Around the Cupola

Goodwin, McLaughlin and schisms

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Larry McLaughlin

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By Miles Layton

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

No one can deny that it’s been an active few weeks in Tarheel politics.

Various proposals are moving forward through Raleigh as to how judges are elected.

The outcome of that debate may affect Edenton/Chowan County’s very own District Court Judge Meader Harriss III who has indicated his plans to keep wearing his judicial robes for the 1st District.

Unless the General Assembly or the courts intervene, candidates seeking District Court judicial seats will file for election between June 18 to June 29. That’s why we didn’t see Harriss’ name in any recent candidate filing stories. As the law is written now, there is no primary and there will be a general partisan election in November.

Reliable rumor has it that the 1st District will be losing a judge, pending the outcome of legislative ... meddling. Moreover, Wake County may be gaining a judge due to the increased workload that comes from the joys of big city living. That said, one less district court judge in our part of the state is sure to add to the stress and strain for those folks working within the justice system.

Larry McLaughlin has filed as a candidate for county commission. He’s the sole Republican candidate, so chances are he’ll be facing Democrat John Mitchener who is running for re-election to the District 2, Seat 2 on the commission board, in the November general election. Since McLaughlin filed after the Feb. 28 deadline, he had to get the signatures needed for his name to appear on the ballot.

While McLaughlin may best be known for his better half, Sarah, a popular assistant principal at White Oak Elementary, he does boast a formidable resume that includes time as a county magistrate, JAHHS teacher, small businessman and historical re-enactor.

In other political news, based on a hot news tip from a reliable source, we reported that William K. Alexander of Tyrell County filed Feb. 14 as a Republican candidate in the District 1 House race. However, Alexander withdrew Feb. 23 – the last day a candidate could withdraw so as that person’s name wouldn’t appear on the ballot in the primary. Moreover, Tyrell County Board of Elections returned Alexander’s $207 filing fee.

The final listing of candidates for District 1 are Republicans Eddie Goodwin of Chowan County and Candace Hunter of Perquimans County as well as Democrat Ron Wesson of Bertie County. Moreover, Wesson and Ben Speller are cousins who are linked by families hailing from Bertie County. If you don’t know who Speller is, maybe see the top-of-the-fold about him on the front page.

To date, the GOP primary for that House seat appears relatively quiet – much like those crickets in a recent wave of radio ads afflicting the 3rd Congressional District. Recently, Wesson made the rounds with NC Democratic Chair Wayne Goodwin across the 1st District. The pairing had good crowd attendance at events in Chowan and Perquimans counties.

Per Goodwin, reliable rumor has it that he may be thinking about a bid for statewide office in 2020, perhaps as lieutenant governor. During Goodwin’s stopover in Edenton, he responded to a question concerning his political future. Goodwin said his primary focus for the moment as NC Democratic Chair is attacking the GOP super-majority in the General Assembly so as “reasonable” laws instead of “extreme” legislation can be achieved. However, beyond that...

“I have not decided completely what my plans are in 2020 having served in statewide office several terms and still being a young man,” he said. “I do not believe my contribution to public service is over yet, but I will decide what my future is after we win more democratic seats in the legislature in November.”

As to Democratic “inside baseball” politics, Goodwin responded to questions about how members of the party’s leadership – Aisha Dew (1st Vice Chair) and Matt Hughes (2nd Vice Chair) – are managing political campaigns during the primary.

On paper anyway, a party’s executive leadership – either GOP or the Democrats – has a duty to refrain from being actively involved with candidates running in the primary because it gives the appearance of tilting the playing field. In the lingering aftermath of Democratic primary from 2016, a civil war raged within the party between Clinton and Sanders supporters. Sanders’ apparatchiks claimed the party sold them out in a subsequent purge that netted no leadership seats at the table.

Goodwin said he believes in transparency, doesn’t want anyone to show a preference and he has encouraged folks who may have the perception of a conflict of interest to submit a letter relinquishing their authority.

“I believe that the letter of the plan of organization says that, but the spirit of it is that you don’t want to have statewide or congressional district officers giving the appearance of preference – we have encouraged, even folks who have the perception of a conflict, to submit a letter relinquishing their authority,” he said.

Since talking to Goodwin in late February, neither Dew, Hughes nor Frick has relinquished their leadership positions within the party. Reliable rumor suggests we haven’t heard the end of the issue.

Party schisms are nothing new. One only need to look to the infighting among Dare County Republicans to see the bad blood that should make for an interesting GOP primary between Beverly Boswell and Bobby Hanig for state House District 6. Whoever wins that melee will face Democrat Tess Judge, a strong contender. First Flight High School’s football field after her late husband, Warren Judge.

In other matters, Daily Advance opinion page columnist Holly Audette recently posted on social media that she will not support Republican Clark Twiddy for state Senate District 1.

Twiddy is running against Bob Steinburg of Chowan County in the GOP primary.

To be clear, Audette, a conservative columnist, does not have any influence over any editorial content that appears within the Daily Advance. However, Audette’s columns enjoy a wide readership across northeastern North Carolina.

Audentte said the reason that she will not voting for Twiddy is based on his answers to questions at a recent Pasquotank County Republican Party function. For example, Twiddy said he doesn’t know that Mike Morgan was the judge who ruled against voter ID and then was elected to the NC Supreme Court last election, thus giving the Democrats the majority, she said.

Twiddy also said he believes the Constitution is a flexible document that should change with the times. To be fair, there is an argument to be made for that because there is no denying that the Constitution has changed over time. An example, Twiddy said, would be requiring warrants to obtain personal information through social media, a technological platform not envisioned in the 1700s.

Audette counters that the judiciary today is doing everything it can to deny Republican legislation and usurp the role of the legislative branch. She endorses former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s (RIP) view of the Constitution that was crafted as the Founding Fathers intended, not as a living document subject to the whims of activist judges.

Audette said she supports Steinburg in the primary.

“We need a conservative who believes the Scalia view of the Constitution, strict construction, is the right way to view the Constitution,” she said.