Tim Moore Hoisted By Own Petard

Fri., Nov. 12: The Speaker seems to have lost his own gerrymandering game + more Durham cop talk from Mayor-elect Elaine O’Neal and council member DeDreana Freeman

» Madison Cawthorn Steals Tim Moore’s Congressional Seat Just Because He Can

Now in his seventh year as state House Speaker, Tim Moore thought he gave himself a promotion: a hometown congressional district so tilted toward Republicans that he wouldn’t be threatened even in the biggest blue wave.

But in trying to give Moore a very Republican 13th District, Republicans gave Madison Cawthorn a slightly less Republican 14th. And Cawthorn, who is beloved by MAGA types and mocked by everyone else, wanted nothing to do with a district that might prove competitive.

Per the Charlotte Observer:

Cawthorn is the incumbent in the 14th Congressional District. But he told Republican leaders in his current Western North Carolina district that he is instead considering running in the 13th Congressional District. …

Cawthorn’s current 11th district includes most of the new 14th district, but some parts of the new 13th district. Cawthorn lives in Henderson County, which is in the new 14th. But, unlike state lawmakers, congressional candidates do not have to live in the district they are running in. …

Both the new 13th and 14th districts are Republican-leaning districts. Analysis by The Cook Political Report says Republicans would be expected to win the 13th district by 13 percentage points and the 14th district by 7 points. The 14th district may be more likely to turn toward Democrats later in the decade due to population changes—a consideration given Cawthorn’s age.

Seven points is usually pretty safe. But with Cawthorn …

“I have every confidence in the world that regardless of where I run, the 14th Congressional District will send a patriotic fighter to DC,” Cawthorn said in his Twitter post. “But knowing the political realities of the 13th District I’m afraid that another establishment, go-along-to-get-along Republican will prevail there.” (N&O)

  • If you believe that, I’ve got a pristine piece of Florida swampland that is yours for the taking. You won’t find a better price anywhere.

  • Four overlapping options: 1) Cawthorn has no idea how “political realities” work. 2) Cawthorn is throwing shade at Tim Moore. 3) Cawthorn knows he’s at risk in the 14th. 4) The 13th includes western Mecklenburg County, which gives Cawthorn access to a bigger media market.

  • In any event, Moore isn’t going to run for Congress; he’ll remain Speaker instead. Perhaps if his redistricting team hadn’t made his district quite so safe

» SPEAKING OF GERRYMANDERS

Vox’s Zack Beauchamp dives into how gerrymandered North Carolina’s new maps really are. The answer: a lot.

The new map reflects the twin hallmarks of any gerrymander, called “packing” and “cracking.” Gerrymanders work by concentrating a large number of the opposing party’s voters in a handful of districts (“packing”), while spreading out the rest of their supporters across districts where they’re consistently outnumbered (“cracking”).

The new map’s lines are drawn in strange ways in order to pack and crack Democratic voters. Democrats in Charlotte, for example, are packed in a very small district where they outnumber Republicans by a roughly 3 to 1 margin. By contrast, Greensboro and the nearby area is cracked in such a way as to create several different districts with comfortable Republican majorities. …

It would take an absolute blowout, over 7 percentage points in the statewide popular vote, for Democrats to even get half of the state’s congressional delegation.

In addition, the new legislative maps are going to run out more than a half-dozen Black lawmakers, NC Policy Watch reports.

Voting rights groups have sued over the decision to not draw Voting Rights Act districts, which are intended to give Black voters the opportunity to elect the candidates of their choice.  


» Elaine O’Neal, DeDreana Freeman on Durham Policing

Yesterday, I ran excerpts of interviews I did with Durham City Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton and council member-elect Leonardo Williams about the police and the new Community Safety Department. Today, I’ll round out the new council majority with excerpts from my conversations with Mayor-elect Elaine O’Neal and council member DeDreana Freeman.

  • Both conversations have been lightly edited for clarity.

» ELAINE O’NEAL

JCB: There's been a lot of talk about the uptick in crime being a big factor in the election. Was that the sense you got?

EO: That’s the number one issue. Community safety. Whether I’m over in the hood, or whether, you know, in, I'm in the ritzier parts of the city when I'm in the middle class, whether you're in a courtroom, whether you're in the convenience store. It doesn't matter. I mean, now that my face has become more recognizable, people will, you know, they’ll stop me—I’m still doing everyday life—and I don't care who it is, what color, what age, if they’re 15 and up, and they know a little bit, that's the number one issue.

What’s your sense of what’s driving it?

Hopelessness and despair. COVID. There were already a lot of people who were hopeless, you know, kind of watching other parts of the city, and it's in your face now, you don't, you don't have to go park and see if you're living in some of our distressed communities, you can go right on the street and you see people that who are not having the same experiences that you're having. And so, 24 years on the bench, one of the things that really pained me was that you would get kids 16 to 17 and 18 years old who lost all hope that they would ever have a part of the American dream. They just didn't ever see it.

So when you have that, and now it is exacerbated and exposed more so by COVID, now we've all suffered some form of at least some form of sadness during this time. So you've couple all of that with the fact that you can still in certain communities get a gun faster than you can get a job. And then you put people in situations, or they put themselves in a situation where they're not a part of the regular economy, but they are part of the underground economy is a recipe for what you see: street justice and all of that.

So, poverty is driving a lot of sense of hopelessness, a sense of, I will never get out of this. All of those things that I saw are now amplified. And so what we're seeing now, in a lot of instances, because for a lot of us, we can choose not to see that. We can drive by, we don’t have to be exposed to it, and people become invisible. But when the streets cry out, they become visible.

In high-crime neighborhoods, is your sense that people want more cops? Do they feel like they're over-policed? Do they feel both?

It’s real different out there. Some communities—it’s definitely not one-size-fits-all. Because in some communities, like you said. they're feeling overpoliced. And then in some communities, they are feeling underpoliced, and that generally happens in those neighborhoods where they are hearing gunshots, you know, where their kids are having to climb in the bathtub to hide from the bullets.

But the goal is to make it so that we ensure safety in all of our communities. so we have to know that it's important to be able to increase community capacity to deal with problems. We have to be innovative in the restorative justice space, the violence interrupters, all those things are important—the new initiatives that the city council was talking about, about making sure that we have the right responders.

But at the same time, there are some situations where we have no choice but to depend on police to keep people safe. But at that same time, too, you have to make sure that you ensure police accountability, their professionalism, and make sure that you have the right men and women in those situations.

So I don't think that it's something where we have to choose. We can do both. You know, we can do both. We can address the issues of communities that feel overpoliced. We can address the issues of those who feel underpoliced, and we can also address making sure that our police officers are the best that they can be.

So you support the Community Safety Department? You just think they shouldn’t take positions away from the police department?

I am saying that a balanced approach has to be done when you have a city this large. I definitely think that we need to be innovative. And it seems that those programs have worked in other areas, and we should be innovative. That’s what restorative justice is all about. But like in that instance, restorative justice is not appropriate in all circumstances, and we have to have a balanced approach. But I don't think it has to be—we have to choose. We can do both. We are large enough where we should be able to accommodate the innovative part that makes us who we are and will continue to make us grow. But at the same time, until we have a situation where everybody's committing to being crime-free and not committing any crimes at all, there’s going to need to be police.

But there’s only so much you can do without raising taxes on low-income people. At some point, you might not be able to do both, or you might have to find somewhere else to cut your budget.

I think what you're saying is absolutely true, but that's what we do all the time. When you have a budget, you make adjustments as you have to, in different ways. The police department is just one of many departments that the city has. And you have a great city, we have always been fiscally responsible, and balancing the budget for the city of Durham has not really been an issue. It's been able to do that and do that well. I think that we have a great city manager who follows on the heels of other great city managers, and they've been able to balance that budget. There are many ways to do that. And I think, once again, that we can figure out ways to make sure that we are still fiscally responsible for all departments—the police department is but one of many departments.

» DEDREANA FREEMAN

JCB: I went back and watched a lot of these conversations evolve, since, you know, 2019, up to the most recent ones in May and in June. Maybe this is just my impression, and tell me if I'm wrong. But if I interpret everything correctly, I saw you getting progressively more frustrated over the course of time.

I know, on the side of the residents—and I’m teary-eyed right now thinking about it. Because I know their families, and I know they’re just trying to stay safe. It's like a game of tag with guns. So if I don't shoot you, you shoot me. And I watched it on my own camera in front of my own house. And that just tips you over. I understand the national context. I understand what we saw with George Floyd. But I also understand like, we are here. We're here in the city, and I can't watch these kids keep getting killed. I just can't just sit by and watch it.

If it’s police, if it's violence interrupters, if it's ShotSpotter, whatever the heck it is. It has to be something that we do comprehensively. I will say that this is why I strongly support Judge O'Neal, because she does have a plan, and I mean, I feel like we're getting ready to implement her plan. The more we talk about it, the more I feel like a light is being shined that will help because the other parts will work themselves out.

We've got plans for environmental, we've got plans for the buses, we've got plans in so many other areas. We did not have plans around addressing the gun violence in the neighborhoods that we knew were pervasive. And I mean, I know that that council member Middleton makes it very plain, like he says it very well with the kids jumping in the tubs. But it's so much more than that, it’s so much more. My husband is still traumatized from the child he watched die on the street, and they'll say that he died in the hospital because that's where they called the time. They watched him bleed out in the street. Pool of blood, just no one with the skill set to apply the pressure to the bullet shots or anything. Just no one.

Like, if an officer was there, the officer had the training to do that. Even if it was EMS, I don't care, Even if it was an EMS worker sitting in the neighborhood, like whatever it is, just the extra support in the area so that people were not dying.

I’ve been thinking about the two conversations I’ve been hearing. And one is, I kind of think of it as more of this abstract conversation about how to fix long-term things. And the other one is like, a lot of people are dying right now.

I mean, I’m very clear. I support figuring out how to defund police in a very real way. But here’s the thing. If all you do is just remove them and don't provide a solution, then people will arm themselves, and we'll have even a worse outcome out here in the streets. Some much worse. In the long term, having a plan to get to that, having measurements to get to that, like if x and y—all of that sounds like a great idea. For implementation five, you know, even three, four, five years down the line, yes. Right now, today, there's no way to tell me that we're doing better. We’ve got a whole lot less police on the street right now, because they’ve been going to other cities, other towns, retirement.

What are your hopes for the next council, I guess would be my question like, What are you in terms of this public safety question? Like, what do you expect to see happen? Like, what do you hope to see happen?

I fully hope to see a lot more community engagement, a lot more volunteers, a lot more sense of support in the community. And out of that, I fully expect for us to kind of do more long-term solutions with some immediate responses. It's just doing both. Walking and chewing gum at the same time. I think we've been chewing the gum. Chewing, chewing, chewing. We've not been walking the walk.

It's hard. That's the frustration for me. Because I'm not a talker, really. Even this much conversation with you, like, I'm saying too much. So I really want to focus on [doing] what needs to be done to keep everybody safe and healthy and thriving, and I know the city is like a big town. A lot more people know each other than they don't. I mean, we can pretend like we're some big city, like, you know, New York or Chicago, but we're not. We’re not even as big in Raleigh, so let's stop pretending like we are and actually solve these problems together.

We don't have to fight one another to solve them, we can actually solve them together. I think we're thinking the same thing—like, what makes us safe. And we have differences on what, but I think we got to trust more of the big picture with some of the smaller incrementalism.