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Conrad resigns from North Carolina House

At 5pm local time on July 31, North Carolina Rep. Debra Conrad (R) resigned from her position in the state legislature. She was first elected to represent District 74 in the North Carolina House in 2012.

Conrad didn’t specify the reason for her departure in her resignation letter, but told various media outlets that she is exploring lobbying roles. Upon the announcement of her resignation, Conrad said, “Lobbying is one of the exciting opportunities I am considering, as I have too much energy and passion for politics to retire. I look forward to being back in Raleigh in a new role next year.”

State legislators in North Carolina are required to have a six-month period between serving in the legislature as an elected official and registering as a lobbyist.

Conrad’s departure creates the fourth vacancy in the North Carolina House of Representatives this year and the eighth in the state legislature. July saw two other state legislators resign, former Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D) on July 16 and former Sen. Andy Wells (R) on July 27. Farmer-Butterfield left the legislature to take another state government position, whereas Wells did not give his reason for resigning beyond exploring unspecified opportunities outside the legislature.

Vacancies in the North Carolina General Assembly are filled by gubernatorial appointment. The governor must make an appointment from a recommended list of candidates selected by party committee members of the party who last held the seat. Of the eight vacancies that have occurred this year in the General Assembly, four of the seats were last held by Republican legislators and four were held by Democratic legislators. Of the four that have thus far been filled, three seats are currently held by a Democrat and one is held by a Republican. Heading into this year’s elections, the Republican Party holds a majority in both chambers of the state legislature.

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NC state Senator resigns

North Carolina legislator Andy Wells (R) resigned from his seat in the state senate on July 27. He had represented District 42 in the chamber since 2015 and previously represented District 96 in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 2013 to 2015.

Wells did not file to run for re-election to his seat in the North Carolina State Senate this year, running instead for Lieutenant Governor. He lost to Mark Robinson in the Republican primary on March 3, coming in second place with 14.6% of the vote to Robinson’s 32.5%. Wells did not give a reason why he left his seat in the state legislature just under six months before the end of his term.

Wells’ departure creates the fourth vacancy in the North Carolina State Senate this year, two of which have not yet been filled. The other current vacancy in the chamber was created when Jerry W. Tillman (R), who represented District 26, unexpectedly resigned from his seat on June 30. Vacancies are filled by gubernatorial appointment.

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Farmer-Butterfield appointed to Division of Employment Security, resigns from North Carolina House

After initial uncertainty about whether she would have to leave the state legislature, Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D) officially resigned from the North Carolina House of Representatives on July 16. Farmer-Butterfield had represented District 24 in the chamber since 2003 and served as majority whip from 2006 to 2010.
On July 15, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) selected Farmer-Butterfield to serve on the Board of Review at the Division of Employment Security. The board handles appeals of unemployment benefit award decisions. The North Carolina State Senate confirmed Farmer-Butterfield’s nomination. When asked in her confirmation hearing if she planned to maintain her role as state senator, Farmer-Butterfield said, “I think they are checking to see if I can still do both.” She stepped down from the state legislature the following day.
Farmer-Butterfield filed for re-election this year and advanced from the Democratic primary on March 3. Democratic Party officials in her district will appoint someone to both finish the remainder of her unexpired term and run in the general election this fall. Farmer-Butterfield’s replacement will face Republican Mick Rankin in the Nov. 3 race. The Republican primary in the district was canceled.


Four state legislators resign at the end of June

Four state legislators in three states stepped down from their positions on June 30, bringing the number of state legislative vacancies that have occurred this year to 75.

The former legislators had a cumulative total of more than sixty years of legislative experience among them. Gary Jackson (R) had served in the Mississippi State Senate since 2004. Gary Chism (R), another Mississippi legislator, first began serving in the state’s House of Representatives in 2000. Jerry W. Tillman (R), who left the North Carolina State Senate, was first elected to the chamber in 2002. Chris Richey (D) first joined the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2013.

The process by which state legislative vacancies are filled varies by state. In both chambers of the Mississippi state legislature and in the Arkansas House of Representatives, the governor must call a special election to fill the vacant seat. In the North Carolina Senate, the governor is responsible for appointing a replacement senator.

As of July 2020, 48 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for this year in 25 states. The elections will decide 17 previously Democratic and 31 previously Republican seats. The partisan composition of state legislatures nationwide as of July 1 is 46.8% Democratic and 52.2% Republican, which has remained consistent since April of this year.

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Candidate Madison Cawthorn’s key policy messages from his campaign

Madison Cawthorn, who defeated Lynda Bennett in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District Republican primary runoff Tuesday, filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey.

Ballotpedia asks all federal, state, and local candidates to complete a survey so voters can discover what motivates them on political and personal levels.

Select responses from Cawthorn are below, with Ballotpedia’s questions in bold.

Who are you? Tell us about yourself.

“Madison Cawthorn is an 8th generation resident of North Carolina’s 11th district. His ancestors date back all the way to the Revolutionary war. Madison was nominated to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2014. Unfortunately, his plans were derailed after he nearly died in a tragic automobile accident that left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Madisons accident built his faith, made him a fighter, helped him appreciate everyday, and inspired him to help everyone he encounters overcome whatever adversity they face in their daily lives.”

What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“Supporting our American values of faith, family, and freedom and combating the rise of socialist sentiment in our culture.”

Cawthorn heads to the general election for a chance to replace former incumbent Mark Meadows (R), who did not seek re-election and resigned in March to become White House chief of staff. Heading into the runoff, the race was rated Safe/Solid Republican.

In 2018, 1,957 candidates completed a Candidate Connection survey. This number represents 6.9% of all 28,315 candidates Ballotpedia covered during that cycle. Out of the 1,957 respondents, 477 (24.4%) won their elections. To read more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here.

Visit Cawthorn’s profile on Ballotpedia to read all of his responses.

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Cawthorn defeats Bennett in NC-11 Republican primary runoff

Madison Cawthorn defeated Lynda Bennett in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District Republican primary runoff Tuesday. With 60% of precincts reporting, Cawthorn had received 66% of the vote to Bennett’s 34%.
Former incumbent Mark Meadows (R) did not seek re-election and left office early to serve as White House chief of staff. Meadows, along with President Donald Trump, endorsed Bennett in the race. Cawthorn was endorsed by several former primary candidates, local sheriffs, and the Protect Freedom PAC.
Cawthorn described Bennett as the candidate picked by Washington D.C. insiders and said he could bring young people into the Republican Party. Cawthorn is 24 years old. He owns a real estate investment company and is a motivational speaker. He was paralyzed in a car accident at age 19.
Bennett emphasized her decades of experience in business. She owns a real estate company and served as vice chairwoman of the Haywood County Republican Party.
Bennett received 22.7% of the March 3 primary vote to Cawthorn’s 20.4%. Twelve candidates ran. The Mountaineer’s Kyle Perotti reported that “much of the territory Cawthorn claimed was only brought into the district after a three-judge panel approved the new Congressional district in December of last year.”


Primary runoff in North Carolina is June 23

The statewide primary runoff for North Carolina is on June 23, 2020. The primary was held March 3, 2020, and candidates needed more than 30% of the vote to advance to the general election. The primary runoff was originally scheduled for May 12, 2020, but was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic. The filing deadline to run passed on December 20, 2019.

Candidates are running in a Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. Lynda Bennett (R) and Madison Cawthorn (R) are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020. Bennett received 22.7% of the Republican primary vote, and Cawthorn received 20.4%. No other North Carolina congressional seat advanced to a primary runoff.

South Carolina also scheduled its primary runoff election for June 23, but no congressional races advanced to a primary runoff.

Entering the 2020 election, North Carolina’s U.S. House delegation consists of three Democrats, nine Republicans, and one vacancy. The U.S. House has 233 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one Libertarian, and four vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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Three states release guidance for reopening schools

Officials in three states—California, Massachusetts, and North Carolina—released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 year. Schools in all three states have been closed to in-person instruction since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, schools in four states (Alabama, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming) have reopened to in-person instruction after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Three other states have announced they will reopen schools, and officials in four states have released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 academic year.


Burr steps down as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) temporarily stepped down from the chairmanship of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, effective at the end of the day on May 15. Burr’s decision to resign was announced one day after the FBI served him a search warrant at his residence in Washington, D.C.

Burr is one of several U.S. senators under federal investigation for alleged insider trading leading up to the coronavirus pandemic. On March 19, 2020, ProPublica alleged that Burr, along with some other senators, traded stocks after receiving information in a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing related to the effect the coronavirus outbreak will have on the American economy. The allegations stated that Burr sold between $600,000 and $1,800,000 in stocks before the stock market dipped more than 30% due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the stock market.

Burr sold 33 stocks on March 13, 2020, many of which were shares in companies hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. He responded to allegations of wrongdoing saying he only relied on publicly available information to make the trades and requested they be reviewed by the Senate Ethics Committee.

On May 13, federal agents searched Burr’s home and took possession of his cell phone. Spokespersons from the FBI, Department of Justice, and Burr’s office all declined to comment on the recent events in the investigation.



Three stay-at-home orders set to expire tomorrow

Stay-at-home orders in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island are set to expire tomorrow. So far, 15 states that were previously under stay-at-home orders let those orders expire. Another seven states never implemented stay-at-home orders.

After these orders expire, the states with the next expiring orders are Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont on May 15.

Although the orders vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure or curtailment of nonessential businesses in the state and requiring all residents to stay home except for essential trips for supplies or outdoor exercise.


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