Pete's Prep: Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018

Candidate filing ends in NC

In the past, North Carolina political parties did not focus on recruiting and running candidates in every single race across the state. Generally, it was considered a waste of resources - particularly in "safe seat" districts where victory was impossible due to the partisan demographics. 

For example, if hypothetical District A is made up of 70% Democratic registered voters, a Republican candidate has no shot of winning. Why devote resources, volunteers, and effort on a race you can not win? 

Every hour a volunteer phone banks for a long-shot candidate is an hour that the volunteer didn't phone bank for one who could win. Every dollar donated to a sure loser is a dollar that didn't go to a close race.

So, while it's nice to have a candidate, it doesn't mean the candidate is going to get a lot of support.

Also, there is the risk that hypothetical candidate John Doe is insane, and the opposing party will use him to attack every other candidate in every other race. Call it the "Todd Akin" effect.

But the Democratic Party (both nationally and in NC) is invested in a narrative of the "Blue Wave" this year. It's how they'll soak up hundreds of millions of dollars from outside special interests and donors. North Carolina is a "purple state" and Democrats need to win in 2018 if they have any chance of taking over the legislature for the 2020 census (so they can control the redistricting process).

Democrats have a long way to go to recover from the national decimation under President Obama.

In modern history, the party that holds the White House usually suffers losses in the first midterm election. So, the GOP can expect losses this year.

President Donald Trump is seen as an additional drag on the GOP candidates down the ballot.

So, Democrats adopted a strategy of running candidates in every district. Will they all win? Of course not. But that's not the point.

The point is the PR.


But the NC Republican Party says it, too, has candidates in every single race.


Fielding candidates is important, of course. But WHO the candidate is is more important. (See: Hillary Clinton)

And I'm not sure if candidates can win if they're pushing for higher taxes, gun restrictions, and unisex showers. 

Of course, this will require NC media to press the Democratic candidates on these topics... and it's a pretty good bet that won't happen.

And speaking of gun control...


Asheville City Council: Ban 'assault weapons'

While they have no power to actually ban any weapon, the city leaders passed a resolution saying they would like to see a ban of "assault weapons." They did not define what that term means.

From the Citizen-Times:

[Mayor Esther] Manheimer told attendees her husband is a public  school teacher and she has three sons in public schools and she supports  increased school security.

"But personally I’m  fairly exasperated about the conversation that doesn’t have anything to  do with guns and what we’re going to do in terms of regulating guns."

Manheimer  said she would like to go further than an assault weapons ban and cited  a USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll done last week of registered voters nationwide  that showed 63 percent say semiautomatic weapons should be banned.

"But  it is because of the NRA and its influence that politicians are not  able to make a decision that otherwise represents a majority of the  population," she said.

The council has limited ability to control guns, unlike the General  Assembly and Congress, so "exercising our voice in this conversation" is  one of the few things Asheville leaders can do, she said.

The City Council did not propose - or take action on - any way to improve school safety.

Also, that USA TODAY/Suffolk poll Mayor Manheimer cites is problematic (as are most surveys about gun bans).

Here is how USA Today reported it:

On guns, a nation that is often divided on issues is remarkably united: 

  • By  almost 2-1, 61%-33%, they say tightening gun-control laws and  background checks would prevent more mass shootings in the United  States.
  • By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, they say semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, used by the Florida shooter, should be banned.
  • By more than 6-1, 76%-12%, they say people who have been treated for mental illness should be banned from owning a firearm.

Even  gun owners are inclined to support those three measures. But a majority  of Republicans say tighter gun laws wouldn't prevent more mass  shootings, and they oppose banning semi-automatic weapons. 

The mayor is referencing that second point. Here is the question from the survey: "Should semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 be banned in the United States?"

The problem with the question is that it's unclear what type of firearm is being banned.

I would hear that question and think it is including "all semi-automatic weapons." Which would include virtually all pistols.

Others hear the question and think it is simply restricted to AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles. But that's not what the question states.

Another recent survey on this same matter highlighted this same problem - as most respondents said they favor a ban on semi-automatic guns, but overwhelmingly support a person being able to defend their home with a handgun.

Probably the biggest frustration gun owners and Second Amendment supporters have in the debate is how gun control activists don't appear to have an understanding of the subject.

And this survey shows - once again - how the pollster doesn't know what they're asking... leading to responses that don't tell us very much.

Unless, of course, you're simply using the poll to advance a particular viewpoint. 

Interestingly, USA Today did not link to the survey

Nor did it include these other findings:

  •  When asked whether restricting access to guns or improving mental  health care would be more effective in curbing mass shootings, 39  percent said mental health care is more important, 31 percent chose gun  controls, and 25 percent said a combination of the two would be best.
  • Voters also favored a requirement that an armed police officer be  stationed at schools by 58 percent to 32 percent, and 62 percent said  they also should be required to have metal detectors.

Also, I notice the Mayor and City Council do not advocate a different popular idea: allowing teachers to conceal carry.

In the first of two Morning Consult polls, 50 percent said they back  armed teachers in schools, a quick fix backed by Trump and first  suggested by the National Rifle Association. Some eight states already  allow armed teachers in schools, and another six are considering it.

Meanwhile, the Buncombe County District Attorney is proposing tougher penalties at the state level for people who get caught with a gun on a school property, as well as any threat of mass violence made against a school.

His proposals, which are supported by Sen. Terry Van  Duyn and Rep. Susan Fisher, suggest that the penalty for possessing a  firearm on school property be elevated from a class I felony to a class  D, making it equivalent to robbery with a dangerous weapon.

"Class  D felony is like sticking a pistol in someone's face," Williams said.  "This gives us so many more tools to ensure safety of schools and there  are just so many examples of why we need it at this point."

Raising  the crime to a class D felony would require an active sentence for a  first time offender, meaning they would go to prison.

Williams  said it would also give prosecutors the authority to petition for a  higher bond after an arrest in the interest of public safety.

It's interesting that this idea has the support of two of the most liberal state lawmakers, given the concern among progressives about the "school-to-prison pipeline." It was that concern that prompted the initiative in Broward County that critics say prompted local law enforcement to ignore crimes committed by students in order to show fewer juvenile arrests on the stat sheet.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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