President Barack Obama on Monday named Democratic Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as his nominee to replace outgoing U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
“Anthony’s life reflects the values he learned growing up in West Charlotte, where he was raised by his single mom and his grandparents,” Obama said while introducing Foxx at the White House. “Over the past three and a half years, those values have helped Anthony become one of the most effective mayors that Charlotte’s ever seen.”
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Foxx would be the third transportation secretary to hail from North Carolina, after Elizabeth Dole (1983-1987) and James Burnley (1987-1989). He would lead a federal agency with an annual budget of $70 billion and over 55,000 employees.
“There is no such thing as a Democratic or a Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system,” Foxx said. “We must work together, across party lines, to enhance this nation’s infrastructure.”
After serving four years as an at-large member of the city council, Foxx became the youngest mayor in Charlotte’s history when he was elected in 2009 at the age of 38 and went on to be re-elected in 2011 with 68 percent of the vote. While serving as mayor he has also worked as deputy general counsel for DesignLine Corporation, a hybrid electric bus manufacturer based in Charlotte.
Foxx entered the national spotlight last year as Charlotte played host to the Democratic National Convention. He has been considered a possible contender to take on Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, a former seven-term mayor of Charlotte, in 2016. But now that he is likely going to Washington, D.C., Foxx’s standing as a potential gubernatorial candidate may be unclear.
“It’s going to be tough to run a successful campaign while you’re in Washington,” said Dr. Chris Cooper, political science professor at Western Carolina University. “I think the networks he’s going to have to build, the things he’s going to have to be spending his time doing, are maybe not the same ones that are going to play well for somebody who wants to run for governor.”
Still, Cooper says, “this is a big move for North Carolina.”
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday announced his picks to serve on the State Board of Elections. The five appointees, who will replace the current members on May 1, are comprised of three Republicans and two Democrats, reversing the partisan majority of the board as a reflection of the change in control of the governor’s office.
According to a release from the governor’s staff, the three new Republican members of the State Board of Elections will be:
Josh Howard (Wake County) – Howard is a founding member of the law firm Gammon, Howard & Zeszotarski, PLLC. Howard has served as counsel & chief ethics officer for RTI International, as well as deputy criminal chief for economic crime for the U.S. attorney’s office. Howard also served as an assistant United States attorney for the U.S. attorney’s office.
Paul J. Foley (Forsyth County) – Foley is currently an associate for the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP. He has served as an associate for several other firms, including Wall Esleeck Babcock LLP, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and Seward & Kissel LLP.
Rhonda K. Amoroso (New Hanover County) – Amoroso recently served as chair of the New Hanover County Republican Party. Prior to her time as chair, Amoroso served as vice chair of the executive committee in charge of election operations. Amoroso was an associate at several New York law firms before being appointed to the New York State Freshwater Wetlands Appeals Board.
The two Democratic members of the board will be:
Joshua D. Malcolm (Robeson County) – Malcolm is the current chair of the Robeson County Board of Elections. Malcolm has served on the board for the past six years. He also served as the general counsel for the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Prior to his time at Pembroke, Malcolm served as assistant general counsel at Fayetteville State University.
Maja Kricker (Chatham County) – Kricker serves as chair of the Chatham County Board of Elections. She has served on the board for six years. Kricker was also the owner of GeneLights Productions, a molecular media company, and previously worked as a computational biologist for Paradigm Genetics.
Five months after Republican Mitt Romney carried North Carolina – and with roughly 42 months until November 2016 – a new poll finds former secretary of state Hillary Clinton leading Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in hypothetical match-ups for the White House.
Voters are divided by gender when it comes to the possible pairings. Men slightly favor Rubio or Paul over Clinton, 49/43 and 47/46 percent, respectively. But their enthusiasm is more tepid for the potential Republican contenders than the strong support shown for Clinton by women, who currently favor the former first lady by 54-36 percent over Rubio and 57-35 percent over Paul.
Voters of all ages favor Clinton over Rubio or Paul, except among those who are age 65 or older, who have a 1-2 percent preference for the Republicans.
Geographically, Paul beats Clinton only in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, while Rubio leads Clinton in both that area and in the Triad. Clinton’s strongest support comes in the Triangle, where she polls above 60 percent.
Clinton also enjoys an advantage among unaffiliated voters, 43-40 percent against Rubio and 48-42 percent against Paul. However, with 18 percent of these independent voters unsure of their preference, a Clinton-versus-Rubio contest would be a tossup.
Of course, much can and will change in the ensuing 1,296 days, but the early poll shows that North Carolina could be poised to remain a swing state in the next presidential election.
The statewide poll of 601 North Carolina voters was conducted Apr. 11-14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
For the third year in a row, North Carolina teens were most likely to reject party labels and instead “pre-register” as unaffiliated voters in 2012, according to data from the State Board of Elections.
Under a program first implemented in 2010, 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote in North Carolina, allowing them to automatically become active voters when they turn 18. Last year, nearly 47,000 teens took advantage of the option, an increase from the 41,000 in 2011 and 38,000 in 2010.
Of the teens who pre-registered in 2012, 41 percent chose to do so as unaffiliated voters, a 3-percent increase from 2011. Thirty-three percent pre-registered as Democrats, while 25 percent did so as Republicans – marking the first year that Democrats edged out Republicans in pre-registration. One percent pre-registered as Libertarians.
Not surprisingly, here at the N.C. Center for Voter Education our biggest focus is also our namesake – the voter. Making sure the public is informed and participatory, and that ballot access is fair and equal, is our mission. And with each election we wait with bated breath for poll results to see just who and how many are exercising their right and responsibility in North Carolina.
By the numbers, November 2012 saw a fairly solid turnout at the polls. Out of nearly 6.6 million registered voters, 4.5 million cast ballots, adding up to a voter turnout rate of over 68 percent. This makes North Carolina one of the few states to maintain election momentum from the 2008 presidential election.
By demographic category, Republicans and African-American women showed the most enthusiasm, with voter turnout rates nearly five percentage points higher than the overall state average, according to a recent report from Democracy North Carolina. Democrats were not far behind in getting to the polls, turning out at 70 percent. Another spirited group was the Tar Heel State’s women, who had more voter turnout than men in every single county.
In short, North Carolina is becoming a better state when it comes to getting to the polls. While in 2008 this could be credited to the excitement surrounding Barack Obama’s first run for the White House, sustained electoral energy seemed to stick around this past November. And with smart legislation designed to encourage participation at the polls, we can hope to see continually increasing numbers in the years to come.
The Charlotte Observer noted this week that the Republican Party may be looking at holding the Republican National Convention in Charlotte in 2016, which would be just four short years after Democrats held their convention there in 2012. The Republican National Committee was in Charlotte this week for its winter meeting, and I guess they were as impressed with the city as Democrats.
An opposing political party hosting their convention in the same city four years later is not unprecedented, but it is extremely rare. The last time it happened was in 1968 and 1972. Republicans held their 1968 convention in Miami and Democrats nominated George McGovern in the same city in 1972. And odd as it may seem now, Republicans also held their 1972 convention in Miami again, marking the last time both parties would host their convention in the same city in the same year.
Prior to 1972, the last time both parties held their conventions in the same place was 1952 in Chicago. The Windy City must have impressed everyone because the Democrats came back in 1956 and the Republicans came back in 1960. In fact, Chicago is overwhelmingly the favorite city for both parties’ conventions, hosting a total of 24 since 1864, including five conventions in a row for Republicans between 1904 and 1920.
There is little evidence that the convention site has any impact on electoral outcomes, so there’s no real reason why the Republicans shouldn’t consider Charlotte for 2016. By most accounts it appears that the Queen City acquitted itself very well during the 2012 Democratic National Convention and it might make some sense to keep it in the Republicans’ home base in the South after holding it in Tampa last year.
At any rate, who the Republicans nominate in 2016 will be much more interesting than which city he or she officially accepts the nomination in. I do think the Republicans will hold their convention somewhere in the South though, and my wild guess for the Democrats’ 2016 host city? Austin, Texas.
With his left hand rested upon two Bibles – one belonging to President Abraham Lincoln and the other to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – and his right hand raised before the nation, President Barack Obama took the oath of office on Monday at a public ceremony to commence his second term.
Over 800,000 people attended the president’s inauguration on a chilly day in Washington, D.C., down from the 1.8 million who descended on the National Mall in 2009 to witness the swearing-in of the country’s first black president.
After a sizable win in November and a recent clash with congressional Republicans over the fiscal cliff, and with more fights on gun control and federal spending on the horizon, Obama’s speech – 2,137 words long and delivered in 15 minutes – seemed at times less a conciliatory address and more an impassioned continuation of his 2012 presidential campaign.
“For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate,” Obama said. “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”
While his address was short on specifics, as most presidential inaugurals are, Obama laid out the framework for a progressive agenda over the next four years, touching on entitlement programs, immigration and climate change.
“The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us,” Obama said. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
In addition to the Bibles held by First Lady Michelle Obama, the ceremony saw several poignant and historic moments, including the invocation delivered by Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, and the inaugural poem composed and read by Richard Blanco, a gay Hispanic immigrant.
Indeed, Obama’s remarks on Monday were the first time a president has addressed the issue of gay rights in an inaugural speech.
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma and Stonewall,” Obama said, referencing historic landmarks in the movements for women’s rights, civil rights and gay rights, respectively. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
Obama embarks on his second term with an approval rating of about 51 percent, on par with former President George W. Bush at the time of his re-inauguration, but lower than Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan when they started their second terms in office. Meanwhile, Congress is coming off a yearly approval rating of 15 percent – its lowest mark in Gallup’s 38 years of tracking the figure.
Mitt Romney, Obama’s 2012 challenger, was not in attendance at the inauguration, making it the only instance since 1989 that a losing candidate was not present for the event. That year, Romney’s fellow former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis declined to attend the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush after losing the race for the White House.
Upon his swearing-in on Monday, Obama became just the second president to take the oath of office four times, with the other being Franklin D. Roosevelt. While FDR was elected a record four times, Obama’s multiple oaths were the result of a slip of the tongue and a coincidence of the calendar.
In 2009, Obama first took the oath publicly in front of the U.S. Capitol, but a flub by Chief Justice John Roberts prompted a second oath at a private ceremony. The fact that Jan. 20 – the constitutionally mandated day for swearing in the president – fell on a Sunday this year resulted in Obama being sworn in a third time at a private ceremony in the White House, followed by him taking the oath for a fourth time on Monday at the public inaugural festivities.
Obama slipped up slightly in his final swearing-in, stumbling over the word “states,” but since he had taken the official oath the day before, the mild mistake was moot.
Full video of President Obama’s second inaugural speech can be seen below.
Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are the early frontrunners for the 2016 presidential election, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling.
Clinton, who has battled a series of health problems as of late, is the top choice among Democratic voters for their party’s nomination, with 57 percent favoring the former first lady. Vice President Joe Biden is a distant second, garnering the support of 16 percent of usual primary voters.
Among the potential Democratic candidates who trail Clinton, most seem to struggle with relatively low name recognition. For instance, 43 percent of Democrats have no opinion of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, 76 percent have no opinion of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and 80 percent have no opinion of former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Biden is very well liked by his party’s voters – 75 percent hold a favorable view of him – but apparently not enough to be their nominee.
The poll finds Clinton beating a field of potential Republican presidential contenders. She leads Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) by 53-39 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 51-37 percent and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) 51-37 percent.
Christie narrows the gap against Clinton considerably, trailing her by just two points, 44-42 percent. He performs especially well with independent voters, leading Clinton among this demographic by nearly 20 percent. However, Christie would first need to win the Republican nomination, possibly a very steep climb, with just 5 percent of GOP voters preferring him to be the party’s pick. Instead, Rubio is the leading choice for Republicans at 21 percent.
The New Jersey governor is a favorite among moderate Republican voters, who name him as their top candidate. But self-described conservatives are far less fond of him, with just 4 percent picking Christie, perhaps due to his kind words for President Barack Obama’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the final days of the 2012 presidential election and his recent excoriation of congressional Republican leadership after a storm-relief package for his region stalled in the U.S. House.
In fact, the poll shows Christie with a higher favorability rating among Democrats, at 52 percent, than Republicans, at 48 percent.
“Needless to say that furthest right wing of the party has become more and more and more powerful in party primaries over the last few years and it would be hard for Christie to win the GOP nomination without getting more support there,” pollster Tom Jensen writes in his analysis of the survey numbers.
Of course, four more years of Democratic control of the White House could motivate the GOP to look for a more moderate candidate in the likes of Christie. And with about 1,400 days left until Election Day 2016, almost anything is possible.
Conducted Jan. 3-6, the national poll of 1,100 voters has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
Former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory was sworn in at the State Capitol on Saturday, officially becoming North Carolina’s first Republican governor in 20 years.
The event broke from the tradition of holding the swearing-in at inaugural festivities open to the public. Instead, McCrory decided to take the oath of office at a private ceremony before state lawmakers return to work for a brief session on Jan. 9. More inaugural festivities, including a parade and open house at the Executive Mansion, will be held on Jan. 12.
Outgoing Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue attended the ceremony, handing over to McCrory the state seal as a sign of the shift in gubernatorial power. After the transition McCrory hugged Perdue, to whom he had lost his initial run for governor in 2008. North Carolina Chief Justice Sarah Parker then administered the oath of office.
Once sworn in as just the fourth Republican North Carolina governor since 1901, McCrory offered a few brief remarks.
“Our goal was not to get a title. Our goal was to lead, and to govern, and to serve with a purpose, and that’s what we’re going to begin doing today,” McCrory said. “Let us all work together and let us never forget our purpose.”
Full video of the swearing-in ceremony can be seen below, courtesy of UNC-TV:
A joint session of the U.S. Congress was held Friday to open and count Electoral College votes submitted by the 50 states and District of Columbia, ending the 2012 presidential election.
Vice President Joe Biden presided during the session in which he and Democratic President Barack Obama were officially re-elected with 332 electoral votes to the 206 for Republican Mitt Romney and his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan.
Obama’s tally was down from the 365 electoral votes he won in 2008. The threshold to win the Electoral College and the presidency is 270 votes. A state’s electoral votes are equal to its total number of representatives and senators in Congress.
North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes went to Romney, who won the state’s popular vote on Nov. 6.
Audio of Friday’s joint congressional session can be heard below, courtesy of VoterRadio.com:
Full video of the 2012 meeting of the North Carolina Electoral College can be seen here.