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North Carolina GOP Wacko #2-- Michele Morrow

“What’s the Matter With North Carolina?”—Apologies to “What’s The Matter With Kansas’” Thomas Frank   March 24, 2024

 

           In the November, 2024 general election, North Carolina GOPers apparently believed that having just one ultra-extremist wacko Mark Robinson running for Governor was just not enough to fill the “crazy” category. In a surprise political upset, on March 5, 2024, Republican Michele Morrow (52) defeated incumbent GOPer Catherine Truitt and will run to succeed her as that state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction this November (wral.com., Walkenhorst, E., 3/06/24). Morrow, despite being heavily outspent by incumbent Truitt, defeated her in the GOP primary getting 52% of the vote and topping her by almost 37,000 votes (wfae.org, Helms, A., 3/12/24).

 

           North Carolina’s state Superintendent of Public Education oversees the Department of Public Instruction and its $11 billion budget. Catherine Truitt has spent her term pushing for changes in reading instructions, school performance ratings, career preparation, and teacher pay and licensing (wfae.org, Helms, A., 3/12/24, KFILE, cnn.com, Kaczynski & Steck, 3/15/24). Republican Truitt helped Democratic Governor Roy Cooper improve NC’s schools and guided them well through the post-Covid-19 years (See wfae.org, Helms, wral.com, Walkenhorst, E., 3/06/24). Although the NC General Assembly or State Legislature makes the actual policy decisions, the Superintendent serves as a voice and support for public education. And just who is this Michele Morrow and what is her experience in public education?

 

        Morrow didn’t even have a career in education, let alone any experience as a public school parent in NC. She is a former nurse and current property manager. She homeschooled her children (KFILE, cnn.com, Kaczynski & Steck, 3/15/24). Morrow went to D.C. on January 6, 2021 to rally for Trump (wfae.org, Helms, A., 3/12/24). While incumbent Truitt was busy handling her job and did not campaign much, Morrow traveled all over the Tar Heel State and met with parents, conservative groups, and GOP party conventions where she pushed her message. Morrow’s message? She doesn’t believe schools need more funding. She wants uniform student discipline policies, and is also against including diversity, equity, and inclusion training for staff, a GOP bugaboo and obsession. Running with ultra-conservative wacko GOP Lt. Governor Mark Robinson who also won his primary, the two of them expressed similar themes that made a point of strongly attacking public education. Like Robinson, Morrow called public schools “socialism and indoctrination” centers. Like Robinson, Morrow accused teachers of being too “woke and politically biased” and pushing leftist agendas on racial equality and LGBTQ issues. Like Robinson, Morrow is an abashed cultural warrior, which pleases many conservative parents (wral.com, Walkenhorst, 3/06/24).  

 

            And you thought Robinson and his off-the-wall extremist beliefs were unique? Think again. Morrow is also one big conspiracy theorist who repeatedly shares these tin-foil hat beliefs. She has frequently called on social media posts for the execution of prominent Democrats. In 2020, Morrow expressed support for the televised execution of former President Barack Obama and suggested killing then-President elect Joe Biden (KFILE, cnn.com, Kaczynski & Steck, 3/15/24). Between 2019-2021, Morrow additionally suggested executing NC Gov. Cooper, then NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton, NY Sen. Chuck Schumer, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Bill Gates (KFILE, cnn.com, 3/15/24). In a tweet from May, 2020, she responded to a conspiracy theory about shipping Obama to Guantanamo Bay in this manner, “I prefer a Pay Per View of him (Obama) in front of the firing squad. I do not want to waste another dime on supporting his life. We could make some money back from televising his death (newrepublic.com, 3/15/24).” In December, 2020, Morrow went after soon-to-be President Biden when Biden said he would sign an executive order to make federal employees comply with the Center for Disease control guidelines and wear masks for 100 days (newrepublic.com, 3/15/24). In another post in May, 2020, Morrow responded to a fake Time Magazine cover that featured art of Obama in an electric chair asking if he should be executed. Morrow responded, “Death to ALL traitors!!” Morrow has defended these tweets, claiming that Obama has committed treason (cnn.com, KFILE, 3/15/24).  Morrow has also pushed for a constitutional amendment to abolish the State Board of Education. She wants to put direct control over NC’s education agenda under the superintendent and the state legislature, now run by Republicans (KFILE, cnn.com, Kaczynski & Steck, 3/15/24).

 

           And there is more. Morrow has promoted QAnon slogans. She has tweeted that actor Jim Carrey was “…likely searching for adrenochrome.” That is a reference to a conspiracy theory shared by QAnon believers that celebrities harvest and drink the blood of children. Morrow has also tweeted more than seven times in 2020 “WWG1WGA,” the QAnon slogan that means “where we go one, we go all (KFILE, cnn.com). “Morrow has used on the platform X and on the former conservative Twitter alternative Parler the hashtag “DeathtoTraitors” a combined 12 times. This hashtag usually relates to prominent Democrats. Morrow additionally posted that GA’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp be put in prison for certifying Biden’s presidential election (KFILE, cnn.com). Morrow repeatedly shared the false claim that Obama was Muslim and called Islam evil. She expressed the conspiracy theory that tens of thousands of Chinese troops were stationed in Canada ready to invade the U.S. to help Biden become president (KFILE). She called Obama a puppet for the “Deep State” and the “Muslim movement.” She said that Muslims should be banned from elected office in the U.S., a clear violation of the Constitution’s prohibition against religious tests for office (cnn.com, KFILE, Kaczynski & Steck, 3/15/24). IMHO, it’s a close call to tell which GOP Tar Heel nominee Robinson or Morrow is loonier.

 

             Fortunately, as with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Stein, “Team Blue” has a sane and  highly-qualified candidate for NC’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. He is Maurice (“Mo”) Green.  African American New York native Green (56) grew up in Georgia and is a long-time North Carolina resident. He received his undergraduate degree from Duke University in political science and economics and obtained a law degree from that same NC school (ednc.org, Rash, M., 10/04/23). He held two federal judicial clerkships on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before becoming involved with education as well as philanthropy, Green became a partner in a prominent Charlotte, NC law firm (ednc.org, Rash, 10/04/23). Unlike Morrow, Green is no stranger to educational matters. In 2001, Green joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, first as general counsel, then as chief operating officer, and later as deputy superintendent. From 2008-2016, Green served as deputy superintendent of Guilford County, NC Schools, NC’s third largest district. That district had more than 72,000 students, 127 schools, and about 10,000 employees. During his time at Guilford, high school graduation rates rose from 79.7% in 2008 to 89.3% in 2015 (Rash, M., 10/04/23, ncnewsline.com, Henkel, C., 10/04/23). After Green resigned as Guilford County Superintendent, he served seven years at Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and retired as Executive Director of this philanthropic foundation in March, 2023 (ncnewsline.com, Henkel, 10/04/23, Rash, 10/04/23, ednc.org). IMHO, having strong connections with philanthropic leaders, will serve Green well as Superintendent of Education. Green was proud of the fine educations Tar Heel residents received in their open and accessible public schools. He, unlike his opponent Morrow, stresses investing fully in public schools. Green has criticized the strong and growing devaluation of educators all too common among Morrow and her allies. Green helped to support students in Guilford County with tuition scholarships to help them defray the cost of education. Green has been described as “calm, collected, and measured (ednc.org, Rash, 10/04/23).”

 

           Once again, as with the NC gubernatorial race, we must try to answer the ultimate question—can the strongly qualified and rational Green defeat the educationally inexperienced and wacky conspiracy minded Morrow? A poll taken by Survey USA between March 3 and March 9, 2024 has this race in a statistical dead heat with Morrow leading Green by 1 percentage point, 41%-40% (wral.com, Walkenhorst, 3/11/24, Rash, ednc.org, 3/12/24). Again, with Demagogue Donald in the presidential race, he will bring out many of his followers who will proudly vote for Morrow. Morrow, as I previously noted, showed her Trump support by being in D.C. on January 6, 2021, the day of the deadly attempted coup at the Capitol and MAGA voters will “reward” her for that. And, of course, there will be Tar Heel voters, who like voters in other states, will be afraid to say that they will not vote for an African American. We saw that when Los Angeles, CA Mayor Black Tom Bradley unsuccessfully ran in the 1980’s against Attorney General GOPer George Deukmejian for Governor of CA (the “Tom Bradley” effect). The Biden campaign, hoping to capture NC, has presently poured over $5.6 million into that state. The Biden staff has already hired three full-time employees including a campaign manager and senior adviser positions for NC (nytimes.com, King & Nehamas, 3/11/24). This effort in NC to help Biden should spill over into the Green and Stein races. Now, however, Democratic Tar Heel voters and moderates must do their part. They must come out in droves plus in November, 2024 to defeat the wacko Morrow as well as extremist Robinson to keep NC moving into the future, not going backwards into conspiracy land. The Tar Heel State must continue its strong educational policies. The NC Chamber of Commerce, normally a Republican leaning organization, said it all. It sounded the alarm after Morrow and Robinson won their primaries. This conservative organization decried the triumph of “populist candidates” (obviously referring to Robinson and Morrow) who “do not share our vision for North Carolina (wfae.org, Helms, A., 3/12/24).” Tar Heel voters must listen to the NC Chamber of Commerce and keep their state moving forward.    

 

             

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