The Rhino Times usually prints its endorsements on the last Thursday before the election. This year, with so many candidates, we got an early start and decided to run the top of the ticket plus a few others one week early for us.
The Rhino Times will run the remaining endorsements next week as usual, so this is a sample of what is coming.
Donald Trump for president.
Ever since I’ve been involved in politics, which goes back 40 years, people have been talking about how messed up Washington is and how all the bums need to be sent home. Democrats and Republicans don’t trust our government, they think that it’s too big, too complex, too removed from the people and operates for the benefit of the government, not for the people.
But you can never send all the bums home because that would take a nationwide movement at one election. Most incumbents get elected every time they run because they have huge advantages in name recognition and the ability to raise money. People are extremely dissatisfied with the federal government right now but most representatives and senators will be reelected.
Here we have a chance to send someone to the White House who isn’t a member of the club. He isn’t beholden to the people running the country, or Wall Street, which has backed his current opponent, or many of the huge Republican donors who backed his opponents in the primary.
You can’t say he isn’t beholden to anyone, because everyone is, but the same guys who have been running the show from behind the scenes forever don’t have their talons in Trump.
Some mainstream Republicans are openly opposing Trump, and some are opposing him behind the scenes while they give lip service to supporting the Republican nominee.
Trump actually can clean house and there is no reason to think that he won’t.
Until someone holds elective office, you really don’t know what they’ll do. But what we do know is that he has run his campaign like no other presidential candidate.
When Trump gets asked questions by reporters and the talking heads on television, he answers them. He doesn’t answer the questions with long memorized policy statements that have been tested in front of focus groups; he says what he thinks. It has gotten him in a lot of trouble, often because his thoughts are not fully formed or not articulated clearly.
But isn’t it refreshing to see someone running for president who gets asked a question, thinks about it and then responds? Sometimes he should have thought a little longer, and usually it would be better if he answered in more detail, but at least he answers the questions.
I think Trump will build a wall, and his opponent Hillary Clinton is for open borders, and not just with Mexico but with the entire hemisphere. She is also for amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Trump is pro life and Hillary Clinton believes that abortions should be legal up until the moment of birth. We have laws that protect animals from cruelty but nothing to prevent cruelty to unborn babies, even though we know they feel pain. Hillary Clinton approves of causing a fully formed baby immense pain for convenience.
Trump has presented a list of people he is considering for Supreme Court appointments who are conservatives and believe that the job of the Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution the way it was written, not to rewrite it the way they wish it had been written.
The Constitution is an amendable document. It has been amended 27 times. The first 10 amendments were added before the ink was dry.
If the country wants to change the Constitution and abolish the Second Amendment, the voters of this country can do it. But it shouldn’t be done by an unelected body that is appointed for life who wrongly believe that taking away the rights of law-abiding Americans to own guns is going to prevent gun violence by criminals who have no respect for the laws.
Much has been made of the fact that Trump has made inappropriate remarks about women. He did. It’s on tape. There is no denying that. But many of our presidents in the past who were considered good presidents had inappropriate relationships. Bill Clinton is at the top of the list, but it is a long list that includes John Kennedy. We are not electing a saint but a president.
If Trump can get the economy going, handle the huge illegal immigration problem, do something about terrorism, figure out what to do in the Middle East and solve some of the problems that Hillary Clinton caused, then I think we have to move on from his inappropriate remarks.
The voters will never get another chance like this. Trump snuck in under the radar and the Republican establishment is horrified that an outsider is the candidate for president.
Before the next presidential primary you can rest assured that the Republican primary will resemble the Democratic primary, where the party insiders have enough votes to block anyone from the outside from winning the nomination.
Hillary Clinton had Sen. Bernie Sanders whipped before the first vote was cast because she had the super delegates all sewn up. She knew she didn’t have to win primaries, she only had to win enough votes that, when added to her super delegates, would give her the nomination. If the Republicans don’t use that tactic they will come up with something equally sinister.
If Trump doesn’t win the presidency then we are destined to be governed by the same cabal in Washington whether a Democrat or Republican wins, until the people finally have had too much and then it won’t be pretty.
The News & Record, which wrote a glowing endorsement of Hillary Clinton and devoted several paragraphs to her four years as secretary of state, didn’t mention one accomplishment. In four years her only achievement was putting more miles on a government jet than any previous secretary of state.
Hillary Clinton caused the deaths of four people in Benghazi. Perhaps it was simply through carelessness, like having classified information on her email server, but for whatever reason she had an ambassador on 9/11 unprotected in an extremely volatile city in the extremely volatile country of Libya, and then, when the State Department compound came under attack, she refused to send any help. The only help that came was from the CIA, and they got a standdown order that most likely cost Chris Stevens his life.
Back to the emails for a moment. When Hillary Clinton said there was no classified information on her private homebrew email server, the American people didn’t know if that was true or not. But Hillary Clinton knew. Those were her emails, and she knew there was classified information in them. She later said that none of the emails were marked classified. This is someone with, as she has said, a great deal of experience with classified documents. She knew that some were marked classified. Perhaps she thought that they would never be released by the State Department, but she knew she was lying when she lied. The American people didn’t know it at the time, but we know now.
Hillary Clinton also knew that the attack at Benghazi was not a spontaneous demonstration by a mob, but rather a well-organized terrorist attack that took place in two locations over a 13-hour period. We know she knew because she emailed this information to her daughter, Chelsea, and called the prime minister of Egypt to inform him that it had nothing to do with the video. But that’s not what she told the American people or the families of the men who died.
We know what Hillary Clinton will do if she is president and that call comes at 3 a.m. telling her Americans are under attack. She will do nothing and then lie about it.
Trump is a chance to do something about the huge mess in Washington. The American people have a chance to either vote for a change with Trump or vote for the status quo with Hillary Clinton. It seems like an easy choice.
I happen to think that Sen. Richard Burr is just the kind of senator who should be representing North Carolina in Washington.
He is low key, well respected and powerful. Burr is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which considering all that is going on in the world is a key chairmanship and an indication of the amount of trust his fellow senators have in him.
Burr is also winding up his second term in the Senate after serving 10 years in the House representing Winston-Salem. So Burr knows his way around Washington, which is good because when you drive a Volkswagen Thing to work, you want to take the shortest route possible. Burr is famous, or perhaps infamous, on Capitol Hill for his Volkswagen Thing.
What amazes me and pretty much everyone else who follows politics in this state is that Burr is getting a real challenge from Deborah Ross, the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. The ACLU is the organization that has challenged just about everything about Christmas in schools, from having nativity scenes to singing Christmas carols. But it has probably had more success, not legally challenging, but suggesting that there could be legal challenges, so schools cave and refuse to even say the word Christmas.
As head of the ACLU, Ross lobbied against the sex offender registry because it would be unfair to sex offenders.
It’s hard to get any further left than the ACLU, and in this Bible Belt state you would think it would be the kiss of death to a statewide campaign, but this is nothing if not a strange election year and it seems Ross has sidestepped much of that criticism by saying she was simply doing her job.
Ross, when she was in the state House, supported historic preservation tax credit bills that benefitted her family that was restoring a number of buildings and earned over $131,000 in historic preservation tax credits. A tax credit is not the same as a deduction. If you owe $10,000 in taxes and have a $10,000 tax credit, you pay zero in taxes.
For some reason the mainstream media think that if Donald Trump, because of the tax laws, didn’t owe any taxes and didn’t pay any that’s awful, but it’s OK for Ross, even though she used her influence as a legislator to keep the laws in place that personally benefitted her.
The endorsement of Ross by the Raleigh News & Observer is funny. The N&O endorsement starts off a lot like this one, talking about Burr’s experience, his clout in Washington and about the fact that Burr didn’t leave Washington to campaign until after the Senate recessed. The N&O states, “In some ways this is refreshing. Washington could use more politicians who focus on their work instead of themselves.”
But then the N&O endorses Ross, not because she is better prepared, or would do a better job for North Carolina, but because she has a D beside her name.
It is likely that if Burr had not stayed in Washington doing the job that the voters elected him to do and had come home to campaign earlier, Ross never would have gotten any traction. But with no opposing team in the field, even a bunt became a homerun.
For someone who has spent 22 years working in Washington, Burr has spent an amazing amount of time in North Carolina. He raised his kids here and his wife has a real estate business in Winston-Salem. Burr works in Washington but he has always lived in North Carolina, unlike many elected officials who go to Washington and forget about their constituents until the next election.
I know that Burr considered not running for reelection and I think if the world were not in such turmoil he would not have. But as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he knows a vast amount about just how dangerous the world is right now although he can’t talk about that. It’s taken years to acquire that knowledge and it does him no good on the campaign trail because he can’t tell people what he knows.
I think Burr finally decided to run because he thinks he can help his country through what are going to be some tough years. Whatever happens in Iraq, Syria, Libya and the entire Middle East isn’t going to be pretty, but having someone with knowledge and experience overseeing what we are doing can make a huge difference.
In the primary, Burr faced challengers from the far right because they didn’t think he was conservative enough. Now in the general election Burr is facing a challenge from the far left.
I think Burr politically is where most North Carolinians are – to the right of center but not too far right, and certainly not way out in left field where his opponent is.
North Carolina needs Burr in the Senate and Burr needs your vote.
Gov. Pat McCrory took his oath of office in 2013 when North Carolina was in bad shape economically and emotionally. Taxes were too high. Teachers were underpaid and, as far as economic development goes, we were falling behind the other states in the region, including South Carolina.
McCrory and the Republican-led legislature have made huge strides to get North Carolina back where it should be, lowering taxes significantly on both businesses and individuals, raising teacher pay and bringing new jobs to the state.
Just as importantly McCrory has been the head cheerleader for the state. He seems to be at every groundbreaking and ribbon cutting for new industry, always telling the story of the “Carolina Comeback,” and it’s working.
North Carolina has turned the corner, but there is still a lot of work left to do and McCrory deserves four more years to get it done.
It’s incredible what McCrory is being blamed for by the media these days.
Hurricane Matthew is somehow his fault because he didn’t plan for it and because too many people are living in areas of North Carolina that flood every hundred years or so.
But my favorite is that McCrory is being blamed because President Pro Tem of the state Senate Phil Berger is more powerful than he is. It’s absolutely not McCrory’s fault that the North Carolina Constitution sets up the state government so the president pro tem of the Senate is the most powerful politician in the state.
I’ll check again, but I don’t believe that McCrory wrote the state Constitution. North Carolina had a constitutionally weak governor before McCrory was elected and it will have one long after he is out of office, unless the state Constitution is rewritten.
I don’t think there is any doubt that the state Senate is more conservative than McCrory, and the Republicans in the House and Senate had veto-proof majorities. McCrory tried vetoing a couple of bills and they got passed so fast it made your head spin. It’s hardball politics, but there is no way you can blame McCrory for the activities of the legislature.
It’s not surprising that Attorney General Roy Cooper is doing so well in this race. Cooper is a crafty politician and he was behind the Charlotte bathroom ordinance bill that created gender-neutral bathrooms. It was a great political move and Cooper knew that he could depend on the liberal mainstream media to outright lie about both the Charlotte ordinance and House Bill 2 (HB2).
The Charlotte ordinance mandated gender-neutral bathrooms for public and privately owned facilities in Charlotte and for any company that did business with Charlotte.
The City of Charlotte way overstepped its legal authority, but nobody seems to care about that. What they care about is HB2, which they say discriminates against transgender people, but it doesn’t. It treats transgender people like everyone else. What it doesn’t do is give transgender people special rights, which is what the liberals want.
What is almost always overlooked by the mainstream media is that the Charlotte ordinance applied to both government and privately owned facilities.
HB2 states that in government facilities people must use the facilities corresponding to their biological sex as stated on their birth certificates. Private companies are free to have any bathroom and shower rules they desire.
Some enterprising news organizations should do a study and find out how many companies and corporations have gone to gender-neutral facilities. Gender neutral, which is what the Charlotte ordinance required, means there are no men’s rooms and women’s rooms. All facilities are open to anyone.
The spring High Point Furniture Market was held shortly after HB2 was passed and signed by McCrory and the folks running the market were worried about the backlash. There wasn’t a measurable amount. The fall market went well.
The economy took a slight hit from HB2, but less than 0.1 percent of the state’s economy was affected. And the people to blame for the whole mess are Cooper and the Charlotte City Council that hatched this plan.
Cooper clearly sees HB2 as his best campaign issue. It’s all he wanted to talk about during the second debate. The governor of North Carolina has far more responsibilities than who uses what bathroom. As McCrory has said repeatedly, he didn’t even know it was an issue until Charlotte passed its ordinance.
The state could not allow Charlotte to make statewide law, which is what it tried to do. It hasn’t been pretty, but it is all about politics. The whole idea was to make McCrory look bad, and with the help of the mainstream media, which refuses to write about HB2 accurately, it has worked.
Here’s a question for those upset about HB2 to consider: It passed the state House with bipartisan support and passed the Senate unanimously. Not a single state senator voted against it. The Democrats walked out rather than vote on the bill. If it is such a horrible bill why did the Democrats in the Senate not want to have a recorded vote against it and why did Democrats in the House vote for it?
McCrory has also been hit from the left for supporting the voter identification bill. I can’t think of any reason why people shouldn’t have to show identification to vote. You have to show identification for everything else. I think it invites voter fraud not to require people to show ID to vote. Why it’s legal for other states to require identification but not North Carolina is a legal mystery to me.
McCrory has done a great job for the economy. North Carolina has the fastest growing economy in the region. Unemployment has been cut in half. Teachers have received raises the past two years and now the average teacher salary is over $50,000 a year, a fact that even the mainstream media has been forced to admit. New teachers received a $5,000 raise, which is considerable. Education spending has gone up, not down.
McCrory has done a good job of navigating between a more conservative legislature and his own more moderate political philosophy.
Cooper hasn’t done his job as attorney general. It is Cooper’s job to defend the laws of the state in court. It isn’t his job to defend the laws that he likes and not defend those that he doesn’t, which is what he has done.
It is also true that after years as attorney general the state crime lab is still in horrible shape. Cooper says that it’s getting better, but he’s had 16 years to fix it. Cities who can afford to have built or are building their own crime labs because the state’s is so slow.
Because he is the attorney general, it is particularly troubling that Cooper said in a debate that McCrory was under an FBI investigation when he is not. If Cooper didn’t know McCrory wasn’t being investigated then he isn’t doing his job. If he did know it’s even worse.
The choice in this race is between a governor who has worked hard and done a good job and an attorney general who hasn’t been doing his job but wants a promotion. McCrory is the much better choice.
North Carolina Treasurer
The race for North Carolina treasurer appears to me to be an easy call.
You have the Republican, Dale Folwell, the former head of the Division of Employment Security and a certified public accountant running against Dan Blue III, who is an attorney in private practice in Raleigh.
Should the state treasurer be an accountant or an attorney? It seems like an accountant makes a whole lot more sense.
Blue has good credentials as an attorney, in pharmaceuticals and investment banking, but no experience in state government.
Folwell is a former member of the state House and took over the Division of Employment Security when that department was $2.7 billion in debt, and he turned it into a $1 billion surplus.
The Division of Employment Security has about 700 employees, and the treasury department about half that. So not only does Folwell have experience successfully running a state agency, he ran a division bigger than the treasury department and dealt with billions of dollars.
Folwell says that the state, which has one of the largest pension funds in the country, pays too much in investment fees. He plans to cut the fees paid by $100 million. When I asked him how, he said he would stop paying retail prices. As one of the largest pension funds in the country, Folwell said it didn’t make sense to pay the same fees as much smaller investors.
Folwell says that the pension and healthcare fund are underfunded to the tune of $40 billion largely because the projection was the fund would return 7.25 per year and it hasn’t hit that goal in 15 years. Folwell says if this unfunded mandate isn’t taken care of it’s going to be a huge drain on the state budget.
Folwell says he’s the man for the job because, just like in the Division of Employment Security, he enjoys getting in there and working with the numbers.
Some endorsements don’t mean much; some do. In this case the state treasurer is charged with overseeing the pension and healthcare funds of those in the state employee system, which includes city and county employees. Folwell has been endorsed by the State Employees Association of North Carolina, the NC Troopers Association, the NC Fraternal Order of Police, the NC Police Benevolent Association, the Professional Firefighters and Paramedics of NC as well as a number of sheriffs.
It appears the people who will rely on the state treasurer for their retirement benefits think Folwell is the man for the job.
Blue is most famous for being the son of state Sen. Dan Blue Jr., who is a former speaker of the state House.
Blue went to Duke University, a lot. He has an undergraduate degree in engineering, a law degree and a master’s degree in business administration, all from Duke. By all accounts he has been as successful in business as he has as an attorney, but I don’t see anything in his background that would indicate he has the experience to run a large state agency that is facing a major deficit.
Folwell, a graduate of UNCG and a former motorcycle mechanic, has that experience.
NC Supreme Court Justice
One of the most crucial races on the ballot for Democrats and Republicans is a race that is nonpartisan in name only.
North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robert Edmunds is running for reelection, and for Republicans it is imperative that he be reelected in this nonpartisan race.
Because it is nonpartisan, there is nothing on the ballot to indicate the political parties of the candidates or to indicate that Edmunds is the incumbent and has been on the state Supreme Court for 16 years and before that served two years on the NC Court of Appeals.
Edmunds also served as the US attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina and is a Navy veteran.
Edmunds has been endorsed by four former chief justices of the North Carolina Supreme Court, Rhoda Billings, Jim Exum, Burley Mitchell and Beverly Lake, two Republicans and two Democrats.
They are endorsing him because he has been a good Supreme Court justice and has the experience and judicial temperament to continue to work well on a court that currently has three Democrats and four Republicans.
The state Supreme Court is nonpartisan and handles most cases on a nonpartisan basis. But despite the fact that the judges are elected in nonpartisan races, when political issues come before the court it usually splits right down party lines.
Currently, the laws passed by the Republican state legislature that are challenged in court are most often being upheld by the four Republicans on the court. If the majority on the court were to shift, that would mean those 4-to-3 decisions would go the other way and it would put the state in turmoil.
Edmunds is running against Wake County Superior Court Judge Michael R. Morgan, who is a Democrat and has served as a Superior Court judge since 2005, and before that was a Wake County district court judge for 10 years. He also served as an assistant attorney general for the North Carolina Department of Justice.
Morgan doesn’t have the experience as an appellate court judge or as a Supreme Court justice for 16 years as Edmunds does.
Based both on experience and party, Edmunds is the best choice in this race.