Friday News: Bowing to the inevitable


MARK HARRIS THROWS IN THE TOWEL AFTER SEVERAL KNOCKDOWNS: After a stunning reversal by Republican Mark Harris, North Carolina election officials Thursday unanimously ordered a new election in the 9th Congressional District, which has gained national attention as the last unresolved House race for the 2018 election. The state elections board’s vote came after four days of testimony about what the board’s staff called “a coordinated, unlawful, and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme” in Bladen and Robeson counties. And it came less than an hour after a startling announcement by Harris, who had been fighting to have his apparent victory certified. “I believe a new election should be called,” Harris told the board, citing testimony he’d heard during the week. “It’s become clear to me the public’s confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.“

9TH DISTRICT SEAT WILL REMAIN VACANT UNTIL LATE SUMMER/EARLY FALL GENERAL ELECTION: The election board will establish dates for new elections, starting with the filing deadlines for primary elections. A state law approved in December — after the absentee voting irregularities surfaced — requires that both party primaries and a general election be held. State and federal deadlines and ballot requirements mean the general election may not occur until late summer or early fall. McCready is certainly running for the seat again and has been assembling a new campaign staff. Harris didn't say Thursday whether he'd run in the new election, and state Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said it was too early to say what Harris' political future would be. Several other Republicans are likely to enter the race for the GOP-leaning 9th District. The most recent 9th District incumbent, Republican Robert Pittenger, declined to comment Thursday but said in December he wouldn't run if a new election were held.

WAKE SCHOOL OFFICIALS HEAR ABOUT IMMIGRANT STUDENTS' FEAR OF ICE: America Moreno Jimenez, a teacher of English as a Second Language at Sanderson High School in Raleigh, told the school board about the fear she’s seeing among her students. Jimenez made national headlines in 2018 when she was among the “Dreamers” in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program who attended the State of the Union address. “We have made promises to ourselves and to the public education profession to teach all of the students who sit in our classrooms as well as to teach those who will be absent in the coming weeks due to fear,” Jimenez said. “Fear that they won’t see their parents when they get home. Fear that they will be rounded up at the bus stop. Fear that their dad will be arrested in the carpool line. Who can think about homework when this fear hangs over them?” Jimenez urged the school board to pass a resolution declaring the district’s schools to be a “safe zone” from ICE agents. She also asked for changes in board policy so that requests for information from ICE agents would be treated differently than from other law enforcement agencies.

POLITIFACT BACKS COOPER'S CLAIM EXPANDING MEDICAID WOULD HELP 23,000 NC VETERANS: Gov. Roy Cooper and others say expanding Medicaid would provide coverage for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians. And, according to Cooper, tens of thousands are military veterans. “It is embarrassing that 30,000 veterans in North Carolina have no health insurance, and if we expand Medicaid, 23,000 of them will,” Cooper said in an interview with The News & Observer that was posted on Twitter. Cooper isn’t the first North Carolina Democrat to make this claim. In September, Alamance County state Senate candidate J.D. Wooten made a similar statement in a campaign video. As for the first part of Cooper claim, is it true that 30,000 veterans are without health insurance? PolitiFact couldn’t find statistics for 2018, 2017 or 2016. And the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t track the number of uninsured veterans, a spokeswoman told PolitiFact on Thursday. However, we found credible data from 2015 and 2014. Based on those reports, Cooper’s estimate appears to be on point.

TRUMP WANTS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE MORE THAN STOPPING NUKES IN NORTH KOREA: When President Trump meets North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, next week in Vietnam, his advisers hope to hammer out a road map for ridding the reclusive state of its nuclear weapons. But Mr. Trump appears more tantalized, at least for now, by declaring an end to seven decades of war on the Korean Peninsula. Those two goals, while not at odds, could result in a summit meeting that produces historic headlines but does little to advance the core American objective of eliminating North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. Administration officials insisted Wednesday that disarmament remains Mr. Trump’s “overriding goal.” But the president said recently that he was in no hurry to force North Korea to give up all of its weapons. Among the potential outcomes in Hanoi, according to experts briefed by the Trump administration, is an agreement that would trade a peace declaration for a North Korean commitment to open up and dismantle a handful of nuclear or missile facilities.



Form over function

I have little doubt Trump would gladly trade security for Nobel bragging rights. The thing is, a formal declaration of peace between the North and the South would not produce the same results as it would elsewhere in the world. There would still be a DMZ, travel by North Korean citizens (anywhere) would still be next to impossible, and any sort of "unification" effort would run into an ideological wall.

Trump's advisors know this, but the odds they'll be able to penetrate that rock head of his and convince him are not good. He's just not qualified to decide these things, especially when there's a shiny object to distract him.