RALEIGH – The state Senate’s recent vote to move North Carolina’s presidential preference primary to March 15, 2016, means the state won’t be one of the early-tier decision-makers. But with the winner-take-all format established in House Bill 373, North Carolina should grab the attention of presidential contenders.
“Now with a winner-take-all, North Carolina is going to be a big prize,” said Andy Taylor, professor of political science at N.C. State University. “A lot will depend on the status of the race at the time, who’s still in, and the winnowing effect of states before us.”
“If there is a real contest going on, winning North Carolina could be a big boost,” said Chalmers Brumbaugh, political science professor at Elon University.
Traditionally, North Carolina’s presidential preference primary has been held in early May, along with primaries for statewide and local offices. The May date, in most instances, meant that the major party nominees had pretty sown up their nominations by the time the state’s voters cast their ballots.
Two years ago, lawmakers decided to decouple the presidential preference primary from the remaining primaries and place it soon after South Carolina’s presidential preference primary, making it one of the earliest in the nation.
However, that front-loaded date ran afoul of Republican and Democratic party rules. The likely result of keeping a February date would have been penalties from the parties greatly reducing the number of delegates North Carolina could send to the presidential nominating conventions.
The March 15 date allows North Carolina to have a winner-take-all primary and still comply with national GOP convention rules. In the past, the state’s delegates have been awarded proportionately. If the candidate receiving the most support from North Carolina voters withdraws from the race before the nominating convention, then all the delegates will be released from their commitment and they can vote for any candidate.
While final primary and caucus dates aren’t yet set in many states, including North Carolina’s (which depends on the House approving the latest version of H.B. 373), it appears that about 20 states will have presidential primaries or caucuses before March 15, 2016. Four other states — Ohio, Florida, Illinois, and Missouri — are slated to have their primaries on that date.
“I’d be very surprised if the Republican [nomination] isn’t still up for grabs” in mid-March, Taylor said.
North Carolina will have one of the larger delegations to the 2016 Republican National Convention, primarily because of its population and GOP success in the state.
“That would make it a bigger deal and a bigger prize to win,” Brumbaugh said. Winning all of the state’s delegates would be a momentum builder for the Republican nominee, he said.
Taylor said that while the state could be a major target for 2016 hopefuls, moving the primary date to the middle of the pack likely would negate efforts to get North Carolina’s issues raised to the intensity that states holding earlier primaries receive.
Taylor also said he expects decoupling the presidential preference primary could reduce voter turnout for the May 2016 primary for statewide and local offices.
“It still will be at a different time than the down-ballot primaries, which are still going to be in May,” Taylor said.
The March 15, 2016, primary date is not yet law. While the Senate passed H.B. 373 by a 45-0 margin, the House version of the bill had an earlier primary date. The bill moving the primary to mid-March could face a vote in the House sometime this week.
Barry Smith (@Barry_Smith) is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.
RALEIGH, N.C. — On Thursday the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled the Opportunity Scholarship Program passed by the General Assembly in July 2013 is constitutional. The ruling is the final decision in this case. The program awards scholarships of up to $4,200 for low-income and working-class families to attend a private school of their choice.
“We are very thankful for the Supreme Court’s thoughtful decision in recognizing the constitutionality of the Opportunity Scholarship Program in North Carolina,” stated Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland). “We are elated that students currently benefiting from the scholarship, as well as future scholarship recipients, will be able to continue to achieve their educational goals through this unique opportunity.”
“Today the Supreme Court reaffirmed that education in North Carolina is about our children and their future,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “This ruling makes clear that parents – not education bureaucrats or politicians – ought to be able to choose the educational pathway best suited to their children’s needs, and it empowers thousands of low-income families across the state to make that important choice.”
“Two-hundred and twenty-four schools have worked with parents to allow students to attend the school of their choice. Today’s court decision means that more families will have realistic access to educational options for their children,” said Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake). “We will continue to work to expand the Opportunity Scholarship Program, so more student can be placed in an educational setting that is right for them.”
During the 2014-2015 school year, Opportunity Scholarships were awarded to 1,200 students attending 224 schools. Over 1,100 of these students have reapplied, joining the 4,800 applicants for the 2015-2016 school year. Both 2015 House and Senate budgets have allocated $17.6 million for the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which will likely serve approximately 4,400 students.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced the opening of a new regional office in High Point, NC, and the relocation of his Charlotte, NC, office. The state office expansion is part of Senator Tillis’ ongoing effort to broaden the range of services offered by his staff to North Carolinians in every corner of the state. The new High Point office will serve the integral North Carolina Triad region, and the more centrally located Charlotte office will continue to provide a high standard of constituent services to residents of the greater metro area.
The new High Point and Charlotte offices are in addition to the Senator’s state offices in Raleigh and Greenville. Tillis plans to open an office in Western North Carolina in the near future. Tillis encourages constituents to meet with members of his state staff and utilize his in-state offices to help resolve any issues that they might experience when dealing with the federal agencies and the government.
“I am holding myself responsible to ensure all constituent needs are met and have selected qualified staff in North Carolina and Washington who will work with constituents each and every day,” said Senator Tillis. “Our hard-working staff stands ready and willing to assist with any issue.”
9300 Harris Corners Parkway
Charlotte, NC 28269
Phone: (704) 509-9087
HIGH POINT OFFICE
1840 Eastchester Dr.
High Point, NC 27265
Phone: (336) 885-0685
Staff photo by Andrew Craft, Fayetteville Observer
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following news reports that the Air Force is proceeding with its plans to dismantle the 440th Airlift Wing (AW) at Fort Bragg in violation of a legal mandate to first notify Congress, Senator Tillis raised his objections to such efforts in a letter to Air Force Secretary Debra Lee James, asking her to clarify the extent to which the Air Force has prematurely reduced the mission of the 440th AW.
Tillis highlighted the fact the that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2015 requires the Air Force to issue a report to Congress on the future C-130 force structure and give Congress sixty days to respond to the report’s recommendations. However, the Air Force never delivered the report to Congress, which was due in January, even though it is now implementing its plan to dismantle the 440th AW by removing airmen and even holding an all hands meeting to assist airmen in finding other jobs, contrary to what the law requires.
Earlier this month, Tillis publicly raised the issue of the 440th AW during Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. As Tillis noted in his letter to Secretary James, Dr. Carter responded by committing to a sit-down meeting with Tillis and other members of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation to discuss the future of the 440th AW and other elements of the Air Force’s future C-130 force structure plans.
“Prior to his confirmation I had a lengthy discussion with Secretary Carter about the future of the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Army Airfield,” wrote Senator Tillis. “I also raised the issue publicly with the Secretary during his hearing. He publicly committed to look into the matter and sit down and discuss the 440th‘s future with me. With that in mind I am distressed that in spite of Secretary Carter’s commitment, the Air Force leadership is proceeding to this matter before he has even had time to fulfill his public assurance.”
In the letter, Tillis also raised concerns that the deactivation of the 440th AW would be a tactical and strategic mistake that negatively impacts America’s rapid reaction and Special Forces during national emergencies.
“It essentially takes the ‘air’ out of ‘airborne,’” wrote Senator Tillis. “The removal of the 440th AW at Pope Army Airfield creates unreasonable risks to the readiness of these critical airborne units, many of which must be prepared to respond to a range of contingencies on short notice. Moreover, the anticipated deactivation of the 440th AW would come at a time when the nation is facing growing uncertainty abroad that could require a military response—a response that only forces at Fort Bragg can provide.”