Podcast | A Moral Monday Mom Runs for Office

When you think about the kind of candidates that get state Democrats excited this year, you might not think of a woman who once received unemployed benefits, was once arrested, and was once a Republican.

But that’s Jen Ferrell, the now-Democratic challenger of a long-serving Republican member of the state House. Democrats hope she can flip that seat and help end the GOP supermajority.

Also available on StitcherTuneIn and Google Play.

Podcast | Captain & Repeal

Jane Campbell is a retired Navy captain and an unaffiliated candidate for NC House. She's also openly gay.

After learning her state representative was an architect of HB2 and running unopposed for reelection, she decided to do something about it.

UPDATE 10/5/16

If elected, Jane Campbell would be the only openly LGBTQ member of the NC House next year. Rep. Chris Sgro, a current openly LGBTQ lawmaker, was appointed to his seat and is not seeking election.

Former openly LGBTQ state lawmakers include Senator Julia Boseman and Representative Marcus Brandon.

Also available on StitcherTuneIn and Google Play.

Podcast | Justice Is Nonpartisan. Justice Bob Edmunds Says He Is, Too.

Bob Edmunds is an Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court currently running for this third eight-year term. 

This episode is the counterpoint to our recent conversation with Mike Morgan, the Superior Court Judge vying for Edmunds’ seat. As you might expect, Edmunds offers some dissenting opinions. 

Edmunds rejects the notion that his campaign or the court itself are partisan entities. But can he - can anyone - really stay above partisan politics while running a campaign?

Also available on StitcherTuneIn and Google Play.

Podcast | Thomas Mills, The Last-Minute Candidate Who Could Flip The US House

2016 is the year of political impossibilities. Among them: Democrats could actually take back the US House. If they do - and it’s still a big if - candidates like Thomas Mills will be riding the crest of the wave. 

A political consultant and blogger, Mills filed to run in NC’s 8th district at the last minute when no other Democrat stepped up. At first, his goal was to deny the Republican incumbent a free pass. Then he realized he could actually win.

Also available on StitcherTuneIn and Google Play.

Podcast | Chaz Beasley’s Millennial Mission

Finance attorney Chaz Beasley is one of a handful of Millennial Democrats running for the General Assembly this year.

His Mecklenburg County race against Republican incumbent Charles Jeter was one of the most competitive in the state - that is, until Jeter unexpectedly resigned his seat and ended his campaign.

Beasley’s new opponent is off to a late start, and it seems more likely we’ll have a new Millennial on Jones Street. But what does that really mean?

Also available on StitcherTuneIn, and Google Play.

Podcast | Mike Morgan's Supreme Competition

North Carolina’s Supreme Court races are technically non-partisan, but nobody’s fooling anybody: the current court is divided 4-3 in favor of Republicans.

Judge Mike Morgan is running against one of the incumbent Republicans and could flip the Supreme Court's balance of power. If you care about things like HB2, taxes, housing, the environment, crime, and our system of government itself, you should really care who sits on the bench.

Morgan also has a powerful personal story. In 1964, he was the first black student at his all-white elementary school.

Also available on StitcherTuneIn, and Google Play.

Podcast | The GOP Would-Be NC AG

He wants to fight North Carolina’s most contentious legal battles. He doesn’t mind when his opponent calls HB2 “Buck’s Bill.” But for Senator Buck Newton, the key issue in his race for attorney general is whether the job gets done at all.

And yes - we also talk about his infamous exhortation to “keep our state straight.”

Also available on Stitcher and TuneIn.

Podcast | A Question of Power

Durham City Councilwoman Jillian Johnson sparked controversy this summer when she wrote on Facebook that “the most dangerous people with guns are cops and soldiers.”

Can a fiercely progressive, community-organizing “radical nerd” change the system from the inside without compromising who she is? 

For more about Jillian Johnson, check out these stories by News & Observer reporter Virginia Bridges:

Police call for public apology from Durham city councilwoman

Jillian Johnson: Can activist also lead?

Also available on Stitcher and TuneIn.

Here's What I Think Of Donald Trump

Trump on Screen.jpg

This is the North Carolinian. I’m James Kotecki. And I want to try something different. For the first time, there is no guest. There’s just something I have to say.

If you’re hearing the show for the first time, it’s actually never about me - it’s about conversations with state leaders. I try to have constructive, respectful, interesting dialog with people across the political spectrum. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing.

The tagline for this show is “the politics podcast about what the heck is happening in my home state.” But today, I have to talk about what the heck is happening in my home country.

We live in a world of self-selected messages, a world where people consume media to confirm what they already believe. It’s hard to truly persuade anybody to change course, but as tough as it is I want to try to speak to those of you who have yet to make up your minds about this presidential election.

I have to try.

Because, my fellow North Carolinians, my fellow Americans, my fellow human beings: Donald Trump cannot become our president.

Now, if you’re undecided, I’m going to assume you’re squeamish about Trump for, you know, the obvious reasons. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s run a campaign based on bigotry, fear, and exclusion.

Maybe it’s the fact that his behavior is that of a sixth grader in detention. Although to be fair, sixth grade might be a little generous.

Maybe it’s the fact that Donald Trump has the support of white nationalists like David Duke. Or maybe it’s one of the many other things he’s said that would immediately disqualify any normal person from running for dogcatcher, let alone President of the United States.

But for whatever reason you are still undecided. Maybe you were feeling the Bern, you don't like Tim Kaine, you’re upset with the Democratic National Committee, and somehow this quote from Trump’s RNC acceptance speech rings true for you:

“I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders. He never had a chance. Never had a chance. But his supporters will join our movement...”

Honestly, if you supported Bernie Sander’s ideas and now you’re honestly thinking of voting for Trump, I’m not sure there’s anything I can really tell you here, it’s clearly more about emotion than logic for you at this point.

But if you’re like many of my family members - you’re a normal Republican who despises Donald but has spent decades hatin’ on Hillary - then let’s talk. While I don’t usually share your Republican views, I do respect them, not just because I enjoy friendly debates with my family, but because robust debate - built in facts, not fear - is at at the cornerstone of a healthy Republic.

And by the way, speaking of facts, rated rated over 60% of Trump’s statements either False or Pants-on-Fire, compared to just 13% for Clinton. But I digress.

Look, I know I can’t undo 20+ years of Republican anti-Hillary sentiment on one podcast episode. If the Republican nominee were anybody but Trump I probably wouldn’t even be making this appeal. Even though I’m voting for Hillary Clinton and I hope you do too, I’m really just here to ask you: please vote against Donald Trump.

For the sake of argument, I’ll grant you that Hillary Clinton would maintain a status quo you don’t like, maybe she’d even move things a little further to the left. To you, Hillary Clinton might be bad for the country. But Donald Trump has the potential to be so much worse for the entire world.

See, you could hope that Congress or the courts could constrain Donald domestically - even though that strikes me as wishful thinking. But presidential power is at its peak in the realm of foreign policy.

So when I vote, I will not be voting for a man who supports torture, claims to know more about ISIS than the generals do, said he might not defend NATO allies, says he gets his foreign policy advice from watching “the shows” and that his number one foreign policy consultant is himself because “I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.” Oh, and some of those “things” include praise for Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, and Kim Jong Un.

The single most important decision any president can make is whether or not to use nuclear weapons and other tools of military force. We empower our president to potentially end millions of lives in an instant. Donald Trump has proven time and again that he should not have that power. This is way beyond whether you dislike Hillary Clinton’s plans for taxes or tuition, or even dislike her personally. This is life and death. This is existential.

And lest you think I exaggerate, remember - to Donald Trump, “bomb the shit out of ’em” passes for military strategy.

At least when John McCain sang about bombing Iran, it kind of sounded like he was joking. Plus John McCain actually has military experience, unlike Donald Trump, who insulted McCain for being a prisoner of war.

For me, this election is personal. My brother and my cousin are now active duty members of the US military.  To be clear, I don’t speak for them. But I worry about about a world in which Donald Trump becomes their Commander in Chief.

One person I do speak for is my son. This is my first presidential election as a father.

It’s a common political trope that whatever election we’re currently having is “the most important election of our lifetime.” But this time, it’s actually true. And it’s doubly true for my son.

If Trump becomes president, my son will remember nothing but the country that Donald Trump will build. A country under constant threat from outsiders. A country in which intolerance is allowed to creep further and further into the mainstream. A country governed not by a system of values but by a cult of ignorant personality. A country that is closed off and afraid.

That means the most important election of my son’s lifetime is one in which my wife and I are entrusted to be his voice and his vote. And so this, really, is for him. When he gets older I want him to know that in this tumultuous and sometimes terrifying election, his dad did not stay silent.

I say all this in a spirit that is very much the opposite of Donald Trump’s: a spirit of love and respect. For my son. For my family. For my country.

I’m James Kotecki. And this is the North Carolinian.

Podcast | This Republican Believes #BlackLivesMatter

Greg Doucette supports legalizing marijuana, opposes HB2, and defends protesters from groups like Moral Mondays and Black Lives Matter. And he’s the Republican - yes, Republican - candidate for NC State Senate District 22.

Doucette faces an uphill election battle, but he’s no stranger to surprising wins. After all, he owes his career to an ill-timed game of Minesweeper.

Also available on Stitcher and TuneIn.

Podcast | The Family Business: Dan Blue III Runs for NC Treasurer

You may think you know nothing about North Carolina’s treasurer, but if you live in the state, it’s a job that almost certainly affects your life. Dan Blue III is the Democratic candidate for the office. He’s also the son of previous podcast guest Dan Blue, Jr., the minority leader in the North Carolina Senate.

We talk about his nuanced view of Wall Street - he used to work there, after all - at a time when many voters want to watch it Bern.

Also available on Stitcher and TuneIn.

Podcast | Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on HB2, 2016, & The Nature of Truth

A Republican Lieutenant Governor is something of on an anomaly in North Carolina - from the start of the 20th century until now there have only been three out of a total of 27.

Dan Forest, the current incumbent, is one of those three. Loyal listeners will remember my interview last week with Linda Coleman, his Democratic opponent in the upcoming election.

Forest’s take on HB2 - and indeed, the state of our state - reflects a very different reality.

Also available on Stitcher and TuneIn.

Podcast | To Fight Another Day: Linda Coleman Is Back for a Rematch

The 2012 race to become North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor was close. Really close. 0.16 percentage points close.

Democrat Linda Coleman almost became the first African-American woman elected to statewide office in North Carolina. She didn’t concede until nearly two weeks after Election Day. And in a sense, she never stopped running.

This November, she’ll face Dan Forest, now the incumbent Lieutenant Governor, once again. And this time, she says, things are different. Not just for her campaign - but for African-American voters, too.

Also available on Stitcher and TuneIn.

Podcast | Nation Hahn: Politics & The Prism of Loss

Nation Hahn is one of those guys that seems to know everybody, especially in state political circles. By the time I met him in early 2013, it was clear that he and his wife Jamie were poised to make a huge impact on North Carolina.

Then something happened that changed Nation’s approach to politics. Something happened that changed everything.

If by chance you don’t know, it’ll become clear through our conversation.  But this episode isn’t about that day. It’s about right now.

Today, Nation is the Chief Growth Officer for EdNC.org and the Board President of the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation, a non-profit developing leaders on issues like poverty, hunger, and public education.

“There’s joy in finding common ground. There’s joy in understanding that our solutions do not have to come from either political party, that our solutions instead can come from well-meaning, well-intentioned, hard-working people who are on the ground and who see a problem and set out to solve it."