Tuesday News: High stakes


NC DEMOCRATS OUT-RAISING GOP IN LEGISLATIVE CONTESTS: Since Republicans have for the last decade had control over the legislature — and thus have overseen redistricting and the shape of the state’s political districts — flipping the legislature will be a tall order for Democrats. But if campaign money is any sign, Democrats are in good shape to make gains. Since February, Democrats running for legislative seats have raised more than $6 million. That’s more than 150% of what Republicans raised. “This is by far the best financial position we’ve been in for a decade,” Meyer said. The trend of Democrats out-raising Republicans has also cropped up in higher profile races like those for U.S. Senate, governor, attorney general and N.C. Supreme Court, The News & Observer reported. But Republicans say not to count them out yet.

DAN FOREST'S MASKLESS CAMPAIGN EVENTS COME UNDER SCRUTINY: Big campaign rallies are a traditional part of the process, according to Meredith College political science professor David McLennan. They energize supporters and help bring in donations, but right now, they’re a risky proposition. "I think it’s a real dilemma for a campaign," McLennan said. "Do you want to promote social distancing and the use of masks, which doesn’t create a good visual for a campaign event? Or do you want to be hypocritical and violate the executive orders?" Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is challenging some of Cooper's executive orders in court, has held a few in-person events. At one in Statesville last week, he was photographed speaking to a large group sitting close together without masks. The photo wouldn’t be out of place in a normal election year, but this isn’t a normal election year, McLennan noted. "You want your campaign workers, you want your voters to be healthy. You want the candidate, obviously, to remain healthy," he said. "So, for a lot of North Carolinians, they see a picture like that and they go, 'What's going on?' This is very, if not dangerous, it's to some degree hypocritical when the official state message is to wear a mask and yet a group of people are being encouraged not to wear masks." Forest's campaign didn't respond Monday to a request for comment.

RATEPAYERS WIN OVER A HALF-BILLION SETTLEMENT IN NUKE PLANT FIASCO (YAY!): A state circuit court judge on Monday approved a $520 million settlement to end a legal action alleging deceptive business practices against Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility that provides electricity to approximately 1.7 million customers. The class action civil lawsuit approved by Judge Jean Toal stemmed from the July 2017 failure of an abandoned joint venture by Santee Cooper and the former publicly traded SCANA to build a $10 billion nuclear power plant at the V.C. Summer nuclear station in Fairfield County. Nearly all of Santee Cooper’s 1.7 million residential, commercial, industrial and other customers will receive some kind of cash payment after about 90 days as part of the settlement, lawyers connected to the case said. If a customer’s refund is less than $25, they will receive a credit on their bill. The agreement also requires Santee Cooper not to raise electric rates for the next four years. Since every ratepayer uses different amounts of electricity, it was not possible Monday to estimate how much money any given electric customer might receive.

BIDEN INTRODUCES BOLD PLAN FOR CHILD AND ELDER CARE: The proposal, which would cost $775 billion over 10 years, would provide universal preschool to 3-and 4-year-old children, fund the construction of new child-care facilities and offer tax credits and grants to help pay for care positions for the young and the elderly, according to his campaign. It would be funded in part by rolling back some tax breaks for real estate investors and by “taking steps to increase tax compliance for high-income earners,” according to the Biden campaign. “The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for people in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members,” according to a campaign document released early Tuesday. “If we truly want to reward work in this country, we have to ease the financial burden of care that families are carrying, and we have to elevate the compensation, benefits, training and education opportunities for certification, and dignity of caregiving workers and educators.” Biden’s plan would also fund 150,000 community health-care workers, with many targeted to work in low-income and racially diverse areas. It would create an $8,000 tax credit to help low-income families pay for child care. And it would add funding for community colleges so they can provide child care for students.

TRUMP PLANS TO SEND STORMTROOPERS TO OTHER MAJOR CITIES: President Trump plans to deploy federal law enforcement to Chicago and threatened on Monday to send agents to other major cities — all controlled by Democrats. Governors and other officials reacted angrily to the president’s move, calling it an election-year ploy as they squared off over crime, civil liberties and local control that has spread from Portland, Ore., across the country. With camouflage-clad agents already sweeping through the streets of Portland, more units were poised to head to Chicago, and Mr. Trump suggested that he would follow suit in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit and other urban centers. Governors and other officials compared his actions to authoritarianism and vowed to pursue legislation or lawsuits to stop him. The president portrayed the nation’s cities as out of control. “Look at what’s going on — all run by Democrats, all run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by radical left,” Mr. Trump said. He added: “If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell.” Democrats said the president was the one out of control. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said he would introduce legislation to limit the role of federal agents in cities like Portland. “This isn’t just an Oregon crisis,” he said. “It’s an American crisis. We need to stop Trump before this spreads.” Federal agents in Portland have snatched protesters off the streets and thrown them into unmarked vehicles without explaining why they were being detained or arrested, according to some of those who have been seized.