Carolina Democracy

Fighting for Democracy at Home & Abroad

March 14, 2022 JD Wooten Episode 9
Carolina Democracy
Fighting for Democracy at Home & Abroad
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome back to Carolina Democracy! Today I’m joined by State Senator Wiley Nickel to discuss his campaign for the 13th Congressional District, and I also talk to columnist and Carolina Forward policy analyst Alex Jones to discuss President Biden's leadership and unique qualifications in the fight against autocracy abroad.

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JD Wooten: Hey everyone, JD Wooten here. Welcome to Carolina Democracy. Today, we’re changing up the format just a touch with two interviews. Our candidate interview is with State Senator Wiley Nickel who is running for the 13th Congressional District, including some or all of Wake, Johnston, Wayne, and Harnett Counties. But first, I’m joined by Alex Jones, a columnist who contributes to numerous North Carolina newspapers, writes for PoliticsNC, and serves as a policy analyst for Carolina Forward.

For a few weeks now I have really wanted to talk more about the war in Ukraine. While I did study international security policy under a former Undersecretary of Defense and spent a decade in uniform, Russia-Ukraine is not my area of expertise. Additionally, I do want to keep our focus on fighting for democracy here at home. However, it has become apparent that we have a Commander in Chief with an enormous depth of foreign policy experience who is truly rising to the occasion to unite our western alliance against authoritarianism in a way we have not seen in decades, and that has major implications for democracy at home. 

Although it does not frequently get a lot of attention, one of the many factors that helped the United States reach a tipping point during the Civil Rights Movement was a recognition that we could not advocate for democracy abroad while denying so many of our own citizens basic democratic rights. Foreign policy supporting democracy can often force a hard look in the mirror at our domestic issues. For example, if we’re going to take such a firm position against Russia and in support of democratic self-determination in Ukraine, how can we also ignore domestic efforts to disenfranchise certain voters, or in some states to even give the states the right to overturn elections entirely?

So that’s where Alex comes in. He recently wrote a few pieces for PoliticsNC that really caught my eye focused on President Biden’s leadership and the resurgence of western unity in the fight for democracy. Maybe that will have benefits here at home too. In North Carolina, we have Governor Cooper’s veto and a slim majority on the state Supreme Court committed to democratic norms and principles to thank for avoiding some of the more extreme anti-democratic measures we see elsewhere in the country. But we cannot take either for granted, especially as we approach the 2022 elections. We have a lot of work to do in the coming months to protect Governor Cooper’s veto and the slim majority of democracy champions on the state Supreme Court.

Anyways, I thought what better way to discuss President Biden’s leadership and unique qualifications for this moment in history than to dive in with an author who has recently written on those topics, so here’s my interview with Alex Jones.


JD Wooten: With me today, Alex Jones, columnist, blogger with PoliticsNC, and policy analysts with Carolina Forward. Welcome Alex. 

Alex Jones: Thanks for having me. 

JD Wooten: You bet. So since this is your first time on the podcast, I have to ask what's your earliest memory of politics? 

Alex Jones: That's probably the 1996 presidential election. 

JD Wooten: What was your first involvement personally in covering or being involved with politics?

Alex Jones: My first involvement was volunteering for a guiding Jim Neal who ran for U.S. Senate in 2008. He was the first LGBTQ candidate to run statewide in North Carolina. And actually, the second openly gay candidate ever to run for U.S. Senate in the United States. We had this very close-knit team of volunteers who really believed in him. He was underfunded relative to Kay Hagan, who was the front runner, and it was really inspiring to have a gay candidate, not only in North Carolina, that will be inspiring each day, given the homophobia in the state. But in 2008, when the whole country was so much less progressive on that topic, Jim was really an inspiration to a lot of people and I volunteered for him and then for Hagan in the fall, and she obviously won. That was great. And kind of went on from there.

JD Wooten: Oh, that's wonderful. And yeah, I'm sure that it doesn't seem like 2008's that long ago, but it really was very different scene altogether back then. So I want to talk about Russia, Ukraine, and some of your recent writing on that. You recently wrote a piece for PoliticsNC entitled Ukraine and the Return of American Values. While I enjoy reading most everything on PoliticsNC, this one really caught my eye. And when I launched this podcast, it was with the aim of promoting democracy in North Carolina. I think I also made sure at the time to try and define what that meant, and I see it as what I think a lot of us would call classic liberal democracy, or a democratic government that supports individual rights, civil liberties, political freedoms for everyone. In your piece, you wrote that "the Ukrainian War is a lesson in the enduring need for American leadership positioned behind liberal values." Namely democracy versus autocracy was that I read. Do you think this conflict is reinvigorating the Western alliances that perhaps have started taking democracy for granted in the last few decades? 

Alex Jones: I think yes, but I also think there is a really big unpleasant creature on the horizon. And that's the possibility of a Trump restoration. I think the western alliance is obviously stronger right now than it has been in any time since at least Bosnia, and maybe since the end of the Cold War. But at the same time with this recrudescence of western unity under Joe Biden, there's also the possibility that Donald Trump, who absolutely despises NATO, comes back in, and with reckless abandon destroys everything that's been built in 80 years. I think that everything that happens in American politics right now, really global politics, takes place in the shadow of Trump. 

JD Wooten: Yeah, and I think that it was very disheartening to read recently, just so many people candidly sharing his thoughts and sentiments on withdrawing from NATO all together. And whether it be Donald Trump or a Trump-like candidate and the Trumpian mindset, I do think that there's a real danger in that, in terms of what we see with our western alliance. 

Alex Jones: Yeah. I mean, who knows if John Bolton is telling the truth about anything ever, but he said that Trump planned to withdraw from NATO in a second term. And we know from reporting that he almost did, but Jim Matis kind of did this smoke and mirrors thing to distract Trump from what he was planning to do and NATO lasted a couple more years, and hopefully it'll last more years than that. But it's a fundamental belief of his, that NATO is this parasitic institution that's humiliating and taking advantage of the United States and it plays into his overall narrative of a country that's been kicked around because of incompetent fools in charge of everything in Washington. And his whole mantra is to restore this fatuous, racialized greatness in the face of decades of morons messing everything up and NATO is definitely part of that. 

JD Wooten: I think there's really no question that given the opportunity, that wing of the Republican mindset, and certainly if it were to be Trump, could do some very real lasting damage. I worry that had he managed to get a second term, then there would have been a lot more throwing caution to the wind, or if he were to get a second term now, there'll be a lot more throwing caution to the wind. So some of that restraint that we've heard rumor of might not happen in the future. So, that kind of ties to the leadership that we're seeing today, I think. And so in both your piece on Ukraine and another article you wrote just after President Biden's State of the Union address, you discuss his leadership in the moment. What's been your general impression of his leadership domestically and internationally during this conflict?

Alex Jones: Well, I think his diplomatic leadership has been virtuosic. He's been able to bring together a group of countries that have not been united like this since intervention in Bosnia. This is kind of what we elected Joe Biden for is his experience and steadiness in foreign affairs. Domestically, I think he's done a pretty good job. I think if you look at the polls, the vast majority of the American people are unified behind him. That could be a rally around the flag effect that you'd see with any president. I think it's logical to deduce that Biden's able leadership abroad has translated into support domestically. 

JD Wooten: Yeah, I certainly hope so. And I think that at least we're seeing that so far. I do wonder how much that will translate to reinvigorating his domestic agenda, but if nothing else, maybe it can reinvigorate the brand and help remind us why we elected this almost scion of American foreign policy establishment. I loved your closing to that earlier article. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to just quote directly, you wrote that President Biden's "State of the Union address conveyed the precise themes that made him president in the first place-- steady leadership, competence abroad, and a deep well of empathy that made him a grandfatherly figure for millions of Americans disgusted with the nastiness and ubiquitous hatred that permeated nearly everything about Donald Trump's presidency. An economic populist with a big heart, a patriotic American leading the Free World against a vicious Russian thug, Joe Biden is, to put it simply, back." I just love that. 

Alex Jones: Thank you. 

JD Wooten: And I think that maybe hit some of these same themes. Do you think that this, we talked about that just briefly a moment before and you hit it here, do you think this has the opportunity to translate to other successes as we see him in this leadership role?

Alex Jones: I would hope so. The polls don't seem to have gotten that much better over the last couple of weeks. I know there was one poll from NPR Marist there showed him back up at 47%. The others have generally shown him stuck in the low forties. But it can't hurt by any means. For the guy who has taken the torch of leadership against this vicious murderous monster in the Kremlin to be President of the United States can only be a positive. I definitely hope that it will lead to a broader rejuvenation of his presidency and political capital. 

JD Wooten: I think a lot of what the American people look at and look for is much broader than the specific policies. I think it's largely, what's the image of leadership that we're seeing. And this is such a terrible crisis, but thank heavens he's the one in the position because he's so uniquely well-qualified.

Alex Jones: Biden has been involved in foreign policy since 1972. And he's got deep wells of relationships all around the world. He could have been Secretary of State if he hadn't been Vice-President. There's definitely some gravitas there, and the American people should be glad that they've got him instead of Donald Trump or most other people. 

JD Wooten: I wholeheartedly agree. Well, with that, thank you, Alex. I appreciate you joining to talk about your perspective. Really appreciate your insights. 

Alex Jones: Thank you.


JD Wooten: Thanks again to Alex for taking some time to speak with me. Links to PoliticsNC and to those two articles in particular are in the show notes. I highly recommend you take a few minutes to check them out. Also, don’t forget to check out our friends at Carolina Forward for the latest research and analysis they’ve done, and now you’ve met another contributor to their work.

And finally, turning to my candidate interview for today, I’m joined by State Senator Wiley Nickel. Senator Nickel currently represents District 16 in Wake County in the state senate and was part of the class of newly elected state senators in 2018 when Democrats picked up 6 seats to break the GOP supermajority and allow Governor Cooper an effective veto against extreme legislation in Raleigh. Senator Nickel is running for the 13th Congressional District, which is projected to be one of the most competitive districts in the nation. It is truly a toss-up district, so expect to see a lot of attention go to this race from both sides of the aisle as we approach November. Without further ado, here’s my interview with Senator Nickel.


JD Wooten: With me today is State Senator Wiley Nickel who currently represents District 16 in the North Carolina State Senate. Senator Nickel is running to represent the newly drawn 13th Congressional District, which includes Wake, Johnson, and parts of Harnett and Wayne counties. Welcome Senator Nickel.

Wiley Nickel: Thanks so much. It's great to see you. 

JD Wooten: Likewise, likewise, I hope all is well over there in the triangle. 

Wiley Nickel: We're doing great and excited about this race for Congress. 

JD Wooten: Oh, that's wonderful. So, first question I ask all my guests, what's your earliest memory of politics or getting involved in politics? 

Wiley Nickel: I still believe in a place called hope, the Clinton gore campaign, was my first campaign. And, inspired me to get involved and roll up my sleeves. I ended up working for Al Gore, later on for the re-election and then when he was Vice-President. So, that was a campaign that was very important for me. 

JD Wooten: Oh, wonderful. So we've now heard one of your former bosses and I'm willing to bet that our listeners will recognize a few other names that you've worked for. You've been involved in Democratic politics for a long time prior to running yourself. So what are some of the past experiences and lessons you learned along the way? And some of those individuals, you had a chance to work for? 

Wiley Nickel: Yeah. I traveled all over the world with Al Gore. And that was my first job after college. And then, later on, I went to work for an Illinois Senator with a funny name who became President of the United States. Working for the Obama White House was really an honor and something that stays with me and everything I do as a State Senator. And I think the really important thing that I learned from President Obama is when you run for office, when you're in elected office, you always have to be honest with the voters and you have to be yourself. And that's what President Obama did all the time. He was exactly the same person backstage that he was onstage and he was anywhere and the voters can see through the BS, if you're not straight up with folks, they know it. And that was I think Obama's, that his real secret to his success. 

JD Wooten: I've heard many say that in various interviews over the years. And so I just have to ask, even when speaking with him in person behind closed doors, was that famous cadence that he has every time he's delivering a speech, is it more or less the same?

Wiley Nickel: Exactly the same? No, no. I mean, that's just him. It's just, the same guy, the same way you talked about stuff. I mean, I have so many, great stories, one of the things, I would go and travel and organize these really big events for him and. During the tea party, that was a big thing. They were attacking him. I told him, we were worried, there were some people who might interrupt him and he's like, I want to know where they are. I want to know exactly where they are so I can call on them and have a debate about these issues. So, he was always ready to take on the tough conversations and he definitely was one of a kind.

JD Wooten: That's amazing.

Wiley Nickel: And, and someone, who endorsed my first campaign for the State Senate and, has really been a good ex-president as well. 

JD Wooten: Yeah. I remember that the first time I saw that you would get an endorsed by him for the state Senate. I was like, wait, what the heck? Where, where did I miss signing up for that? And then I connected the dots and said, wait a minute. This is, former staffers rolling out endorsements. That makes a lot of sense, so kudos. 

Wiley Nickel: It helps if you know the guy. 

JD Wooten: That helps a lot with endorsements, right? So as an attorney myself, I try not to ask too many questions I don't already know the answer to, but I'll take a risk on this one. What first brought you to North Carolina? 

Wiley Nickel: My wife Caroline is a native and her family has lived here for generations. And I was traveling with Obama. I was going on the road a lot and she missed home. So we moved here as soon as Obama got elected and I traveled from North Carolina and we've been here.

JD Wooten: Oh, that's great. So you already alluded to this we'll hit this real quick. You ran in 2018 for the then newly created District 16, which was the product of one of our multitude of redistricting cases. You won a very competitive primary and then went on to win the general election, making you part of the group who gave Democrats enough seats in the general assembly to break the GOP super majority and sustain Governor Cooper's veto. Since you're facing another primary now, are there any lessons from your 2018 primary that you think will help you in this fight for the congressional nomination?

Wiley Nickel: Politics number one is just about educating people on the issues. If you educate them on the issues, they're going to be with you. And the way you got to do that is you gotta be there with them in their community, knocking on their doors, being available all the time. And that was what we did. We worked two times harder than our opponent, and put in four times more hustle. And when you do that and your constituents know that you're going to be there, you're going to listen to them. Talk about the issues that matter at the kitchen table. They're going to be with you and that's what we did then. And that's what we'll continue to do in the primary and in the general election for this seat, which is going to be one of the most competitive seats in the country. 

JD Wooten: Yeah. Looking at those numbers, it looks like you may very well be the most competitive, if not, certainly a top five competitive seat in the country, out of the 435 races for Congress. 

Wiley Nickel: The courts, they weren't very artful and how they drew these maps, but they wanted to make a seat that could go either way. And that's the kind of seat this is, I think we have some advantages in that. There's a ton of growth. That's going to be better for Democrats. By the time we get to November, but this is a seat that could go either way.

And it's what you want. It's what you live for in politics to have a seat where you can't hide behind your Republican primary voters, you have a bad idea. You're on the wrong side of an issue. You are going to pay a price at the ballot box. So if you're someone who's going to be supporting the NRA line, district like this, there is nowhere to hide when you talk about ending gun violence. So, it's an exciting district and, like you said, 435 seats in Congress, there's probably only 30 that are going to be this competitive. In the entire country and it's an open seat. Most of these seats that are competitive, like this have an incumbent, this one has no incumbent. So, there's nobody who's done years of constituent services to sort of skew the results one way or another. This is one that's fair game. And it's a Biden district seat, the Biden one. So we're, we're really excited about taking the fight to Republicans in November and being part of a net gain of two seats in Congress from North Carolina, something that we thought was just impossible weeks ago. 

JD Wooten: Yeah, I think that's great. And you've certainly been out on the campaign trail for a while now and doing that hard work, doing that hustle. So I admire that and having been affiliated with races and competitive districts myself, I can certainly vouch for love it or hate it. The attention will be there at some point with such a competitive. So you won reelection in 2020, meaning you've now been in the general assembly for a little over three years. How's that experience been in general. And what are some of the accomplishments you're proud of there? 

Wiley Nickel: Number one, just what we're talking about, redistricting. I serve on the Senate redistricting committee. I've fought for these maps for the last year. Every week meetings about strategy, how we can get to where we are with these, and we've gotten much better maps. So that's something that I think is really important. And there's so many issues that sort of follow from getting to fair maps, but really the biggest thing that we've done in the Senate is we have been able to sustain vetoes. Governor Cooper has not had a single veto overridden since I've been in the Senate, and that's a host of issues from a tax on voting rights attacks on women's reproductive health rights tax on the environment, we've been able to say no, and it's been incredibly important for North Carolina to be able to, get compromise on issues and to stop bad bills from becoming law. 

JD Wooten: I really do think that that's critical for stopping bad things like HB2 coming back to the forefront. 

Wiley Nickel: For everybody listening, the races for the state legislature incredibly important, again, this time it's going to be a real fight to be able to sustain vetoes for the governor in the last two years in office. And if we don't get to that number, Republicans will meet in private and create laws, the governor will veto them and they will override his veto over and over and over again, and all the things like, HB2, we will see that kind of stuff, the attacks on voting rights, and our women's reproductive health rights those will come right at us. So it's critical that folks get out and vote all the way down the ticket. Cheri Beasley would be the Chief Judge on the Supreme Court right now. If, folks just continued voting and, so that's just going to be critical. But, at the top of the ticket, we've got Cheri Beasley now running for the U.S. Senate. You have two Supreme court races that truly matter. Congressional seat will be the most competitive by far in our state. 

JD Wooten: Maybe I'll put that in the podcast twice, because it's just so critical. I will say so before we hit record, I was sharing my thoughts on the maps and the fact that the congressional map was the one that got redrawn, but sort of my surprise on the Senate map, any insights there on your thoughts on those legislative maps that did get adopted? 

Wiley Nickel: That one really just didn't make a lot of sense to me. The courts redrew the congressional maps to give us a fair map we're a 50 / 50 state. We've got a map that can easily get us a seven-to-seven delegation, a 50 / 50 delegation in Congress, but the state legislative maps really were not as good. The state house maps were a little better, but the state Senate maps still had a ton of gerrymandering that couldn't be explained by anything other than just extreme partisan gerrymandering and the attempt. To keep Democrats from getting to a majority. That was really critical for us. And you look at places like Wilmington, where the Republican maps go in to the heart of Wilmington, to disenfranchise African-American voters and take them into a district where the highest percentage of folks in that county don't have a voice. So that was pretty egregious. A lot of about the Senate maps were not going, but they weren't that bad. And they give us a chance to be able to sustain vetoes by Governor Cooper and hopefully if not in this election, in that future election, get to a majority.

JD Wooten: Yeah, I agree. I think that that's sort of the consensus I've been hearing and my own thoughts. They're not as bad as they were. They're not as good as they could be. We've got some more fight, but we've got what we've got and we'll fight the best we can with it. Okay. So turning to your current race, the 13th Congressional District, as its drawn now was a surprise to most, I think how did this district come to exist in its current form and what constituencies does it include?

Wiley Nickel: This was a district that was drawn by the court, with no public input. The best way I can explain it is it's a district that really was just gerrymandered for competition. They sat down and they said, all right, we want to do one that's a democratic seat, but just barely, because we think that kind of reflects where we are as a state. So they kind of sliced through municipalities and communities in a way to just get to that number that was Biden 50 Trump, 48. So at two point district for Joe Biden, an eight point district for Roy Cooper. But the thing about the district that's really good for November is we've had a ton of growth in wake county and Johnson County and Harnett County. We are the fastest growing area in the state by far and the second fastest growing area in the country behind Austin. So tons of growth in this district, the folks who are moving in, care about issues that matter, they are going to be, better group for us in November, with the growth. And so we're excited about what that'll mean for this district and our chance to keep this seat as a democratic seat. 

JD Wooten: You just touched on some of the issues, especially that will matter to the voters in this district and especially the Democratic voters in this district. I know you've highlighted many of your positions on quite a range, very impressive range of issues in your website and other materials, ranging from taxes and jobs to public education, equal rights, criminal justice reform. It's all wonderful, and I would encourage listeners to visit your website to learn more, but if you were forced to focus on just two top priorities in your first year in Congress, what would they be? 

Wiley Nickel: The top of the list is gotta be voting rights. We got to make it easier to vote, not harder. We have a number of bills that have moved through the House that are stalled in the Senate that would just do just that. So that's going to be a top priority for me. And then number two, jobs and the economy, we've got to tackle wealth and income inequality and a system that just doesn't work for everybody at the same time. So one of the first places I would start would be renewing the child tax credit that was hugely important for my constituents, but there's a lot we can do to help improve our economy. And that's the main question we've had in the state legislature, , are we going to continue massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, are going to make those investments in public education, in the environment, and our infrastructure? And it's the same in Washington. We need to make those big changes so that everybody's got a fair shot. 

JD Wooten: President Biden talked about in the state of the union not too long ago about sort of an old line of thinking, but repackaged and that was making the tax system equitable in the sense of having everyone pay their fair share kind of getting away from that line of raising taxes per se, but rather making the tax system more fair. What does that look like to you?

Wiley Nickel: The easiest way to say it is you got to pay the same percentage of your income wherever you are. And so we have in North Carolina, and it's very similar on the federal level too, but it's easier to kind of put this in perspective here in North Carolina, we have a system that's an upside down tax code.

So those are the top pay much less as a percentage of their income of state and local taxes and those in the middle. So if you're an average, middle-class taxpayer, $50,000 a year, is your income, you're paying close to 8% of your income in state and local taxes. Those in the top 1%, they're paying close to 4%, give or take a little bit with the way you kind of look at these numbers, but you're almost paying twice as much as a percentage of your income. And that's where the debate has to go. When we get a fair tax system where everyone's paying the same percentage of their income, we can make those investments that we've got to make. If we're going to stay competitive as a nation public education, a healthy environment and infrastructure that is absolutely crucial.

JD Wooten: So, because it's gotten a little bit of extra news with yet another report coming out on climate and definitely the negative prognosis if we continue on this current trend, what are some of the things that you think are achievable that we should be tackling first to really change the way we as a society are looking at climate change and addressing those things?

Wiley Nickel: You know, I think first you've got to look at your kids. And that's kind of where I start. I've got a six and a nine-year-old, and I want them to grow up in a world where the hottest year on record wasn't last year and the year before that and the year before that. So we have a climate crisis going on right now and we need to act. In the state senate, I proposed a carbon tax bill. I think that's one of the best ways to get the forces of the market behind making real investments in carbon reduction. So, there's a lot of stuff we can do in the infrastructure context, but a carbon tax is what economist degree is really the best way to tackle this. And when you do that tax, you get this money you get to do something with, and I'd take that money and I'd give it back to rate payers with a little extra for those at the bottom who are struggling to keep the lights on and where that's a lot tougher. But when you do that, the forces of the market will go in and they'll find ways to reduce carbon. And so that's something that almost made it out of this build back, better discussion. So, for me getting to Washington, I think that's the place we need to be looking right now, in the future as a real way to make significant changes on the environment. 

JD Wooten: You touched on it very briefly earlier, but I'm just going to circle back because we are podcast focused on promoting democracy in North Carolina. And of course, national legislation on those issues is tremendously important as well. Where do you think that Congress should be focusing its efforts right now in sort of the short term in the ways to protect and promote democracy?

Wiley Nickel: We've got to make it easier to vote, not harder. And one of the first things that's critical is that we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. There are common sense initiatives that passed the House and installed in the Senate. And we got to keep talking about them, the HR1, For the People Act, and we need to end gerrymandering, and we can do that on the federal level. There are so many things that we can do to make it easier, and that should be a real focus for everybody. On the state level, I've been pushing to end partisan gerrymandering. A lot of states have nonpartisan, independent redistricting commission, and they draw their maps. So those are part of that voting rights discussion, and on the federal level, we need to act to protect our elections. And you have states who are taking steps and passing bills essentially can allow them to overturn elections. And appoint their own electors, change an election outcome by removing those in charge of running an election. So, this is a huge issue. And frankly, for the rest of this campaign is going to be at the top of our list as we're talking to voters about the things we want to do to protect their voting rights. 

JD Wooten: Absolutely. And the Supreme Court just denied the appeal of the GOP for the congressional districts. I think that there were some people that were holding out a little bit of hope that maybe the court would change its tune and intervene, but thankfully in this case they did not. Any reflections on that?

Wiley Nickel: Yeah, I was with the Attorney General Josh Stein is the news came in and it wasn't a big win. We won on this, but you had four justices, give or take how you kind of describe what they did with their votes, who would have allowed the halt to our election so they could look at this issue. So I don't know if there's five votes to essentially say that state courts can't draw maps, which would just be unprecedented to have the U.S. Supreme Court saying that state courts have no ability to draw maps or be part of that process when they violate a state constitution. But we got five justices in the three more liberal justices, Roberts and Barrett were against it, but it's a scary thing when you're, when you're hoping that Kavanaugh or Amy Coney Barrett are going to side with Roberts to do the right thing. So I'm glad that our maps are allowed to proceed. For those listening though, this is likely just going to be a map that's in place for one term. We expect the Republicans will go and redraw these congressional maps, which is why the race for the State Supreme Court is critically important. I think as folks are looking at the races that really matter, they ought to be looking at making sure we get Cheri Beasley in the Senate, making sure we win our two state Supreme Court races and this race for Congress. Those are the places where, your time, your attention can truly make a difference and change the trajectory of our state and our country.

JD Wooten: And we'll include links to help make sure that we're continuing to plug all of that. So Senator Nickel, anything we've missed that you'd like to highlight for our listeners today?

Wiley Nickel: No, I'm just glad to be with you today, and I think it's just important to say when you run for office, you lived run for a seat like this. This is a seat where every vote will really matter, every dollar will matter, and if you're on the wrong side of an issue, there's nowhere to hide in a seat like this. So we're excited about doing a positive message about things we can do to improve people's economy, improve the economy, improve people's lives and have a real competition for the best ideas. So, if you want to talk about ending gun violence, there's things we can do, but if you're going to go and be a Republican and cling to the positions of the NRA, you're going to get voters who reject that kind of talk. So, there's so many issues we were excited about taking on in this race, but this is one that really will make a difference. And Democrats only control the U S House with six seats. So every seat like this, especially as the competitive ones are critically important and winning this race could literally be the difference between holding control of Congress, in the U S house or not. So this is one that, we're really matter and we're excited about the chance to get out there and talk about who's got the best ideas. 

JD Wooten: Yeah there not a whole lot of candidates who can get out there and say, this really may be the bellwether race. This really may be the tipping point race for who controls the chamber after the election. I think when we are talking about one of those races, like the race for the 13th Congressional District, it's tremendously important to amplify that because you're right. Every vote, every dollar, every message is critical. 

Wiley Nickel: And I think just what you said too, it will really mean something. It will say something about where we are as a country. And one of the things that I'm most excited about is talking to the voters, kind of held their nose and voted for Trump. But after January 6th have seen that the Republican Party has gone way too far to the right. They are too extreme for normal folks in the center. And when we, when we'll be able to say, listen, the Trump extremists are taking the country in the wrong direction and we won this race because they said enough and the voters will truly be able to say something in a race like this.

JD Wooten: I couldn't agree more. Okay. So on that note, where can people go to learn more about you, your campaign, sign up to volunteer, donate, and so forth? 

Wiley Nickel: The best place is our website. It's Wiley Nickel for Congress, and they'll have links to our social media pages, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all places where you can learn more. We certainly appreciate anybody who wants to make a contribution. That's critically important in this race as well. But the website's the best place to go, and we can drop some links as well. 

JD Wooten: Absolutely, links to all of that in the show notes to make it easy. And as somebody who's visited your website multiple times, I can vouch for the fact that it is a wonderful website, easy to use and go out there and check it out for all our listeners. It was so great having you it's been a real pleasure. Thank you so much for doing this. 

Wiley Nickel: JD, thanks again. It was great to be with.


JD Wooten: Thanks to Senator Nickel for joining me today. Don’t forget to check out his website and follow him on social media to learn more, links in the show notes. If you or someone else you know should be on the show, send me an email at That’ll be in the show notes, too. Finally, please share this episode with a friend so we can help candidates reach the largest audience possible. Together, we can achieve a better North Carolina for everyone!

Interview with Alex Jones
Interview with Wiley Nickel
Closing Notes