Politics & Government

Sen. Ford to switch vote on magistrate override

N.C. Sen. Joel Ford
N.C. Sen. Joel Ford

Ford to switch vote on magistrate override

When the Senate tries to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that would allow magistrates to recuse themselves from performing gay marriages for religious reasons, there will be at least one fewer vote in support.

Sen. Joel Ford of Charlotte was one of two Democrats who voted with most Republicans to pass the bill 32-16 in February.

Now Ford says he’ll vote against the bill in any attempt to override the veto.

For says he had second thoughts after realizing that finding another magistrate would be harder in some counties than others and that by letting court officials opt out, “you’re paying somebody not to do a job.

“So the goal of providing religious protection and providing services for same-sex couples cannot be accomplished in Senate Bill 2,” he says.

Ford says he also realized that many people, including many of his supporters, saw the bill as discriminatory against same-sex couples. “I’m not interested in supporting legislation that has the appearance of discrimination,” he says.

It’s unlikely that Ford’s switch will make a difference. If all 50 senators are present, only 30 votes are needed to over-ride.

Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius was one of only two Republicans voting against the bill in February. He doesn’t plan to change his vote. Jim Morrill

Charlotte alternative to Hillary

Robby Wells didn’t do so well when he ran for president as an independent in 2012. But the Charlotte businessman and former football coach thinks he laid the groundwork for a better showing in 2016.

“I truly believe that it set the stage here in 2016,” Wells, now a Democrat, said last week. “Good Lord willing, and if people see it our way, we’ll win the White House.”

While Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders get all the attention, Wells has traveled through 37 Iowa counties in his giant blue bus with the slogan, “Rise Up!” And he aims to cover the state.

Wells is running on a platform of “Eaglenomics,” taking what he calls the best from both the right and left of American politics. He plans to resurrect U.S. manufacturing by raising tariffs on overseas goods and adopt a single payer system of health insurance.

A report filed last month showed he’s raised about $3,200 and had $403 on hand. Jim Morrill

Lawmakers to be recognized

The leader of the Moral Monday movement is coming to Charlotte Monday to recognize the work of several Mecklenburg County lawmakers – by inducting them into its Hall of Shame.

NAACP President William Barber plans a Monday night press conference to recognize GOP Reps. Bill Brawley, Rob Bryan, Charles Jeter, Jacqueline Schaffer and Republican Sens. Bob Rucho and Jeff Tarte.

Barber says the Republicans “have refused to pursue a moral agenda and enact laws that benefit all North Carolinians.” He said in voting to require voter IDs and for other measures they “voted systematically to destroy the very fiber of democracy and equality.”

Said Tarte: “It’s nice to be recognized.”

Two years ago Tarte led a quiet effort to start a dialogue between Republican legislators and ministers active in the “Moral Monday” protests. He twice convened a group of 10 lawmakers and about a dozen religious leaders. But the talks ended abruptly after the ministers accused him of bad faith for disclosing the talks.

He revealed them in response to a question from the Observer about his reaction to what were weekly protests by the group. Jim Morrill

Crowding Main Street

Two more Mecklenburg County lawmakers have joined a new centrist group called the Main Street Democrats.

Reps. Tricia Cotham and Kelly Alexander, along with Rep. Susi Hamilton of Wilmington, were the latest Democrats to join the group. Sen. Joel Ford of Charlotte was an original member of the pro-business group.

All of Main Street’s House members were among the 31 Democrats who voted for the Republican budget this month.

House Minority Leader Larry Hall of Durham says he’s not bothered by the splinter group of fellow Democrats.

“They have a stated goal that’s the same as ours – to elect more Democrats,” he says. “They’ll get a chance to prove themselves this cycle.” Jim Morrill

Candidates head to Raleigh

N.C. Republicans will get to see some of their declared and possible presidential candidates next weekend at their state convention in Raleigh.

Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Scott Walker are all expected to speak or make appearances during the weekend activities. Jim Morrill