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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

NC trend: What you missed from the N.C. Tribune from Colin Campbell

Cheers! Alcohol wins big in election

In at least eight rural communities, voters in November approved a referendum on expanding alcohol sales. Most involved allowing the sale of cocktails at restaurants and bars in an attempt to attract more dining and nightlife options.

In the Nash County town of Bailey, 60% of voters (or 103 people) said yes to cocktails. The change was requested by two local restaurants, The Leaning Tree Italian Restaurant and El Paso Mexican Restaurant. “Please go out and vote in November, so we can enjoy some delicious tasteful margaritas and more!” El Paso posted on its Facebook page.

Cocktails also passed in unincorporated areas of Anson County, Princeville (Edgecombe County), Rural Hall (Forsyth County), King (Stokes County) and Pink Hill (Lenoir County) by margins of 58% or higher. The strongest vote for cocktails was in Rockwell (Rowan County), where 69% of voters said yes.

The town of King, where residents have had to drive to nearby Winston-Salem to buy liquor, also voted to allow an ABC store in town limits. And Bladen County voted to allow beer and wine sales at stores in unincorporated areas. That campaign was led by the owners of a small grocery store in the unincorporated Ammon community, the Border Belt Independent reported.

The legislature’s new power dynamic

It’s safe to say North Carolina saw the expected “Red Wave” in last month’s election. It was the sort of wave that’s strong enough to knock someone down, but not quite strong enough to drag them completely underwater.

The N.C. House and Senate results will shift the balance of power further toward the GOP in next year’s long session, but not quite as much as Republicans hoped.

Senate Republicans won the exact number of seats needed for a veto-proof majority: 30 of 50. But House Republicans fell one vote short, winning 71 seats when they needed 72 for a supermajority.

It’s a change from the GOP’s current 69 House seats and 28 Senate seats. And it means Gov. Roy Cooper won’t automatically see his vetoes overridden — but we can expect high drama and close votes next year.

I anticipate Republican House leaders will do everything in their power to persuade a Democrat to cross party lines when there’s an override. And if that doesn’t work, we could see a return of the “veto garage,” where the speaker waits to call an override vote until some Democrats are absent.

Cunningham, Tillis talk bipartisan friendships

You’d think spending millions of dollars to attack each other on TV would ruin a friendship. But U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and his 2020 Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, are still buddies who meet for lunch occasionally.

The two shared a stage at UNC Chapel Hill in November to talk about building friendships across the political divide — a timely topic as politicians nurse their wounds and resentments from this year’s campaign.

Both men joked about the Cunningham campaign’s infamous tweet that made it appear that the Lexington native didn’t know the difference between barbecue and grilling. “Bless my out-of-state staff,” Cunningham said.

They say they managed to keep it cordial even during the campaign, joking around during breaks from their televised debate. Tillis said the kind of friendship he has with Cunningham is common among U.S. senators from opposing parties.

“Some of my most enjoyable conversations are with senators from the other side of the aisle,” he said.

How do you create more bipartisan relationships? Tillis suggested that issue-focused bipartisan caucus groups should be more active. The North Carolina legislature has a few of these as well, such as the early childhood caucus.

He warned also that people in politics are “so quick to make judgments,” particularly online.

“Before you press send on a tweet or a Snap(chat post), would you sit in a room like this and say the same thing with the same tone?” Tillis said. 

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