Wednesday News: And they're off!


EARLY VOTING IN 9TH DISTRICT PRIMARY BEGINS TODAY: Early voting for the May 14 Republican primary starts Wednesday in Mecklenburg, Union and the six other counties in the 9th Congressional District. Only Republican and unaffiliated voters are eligible to cast ballots. There are no primaries for Democrats or members of the Green, Libertarian or Constitution parties, though each has a candidate in the general election. Ten Republicans are running for the nomination. The winner is expected to face Democrat Dan McCready, who ran in 2018. If no one in the May 14 primary gets at least 30 percent of the vote, there will be a Sept. 10 runoff followed by a Nov. 5 general election. If no runoff is necessary, the general election would be Sept. 10.

VANCE AND CUMBERLAND JOIN COUNTY SCHOOLS CLOSING FOR MAY 1 TEACHER RALLY: Vance County classes will be canceled May 1 because of the number of teachers requesting the day off to attend a teacher rally, the district said Tuesday night. The school district joins more than 20 others who have canceled classes because of the rally organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators. May 1 will be an optional teacher workday and a holiday for students, the Vance County Schools said on social media. In a message on social media on Thursday, Cumberland County Public Schools said, "This decision was made after carefully monitoring the number of teachers and staff who have requested leave to attend the education rally in Raleigh on May 1." The North Carolina Association of Educators held a similar rally last year, which drew an estimated 19,000 people and closed more than 40 school systems. NCAE President Mark Jewell has predicted this year's event will be even larger.

3RD DISTRICT DEM CANDIDATE'S WARNING ABOUT MILITARY INFRASTRUCTURE IS ACCURATE: North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, in the eastern part of the state, is home to several military bases, including Camp Lejeune, New River and Cherry Point. So it’s no surprise that, with a special election for the U.S. House heating up, the candidates in the primary are talking a lot about the military. “We also need to adequately provide for our military families via increased infrastructure projects,” said Democrat Allen Thomas in a pre-election candidate questionnaire with the Jacksonville Daily News. “Currently, 23 percent of our military’s infrastructure is graded as ‘poor’ while 9 percent is ‘failing.’” These numbers are in line with what the Department of Defense reported to Congress last year. We rate this statement True.

TRUMP IS REFUSING TO COOPERATE WITH CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE: In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump said that complying with congressional requests was unnecessary after the White House cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference and the president’s own conduct in office. “There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan - obviously very partisan,” Trump said. Trump’s comments came as the White House made it clear that it plans to broadly defy requests for information from Capitol Hill, moving the two branches of government closer to a constitutional collision. On Tuesday, two White House officials said the administration plans to fight a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee for former White House counsel Donald McGahn by asserting executive privilege over his testimony. Separately, the administration directed a former White House official not to comply with a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee, prompting the panel to move to hold him in contempt of Congress. And the Treasury Department defied a second demand from House Democrats to turn over six years of President Trump’s tax returns.

NIELSEN WAS TOLD NOT TO BRING UP CONCERNS ABOUT RUSSIA AROUND TRUMP: Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids. But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.” Even though the Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for civilian cyberdefense, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up on her effort to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections.