three states with statewide legislative races next year (the other two being New Jersey and Virginia, which are also having gubernatorial elections), though in the case of North Carolina it will only be the 28 gerrymandered districts affected by the ruling. According to the News & Observer, Republicans currently have a 74-seat supermajority in the House and a 35-seat supermajority in the Senate.
Here is the response to the ruling from the North Carolina General Assembly, relayed via the North Carolina Republican Party:

The North Carolina Democratic Party’s response:

UPDATE: I received this statement on Wednesday from DLCC executive director Jessica Post and DLCC board member Larry Hall:

“North Carolinians deserve fair representation in their state government, and Republicans’ illegal racial gerrymander made that impossible,” said Post. “We are thrilled for the voters of the Tarheel State that these maps are being redrawn. The GOP’s illegal redistricting was the first in a series of extreme right-wing overreaches that ultimately led to heinous policies like HB2 and the racially-motivated voter disenfranchisement law struck down by the courts earlier this year. The redrawing of the maps and subsequent elections will be the first steps in undoing the damage Republicans have spent the past six years inflicting on the state.

“We look forward to working with North Carolina legislators and leaders, including DLCC Board Member and Democratic House Leader Larry Hall, as this situation continues to evolve on the ground.”

Democrats Weigh In On Party’s Direction, Message and Future

Several Democrats – including a DNC chair candidate, an Obama cabinet secretary, and a potential 2020 presidential candidate – penned a collection of mini op-eds for the Washington Post outlining their vision for the party and its future. All of them are worth reading.

Democratic Senator Announces Opposition to Trump HHS Nominee

Senator Joe Donnelly – an Indiana Democrat up for reelection in 2018 – released a statement today announcing his opposition to Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, citing Price’s position on overhauling and privatizing Medicare in his capacity as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The fact that a red state Democrat like Donnelly (who is from the same state as Vice President-elect Mike Pence) is willing to do this shows that he (presumably) thinks this is an issue he can run on two years from now. Whether other Senate Democrats do the same remains to be seen, but Price’s confirmation hearing should be interesting to watch for this issue as well as his views on repealing, dismantling, and/or replacing Obamacare.