A liberal uprising headed to N.C.?

The Observer editorial board

Donor George Soros wants more liberal power in state capitols.
Donor George Soros wants more liberal power in state capitols. BLOOMBERG

Look out, North Carolina. Rich liberal powerbrokers are poised to swoop down on the Tar Heel state, intent on hijacking our political processes to suit their own ends.

That’s the word from the North Carolina Republican Party and the conservative Civitas Institute. They are casting a wary eye at the Democracy Alliance, a group of big-money, left-leaning political donors meeting this week in California.

That’s because the alliance says it hopes to craft a five-year plan for prying control of state governments from the GOP. North Carolina, with its evenly divided electorate and Republican-dominated state government, ranks among six states the alliance deems “essential to restoring progressive power both at the state level and the federal level.”

Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and the bete noire of conservatives, George Soros, are among those fueling the alliance’s new push. It’s too early to tell whether it’ll mean much here, but the North Carolina Republican Party’s already getting lathered up, just in case.

“Radical liberal billionaires are lining up to try and win back control in the states, and N.C. is their top target!” the party exclaimed Tuesday on Twitter.

Despite Civitas’ belief in a vast left-wing conspiracy in North Carolina, liberal donors haven’t focused on state organizing like conservatives, whose decades of work have given them control of 30 state capitols.

The alliance hopes to shift the balance of power in states like North Carolina before the 2020 Census, and the all-important political redistricting that accompanies it.

N.C. Republicans, like Democrats for generations before them, used the last round of redistricting to great partisan effect, drawing election lines that helped them cement their hold on the legislature and congressional delegation.

We’ve long held that North Carolina needs a less partisan method of redistricting. Some top Republicans who called for such reform while out of power now dismiss the idea.

Big liberal donors like Soros – and the three dozen or so advocacy groups they aim to bankroll – could shift the dynamics of that debate, now that they’re suddenly interested in state-level politics.

“There is nothing like losing to get people’s attention,” Nick Rathod, head of the State Innovation Exchange, told the Washington Post. His group aims to be the left’s answer to the American Legislative Exchange Council. (ALEC is the bill-drafting think-tank whose fingerprints have dotted major pieces of legislation in Raleigh the past few years).

With the North Carolina Democratic Party hobbled by bickering and disarray, the NAACP and its Moral Mondays protests have taken the lead in opposing Republican policies.

Given that, it might be tempting for state Democratic leaders to defer to better-financed, better-organized national activists.

But we’ve seen quite enough cookie-cutter bills drafted by out-of-state ideologues. Should the GOP’s fears of invading Soros-backed activists come true, we hope the state’s Democrats don’t sell their souls and their legislative agendas to outside advocacy groups.

We’ve already seen how badly that can turn out.