State Politics

Political news from around NC (and beyond).

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

The Wake County District Attorney says the preliminary autopsy report for Akiel Denkins shows that he was shot four times; once in the chest, once in each arm, and once in the right shoulder. 

Denkins, who is black, was shot and killed by Raleigh Police Officer D.C. Twiddy, who is white, on Monday. Police say Twiddy pursued Denkins on foot, they struggled, and Denkins drew a gun before Twiddy fired his own weapon. 

The reports conflict with initial statements from eyewitnesses, which claimed that police shot Denkins several times in the back as he was running away.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

With Super Tuesday in the books, presidential campaigns are  focusing on Florida, Ohio and North Carolina in advance of a March 15th Primary. That's when North Carolinians head to the polls to select party nominees for president, governor and the state legislature. In total, there are 340 General Assembly primary races on the ballot.

However, only a few of those contests are expected to be competitive.

A picture of a voting sign.
Keith Ivey / flickr.com/photos/kcivey/480629716

Early primary voting begins tomorrow morning and runs through March 12.

North Carolina State Board of Elections Spokeswoman Jackie Hyland says early ballots offer the same candidates as the March 15 primary ballot. But early voters may register the same day as they vote.

Hyland says the a state law requiring valid photo identification is now in effect.  Voters without ID may sign an affidavit explaining why they have no ID and receive a provisional ballot.

Image of police tape
Tony Webster / Flickr Creative Commons

Residents of southeast Raleigh are raising questions about the circumstances around a Raleigh officer fatally shooting 24-year-old Akiel Denkins.

Eyewitnesses say the white officer shot Denkins as he fled on foot. Police say the officer was trying to serve a warrant related to drug charges, and found a firearm near Denkins' body. Community members gathered last night for a march and vigil.  

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporter Jorge Valencia about the shooting and community response.

Image of voting booths
eyspahn / Flickr Creative Commons

The results from Super Tuesday are in and Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are leading the pack. Early voting begins tomorrow in North Carolina and the primary is less than two weeks away.

Do Tuesday's results strengthen or weaken the state's impact on the race for the White House? 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Michael Bitzer, political science professor at Catawba College, about what the results from Super Tuesday mean for North Carolina.

AP IMAGE: A conference at UNC-Chapel Hill looks at Austrian composer Hanns Eisler and how he broadcast political messages through contemporary compositions.
Herbert K. White / Associated Press

Musicians have used their songs to filter political messages for decades, from Bob Dylan's song "Blowin' in the Wind" to Kendrick Lamar's song "Alright."

But in the early 1900s, Austrian composer Hanns Eisler was a pioneer in the way contemporary artists use political themes in their music. A conference at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explores Eisler's work and his ability to subversively broadcast political messages through contemporary compositions.

Cities, counties and states across America are contemplating non-discrimination protections for transgender people. It would allow them to use the bathroom of their choice, but that has caused controversy.
Rusty Clark / Flickr Creative Commons

The transgender community has received greater visibility in pop culture with the stories of Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner in recent years. And in North Carolina, the Charlotte City Council recently passed an ordinance to include non-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals.

But despite the progress, 2015 also saw a record number of murders of transgender people, specifically women of color.

Can Bernie Sanders use grassroots action to catch up to Hillary Clinton?
Phil Roeder / Flickr Creative Commons

Trump’s path to the White House looks more likely as he wins primaries in South Carolina and Nevada. Will Super Tuesday allow another GOP candidate to take the lead?

And will Bernie Sanders be able to leverage small donors and grassroots action against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton?

Also, the four democrats who seek Richard Burr’s senate seat meet for a debate next week.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest in political news.

Image of Theodore Roosevelt
Library of Congress

The 2016 race for the White House is full of expectations from both sides of the aisle about the role of the 45th president. How has that office evolved? And what does history tell us about how presidents are judged?

Photo: The Four NC Democrats Running For US Senate
WRAL-TV

The four Democrats seeking to Represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate differed on immigration policy, agreed on most other issues and generally avoided criticizing each other in a televised debate on Thursday night.

Image of bathroom sign
The LEAF Project / Flickr Creative Commons

The Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance to include non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community.

Although the expanded protection includes a variety of changes, the most controversial measure allows transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice.

The city council voted 7-4 in favor of the ordinance expansion, but Governor Pat McCrory and other Republican legislators have indicated the state may intervene.

Photo: A camera pinned on a police uniform
cops.usdoj.gov

Police body cameras are slowly catching on in North Carolina as a way to hold both police and civilians accountable for their actions. But body cameras also raise questions about the privacy of the people they record.

Should that footage be public record? And will body cameras be the answer for communities that have lost trust in their police force?

Image of the agave plant, used in tequila production
Amante Darmanin / Flickr Creative Commons

In the early 2000s, a shortage of the agave plant used to make tequila prompted producers to partner with Mexican farmers in an effort to harvest more crops. But those agreements heavily favored tequila companies and have had lasting impacts on small farms. 

Photo: Proposed legislative maps of 2016
North Carolina General Assembly

Federal judges are being asked to approve the new North Carolina congressional maps approved by state lawmakers last week. Earlier this month, three voters successfully sued after claiming the previous maps were racially gerrymandered.

Image of Omid Safi with students on a trip
Omid Safi

In the past decade, Omid Safi has become one of the country’s leading voices in discourse around Islam and Islamophobia. 

His public commitments range from writing a weekly column for the public radio program “On Being” to being a go-to expert for national networks like NPR and Al Jazeera.

North Carolina General Assembly

North Carolina lawmakers met a Friday deadline to complete a court-ordered rewrite of the state's congressional voting maps. They also postponed the congressional primary until June 7. 

The new plans will move forward after the U.S. Supreme Court late Friday declined Republican lawmakers' request to stay the lower court order. Here are some of the key takeaways from the redesign:

Why did the General Assembly re-draw the maps?

Photo: Proposed legislative maps of 2016
North Carolina General Assembly

February 19 update:  Lawmakers gave final approval to the new maps on Friday.

North Carolina lawmakers are just steps away from rearranging the state’s congressional districts and eliminating runoff elections. The actions are at the behest of a federal court’s finding of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering in two of the state's congressional districts.

Photo: Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Mecklenburg County
Jorge Valencia

Republican legislative leaders proposed a new outline for North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts on Wednesday, moving two incumbents out of districts they represent and likely pushing the primary elections for congress past the scheduled March 15 date.

Lawmakers, responding to a federal court ruling that said they had racially gerrymandered some congressional districts in 2011 and ordering them to draw new ones, presented maps that would rearrange almost all of the state’s voting lines. The proposal would keep the delegation’s 10-3 Republican majority.

The modern day race for political office includes a series of competitions for endorsements and money. And the race for chief executive of North Carolina is no exception.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper have each raised millions of dollars in advance of a gubernatorial election that is expected to be among the closest in the country.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina voters will head to the polls to cast their primary ballots in about one month. As the election draws near, candidates are working hard to gain support, particularly financial backing.

The end of January marked the deadline for campaign committees to report their end-of-year financials, and WUNC examined contributions to the two frontrunners in the governor’s race: incumbent Pat McCrory and democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

Cooper received smaller donations than McCrory on average, but the attorney general raised more money overall. 

The death of conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has sparked a political battle in Washington.
Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is being remembered as a conservative justice known for his sharp dissents from the bench.

Scalia died Saturday at the age of 79. And his death almost immediately started a political battle in Washington. Senate Republican leaders say they will refuse to vote on a nominee to replace Scalia while President Obama is still in office.

The Republican presidential field has thinned with Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina dropping out. Ohio Governor John Kasich remains and will try to keep up the momentum follwing his second-place finish in New Hampshire.
Alex Hanson / Flickr Creative Commons

The race for the White House heats up as voters in Iowa and New Hampshire made their choices. Several candidates, including Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, dropped out after poor showings in the first two contests.

And in North Carolina, the March 15 primary is in flux because of a court ruling declaring two congressional districts unconstitutional.

Image of green urine sample bottles
Steven Depolo

Earlier this week, state officials released results from the first round of drug testing for some welfare recipients. The findings show little evidence pointing to widespread drug use among beneficiaries of the state's Work First public assistance program. 

Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Paul Modrich, recepient of a 2015 Noble Price in Chemistry, during a tour of Duke Medical School on Wednesday.
Jeff Tiberii

Vice President Joe Biden told an audience in Durham that he hopes to serve as a facilitator in the efforts to cure cancer.

Biden visited Duke University Wednesday afternoon to visit a research laboratory, ask questions about how to improve collaboration,  and pledge to help clear the way through bureaucratic obstacles.

U.S. Representative Alma Adams
U.S. Representative Alma Adams

Federal judges have struck down the maps of two congressional districts in North Carolina.

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