NC'S LATINO POPULATION COULD SWING MANY ELECTION CONTESTS: Both parties are trying to mobilize North Carolina’s Latino vote. This week the Democratic Party announced a “multi-million dollar” push in North Carolina and five other battleground states that will pay for organizers and office staff. DNC Chair Tom Perez has cited North Carolina as one of the party’s most important battlegrounds. “Based on the turnout of Latinos in 2018 we’re very encouraged,” said Enrique Gutiérrez, the national party’s Hispanic Media Director. “In North Carolina it’s one of those important constituencies.” Exit polls in 2018 found that 69% of Latino voters supported Democrats while 29% backed Republicans. Perez has repeatedly cited North Carolina as one of the most important states nationally when it comes to Democratic strategy.
FLU HAS TAKEN THE LIVES OF 54 NC CITIZENS SINCE OCT 2019: Nine people died in North Carolina last week from complications of the flu, raising the death toll for the 2019-20 season to 54, state health officials announced Thursday. In addition to last week's deaths, four deaths occurred in previous weeks, the Winston-Salem Journal reported, citing statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Of the 54 deaths during the season, 31 were 65 years old or older, 12 were ages 50 to 64, 10 were ages 25 to 49 and one was ages 5 to 17. Citing privacy reasons, the department doesn't reveal hometowns, counties, ages or gender of flu victims. The traditional flu season runs from Oct. 1 through March 31. For the 2019-20 flu season, DHHS extended the reporting period to the week ending May 16.
TILLIS' LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRUMP IS RAKING IN CAMPAIGN CASH: Sen. Thom Tillis raised $1.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 and carried more than $5 million into 2020 for his re-election bid, the North Carolina Republican’s campaign announced Thursday. Friday is the deadline to file fourth-quarter fundraising totals with the Federal Election Commission. Tillis’ successful challenge to then-Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014 was the most expensive race in U.S. Senate history at the time — with all candidates and outside groups spending nearly $124 million. Tillis’ campaign manager Luke Blanchat said in a news release that the campaign entered 2020 “in a position of strength” with $5.3 million on hand, but acknowledged the projected cost of the race makes “it imperative that we accelerate the pace of our fundraising going forward.” Tillis entered the fourth quarter with $7.7 million raised since the beginning of his six-year term in 2015, and $4.9 million cash on hand.
WITH WITNESSES UNLIKELY, SENATE MAY VOTE TO ACQUIT DONALD TRUMP TODAY: The impeachment trial of President Trump is headed for a critical vote Friday that will determine whether the Senate hears from witnesses over allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to launch investigations for his own political benefit. But Senate Republicans are increasingly confident no new testimony will be heard and they can start on a sprint toward Trump’s acquittal. On Thursday, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said she will break with Republican leadership and vote to hear witnesses. But Collins still needs three other Republicans to vote with her if new evidence is to be allowed and it was unclear late Thursday night who, if anyone, in the party would join her. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) was considered a possible supporter of allowing testimony, but he announced Friday that he’s ready to end the trial even though he found Trump’s behavior “inappropriate” and leave the president’s fate in the hands of voters during the upcoming election.
TRUMP RESPONDS TO GOOD NEWS ON IMPEACHMENT BY ALLOWING INDUSTRY TO KILL MORE BIRDS: The Trump administration on Thursday moved to drop the threat of punishment to oil and gas companies, construction crews and other organizations that kill birds “incidentally,” arguing that businesses that accidentally kill birds ought to be able to operate without fear of prosecution. Conservation groups said the proposed new regulation from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates under the Department of Interior, would substantially weaken the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and put millions of birds in danger. The threat of fines and prosecution has, for decades, helped prod industries to take steps to protect birds, like affixing red lights on communication towers, they say. The proposed regulation, if finalized, would cement a legal opinion that the Department of Interior issued in 2017 that previous administrations had interpreted the law too broadly and that only actions explicitly intended to kill birds should be forbidden. That interpretation has already had significant consequences for migratory birds. According to internal agency documents recently obtained by The New York Times, the Trump administration has discouraged local governments and businesses from taking simple precautionary measures to protect birds, and federal wildlife officials have all but stopped investigating most bird deaths.