Because of the number of candidates running and the increasing popularity of early voting, we decided to run the endorsements in two batches instead of waiting until the last edition before the election.

We are running a number of endorsements this week and will run the remainder next week.

As always, the opinions expressed are my own and based on campaign websites, news articles, candidate forums, talking to candidates, talking to people about candidates and generally being immersed in the political process for years. Whoops, maybe that should be decades.

It’s not meant to be a detailed look at any single candidate and there are wonderful attributes of candidates that have been left out, and a few detrimental ones. The purpose is to give you an idea of how I see the race and some indication of why I’m endorsing the candidates I am.

The key to this election, more than most, is voter turnout. The party that does a better job of getting its people to the polls is probably going to win. Early voting started out with higher vote totals than anticipated and hopefully that will continue.

Remember, by voting you buy the moral right to complain about the government until the next election.



Greensboro and Guilford County are split into two congressional districts, the 6th represented by Republican Congressman Mark Walker and the 13th represented by Republican Congressman Ted Budd. Generally if you live in the eastern or northern part of Guilford County you are in the 6th District and those who live in the western and southwestern portion are in the 13th District.

The Democrats have been complaining about Greensboro being divided into two congressional districts, which means they have short memories because the Democrats divided Greensboro into three congressional districts.

At least the Republican redistricting is moving in the right direction.


District 6

Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker is in his second term in Congress and it didn’t take him long to figure out how things work. He is currently chairman of the Republican Study Committee, which may not sound like much to those outside the Beltway but it is a powerful group of conservative Republicans that have a decided impact on policy. The fact that he won that position in his second term is an indication of the confidence his fellow conservatives have in him and an indication that he has already been tapped as a conservative leader.

Before being elected to Congress, Walker was an associate pastor at Lawndale Baptist Church. Some folks seem to jump into political races without much planning or thought. Before Walker decided to run for office he attended Greensboro City Council meetings for a year, and even after sitting through all those often inane and dysfunctional meetings he decided he still wanted to run for office. It’s that kind of commitment and planning that is moving him up the leadership ladder in the House.

On Nov. 6, Walker is facing Democrat Ryan Watts, who is running for office for the first time.

Watts says that Republican gerrymandering is a major problem. Congress doesn’t get to draw its own districts, the state does that. Also, in North Carolina if the Democrats wanted an independent redistricting commission, they had over 100 years to establish one.

It’s disingenuous for the Democrats to suddenly find partisan redistricting an abomination when before 2011, when the Republicans redistricted for the first time, the Democrats had no problem with partisan redistricting. But you can’t blame Watts; he’s simply following the Democratic Party line.

Watts is also opposed to the Republican tax cuts. Opposing tax cuts means raising taxes and that is something I always oppose.

Watts is in favor of a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. Walker is in favor of securing the US borders with walls and other measures and comprehensive immigration reform that would be fair to DACA recipients.

Walker has done a good job representing all of his constituents and deserves another two years in Congress.


District 13

Republican 13th District Congressman Ted Budd is in his first term and he has done a good job in Washington. Congress is largely based on seniority and it is rare for Republicans or Democrats to get much done in their first term.

Budd supported and voted for the tax reform bill. Budd said that the tax reform, putting more money in people’s pockets and the effort by Congress to eliminate many of the needless regulations added during the Obama years are the main reasons the economy has taken off.

Budd is on the Financial Services Committee, which rolled back some of the regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act that had stifled small banks. This reform has been presented as giving more to the big financial institutions, but the bill actually made it easier for small banks to get started and to remain independent and it has worked.

It’s not policy, but the fact that Budd sleeps in his office says a lot about his commitment to the district. His home is in Advance; he just works in Washington.

Budd owns a gun shop and firing range in Advance, so you don’t have to ask where he stands on the Second Amendment.

If I didn’t know better, judging from some of her advertisements I would think that Kathy Manning was running against Budd in the Republican primary. It certainly appears that Manning, a liberal Democrat, is trying to run to the right of Budd. But the 13th District is conservative, so that makes good sense politically.

Manning has the advantage of never having held office, so she doesn’t have any votes to explain. But Manning and her husband, Randall Kaplan, have for years been big campaign donors to Democrats.

She now says that she won’t vote for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for speaker, although she has donated to Pelosi in the past. Why would someone in North Carolina donate to a campaign for a member of Congress from San Francisco if they didn’t agree with them? They have also contributed to Sen. Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The fact is that if Manning wins she will vote the Democratic Party line. The Democrats have far better party discipline than the Republicans. Democrats rarely step out of line without the leadership’s permission, as when West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was given permission to vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh because the Republicans didn’t need his vote. It’s the way the Democratic Party works.

For the Republican leadership it’s like herding cats, for the Democratic leadership it’s like herding sheep. Neither is ideal.

Manning has an impressive resume and no one can question her fundraising ability. When Manning was put in charge of raising private money for the Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, the goal was to raise $10 million. She raised over $40 million, and private funds will pay for about half of the center’s cost. So it is no wonder that she has outraised Budd in this race.

She is a graduate of Harvard and an attorney. She was the first woman to head the Jewish Federation of North America. And Manning has been extremely active in the community.

But, despite what some of her campaign advertising implies, she is a liberal Democrat.

The choice is between a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican.

Congressman Ted Budd, the conservative Republican, gets my support.


State Senate ╨ District 27

District 27 Republican state Sen. Trudy Wade has lightning bolts on her campaign signs because she was described as a lightning rod, and not in complimentary fashion.

Wade is arguably the most powerful woman in the state Senate and she gets out in front on a lot of issues that the Republicans in the state Senate support but need someone to take the heat for it.

The Republicans in the state Senate are a pretty tight group. If you look at the vote totals, most bills pass the Senate with 100 percent of the Republican vote.

Wade attracts a lot of attention because she gets things done. What is really interesting is that although the far left Greensboro City Council disparages Wade in public, in private, when the city needs legislation passed, it’s Wade who they call.

The February One Place parking deck couldn’t be built if a special state statute had not been passed granting it an exception to a law that prohibited building a parking deck over two lots with different owners. Wade got the bill through the legislature. Then Greensboro wanted to change the way the Police Community Review Board was appointed and found itself at the last minute needing a change in state law. Once again the city went to Wade to shepherd it through the legislative process.

Greensboro needs someone in the state Senate with the ability to do that. As the third largest city in the state it is absurd for Greensboro to have to sit on the sidelines, as it has in the past when legislation is needed.

Wade has also had the funding increased for the High Point furniture market and had funding allocated for downtown High Point as well as the smaller municipalities in her district.

Wade fully supported the tax reform plan that has resulted in North Carolina having an economic development boom. Due to the increased economic activity of the state, despite lower taxes, the Republican legislature has been able to put more money into education, including giving teachers raises every year since 2013, and setting aside $2 billion in the rainy day fund.

Also Wade’s dedication to her job is over the top. She attended a committee meeting in Raleigh this year after breaking her wrist at home in Guilford County and before going to the emergency room.

She has served three terms and currently chairman of three Senate committees.

Michael Garrett is running for office for the fourth time. He ran the first time in 2006 when he was a student at UNCG against Republican Guilford County Commissioner Linda Shaw in the Republican primary. In that race, although he had an apartment near UNCG that wasn’t in Shaw’s district, he used his parent’s address as his voting address.

Since then he ran against Rep. John Blust in the Republican primary in 2010 and ran as a Democrat against Trudy Wade in 2016. In this race, as in his first, he found himself not living in the district where he wanted to run, so he and his fiancée and son officially moved back home because his parents do live in the district.

With the seemingly constant redistricting, it has not been at all unusual for candidates to move to get in the district where they wanted to run.

The Wade-Garrett race shouldn’t have too many folks on the fence. If you like what the Republicans have done in Raleigh – lowering taxes, reducing regulations, raising teacher salaries, spending more on education, cleaning up the fiscal mess the Democrats left behind and putting $2 billion in a rainy day fund – then you should vote for Wade.

If you don’t like what the Republicans have done, then you should vote for Garrett. Because he has not won any of his three previous political campaigns, Garrett has no record to run on, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage.

Garrett, like most Democrats, is in favor of higher teacher salaries and more funding for education, but so are the Republicans. The question is, how do you get there. It’s a much smaller difference than the Democrats make it out to be. Republicans are moving methodically at what they believe is a financially sustainable rate.

Wade is a strong conservative who knows how to get bills, even controversial bills, through the legislature, and that makes her a target for Democrats. Wade has done a good job and deserves another two years in Raleigh.


State House District 57

It seems the Rhino has already endorsed District 57 Republican candidate Troy Lawson, since we put his picture on the front cover.

I will say that Lawson has become a much better candidate in just a few months. Running for office for the first time is daunting. I saw Lawson at one of his first community campaign events and he didn’t do a very good job of conveying his political beliefs. I saw him at a similar event about a week ago and he did a great job of getting his ideas across, which tells me he’s a quick learner and would learn the ropes just as quickly in the legislature.

Lawson is an unusual candidate in an unusual race. He is a black Republican running in District 57, which has a heavy population of black Democrats, and he is running against Ashton Clemmons, a white Democrat.

Both are running for the seat held by Rep. John Blust, who will retire from the legislature at the end of this session.

Lawson, if elected, could do a lot for the community because he is in the majority party. Nationally Democrats are talking about winning the House back, but nobody is talking about the Democrats winning a majority in the North Carolina House. Most bills introduced by Democrats are sent to the Rules Committee and never see the light of day again. Bills introduced by Republicans may or may not pass, but at least they are considered.

Lawson is also chairman of the Guilford County Republican Party, and as such has considerable influence in the party. When asked how to improve election security, Lawson said voters should have to show their IDs at the polls and he didn’t see why that was a problem. The Republicans put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to require just that.

Both Lawson and Clemmons are first-time candidates, so they have no record to run on.

Clemmons says she is proud of the fact that she has spent her entire career in the North Carolina education system, rising from a teacher and principal to assistant superintendent of Thomasville City Schools. But the state government does much more than education and, as one would expect, schools seem to be Clemmons’ primary focus.

Clemmons supports the policies of the liberal Democrats and opposes much of what the current Republican legislature has done to bring economic vitality back to the state. Lawson supports the efforts of the current Republican legislature.

But there is another aspect to this race. If Lawson wins he will be able to bring state money and programs to his district because he will be in the majority. If Clemmons wins she will be able to go to Raleigh and cast “no” votes for the Republican initiatives, but because the legislature is so partisan she won’t be able to do much.

Lawson would have more influence than most first-term legislators because he would be the only black Republican representative in the state legislature.

Liberal Democrats are going to vote for Clemmons and conservative Republicans will vote for Lawson, but those voters on the fence who don’t like either party should consider who can go to Raleigh and be effective, and that is Lawson.


State House District 59

District 59 state Rep. Jon Hardister has served three terms in the state House and moved up to majority whip, which is the number three leadership position in the House. He works hard and gets things done.

His opponent, Steve Buccini, says that he is running against Hardister’s record. Since Hardister is running on his record, that gives them something in common. Buccini can’t run on his own record because he is a first-time candidate who, according to his campaign material, hasn’t been active in the community before deciding to run for the state House, which is understandable because he moved into the district just in time to make the candidate filing deadline.

The Republicans have lowered both personal and corporate income tax and reduced regulations on businesses, creating what is, according to Forbes, the best state in the country for business. Since Hardister has been in the House, the Republicans have raised teacher salaries every year. Buccini says that teacher salaries should be higher and Hardister agrees and pledges to support raising teacher salaries.

The Democrats are quick to complain about teacher salaries, ignoring the fact that under a Democratic governor and legislature, teacher salaries were lowered. Buccini didn’t have anything to do with that, but his party did.

Republican fiscal policies resulted in a $2 billion dollar rainy day fund, which came in handy this year when the state was hit with two hurricanes. The legislature was able to allocate $800 million for hurricane relief without borrowing a penny.

Hardister has a good record of achievement in the House and it’s good for Guilford County to have someone moving up in leadership. More influence in the House means Guilford County will be assured of getting its fair share from the state.


State House ╨ District 61

Democratic District 57 state Rep. Pricey Harrison is running for reelection in District 61 because she was redistricted into a new district. In fact, everyone is running in new districts because all the lines were redrawn. So whether the number is different or not, it’s not the same district as in 2016.

Harrison is facing first-time Republican candidate Alissa Batts.

Harrison has served in the House for 14 years and is running for her eighth term. In the House she has focused on the environment and, to her credit, she practices what she preaches and if possible rides her bike instead of driving.

Harrison works hard in the legislature, where she is known as a fierce environmentalist, but as she admits she can’t be very effective because she is working for liberal causes in a decidedly conservative legislature.

Republicans credit the tax reforms that Harrison voted against and reducing regulations on business for current greatly improved economic conditions in the state. Harrison would like to see many of those regulations reimplemented, and if the Democrats gain control of the legislature they most likely will be.

The choice here is between an experienced liberal Democrat who will go back down to Raleigh and continue to vote no on Republican initiatives designed to move the state forward and an inexperienced Republican who will support those Republican policies that have gotten the state where it is today.


State House ╨ District 62

Redistricting put Republican District 62 state Rep. John Faircloth and Republican Dist. 59 state Rep. Jon Hardister both in the new District 62. Double-bunking as it is called is something you do to those in the opposing party, not your own. Some people surmised that Faircloth, at 79, was going to retire, but as it turned out Faircloth had no intention of retiring. Hardister moved so he could continue to represent District 59.

Faircloth is a quiet power in the House. As a former police chief and High Point city councilmember, he has a lot of expertise on issues that come before the legislature. Faircloth has earned a lot of respect in the House from both sides of the aisle. He is chair of the Appropriations Committee, which is one of the most powerful positions in the House.

Faircloth’s opponent is first-time candidate Democrat Martha Shafer who retired as vice president of the Women’s Hospital of Greensboro.

Both agree that teacher salaries need to be raised. Faircloth says that as chair of the Appropriations Committee they are working on the right recipe considering all the other obligations the state government has. Shafer says the salaries need to be raised.

The Republicans have raised teacher salaries every year since 2013 and brought the average salary to over $50,000 for the first time.

Shafer is against the direction that the Republican-led legislature is taking the state. Faircloth is one of the leaders of the legislature taking the state in that direction, and considering the current state of the economy in North Carolina and the current financial condition of the state, which could allocate $800 million for hurricane relief because it had $2 billion in the bank, it looks like a good direction to me.

Faircloth is doing a great job in the state House and deserves another term.


Board of Commissioners ╨ District 2

Republican District 2 Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue has been with Guilford County for a long time. When he retired as director of Guilford County Emergency Services, he ran unopposed for county commissioner in 2014. His first campaign was in the primary this year, which he won easily, and now he is facing perennial candidate Scott Jones in the general election.

In 2014, the voters elected a Republican majority on the Board of Commissioners and things have been pretty quiet over there ever since. The Republicans have lowered taxes and raised school funding. They are in the process of building a new animal shelter and, unlike past boards, they have accomplished a lot without a lot of noise. In fact, for the past two years the Guilford County budget has been passed by unanimous vote.

Perdue is a big part of all of that and should be reelected.

Jones likes to run for office, but so far he hasn’t won. Jones ran as Democrat against District 59 state Rep. Jon Hardister in 2014 and 2016. In 2012, Jones ran in the Republican primary for governor.

Perdue is the better candidate in this race.

Board of Commissioners ╨ District 3

Republican District 3 Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad says he’s running on his record as county commissioner. It’s a good record and he deserves another four years.

The Board of Commissioners has had a Republican majority for the past four years and has accomplished a lot in a congenial atmosphere, which is a huge change from the past.

The commissioners have managed to lower taxes while at the same time increasing funding for the schools. The schools currently receive 48 percent of the Guilford County budget, which according to Conrad is up about 10 percent from when the Democrats controlled the board. It also means that the county has to fund the Sheriff’s Department, social services, public health, mental health, the animal shelter, elections and all the other county departments with 52 percent of the budget. Nobody gets everything they want. Republican Sheriff BJ Barnes will be the first admit that.

One of the most impressive achievements of the Republican majority is that the past two budgets have been passed by unanimous votes. The Republicans could, as both parties have done in the past, have ignored the minority party and passed whatever they wanted with five votes. It is an indication of the spirit of cooperation on the current board that the Republicans have made the effort to get the support of all four Democrats on the board.

Democratic challenger Tracy Lamothe is running for office for the first time. She and Conrad have a lot in common. Both are Guilford County natives who graduated from Grimsley High School. Both have been in the restaurant business. Lamonth’s two attempts at restaurants have both closed. Conrad is the president of Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants and Bay Hill Seafood, a company that imports seafood.

Lamothe says that public education is her focus, and it is. In fact, it is hard to get her off the topic of public education. She has clearly done her homework as far as public education goes, but one of the frustrations that you hear from county commissioners of both parties is that they have very little control over how public education money is spent. The commissioners allocate the money and the school board spends it pretty much any way it wants.

When school security became such a big issue, Conrad came up with a way to make certain that the $10 million in additional funding the commissioners were willing to allocate, actually went to school security. The answer was to use two-thirds bonds.

The commissioners have far more control over how bond money is spent than an allocation out of their budget. By making the allocation bond money, the commissioners can verify that the money is actually spent on making the schools more secure.

Lamothe said she liked the additional funding for school security but didn’t like the idea of two-thirds bonds, which don’t have to be approved by the voters. Conrad doesn’t like the idea of two-thirds bonds much either, but this is a case where they accomplished the goal.

Lamothe unfortunately sounds like she would be more comfortable on the school board. She said the schools should get more money but doesn’t want to raise taxes, which means something has to be cut. She suggested using some of the fund balance, which could be done. But that is one-time money, like money in a savings account, which means when it is spent it is gone and isn’t a responsible way to fund recurring expenses.

Conrad has had a good four years as commissioner and deserves another term.


Board of Education ╨ At Large

The at-large Guilford County Board of Education race between Marc Ridgill and At-large Board of Education member Winston McGregor is the outsider versus the status quo.

McGregor was chosen by the Guilford County Board of Education to replace former school board Chairman Alan Duncan after he resigned, and was also chosen by the Democratic Party to replace Duncan on the ballot. So both the Democratic Party and the school board agree that McGregor was the right choice.

If you think the current school board is doing a great job and shouldn’t change a thing, McGregor should be your vote. However, if you want to shake things up on the school board, and perhaps even bring about some change, it should be Ridgill.

Ridgill is a retired Greensboro police officer and in his last eight years before retirement he was the school resource officer at Grimsley High School, which not only gives him a lot of information about how the schools are being run that you can’t get from sitting in meeting rooms, it also gives him a unique perspective. He wasn’t a teacher, wasn’t paid by the schools and didn’t work for the principal, but he was working in the school everyday.

Ridgill says school security is a crucial issue. Who knows more about school security than a police officer who has been on a high school campus for eight years?

McGregor is the executive director of the Guilford Education Alliance, a nonprofit created to assist Guilford County Schools. So she is an insider’s insider.

The choice in this race is clear – the status quo or someone who will come in with new ideas and different way of looking at the same old problems.

I think Ridgill would be an excellent addition to the school board.



Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes was first elected in 1994 and is the longest serving sheriff in Guilford County’s history. He could retire, but he wants to serve one more term and he deserves it.

Barnes has reduced crime in Guilford County, built a new jail, kept the department free of controversies that other law enforcement agencies in the county have had and is one of the most respected law enforcement officers in the state.

Governors of both parties have appointed Barnes to the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission, and if you consider how hard Barnes worked to get former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory reelected, the fact that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper would appoint him to anything is a huge compliment.

His opponent, Danny Rogers, worked for both the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department and the High Point Police Department and it has been reported he was fired from both. Rogers disputes the fact that he was fired, but he agrees he didn’t leave under favorable conditions. Rogers left law enforcement in 1993, which was before Barnes was elected sheriff. Rogers has had criminal charges filed against him 16 times; most were dismissed, but he was convicted on a bad check charge and for reckless driving.

Rogers says that he wants to be sheriff for all the people, but considering his record and lack of law enforcement experience you have to wonder what kind of sheriff that would be. He wants the Sheriff’s Department to be accredited by CALEA, which mainly amounts to a whole lot of paperwork. Only 4 percent of the law enforcement agencies in the country are accredited.

Endorsements don’t usually mean much, but Barnes has been endorsed by Sticky Burch, who he defeated in 1994 and who, by the way, turned 100 this month.


North Carolina Supreme Court

The biggest statewide race on the ballot is for the North Carolina Supreme Court, a race that gets overlooked by many voters.

Republican North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson deserves to be reelected. She has been a judge for 14 years and a state Supreme Court justice for eight. She is the only candidate in the race with any judicial experience. The state Supreme Court should not be an entry-level position.

It’s a sad state of affairs that Republican Chris Anglin is even running. He was a Democrat until shortly before he filed and a Democrat is running his campaign. Anglin is not actually running to win and, judging from the deer-in-the-headlights look he had in the video when asked what differentiated him from his opponents, he will be the most shocked person in the state if he does win.

It is abundantly clear that he is running in an attempt to split the Republican vote and get Democratic North Carolina Supreme Court candidate Anita Earls elected. It’s a clever move by the Democrats and was made possible because there were no primaries in this race.

Anglin has only been an attorney since 2011 and is a personal injury attorney without the basic legal experience to sit on the state Supreme Court. But every vote he gets the Democrats figure will come from people who would have voted for Jackson, who is the Republican candidate in the race backed by the Republican Party.

Democrat Anita Earls is the former head of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is as far left as you can get and still be on the field. She has devoted almost her entire legal career to civil rights and voting rights cases, which leaves her not only without judicial experience but with limited experience in other areas of law. She is a graduate of Yale Law School.

The Democrats currently have a 4-to-3 advantage on the state Supreme Court. If Earls wins that will give the Democrats a 5-to-2 advantage, which seems out of balance with a state that has two Republican senators, Republican majorities in both the state House and Senate and a Democratic governor who only won by 10,000 votes.

Jackson is a graduate of UNC School of Law and has a master of laws in judicial studies from Duke University School of Law. She noted that the state Supreme Court votes unanimously on about 75 percent of its cases that cover every aspect of law, not just civil rights cases.


North Carolina Superior Court

I don’t agree with Gov. Roy Cooper very often, but I do agree with his most recent appointment to the North Carolina Superior Court, Lora Cubbage. Cooper appointed Cubbage to fill the vacant seat created when Judge Patrice Hinnant retired in August.

Cubbage, who was a District Court judge before the appointment this week, is running against District Court Judge Mark Cummings for the open Hinnant seat since Hinnant did not file to run for reelection.

Every attorney I’ve talked to about the race between Cummings and Cubbage has agreed that Cubbage is the better choice. A residency challenge against Cummings was thrown out on a technicality, but it was a legitimate challenge and Cummings in his presentation before the Guilford County Board of Elections was less than impressive.

He first argued he should not have to answer the challenge because he was a sitting District Court judge and needed to be in court. Then he attacked the challenger, not the challenge itself. In the end he won that case, but it wasn’t pretty.

I also remember when Cummings was a member of the Greensboro Board of Adjustment, where both those requesting variances and the city found him difficult to deal with. The city attorney actually made a rare appearance before the board to attempt to reason with Cummings and failed.

I have never been in Cummings courtroom but that experience and the experience of seeing him before the Board of Elections convinced me that Cubbage is the better choice, and I haven’t found an attorney who disagrees with that assessment.


District Court Judge

District Court Judge Jon Kreider by all reports has done a good job and deserves to be reelected. The North Carolina Bar Association doesn’t endorse but it does rate the candidates running for judicial office. According to the North Carolina Bar Association ratings, Kreider rated 91 percent and his opponent, Larry Archie, rated 34 percent – the second lowest rating of the 157 judicial candidates in the state.

It may not be entirely fair to rate a judicial candidate based on an advertisement for legal services, but Archie may be the exception to the rule. Archie had a billboard that read, “Just Because You Did It Doesn’t Mean You’re Guilty.” It is true that even those who committed a crime are innocent until proven guilty, and if they aren’t proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt they will be found not guilty by the court, but the ad seems to go too far.

According to the Bar Association, Kreider is a much better attorney, and according to all of my legal consultants he is the better choice.


Constitutional Amendments

One of the complaints Democrats are making about the six constitutional amendments proposed by the Republican legislature is that they are not written like statutes that state exactly what the law covers.

But look at the Bill of Rights; those are not defined at all. In fact, 227 years after its passage, the US Supreme Court often can’t agree on what the amendments mean. Constitutional amendments are usually painted with broad strokes and the courts define them.


The proposed constitutional amendment to make hunting and fishing a right guaranteed by the state constitution seems kind of odd, but there is a movement in this country to make hunting and fishing illegal because it is cruel to kill animals and fish.

Among the many problems with making hunting and fishing illegal is that hunting in particular is used to control the population of wild animals. Since man has already killed off all the natural predators for large herbivores like deer, without some control the deer population will explode, with many more deer and other wild animals dying from disease and starvation and in automobile accidents. Animals in the wild don’t die of old age in their beds surrounded by family.


Victims’ Rights

Giving the victim of a crime more rights is something that normally Democrats would support, but evidently the decision was made by the party leadership that it would be too confusing for rank-and-file Democrats to be told to vote for some constitutional amendments and against others, so they decided to oppose them all.

Victims of crimes should be recognized by the courts and this constitutional amendment establishes that recognition and treatment.


Income Tax Cap

North Carolina state income tax is capped at 10 percent. This constitutional amendment would lower that to 7 percent. The current income tax rate is 5.5 percent, set to drop next year to 5.25 percent.

The Republicans plan to keep lowering the income tax rate, but if the Democrats win control of the legislature the Republicans fear they will raise the state income tax and devastate the economy. So this could be seen as an insurance policy.

At the current income tax rates, the state has had enough money left over to put $2 billion in a rainy day fund, so it doesn’t appear that the state needs to take more money from its citizens. Some Republicans wanted the cap at 5.5 percent, to prevent the Democrats from going any higher than the current rate.

I’m all for lower taxes.


Voter ID

Requiring registered voters to show photo identification before they vote is currently the law in 34 states. The North Carolina voter ID law was overturned by the courts, so this is an attempt to get it reinstated. It would, of course, not apply to people who vote by absentee ballot.

Democrats say this is an attempt to restrict minority voters, but anyone who can get to the polls to vote should also be able to get to the Department of Motor Vehicles and get a photo ID. I couldn’t find any statistics that show minorities are less likely to have a photo ID than whites, but maybe it’s out there.

It’s a little hard to understand how this has become a partisan issue. You would think that everyone would want fair elections, and requiring an ID would make voter fraud more difficult at a very small price.


Judicial Vacancies

Changing the process to fill judicial vacancies is a clear power grab by the Republican legislature. Currently the governor makes those appointments, which means for four years only Democrats will get appointed and this gives Democrats an advantage in getting reelected since, even though appointed, they will be incumbents.

The new system would have the legislature recommend at least two candidates and the governor could only appoint one of those two. If the governor doesn’t pick one in 10 days then the legislature gets to make the appointment. It’s actually a lot more complicated, with commissions and such, but that is the basic idea.

North Carolina has a long tradition of powerful legislatures and weak governors. The Republican legislature didn’t like Republican Gov. Pat McCrory much more than they like Cooper, so this amendment might have been offered even if McCrory had won.

It’s really a question of who do you want to be appointing judges – the governor or the legislature and the governor working together. It seems getting the legislature involved would be a fairer process.


State Board of Elections

The final amendment is an attempt to straighten out the mess that the North Carolina State Board of and Elections Ethics Enforcement has become and I’m not sure it does the job.

This is another partisan issue. It used to be that the governor’s party had the majority on the state board of elections and the board of elections of every county in the state.

This worked fine for over a hundred years when the Democrats controlled everything. The Republican legislature didn’t have a problem with it when there was a Republican governor, but the legislature has made several changes to try and wrest control from the Democrats since Cooper was elected.

The local boards now have four members, two from each party. The state board has four from each major party and then one member who is not registered in either party.

The constitutional amendment would eliminate that member not in either party and leave the state board with eight members.

Establishing a controversial eight-member board with a constitutional amendment doesn’t make sense. If this plan needs to be altered it can only be done by another constitutional amendment, and this looks like a work in process.

An eight-member board would mean that for anything to pass it would have to have bipartisan support and there is nothing more partisan than elections.

I’m not convinced this is going to solve the problems it is supposed to solve and recommend voting against this one.