Political Notebook: Sanders, Bloomberg plan NC campaign stops

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Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg are touring the Tar Heel State this week to drum up support in the March 3 primary. North Carolina is the third-biggest delegate prize on Super Tuesday, when 14 states will hold primary elections.

Sanders will attend an interfaith Ash Wednesday service and forum at Greenleaf Christian Church, 2110 N. William St., Goldsboro. The Rev. William J. Barber II, co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign and president of Repairers of the Breach, is leading the service.

Sanders is the third presidential candidate to visit Barber’s Goldsboro church and will be in attendance “to hear the stories of poor and low-wealth people,” according to a news release. During the forum following the service, organizers say Sanders will answer questions from those affected by systemic racism and poverty.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 o’clock service this Wednesday.

Bloomberg’s campaign has announced six events in the state as part of a four-day, 10-stop campus mobilization effort in North Carolina and Virginia. A campaign-branded “food truck” filled with Bloomberg 2020 gear will travel to each campus.

Today, Bloomberg will appear at N.C. Central University at 1:15 p.m., at Duke University at 3:45 p.m. and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at 6:15 p.m.

On Wednesday, campaign stops are scheduled for N.C. A&T University at 11:45 a.m. and Winston-Salem State University at 1:45 p.m.

On Thursday, Bloomberg will hold a get-out-the-vote event at the CIAA basketball tournament in downtown Charlotte at 11:15 a.m.

“At the stops, campaign representatives and supporters will be laying out Mike Bloomberg’s vision for the country, outlining his plans, including his plan for higher education released this week, which significantly expands investments in HBCUs, and why he’s the strongest candidate to beat Donald Trump in November,” a news release states.

Butterfield remembers ‘Hidden Figure’ mathematician

A NASA mathematician who broke barriers alongside a Wilson woman passed away Monday.

Katherine Johnson, 101, was one of the titular characters of the 2017 Hollywood blockbuster “Hidden Figures,” which chronicles the struggles of black women who did calculations before computers. Wilson native Christine Barnes Richie worked alongside Johnson and was invited to the film’s premiere at the Virgina Air and Space Center.

“A history maker, barrier breaker and a hidden figure no more,” tweeted U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield Jr., D-Wilson. “While we mourn the loss of Katherine Johnson, we celebrate her life and legacy that continues to motivate and inspire us all.”

Last year, a NASA facility was renamed the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility in her home state of West Virginia.

GOP, Dems spar over voter ID injunction

The N.C. Court of Appeals indefinitely blocked North Carolina’s voter ID law last week, with Democrats applauding the decision and Republicans protesting the move.

Democrats say the legislation’s sponsors wanted to suppress the minority vote.

“When a separate voter suppression law was in effect in the March 2016 primary, more than 1,400 people lost their right to vote,” the North Carolina Democratic Party said in a release. “African Americans made up only 23% of all voters in that primary, but they were more than a third of the votes silenced by the strict voter suppression law. The court’s decision to file a preliminary injunction will prevent the law from being implemented while the case is still in court, which could last well through the general election in November.”

Republicans counter that the appellate judges who issued the injunction are biased.

“As liberal judicial activists to demonstrate their disdain for electoral integrity, a huge story yesterday from WTVD found that two of the Democrats on the all-Democrat three-judge panel took public stances on voter ID before hearing a critical case on North Carolina’s voter ID law — a clear violation of judicial ethics,” North Carolina Republican Party spokesman Jeff Hauser said Thursday. “Judges Toby Hampson and John Arrowood both answered questions concerning voter ID on a questionnaire for a far-left PAC. Judges Toby Hampson and John Arrowood both answered questions concerning voter ID on a questionnaire for a far-left PAC.”

Bell receives sheriffs’ association award

The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association has named N.C. House Majority Leader John Bell, R-Wayne, a 2019 Defender of Public Safety for his work during the 2019 legislative session, the organization announced Monday.

Bell represents portions of Wayne, Johnston and Greene counties. The sheriffs’ association, a private professional group representing North Carolina’s 100 county sheriffs, praised the lawmaker for his advocacy “for law enforcement issues important to the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.”

“It is an honor to once again be recognized with this important award,” Bell said in a release. “I am very proud to support and work closely with our law enforcement and sheriffs’ departments. They don’t always receive the recognition and respect they deserve, but they can always count on me.”

Bell’s legislative district includes Sheriff Lemmie Smith of Greene County, Sheriff Steve Bizzell of Johnston County and Sheriff Larry Pierce of Wayne County.

Legislative forum planned on marijuana laws

North Carolina’s state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is inviting N.C. General Assembly candidates to discuss pot policy Wednesday.

The group has scheduled a Candidate Cannabis Conversation at 6:30 p.m. at the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill. Organizers are inviting candidates on all sides of the issue — “pro-cannabis, anti-cannabis or somewhere in between,” a news release states.

“During this important election year, we are excited to help our members learn more about candidates’ positions on cannabis laws and ask questions,” said Abner Brown, N.C. NORML executive director “We want to build the connection between our votes and our laws. We look forward to bringing NCGA candidates and constituents together for a productive conversation.”

The forum is open to the public and reserved seating is available for $5. To register, visit https://tinyurl.com/Join-Us.

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK is a weekly roundup of local and state political news from The Wilson Times’ reporting staff. Send tips and comments to editor@wilsontimes.com.