NC REPUBLICANS SLING PORK TO FEED AT-RISK LEGISLATORS: In the state budget this year, legislators handed out millions of dollars in grants to towns, individual schools, county fairs, local libraries, little museums, nonprofit groups, and for-profit companies. These grants are called “member money” in the halls of the legislature. They're also known as pork. Sen. Dan Blue of Raleigh, the Senate's Democratic leader, said budget pork is meant to help Republican legislators vulnerable in the 2018 election. Pork projects "go excessively in areas where their incumbents are at risk," he said. The marquee example of helping endangered Republicans was the $200,000 aimed at 35 schools in Sen. Jeff Tarte's Mecklenburg County district. The money was to be funneled through the charity DonorsChoose, but the earmark was erased after the group said accepting the money would violate its principles.
SOME CHARLOTTE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS OPPOSE RNC 2020 BIDDING EFFORTS: The members said their concerns aren't entirely political. Some worry dangerous protesters could take over the city. Others say President Donald Trump is too divisive of a figure and a Republican convention when he isn't in office would be fine. "Bringing the Republican National Convention to Charlotte is/should be more than an economic development decision," council member Braxton Winston posted on Facebook Monday night. "We would be asking the people of Charlotte to host a celebration for a brand of politics that has been highly divisive and some would say dangerous to our community." Council member LaWana Mayfield told The Charlotte Observer a convention that nominated Trump for a second term should be rejected because of the president's "hostility toward minorities and people of color." The Republican National Committee is meeting July 17-20. Few cities have made public bids for the 2020 convention. Charlotte has only been joined by Las Vegas.
MANDY COHEN CHALLENGES NC GOP TO FOLLOW IN PENCE'S FOOTSTEPS AND EXPAND MEDICAID: In North Carolina, a bill to expand Medicaid through a program called “Carolina Cares” was authored by Republicans but doesn’t have enough support to pass in the GOP-controlled legislature. So on June 26, a member of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s cabinet urged Republican legislators to follow in the footsteps of another prominent conservative: Vice President Mike Pence. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, told the crowd at a “Close the Gap Advocacy Day” event that Pence approved Medicaid expansion while governor of Indiana. “When (the Vice President) was Governor of Indiana, he expanded Medicaid," Cohen said, according to this tweet by the executive director of NC AIDS Action. Cohen’s comments came in the waning days of the N.C. General Assembly session, when legislators could have taken up the Medicaid expansion bill but didn’t.
OCASIO-CORTEZ LEVERAGED ACTIVIST ORGANIZATIONS TO WIN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY: A campaign manager who moonlights as an energy healer. A photographer who sings in a heavy metal band. A Muslim progressive activist who runs a cooking blog in her spare time. These are some of the political outsiders who helped propel 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to a massive Democratic primary upset and into the national spotlight. If it seems Ocasio-Cortez's campaign crew is unconventional, that's sort of the point. She said she intentionally built her team from the ranks of burgeoning progressive and social causes, not from the traditional Democratic Party machine. "The best way to build this campaign was to organize around the groups that were already working and organize around the issues that mattered to them," said Ocasio-Cortez, explaining that she drew from such groups as Democratic Socialists of America, Muslims for Progress and Black Lives Matter.
TRUMP'S SUPREME COURT NOMINEE "GAMESHOW" AIRS TONIGHT: Trump, who spent the weekend at his New Jersey golf club, has not yet communicated a final choice, said a person familiar with his thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly. Trump has spent the weekend discussing his options with allies and will announce his pick at 9 p.m. Monday from the White House. Savoring the suspense, Trump has sought to keep people guessing in the final hours, hoping to replicate his successful announcement of Justice Neil Gorsuch last year. The White House hoped to keep the details under wraps until he rolls out his pick from the East Room. In his conversations over the weekend, Trump expressed renewed interest in Hardiman — the runner-up when Trump nominated Gorsuch, said two people with knowledge of his thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly. But Trump’s final decision remained far from clear, and the president wants to keep the guessing game going.