Monday News: Energy & Focus

MEREDITH CUOMO CHOSEN AS NCDP'S NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: The former finance director of the North Carolina Democratic Party will now step into the group's top job. The party said in a statement Saturday that Meredith Cuomo will serve as its new executive director. The statement says Cuomo has nearly two decades of experience working to elect Democrats in North Carolina. She has overseen multimillion-dollar budgets and much of the party's day-to-day work. She was also previously the finance director for the N.C. Senate Democratic Caucus. Meredith graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1999, and served as a Director at United way and as a paralegal before working with the Democratic Party.

GERRYMANDERING TRIAL BEGINS TODAY: A North Carolina state court trial on whether legislative districts are illegal partisan gerrymanders starts just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it wasn't the purview of federal courts to decide if boundaries are politically unfair. A three-judge panel prepared for two weeks of arguments and testimony beginning Monday. Common Cause, the state Democratic Party and voters challenged House and Senate maps that Republicans drew in 2017. They say the lines maximized GOP advantage beyond what political geography can explain and want new boundaries for 2020. GOP legislators say legislative elections are competitive, and Democrats simply want judges to create a favorable political outcome they couldn't achieve at the ballot box.

FELON GERALD HEGE'S ATTEMPTED COMEBACK SPARKS BILL TO BAN SUCH CAMPAIGNS: The nicknamed "Hege bill," House Bill 863, cleared the House Finance Committee and was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations Thursday. The bill does not specifically reference Hege, though its nickname originates because Hege is the only sheriff candidate in recent years to seek the office with a felony record. Hege pleaded guilty in 2004 to two felony charges. He later applied for expungement, which was accepted just one day before filing for the 2018 sheriff’s race ended. As a convicted felon, Hege was thought to be ineligible for the office under state law, but was able to file with the help of a new law that went into effect in December 2017, which reduced the time people convicted of non-violent felonies must wait to seek to have those crimes expunged from 15 to 10 years. Davidson County Board of Elections officials were stumped by unclear language in the state constitution and ultimately voted 3-1 to allow Hege to continue his run for sheriff after the expungement. Hege received about 16% of the vote in the May 2018 primary.

TRUMP DEMANDS APOLOGY FROM WOMEN REPRESENTATIVES HE INSULTED: President Trump on Monday called on a group of minority, liberal congresswomen to “apologize” to the United States, Israel and him and accused them of “racist hatred” a day after he said in inflammatory tweets that they should “go back” to their countries. “When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” Trump said in new tweets Monday. “So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!” With his latest tweets, Trump dug in further on a line of attack that has drawn widespread condemnation from Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who on Sunday called the president’s comments “xenophobic.” Republicans have remained largely silent.

DEADLY FLOODING RAVAGES NEPAL AND OTHER SOUTH ASIAN COUNTRIES: The death toll mounted Monday from flooding and landslides caused by torrential weekend rains in India and Nepal, as rescuers carried out desperate searches for survivors and officials in nearby Bangladesh braced for the floodwaters to move downstream. The hardest-hit country appeared to be Nepal, where the police said on Monday that 67 people had died as a result of the monsoonal rains that began last Thursday night and set off widespread flooding, particularly in the country’s southern plains along the Indian border. Officials said that at least 68 others had been injured in landslides and flooding and that an additional 30 people were still missing. Photos published by Nepal’s news media showed flood victims wading through murky, thigh-high waters, and teams of rescuers plying streets in inflatable boats. In India, at least 25 people have died so far from the rains and floods, Mohamad Farukh, the chief executive of Rapid Response, a nongovernmental charity focusing on disaster relief, said in a text message on Sunday. The rains have also flooded parts of the world’s largest refugee camp, in southeastern Bangladesh, which is home to more than half a million Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled violence in neighboring Myanmar, according to the United Nations.