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In interviews with state leaders, James Kotecki explores just what the heck happened to North Carolina and how we’re going to bring it back.




A Moral Monday Mom Runs for Office

When you think about the kind of candidates that get state Democrats excited this year, you might not think of a woman who once received unemployed benefits, was once arrested, and was once a Republican. But that’s Jen Ferrell, the now-Democratic challenger of a long-serving Republican member of the state House. Democrats hope she can flip that seat and thus help end the GOP supermajority.

Duration: 00:12:02

Captain & Repeal

Jane Campbell is a retired Navy captain and unaffiliated candidate for NC House. She's also openly gay. After learning her state representative was an architect of HB2 and running unopposed for reelection, she decided to do something about it.

Duration: 00:15:59

7 Things NC Voters Need To Know

It’s almost Election Day! Here in North Carolina, court rulings have reshaped our voting rules. Listen to this episode to get smart about 2016. You can find both a video and written version of this episode, along with links to resources, at

Duration: 00:05:47

Justice Is Nonpartisan. Justice Bob Edmunds Says He Is, Too.

Bob Edmunds is an Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court currently running for this third eight-year term. This episode is the counterpoint to our recent conversation with Mike Morgan, the Superior Court Judge vying for Edmunds’ seat. As you might expect, Edmunds offers some dissenting opinions. Edmunds rejects the notion that his campaign or the court itself are partisan entities. But can he - can anyone - really stay above partisan politics while running a campaign?

Duration: 00:19:07

“You’re Polling Behind a Dead Gorilla”: Tom Jensen Predicts Our Political Present

Overwhelmed by the media’s obsession with polls? Curious about the long-term trends shaping our state and our country? Wondering why presidential candidate “Deez Nuts” once polled at 9% in North Carolina? Tom Jensen, the Director of Public Policy Polling, is here to help sort things out.

Duration: 00:17:56

Mike Morgan’s Supreme Competition

North Carolina’s Supreme Court races are technically non-partisan, but nobody’s fooling anybody: the current court is divided 4-3 in favor of Republicans. Judge Mike Morgan is running against one of the incumbent Republicans and could flip the Supreme Court's balance of power. If you care about things like HB2, taxes, housing, the environment, crime, and our system of government itself, you should really care who sits on the bench. Morgan also has a powerful personal story. In 1964, he was...

Duration: 00:17:58

The GOP Would-Be NC AG

He wants to fight North Carolina’s most contentious legal battles. He doesn’t mind when his opponent calls HB2 “Buck’s Bill.” But for Senator Buck Newton, the key issue in his race for attorney general is whether the job gets done at all. And yes - we also talk about his infamous exhortation to “keep our state straight.”

Duration: 00:18:16

This Republican Believes #BlackLivesMatter

Greg Doucette supports legalizing marijuana, opposes HB2, and defends protesters from groups like Moral Mondays and Black Lives Matter. And he’s the Republican - yes, Republican - candidate for NC State Senate District 22. Doucette faces an uphill election battle, but he’s no stranger to surprising wins. After all, he owes his career to an ill-timed game of Minesweeper.

Duration: 00:18:36

Diversity, Guns, & the American Dream with Senator Jay Chaudhuri

Jay Chaudhuri is the son of Indian immigrants, a former attorney for both Attorney General Roy Cooper and State Treasurer Janet Cowell, and North Carolina’s newest state senator. We talked about how his unique background shapes his politics, his work on gun violence, and what it’s like to be a senator looking for a day job.

Duration: 00:17:14

The Family Business: Dan Blue III Runs for NC Treasurer

You may think you know nothing about North Carolina’s treasurer, but if you live in the state, it’s a job that almost certainly affects your life. Dan Blue III is the Democratic candidate for the office. He’s also the son of previous podcast guest Dan Blue, Jr., the minority leader in the North Carolina Senate. We talk about his nuanced view of Wall Street - he used to work there, after all - at a time when many voters want to watch it Bern.

Duration: 00:13:52

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on HB2, 2016, & The Nature of Truth

A Republican Lieutenant Governor is something of on an anomaly in North Carolina - from the start of the 20th century until now there have only been three out of a total of 27. Dan Forest, the current incumbent, is one of those three. Loyal listeners will remember my interview last week with Linda Coleman, his Democratic opponent in the upcoming election. Forest’s take on HB2 - and indeed, the state of our state - reflects a very different reality.

Duration: 00:21:54

To Fight Another Day: Linda Coleman Is Back for a Rematch

The 2012 race to become North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor was close. Really close. 0.16 percentage points close. Democrat Linda Coleman almost became the first African-American woman elected to statewide office in North Carolina. She didn’t concede until nearly two weeks after Election Day. And in a sense, she never stopped running. This November, she’ll face Dan Forest, now the incumbent Lieutenant Governor, once again. And this time, she says, things are different. Not just for her...

Duration: 00:15:37

Nation Hahn: Politics & the Prism of Loss

Nation Hahn is one of those guys that seems to know everybody, especially in state political circles. By the time I met him in early 2013, it was clear that he and his wife Jamie were poised to make a huge impact on North Carolina. Then something happened that changed Nation’s approach to politics. Something happened that changed everything. If by chance you don’t know, it’ll become clear through our conversation. But this episode isn’t about that day. It’s about right now. Today, Nation...

Duration: 00:22:15

The Wedge: NC’s Urban-Rural Divide

When Wake County Commissioner John Burns won office in 2014, he and his colleagues were a bright blue spot in an otherwise bad year for Democrats. Then, months after his swearing in, he found out just how badly Republican state lawmakers wanted the commission red again. Urban Democrats in local government vs. rural Republicans in the General Assembly: it’s a simplified view of state politics that explains a lot - including HB2. Burns is well aware of the urban-rural tension. But he insists...

Duration: 00:16:31

Jeff Jackson: Senator From The Internet

How does a junior legislator in the minority party become a bona fide political celebrity? Two words: the Internet. Senator Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte) unpacks his viral hits, from solo legislating on a snow day to creating the #WeAreNotThis hashtag. For this 33-year-old lawmaker, social media is not a gimmick: it’s a necessity and an obligation. We also talk about his fight against gerrymandering, which he calls “as morally ambiguous as bank robbery,” HB2 (he’s “1,000 percent certain”...

Duration: 00:27:04

“As Unions Have Declined, So Too Has The Middle Class”

From low wages to non-existent benefits, things are not right for many American workers. But why do some workers vote against their own self-interest? MaryBe McMillan is the Secretary-Treasurer of the North Carolina AFL-CIO, a federation of unions across the state. We discuss the use of anti-union fear as a political tool, the one thing she likes about Donald Trump, the devious distraction of House Bill 2, and why the fight for a higher minimum wage gives her hope.

Duration: 00:17:53

Where The Party At? Defining “Democrat” With The DJ In Charge

2016 could be the year that North Carolina Democrats come out of the political wilderness. But just as a they’re staging their comeback, the party system itself seems to be unraveling. What is the Democratic Party in the season of super PACS and Bernie Sanders? Wake County Party Chairman Brian Fitzsimmons has to answer that question. If he gets it right, he could change the course of the state - and the country. “There’s going to have to be a time when we recognize that Hillary - the...

Duration: 00:18:55

How a (Bad) Bill Becomes a Law: Senator Dan Blue & the Democratic Walkout

The NC Senate Minority Leader breaks down the fast and flawed process that birthed House Bill 2 - a process so bad, he and his colleagues walked out in protest. “…we could not, in good faith, give legitimacy to a system that followed that process and used that as a way to turn back the hands of time with respect to anti-discrimination efforts in this state."

Duration: 00:19:23

Way Beyond Bathrooms: Rep. Graig Meyer on HB2

The Hillsborough Democrat explains why the infamous HB2 is about way more than bathrooms: he says it’s both an election-year wedge and a vehicle for an underhanded business agenda. He also describes the calculated economics of travel bans to North Carolina, why some Democrats voted for the bill, and what Republican lawmakers might try next.

Duration: 00:13:52