Can McCrory Win the MAGAs?

Buy what’s left of Northgate Mall + NC’s regressive tax structure + Carroll’s Kitchen owner doesn’t want your gay wedding + NCAA backs trans athletes + Israel attacks Iran

Tues., April 13, 2021

Happy Tuesday! Last night, Wester Auction & Realty held the first in a series of online auctions of, well, everything in the now-closed Northgate Mall. More auctions will take place every 10 days, leading up to the mall’s demolition this summer.

  • Bad news: I didn’t see the carousel up for bid.

  • More bad news: My wife wouldn’t let me bid on this Baja Shack menu board.

  • Update: North Carolina has vaccinated nearly 24% of its population.

  • Weather: Somewhere between partly cloudy and mostly sunny today. High of 76.

Today’s Number: 7.6

Effective state tax rate of white families in the top 20% of household incomes (earning > $91,300/year).

  • The effective tax rate for Black families in the bottom 80% is 9%.

  • All families in the lower 80% earn 41% of the state’s income but pay 46% of its taxes.

  • Tl;dr: Our state tax system is regressive.

Source: NC Justice Center


1. Fuquay-Varina Wedding Venue Discriminates Against Gay Couple

With the expiration of the HB2 replacement law in December, local governments can, arguably, pass nondiscrimination ordinances that include LGBTQ residents and apply to public accommodations. But neither Wake County nor Fuquay-Varina—nor Durham County or Raleigh, if we’re keeping score—has done that, and there’s obviously no statewide prohibition on discriminating against LGBTQ folks.

  • So there was nothing stopping the F-V venue Highgrove Estate from refusing to host a gay wedding because “the company holds strong to it’s [sic] beliefs as followers of Christ.”

  • Highgrove told WRAL it “respects people’s differences regarding marriage” and “will always be kind and caring when these differences arise.” It refers gay couples to other venues, it continued. “We welcome employees, vendors, and guests of all sexual orientation [sic] as we do not discriminate against a people group.”

  • Worth noting: The owner of Highgrove Estate, Vicky Ismail, is a founder and the executive director of the nonprofit Carroll’s Kitchen in downtown Raleigh.

2. McCrory’s In. The Race Is On.

Yesterday, Politico scooped that after months of dropping hints, former Gov. Pat McCrory is finally ready to jump into the Republican primary for Richard Burr’s Senate seat, currently occupied only by former Rep. Mark Walker.

  • Rep. Ted Budd is expected to announce soon, too. Lara Trump is still toying with the idea.

  • Pat will enter the race with a big lead, though it’s based on name recognition.

  • According to ex-NCGOP director Dallas Woodhouse, McCrory will announce on his radio show Wednesday.

  • Walker wasted no time throwing a punch at Patty Mac: “With taking back the Senate majority hinging on our success in North Carolina, why would we gamble on Pat McCrory—a career politician who has lost more statewide races than he’s won?”

  • Walker added that he was the “most conservative and pro-Trump” candidate running, and you can see where this primary is headed.

  • Name recognition only goes so far. The question is whether McCrory—an old-fashioned Chamber Republican, and a relative moderate by the standards of the day—can gin up excitement among the MAGA faithful. He’ll try to sing from their hymnal, but they’ll know he’s faking it.


  • Gov. Cooper signed bills requiring school districts to offer 30 days of in-person summer school instruction and reforming the Read to Achieve program. (N&O)

  • The Wake County Superior Court is holding a trial over whether the constitutionality of the state’s 2018 voter ID law. You can watch a livestream here. (N&O)

  • The Wake County DA won’t pursue campaign finance charges against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The Washington Post reported last year that five DeJoy employees gave more than $1 million between 2000 and 2014 to state and federal Republican candidates and were then reimbursed. However, according to DA Lorrin Freeman, “Our review did not identify recent state campaign law violations that warranted opening a criminal investigation. Violations of federal campaign finance law would have to be investigated and prosecuted by the US Attorney’s office.” (N&O)

3. NCAA Backs Trans Athletes

If there was a chance that the General Assembly would pass the Save Women’s Sports Act, which targets transgender athletes, this probably kills it: The NCAA announced that it would pull any events from states that discriminate against trans student-athletes.

  • “The NCAA, which regulates college athletics in the U.S., backed transgender athletes Monday, saying it won’t hold championship events in locations that aren’t ‘free of discrimination.’ As Republicans in more than two dozen states target transgender athletes, the NCAA Board of Governors said it ‘firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.’”

  • Remember when the NCAA pulled all those events over HB2? We don’t want to do that again, do we?

4. Minnesota Cop Reached for Taser, Fired Gun

On Monday, with the trial of former Minneapolis cop and George Floyd killer Derek Chauvin taking place, a cop shot and killed Daunte Wright, a Black man, during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb. The cop’s explanation leaves much to be desired.

  • “The officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop near Minneapolis mistakenly confused her gun for her Taser, police officials said on Monday.”

  • “In a brief clip of body camera video, officers from the Brooklyn Center Police Department can be seen trying to handcuff the driver, Daunte Wright, before he suddenly lurches back into his car. One of the officers, whose name has not been released, aims a weapon at Mr. Wright and shouts, ‘Taser! Taser! Taser!’ She fires one round, and Mr. Wright groans in pain.

  • “‘Holy shit, I just shot him,’ the officer can be heard shouting.”

  • Brooklyn City Mayor Mike Elliott: “We recognize that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time. We recognize that this is happening at a time when our community, when all of America—indeed, all of the world—is watching our community.” (NYT)

  • The officer has been identified as Kim Potter, a 25-year vet and union president.

  • Police clashed with protesters in the Twin Cities Monday night.

  • Fox News host Jesse Waters responded to the shooting by accusing the media of “selling racism.” (Media Matters)

5. Israel Attacks Iran as U.S. Begins Nuke Talks

With the U.S. restarting nuclear-deal talks with Iran and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visiting Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu evidently thought it would be a great time to attack an Iranian nuclear facility, leading to a widescale blackout.

  • “Other officials said there was no way to know how Iran would react until they return to the European Union-sponsored talks on Wednesday. After last week's initial meeting, both sides labeled the negotiations—held indirectly, with European members of the deal shuttling between U.S. and Iranian delegations—as constructive and businesslike. Iran has refused to meet directly with the United States.”

  • Iranian officials across the board blamed Israel for the Natanz attack, which one called ‘nuclear terrorism’ and a ‘crime against humanity.’ But in an indication that Tehran wants the talks to continue, no public blame was directed at Washington, and there was no suggestion the discussions would halt.”

  • “Austin, the first senior Biden administration official to visit Israel, avoided public discussion of the weekend attack. Instead, he said the purpose of the two-day trip was to ‘reaffirm the administration’s commitment to Israel and the Israeli people.’” (WaPo)


  • The New Yorker has a very long, thoroughly compelling story on the archaeological search for the real King David—the one Old Testament legend we’re pretty sure actually existed: “Jerusalem of the tenth century B.C. is an archeological void. ‘I can take a shoebox and put inside everything we have from that period,’ Yuval Gadot, an archeologist from Tel Aviv University, said.”