Political Notebook: Trump to hold campaign rally in Greenville

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President Donald Trump will continue his 2020 re-election campaign with a Keep America Great rally planned for 7 p.m. July 17 at East Carolina University’s Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

National news outlets have reported on the campaign stop, noting that the date coincides with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s planned congressional testimony. A purple state with 15 Electoral College votes up for grabs, North Carolina is considered a key battleground in next year’s presidential election.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported last week that the rally announcement prompted backlash from some ECU students. A statement from the university noted that ECU is renting the coliseum to the Trump campaign and East Carolina is not hosting or sponsoring the event.

Supporters who wish to attend the rally can register online via the shortened link https://bit.ly/2JvlgdF. Registration requires a cellphone number and two tickets per registrant are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Butterfield supports election security bill

Wilson’s Democratic U.S. representative was among the 225 votes in support of the Securing America’s Federal Elections, or SAFE, Act that was designed to combat foreign interference in the elections and provides funding to secure voting systems.

“The Mueller report clearly states that the Russians waged an unprecedented attack on our elections to undermine democracy in 2016,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield said in a release. “Our top intelligence and security officials are now warning us that they expect the same type of foreign interference from Russia in 202. Our national security demands that Congress act now to prevent such an attack from ever being successful again.”

Butterfield also voted in support of House bills 3055 and 3351, which covered funding allocations to various federal departments.

Berger backs Tillis’ re-election bid

North Carolina’s most powerful Republican state lawmaker is supporting the state’s junior U.S. senator in his bid for re-election.

N.C. Senate President Pro-tem Phil Berger formally endorsed U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, who faces a primary challenge from Republican businessman Garland Tucker.

“When Thom was speaker of the House, we worked together to pass a transformative conservative agenda in the General Assembly, including historic tax and regulatory reform,” Berger said in a statement.” As North Carolina’s senator, Thom has been instrumental in providing more tax relief for hardworking North Carolinians and confirming well-qualified judges who follow the Constitution. Thom has a proven record of achieving results, which is why I’m happily supporting his re-election.”

In a statement released Monday by Berger’s staff, Tillis thanked the Rockingham County legislator for his endorsement.

Cooper signs disaster safety bill

Gov. Roy Cooper signed 11 bills into law Monday, including two related to safety during natural disasters.

“North Carolina lost too many lives to people driving around barriers during Hurricane Florence,” Cooper said in a release related to approving House bills 67 and 917. “These laws empower local leaders to make the best decisions in the face of ever increasing severe weather in our state.”

The Nash County leader also approved House bills 310, 474, 529, 747, 770, 812, 871, 886 and 924.

Cooper’s action comes less than a week after he approved nine bills from the state legislature into law on Wednesday. One such bill was Senate Bill 225 to repeal of a tuition surcharge for college students who take too long to graduate.

The surcharge was initially passed in 1993 and increased nearly a decade ago for students who take more than 140 credit hours to complete a baccalaureate degree. Since 2010, students have paid 50 percent more tuition once they passed the threshold, but the effort to repeal the surcharge moved through the General Assembly with overwhelming support.

On Wednesday, Cooper also approved: House bills 537 and 934 along with Senate bills 55, 95, 219, 483, 556 and 610. Visit www.ncleg.gov/Legislation for more information on each individual bill.

Dems rally to preserve health coverage

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin hosted a Monday afternoon press conference outside Sen. Thom Tillis’ Raleigh office to voice concerns over the potential affects of a lawsuit that could gut protections for preexisting conditions.

The lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality and protections for preexisting conditions is scheduled to be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit today.

A similar protest was held Monday at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

Democrats said Tillis has “repeatedly refused to take a stand against the lawsuit, despite paving the way for it by voting for the 2017 Republican tax law that eliminated the individual mandate,” according to a news release. “The impact would be devastating. Insurers could reinstate lifetime or annual caps or charge women more for care, kids couldn’t stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26 and people with preexisting conditions would lose important protections.”

Judge Brook building campaign war chest

N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Chris Brook has amassed $66,345 in his first month of fundraising, his campaign announced Monday.

Brook, a Democrat, was appointed to the appellate court in April along with Judge Reuben Young. The pair filled seats left vacant when Judge Cheri Beasley was named chief justice and when Judge Robert Hunter retired.

Brook logged 400 contributions from 384 donors, with more than 70% coming in at $100 or less, according to his campaign. Brook has raised more first-month contributions than any Court of Appeals candidate in the last 20 years.

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.