Carolina Democracy

Fundraising and FUD!

February 07, 2022 JD Wooten Episode 4
Carolina Democracy
Fundraising and FUD!
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome back to Carolina Democracy! Today we cover the great news from Raleigh on the gerrymandering case, briefly highlight the GOP’s latest assault on democracy, and then talk with Blair Reeves, founder and executive director of Carolina Forward, a non-profit progressive policy organization that advocates for a stronger North Carolina that works for everyone.

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Blair Reeves: Oh, yeah, can I drop F bombs? 

JD Wooten: Have at it. If it gets too obnoxious, that’s what post-production’s for. 

Blair Reeves: Exactly.


JD Wooten: Hey everyone, JD Wooten here. Welcome back to Carolina Democracy. Today we’ll cover the great news from Raleigh on the gerrymandering case, briefly highlight the GOP’s latest assault on democracy, and then I’m joined by Blair Reeves, founder and executive director of Carolina Forward, a non-profit progressive policy organization that advocates for a stronger North Carolina that works for everyone.

So, the big news this week is that it turns out partisan gerrymandering is in fact a violation of the North Carolina Constitution. Who knew? To borrow from Joe Biden, “This is a big fucking deal.” This is a tremendous milestone in the fight for free elections that truly represent the will of the people. Our work is long from over, but make no mistake, this is a monumental step in the right direction and deserves celebration.

I’ll be honest, I really didn’t think I’d have much to talk about on gerrymandering this week given the snail’s pace of most court proceedings. I even joked with Blair in the interview that you’ll hear in a moment that I don’t really care if gerrymandering isn’t always sexy or exciting, I’m not a candidate any more, this is my podcast, and it’s critical that we keep talking about it. Well, turns out there is something exciting to talk about this week, so hopefully you won’t mind indulging me a little more.

Let me start by observing that even in expedited matters like this, quick action from an appellate court is rare. I definitely commend the Supreme Court for its diligence and sense of urgency here. Remember, the trial for this case only took place just last month. The trial court order, which lamented the ridicule gerrymandering brings, observed that partisan gerrymandering is inconsistent with democratic principles, but still held that courts are powerless to do anything, only came down on January 11th. 

The plaintiffs immediately appealed, both sides quickly submitted their arguments to the Supreme Court, and oral arguments before the Supreme Court were held last Wednesday, February 2nd. With shocking speed, the Supreme Court entered an order on Friday, February 4th, just two days later, holding that partisan gerrymandering violates the state constitution. I listened to the oral arguments, and very little of it was surprising, especially with the benefit of hindsight and the order that we now have from the Court. 

The Court’s order is brief, and when we get a full opinion from the Court, perhaps there will be more to discuss. However, even this brief order included some very notable points. The Court opened by writing, “it is the state judiciary that has the responsibility to protect the state constitutional rights of the citizens; this obligation to protect the fundamental rights of the individuals is as old as the State.” The Court went on to note that the General Assembly’s power to draw legislative maps is limited by certain protections of the Constitution. The Court held that the challenged maps are unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt as they violate our citizens’ rights to free elections, equal protection, and free speech. They ordered the General Assembly to draw new maps that adhere to traditional neutral districting criteria, and specifically warned the General Assembly that partisan advantage is not a traditional neutral districting criterion.

I would also like to observe that the Court noted multiple reliable ways of demonstrating whether or not maps are unconstitutionally gerrymandered, all of which include robust data analysis. That’s a win for democracy, and a win for math. When I was in the Air Force, I had a commander who had a plaque on the wall outside of his office that read, “In God we Trust. All others bring data.” Looks like the Supreme Court is following that wisdom too by requiring the General Assembly to not only submit new maps, but also submit data analysis proving the maps aren’t partisan gerrymanders. I love it.

So what’s next? The Supreme Court ordered that the General Assembly submit its new maps on or before February 18th. If the General Assembly fails to act, or fails to act in accordance with the Supreme Court’s order, the trial court is authorized to adopt a map that does comply. The new maps will be set no later than February 23rd, candidate filing for the 2022 elections will open on February 24th, and the primary elections will stay on time on May 17th. Giddy up!

In other news, while the North Carolina Supreme Court was upholding and defending democracy, the National Republican Party was busy undermining and attacking democracy. At its meeting last Friday, the Republican Party officially declared the attacks of January 6th, 2021, to be “legitimate political discourse,” and it censured Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating in the investigation into that attack. Again, “This is a big fucking deal.” I know we talk about the G.O.P. going a little nuts these last few years, and you’ll hear Blair and I talk about that some in the interview which we recorded the day before this happened, but holy shit people. One of our two major political parties just publicly declared that a violent attack on our nation’s capital which left 140 wounded and 5 dead, and which was the first time since 1814 that the Capitol has been breached, was legitimate political discourse. Oh, and No. 45 confirmed he was absolutely trying to overturn the election and he’s now using those exact words at his rallies while promising pardons to those who participated if he’s re-elected. He’s not even trying to hide it. Unbelievable.

Finally, and on a very somber note, before we turn to my interview with Blair I want to take a brief moment to reflect on the devastating news from last week that the world lost a brilliant, inspiring young woman to her fight with depression. I had the privilege of meeting Cheslie Kryst when we were both law students at Wake Forest. She was an attorney, a TV correspondent, a former Miss North Carolina and Miss USA, and she represented our state and nation as a Top 10 finisher in the Miss Universe pageant. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that it was obvious to everyone around us at the time that she had great things ahead of her. She was truly a remarkable soul, and I know firsthand that her loss is being felt deeply around the state and country right now. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. There are a lot of us who have struggled through challenging times. Whatever demons you may be facing, you’re not alone. Call someone. Ask for help. There’s no downside.

Alright, now on to my interview with Blair.


JD Wooten: With me today is Blair Reeves, founder of Carolina Forward and the immensely successful 2020 indie fundraising efforts of the Long Leaf Pine Slate. Welcome Blair, thanks for joining me today.

Blair Reeves: Thanks JD, happy to be here. 

All right, so unlike nearly everyone else I’ve had on the show so far, you’re neither a candidate, nor an elected official, nor do you even work in politics. What do you do when you’re not dabbling in all the great political stuff that we’ll get to in a minute? 

I worked in the software industry. I’m a software product management executive. 

JD Wooten: Okay, so you make the world go round in your day job? 

Blair Reeves: Uh, Yeah, I mean, as far as software makes the world a better place, I have a day job and I do that full time. Everything else I do is like nights, weekends and minutes in between sort of thing. So as far as hobbies go is not the sexiest but it’s certainly a lot of fun. 

JD Wooten: Well, I think you’ve just inspired an idea for a future episode, the question being, does software enhance or take away from democracy? I’ll get you back on to talk about that later. 

Blair Reeves: The answer is yes. 

JD Wooten: Okay, great. I always like to ask, what was your first involvement in politics? 

Blair Reeves: Uh, that’s a good question. I mean, in second grade, I do remember that I was like one of two kids who, we did like our second-grade classroom election sort of thing, I was like one of two votes for Dukakis. My first real thing though was I went to UVA and back when I was in college Mark Warner was running for Senate. And maybe his governor’s race, actually, I don’t actually remember, but he was a big thing to do, but I went to some, like, I was in the University Democrats at UVA and we went to something and there was this dude running for Lieutenant Governor who was dynamite, and he was really sensible, and like, he wasn’t a bomb thrower or anything. He just like is a nice guy and like he’s running. And I was like, I want to work for that. His name was Tim Kaine. And so I went to go work for Tim Kaine. For a couple of summers in college, I worked on his PAC and that’s how I learned everything I know at that time about campaign finance and everything else. And how Virginia was then and still is the wild west of state-level campaign finance. And I spent a lot of time with Tim Kaine and the dude is awesome. And that was my first like, real involvement in politics. 

JD Wooten: I love it. And we must have been a few years apart in our elementary experiences because I distinctly remember my second-grade experience was recreating or pretending to have a mock debate between George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Blair Reeves: That sounds like a really boring debate, by modern standards anyway, no one got called a loser, no one got called an asshole.

JD Wooten: Yeah, no, no puppets, no puppets. All right, so you first launched the Long Leaf Pine Slate in January 2020; what was your vision for that project and what led you to it? 

Blair Reeves: I knew some people in the tech industry who had done like a similar crowdsourcing fundraising thing for congressional candidates in ‘18 cycle, and it was super successful. And what it does is that crowdsourced fundraising is a huge, asymmetric advantage the left has because there’s a whole ocean of donors out there who want to help the team.

JD Wooten: Right. 

Blair Reeves: And it’s great. And Democrats generally don’t have the kind of centralization of their fundraising nor the command and control, top-down sort of system that the GOP has. And that’s how they run. And that’s how they run their fundraising from the national level, state level, everything else. It was really successful for congressional people in ‘18, and that was a national thing. I saw it, and I was like someone should do that in the state level for North Carolina, because we have all these really important races happening in 2020. And I looked into it and it turns out it’s really easy to do. You just set up a slate, anyone can set up a slate. But no one is doing it. Like the party wasn’t doing it. Like activists weren’t doing it. And I was like, shit, I can do that. So I did it, and it took off! 

JD Wooten: That’s awesome. I know you wrote that you initially thought maybe you could raise a few thousand bucks from family and friends. 

Blair Reeves: Yeah. 

JD Wooten: But it turns out, you were wrong, and you were very wrong, and in all the right ways. So ballpark it for me - how would you measure your success? What were y’all able to do for candidates in the 2020 cycle?

Blair Reeves: We were in the mid six figures? So we raised a highly material amount of per candidate for a bunch of our races. But the 2020 cycle was also weird because like, there was so much money sloshing around that we raised a lot of money... 

JD Wooten: You don’t have to tell me about that. 

Blair Reeves: Yeah. I mean, you, of all people don’t need to know about that. Ask Terri LeGrand, right? 

JD Wooten: Oh yeah. 

Blair Reeves: And there was so much money sloshing around. But the problem is also that like, because we don’t have a centralized thing, there’s a lot of my sloshing around and it goes to the wrong people. Right? Like, I love AOC. She does not need your money. She’s never going to have a competitive race. And to her credit, she actually puts a lot of her mind to like very productive uses elsewhere. But there are like other candidates there’s lots of say safe Democrats have to raise money in the Caucus, Republican or Democrat, by the way, that’s how you rise in party leadership. If you’re a party leader, expected to raise money. So if you give your money to like a safe seat candidate, it might go to help other Democrats. It might not. But that’s also how you, you build an empire in the caucus. That’s how you become the, this position or this position, this position. And I don’t think most people know, no one knows how fundraising works. Nobody looks at any of the, like the PAC reports. If you give to a PAC like no one looks at how they actually spend their money and many of them spend it very poorly. There are a bunch of who are kind of crooked by the way. I won’t name names, but they’re out there. No one has any idea what a caucus is by the way, like regular people have no idea that there’s a thing called the Caucus that is distinct from the Party, which is distinct from like the National Party. Like people just think this is the same thing. It’s not.

JD Wooten: It took me a few weeks of running for the State Senate to understand what the State Senate Caucus was. If that’s the case, I mean... 

Blair Reeves: And you tell people like, look, so here’s the reality, like the, both the state Democratic Party and the state Republican Party, all they are fundraising vehicles. They don’t do anything. I mean the NC GOP actually does some other stuff. They do a lot more. But both of them are primarily fundraising vehicles. The real power’s in the Caucus. And in the Democratic side, there’s not a lot of power to speak about, so there’s that. But that’s why the people with actual political power are people in the Caucus, so Moore and Berger. And the people with actual political power in the party, is increasingly not Berger and Moore, it’s actually Robinson and Cawthorn. And that’s a whole other conversation, but that’s where the party power balances lie.

JD Wooten: Well, it sounds like we’ve still got some work to do on that front, but turning to what came afterwards, so you were immensely successful in 2020 with your fundraising efforts. And like you said, 2020 was a bit of a, an oddity. I’ve got prospective candidates calling me now asking for the secret sauce. And I’m like, well, hey look, you need to be careful trying to judge your success in 2022 as compared to what happened in 2020. Just adjust your expectations accordingly. 

Blair Reeves: Yeah. 

JD Wooten: Look back to 2018, maybe for better comparison purposes for state legislative races. So coming out of the 2020 election cycle, you’ve now rebranded as Carolina Forward with a much bigger mission than just fundraising. Tell us a little about how that transformation came to be. 

Blair Reeves: Yeah, yeah, so coming out 2020, we only won two of those races. This wasn’t just a North Carolina thing, this was everywhere, right? The biggest target was removing Donald Trump from power. That was the most important thing that we could do. And we did it. And we also took the Senate and Democrats got all sad face about it, but like, look, we won! We narrowly averted a turn into fascism under Donald Trump, which is exactly what he was trying to do. And is still trying to do. And we weren’t able to convert that same momentum into state level gains. That was a problem. And unfortunately, the reality of the counter-majoritarian structure of American politics is that you have to win at the state level, and the Republicans have about a 15-year head start on us on that. And we also had gerrymandered maps. Obviously right now, we’re waiting to see how tilted they’re going to be this time around if they’re going to be extremely tilted, like the ones that they put out there or very tilted. So, we didn’t convert all of our gains and fuck my headphone just went out. 

JD Wooten: I can hear you all right.

Blair Reeves: Okay. So sorry, let me start again. So we didn’t convert all the gains we wanted to. The Long Leaf Pine Slate was just me. Just one person. After that, I got together with some of the candidates we had, some of the other activists, campaign staff, whoever, and we said, look, is this a good use of our time? What do we need to do? And the big consensus, we all had was that the progressive infrastructure in North Carolina is really, really weak. It’s very thin. There are all these groups that no one has ever heard of, unless you’re in the club. I’m not in the club. And, the right, has this whole network, the Pope network of organizations that get millions of dollars from not just from Pope, but also like the Koch network. You have Americans for Prosperity, Tax Reform, all those guys, they’re all very, they’re basically a little, you know, incestuous-like little circle of propaganda groups and they’re all pumping out all this propaganda all the time. And they have dozens of paid staff, just doing it. And that stuff does have an effect. And, we said, look, everyone knows it, the left’s problem we have a big problem around communications. People just don’t know what the left stands for, right? And if you don’t have that, the excesses of the movement, speak for the movement. And that’s a problem, because I love AOC; she’s never getting elected in North Carolina and she doesn’t speak for the left generally. And a lot of us are just on the center left, right? We’re not talking about like, people like way out on the wings. We’re talking about like the center left in the state. And so we wanted someone who could communicate the values that progressives hold, ideas we hold, policies we hold, accurately because otherwise you have these other clowns out there talking about what they, portraying our ideas for us in an inauthentic way.

JD Wooten: I mean, I would go so far as to say, especially in North Carolina, even the center right is more at home in the Democratic Party than they might be in the Republican Party. 

Blair Reeves: Yeah. This is what’s happened to the GOP. The party’s gone completely off the deep end.

JD Wooten: Yeah. 

Blair Reeves: And everyone sees, everyone sees that it’s the racial stuff. It’s the corruption stuff. It’s the we don’t believe in democracy stuff. 

JD Wooten: Yeah. I mean it’s the very core of why I started this podcast. It’s the anti-democratic, authoritarian, flirting with some fascism. 

Blair Reeves: One of the things we wanted to do with Carolina forward, we still want to do, is do our work in public so people can see what we’re doing, because if people see what we’re doing, not only are donors happy, but also like we’re being relevant to the public. And if you’ll talk to the public and this is like the less problem generally, they don’t talk to the public enough. We like to talk to ourselves. Partisans on right or left whoever they like to talk to their own party, but we need to talk with everybody and we’re never going to convince the MAGAs that we’re right, but we can really talk to the moderate majority who actually agree with us on most things. We know they agree with us on most things. And that is a process of introducing ourselves, defining ourselves, that I don’t see anyone else doing, and I think it’s a really big and important niche that we can fulfill. 

JD Wooten: Yeah, I think a really important point is I think the way we frame prospective voters and I’ve heard others say this, I think one of the tendencies in the democratic side of things is to think of turnout voters versus persuasion voters. Everybody’s persuasion. 

Blair Reeves: Yeah. 

JD Wooten: It’s just, are you persuading them to go vote knowing how they’ll vote if they do, or are you persuading them who to vote for knowing that they’re going to vote? But everybody’s persuasion. So it always comes back to this communication element and getting that message out there. We either need to be persuading them to show up to vote, or we need to be persuading them to vote for people that support democracy. 

Blair Reeves: That’s right. And I think another part of this is talking about which groups of people you’re talking with. 

JD Wooten: Absolutely. 

Blair Reeves: Right? So like a good example is gerrymandering, right? So gerrymandering is a politician’s problem, right? It’s not a problem that like, it really affects my daily life. It really isn’t. It is in the sense that like, it robs me of my vote. It robs me of my voice and political representation, right? And these are things that are really important for our system of government. And so I think that the left properly makes a big deal out of them, but that can’t be everything we talk about because the reality is we need to explain to people why the left and progressives have a better approach for your family. They have a better way of making your life better in measurable, tangible ways, whether it’s your education, or your job, or your career, or your opportunity, your housing, healthcare, all of that stuff. There’s a better future through progressive politics. The right has no answer for those things. What they have is fear-mongering and FUD. But they talk about those things all the time. And those are the things, honestly, that motivate most people, what actually affects their daily life. What I always tell progressive s running for office, is look, you’ve got to talk about gerrymandering, but you’ve talk about something else too. You’ve got to hit on things that actually matter to people in their daily lives because that’s what most people vote on. 

JD Wooten: Oh, yeah. I went through two campaigns and for me personally, one of the most important issues in fight for democracy is gerrymandering. I made sure that gerrymandering and independent redistricting stayed somewhere on my platform, but it’s not something I remember ever getting up to the microphone and talking about at an event. It’s just not sexy, but hey, I’ve got a podcast now, so I get to do what I want. 

Blair Reeves: You can talk about whatever you want, JD. 

JD Wooten: Yeah, exactly. So as unsexy as gerrymandering may be, yes, we’re going to keep focusing on it and keep beating that drum. So you’re clearly moving away from just fundraising 


candidates and into the communication ecosystem. How do you plan to approach that messaging? Are you planning to train candidates on polling data and talking points? Are you thinking maybe you’ll be putting out your own comms and advertisements, some combination, something else?

Blair Reeves: So one of the things we want to do, again, we have a bias towards working in public, right? We want to put as much stuff out there as we can, so one of the first things we’ve done, is we do a lot of releases of our polling information. We do polling every two months, every month and a half, two months, something like that. We tried time it around times when it’s going to be most relevant and have relevant information in it. So we have some polling dropping next week about schools. The public at large, parents in particular, are perceiving shortages of school staff and things like this, and we want to put that all out there because most people who aren’t in the activist club, they need to hear that too. And they need to understand that and help, help that inform both their own views and ones that they are driving towards in their networks and so forth. So that’s one of the things we’re doing. We are working on some other projects as well. We’re going to do some issue ads in the next cycle or so. We’re always looking for ways that we can, our biggest challenge is informing the public around what’s actually happening, right? Because the reality is that no one has any idea what’s going on, very few people follow state level news, and that holds us back in a lot of ways. We can’t make things up the way the other side does. 

JD Wooten: What’s the saying, democracy dies in darkness? We’ve got to get out there and be in public. 

Blair Reeves: I know exactly. The other way just makes up nonsense and they run on it. And what we find, and actually this is another use of our polling, we find that a lot of that stuff is pretty contained in the hardcore right base. We’re never going to convince those people have anything, but people outside of that base are increasingly not picking up on it. So a good example is critical race theory or all this like parental rights stuff. Like I’m a parent and we all support rights, whatever, but we don’t, our polling shows that like a lot of the hardcore messaging around that stuff doesn’t really penetrate outside of the hardcore right’s base, but the whole purpose of that messaging, and the whole reason why they’re driving it is to drive out their voters. It’s a get out the vote outrage strategy.

JD Wooten: Yeah. It’s like in 2018, I don’t think anybody here in North Carolina was fearful of a caravan walking through their front door, but that didn’t stop those ads from running against numerous candidates, myself included. Alamance County, Guilford County, weren’t worried about somebody from Rockingham County coming on over. It was nonsense.

Blair Reeves: Yeah, securing the border is not really a big issue for a State Senator, or a state senate race, right? But this is the thing. I mean, those are the issues that like really just piss off their voters and get them to turn out. And so, we can’t reach those people, but we can explain to candidates like, look don’t worry too much about that stuff cause like that’s hitting their people. That’s ginning them up, but that doesn’t really gin up progressives in the same way, or the moderates in the same way. We have to talk to the moderate voters, because there’s a lot more moderate voters than there are conservative ones or liberal ones, by the way. We have to talk to those voters, but the reality is that you do have to talk to a lot, there’s a big group of voters out there who may decide to vote or not vote. And you have to say stuff that is relevant to them and also which they will believe, and persuade them. I think that our side does not do persuasion or invest in persuasion nearly as much as we should. And it’s just because that’s a, long-term, multi-cycle, multi-year, high investment sort of thing to do, and it’s really hard. 

JD Wooten: I can’t remember where I saw it, maybe it was y’all’s polling, maybe it was messaging that y’all put out, it looks like depending on how you ask the question, self-identified moderates are the biggest single group in North Carolina. 

Blair Reeves: Yes, that was our pulling you saw. And by the way, that isn’t just us, like that’s anyone who polls statewide North Carolina, that’s very well established. There’s very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, somewhat liberal, very liberal voters. And the conservatives outnumber, the liberals, moderates outnumber everybody. We’re a very moderate state. Like we’re not Mississippi. We’re not Maryland either, right? We’re just a very moderate state, we’re generally center-left. And what a lot of our polling does show is that on issue, after issue, after issue. So you look at abortion rights, you look at voting rights, automatic voter registration, independent redistricting reform, energy regulation, renewable energy. Issue after issue on any of these things, generally side with like the liberal position on these things. It’s a center left position. And what we find is that it’s really the conservative voters who are out on the moon on this stuff. They stand out on every single issue as being totally outside the mainstream, and because we’re a gerrymandered state, the politicians who have to win those votes have to go even crazier. And so that’s how you get people, like, I don’t know, um, Mark Walker or whoever who just go off and they live on Mars. And they have nothing to do with the voter median voter in North Carolina. 

JD Wooten: Yeah, and I think that’s critical to remember, too, that with gerrymandering, when the general election is a foregone conclusion, and the only competitive election becomes a primary for these gerrymandered districts, it’s who can out extreme the other, whether it’s on the left or right.

Blair Reeves: Well, I give an example, Jim Perry is about to get primaried in the State Senate, Donna White in the House. The House Republican caucus just put $10,000 in her account because she’s about to get primaried by a MAGA head. You’re seeing this in Cabarrus, there’s a Republican primary heating up over there. You see this in the far right, their Facebook groups or whatever. They hate a lot of what’s going on in the Republican Caucus because they feel like that they’re not MAGA enough. That’s happening not just in North Carolina, but across the country, the Republican Party is getting eaten up by the MAGA heads, and I don’t know who’s going to win. 

JD Wooten: Right. So turning back then to your work in 2022, what’s your process for selecting candidates that you’ll be helping, and are you going to continue that direct support kind of what you did in 2020? 

Blair Reeves: So we are going to endorse candidates, we are going to have a slate. And mostly our criteria is who is in the position to change the balance of power in North Carolina. One of the big goals here is protecting Governor Cooper’s veto, because his veto is what protects North Carolina from becoming Mississippi right now or Texas. 

JD Wooten: Absolutely, it’s critical. 

Blair Reeves: Yeah. And that’s what they want to do. They want to override his veto, ban abortion in North Carolina. They want to abolish taxes, and they want to privatize all your schools. The big goal they have right now is dismantling public education. That has been Art Pope’s goal, that’s been the Koch’s goal, that’s been a far-right goal for decades, and they think that it’s within reach right now. They are wrong. It’s not. But that’s what they want to do. And if they’re able to override his veto, you see what happened last time with HB2, right? As well as, they gutted the state’s tax system and left us in a really poor financial standpoint and it slowed our growth as a state. So those sorts of things are the ones we have to really look out for. This is not going to be the cycle where we’re taking the majority of the General Assembly, with the caveat that again, no one knows what’s going to happen with the maps. And we’ll see but yeah, so that’s, our criteria is who can change the balance of power in North Carolina and push us in a more progressive direction, because we are, and this is what I keep telling a lot of moderate voters, progressive voters, whoever we talked to we are going to be Virginia. It’s not going to be this cycle, but it’s going to be this decade. We are headed in that direction. And by the way, I grew up in Virginia, and I’ve seen what has happened to the Commonwealth over the last 30, 40 years. It’s going to happen here as well. It’s got I’m pretty quick. 

JD Wooten: I grew up in a North Carolina that was Jim Hunt, Jim Martin, Jim Hunt. It was a much more moderate North Carolina. And you look at today and you say, wow, okay, the two sides of just diverged so much in their elected officials, but the people of North Carolina have continued to march in the direction of Virginia. So you just said that you will be selecting candidates for a slate. When do you anticipate that you’ll be doing that? 

Blair Reeves: We’re going to make some endorsements as soon as we can, when the maps come down, because once the maps come down, we’re only a couple of months away from the primaries. And then we want to get cracking on this as soon as we can. 

JD Wooten: Where can people go to learn more about Carolina Forward, what you’ve got coming up? What do you want them to know, taken away from this? 

Blair Reeves: So is our website. We are extremely social, so it’s on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all those sorts of things as well. We are kind of a different organization. We’re all volunteers. We have no paid staff at Carolina Forward. So one of the things that does is obviously we want people to give us money, but our focus is not really on fundraising, it’s about putting out good information and good content. So we’re very light on the fundraising stuff, very heavy on informational content. So if people would just want to know what’s going on from a center left perspective, sign up for our list, follow us on whatever platform you’re on, and kind of see how it suits you. And we’re also always looking for help as well. We need as many hands as we can to do what we’re doing here, so I encourage people to reach out. 

JD Wooten: I love it. As somebody who’s been a beneficiary of your work, I will just say, if you’re listening, please, at least visit, learn more about them, consider giving, it goes a long way to help these down-ballot candidates that are trying to break through the noise and get their message over the finishing line. All right Blair, any closing thoughts for our listeners? 

Blair Reeves: Pay attention to your state politics and your state legislature cause that’s where a lot of things are decided that don’t make the headlines. It’s incredibly important for the future of our country. 

JD Wooten: I couldn’t agree more. Well, thank you, Blair. Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been a real pleasure and look forward to having you back sometime soon.

Blair Reeves: Awesome, thanks a lot for having me JD.


JD Wooten:

Thanks again to Blair for joining me today. I would say something like I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as we did, but I also happen to know what didn’t make the final cut for today’s episode, and I assure you we had fun.  But don’t you worry, Blair has promised to join us again soon to share the work they’re doing at Carolina Forward, and I’m sure he’ll have more to say about the MAGA heads when he does.

Don’t forget to check out Carolina Forward online, follow them on social media, and sign up for their newsletter.  I’m a subscriber and I promise it’s worth it.  Links for all of that I the show notes.  As always, if you or someone else you know should be on the show, send me an email, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to never miss an episode, like and share on social media, and share this episode with one friend.  Together, we can achieve a better North Carolina for everyone.


Interview with Blair Reeves
Closing Notes