NCAA pulls events from North Carolina; GOP spokeswoman issues rant

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NCAA President Mark Emmert

Texas lawmakers looking to jump on AG Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s anti-transgender train need to take a good look at what happened yesterday in North Carolina, which became the poster-child-state for anti-LGBT hate earlier this year with passage of HB 2.

On Monday, Sept. 12, officials with the NCAA announced that seven NCAA championship games originally slated to be held in North Carolina are being moved out of The Hate State. That includes NCAA men’s basketball tournament games that would have been held in Greensboro, the 2016 Division I Women’s Soccer Championship, the 2016 Division III Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships, a 2017 Division I Women’s Golf Championships regional, the 2017 Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships, the 2017 Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship and the 2017 Division II Baseball Championship.

In announcing the decision, NCAA officials said HB2 would preclude North Carolina cities from guaranteeing an “inclusive atmosphere” for all, according to The Charlotte Observer.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships. We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships.”

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed HB 2 into law and has steadfastly defended it despite the ever-building negative impact it has had on his state, had issued no statement on the NCAA decision as of Tuesday morning.

But Roy Cooper, the Democrat running to replace McCrory as governor wasted no time in criticizing McCrory and the North Carolina GOP. His campaign spokesman, Ford Porter, told the Observer, “It seems that almost every day, we learn of a new consequence of HB2. Hosting NCAA championship events has long been a point of pride for North Carolina.”

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North Carolina’s state Republican Party, however, had no qualms in blasting the NCAA and once again defending HB 2. Spokeswoman Kami Mueller said: “This is so absurd it’s almost comical. I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA’s logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms. This decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation. If you are unwilling to have women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, how do you have a women’s team? I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor. Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking — and instead focus their energies on making sure our nation’s collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field.”

Her response brought in swift and mostly disgusted reactions. Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, called Mueller’s statement “sickening,” and said the North Carolina GOP should “apologize immediately.”

Charlotte Magazine Columnist Greg LaCour decried Mueller’s statement as one of “such incandescent stupidity that it deserves to be examined closely, annotated, studied in the manner of a finely wrought gem or tractate of Talmud.”

He added, “From the mouths and keyboards of North Carolina Republicans in these last few years has emerged a flood of jaw-dropping lunacy. Yet this may be the defining document of their dominance of North Carolina politics since 2010. For brevity, alienation from reality, incoherence, long jumps of illogic, and one particularly bizarre (and offensive as hell) non sequitur, St. Kami’s Epistle to the Cackalackians is worth dissecting in full.”

Ron Clements on SportingNews.com said Mueller’s statement was itself “so absurd it’s almost comical,” and pointed out, as did LaCour, that Mueller issued the statement within hours of tweeting, “Monday nights are for @WoodfordReserve, work, and reading about our first liberty @ericmetaxas,” along with a photo of a glass full of bourbon on the rocks and a book by Eric Mataxas’ book If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty.

—  Tammye Nash

Dallas Cty. races neck and neck in early voting

Early voting results are in, and countywide races in Dallas County are, for the most part, neck and neck between Democrats and Republicans. Early voting is expected to account for roughly half of all turnout, so it can be a good indication of where local races are heading. However, Democratic turnout is typically higher than Republican turnout on Election Day, so the fact that Democrats are even or ahead after early voting is a good sign that the county will stay blue.

“Our assumption is that we will continue to climb on Election Day, and that’s traditionally the case in gubernatorial years,” said openly gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who led Republican opponent Tammy Barnes by fewer than 1,500 votes after early voting, out of more than 200,000 ballots cast.  “At this point, I’m feeling pretty good. I think this is where I wanted to be, over 50 percent with early vote. Right now the results seem to be consistent with what everybody was expecting.”

While Fitzsimmons has a slight lead in his race, other Democratic candidates for countywide office were slightly behind. District Attorney Craig Watkins trailed challenger Danny Clancy and Democratic county judge nominee Clay Jenkins trailed Republican Wade Emmert.

In another Dallas County race of significant LGBT interest, Democrat Dr. Elba Garcia led Republican incumbent Ken Mayfield by fewer than 1,000 votes as they vie for the District 4 seat on the Commissioners Court.

State legislative races didn’t look quite so good for Democrats after early voting. Incumbent State Reps. Allen Vaught, Carol Kent, Robert Miklos and Kirk England all trailed their races after early voting. Democratic challengers Pete Schulte and Loretta Haldenwang were also behind.

—  John Wright