Carolina Democracy

Cheaper Than a $5 Footlong!

October 25, 2022 Episode 42
Carolina Democracy
Cheaper Than a $5 Footlong!
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome back to Carolina Democracy! Today, we’re joined by Kyle Villemain, founder and editor at The Assembly, a relatively new statewide, digital magazine focused on deep, longform reporting about ideas, institutions, and people in North Carolina. 

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Kyle Villemain: Our pieces run the gamut, but what I want each piece to do is to surprise a reader. We're not a progressive outlet, we're not a conservative outlet, we're a curious outlet, and we try to go after stories that are deeply interesting and that we think people who give a darn are going to care about. 

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JD Wooten: Hey everyone, welcome back to Carolina Democracy. I’m JD Wooten, and today we’re joined by Kyle Villemain, founder and editor at The Assembly, a relatively new statewide, digital magazine focused on deep longform reporting about ideas, institutions, and people in North Carolina. As you’ll hear from Kyle, The Assembly is neither progressive nor conservative, and their goal is to take a deep dive on a few limited issues I n an effort to really bring new information on a narrow issue to their readers. I stumbled on them several months ago and have found every piece I’ve read to be exceptionally informative and engaging. A strong, inquisitive free press is critical to a healthy democracy, so I hope you’ll consider checking them out and perhaps even supporting them. As you’ll hear Kyle and I banter about at the end of the episode, the monthly subscription price to read more than the couple of free monthly articles you get is less than a Subway footlong, so it probably won’t break the bank. 

Now before we get to any other updates, here are your November election deadline reminders. One-stop early voting has begun and runs until 3pm on Saturday, November 5th. The online portal to request a mail in ballot is open, and November 1st is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot, although at this point, you might consider just going to vote in person to be safe. And of course election day is Tuesday, November 8th.

So far, voter enthusiasm looks decent for a midterm and on track to meet or surpass voter turnout from 2018. As of the end of the first weekend, more than 302,000 voters had cast a ballot across the state out of roughly 7.4 million registered voters. Registered Democrats are approaching 6% voter turnout already, while registered Republicans are just behind them approaching 5%, and unaffiliated voters are at about 4%. Given the higher propensity of Democrats to vote early, I don’t make anything of that so far, other than to say I’d be very concerned if Democrats weren’t leading those numbers. We also saw a much higher percentage of registered Republicans vote early, either by mail or in person, in 2020 than in previous years, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that trend continues into the future.

There’s been a lot in the news lately, but the most important thing in my humble opinion is this – there’s an election going on, and whether we like it or not, democracy is on the line. Unfortunately, as a recent New York Times / Siena poll confirmed, despite a lot of the electorate agreeing with that statement, the driving issue for voters comes right back to the kitchen table issues of the economy and inflation. That makes sense and I don’t fault anyone for thinking the economy and inflation are the most important issues on the ballot. However, I do disagree with the prevailing sentiment that Republicans are better on the economy than Democrats. That narrative has probably been one of the most successful false narratives ever pushed on the American people. Time and again, the data confirms that Democratic policies are better economically for the overwhelming majority of Americans. Even setting that aside, it’s also extremely tempting for people to just blame the current party in power and vote for change, despite the fact that the economy is like a giant cruise ship that doesn’t turn on a dime. I would argue that the primary driver of inflation right now is the lag effect of early COVID policies, and need I remind everyone who was in charge during the disastrous initial response to COVID? Some of the supply chain issues were probably inevitable regardless of which party was in power in 2020, and are those issues are really driving inflation, but they certainly weren’t made better by an administration that wanted to pretend the pandemic away and push quack treatment ideas and conspiracy theories.

Ok, rant over, I’m cutting myself off. The bottom line is that voters are concerned about economic fundamentals, and Democrats have to speak to that. While talking about abortion and even democracy have been strong talking points over the last several months, my guess is that the Democrats who do the best on election night will have also spent a lot of time addressing economic issues in their messaging throughout their campaigns. That’s just my guess, and perhaps I’m wrong. At least from what I’ve seen, campaigns like Cheri Beasley’s really seem to fit into that camp of hitting all of those topics and striking a balance between them. 

The good news here is that historically, with a Democratic President in his first term in office, Democrats would normally be expected to do quite poorly in these midterm elections. Instead, most polls show Democrats and Republicans more or less even in the generic ballot and key races, or at least within the margin of error. For example, the last Carolina Forward poll had the Beasley-Budd U.S. Senate race at a statistical tie and Budd having a slight 2-point edge with unaffiliated voters, although 16% of unaffiliated voters were still undecided. That’s a lot of wiggle room going into the final few weeks of the race, and really drives home that we cannot rest until the polls close on November 8th. That same Carolina Forward poll had the generic ballot for North Carolina legislative races at a statistical tie, although Republicans had about a 6-point lead over Democrats among unaffiliated voters. Still, 20% of unaffiliated voters were undecided, so again, lots of wiggle room for the final weeks. I highlight the unaffiliated voters because in an election like this year when the base of both major parties seem motivated to turn out and vote for their party’s candidates, the way unaffiliated voters break, either for Democrats or Republicans, will may be the deciding factor for which candidate wins in any given race.

So, as always, please find a way to help out and get involved in these closing few weeks of the 2022 elections. I’ll leave some links the show notes for various ways to get involved, whether that be donating to candidates and organizations directly in the fight for democracy, or volunteering to phone bank, canvass, work the polls, or even write some postcards. There’s something for everyone! Now let’s hear from Kyle Villemain about the important work going on at The Assembly.

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JD Wooten: With me today is Kyle Villemain, founder and editor of The Assembly, a relatively new, statewide digital magazine, focused on deep, long-form reporting about ideas, institutions, and people in North Carolina. Welcome, Kyle. 

Kyle Villemain: Thanks. It's great to be here. 

JD Wooten: Glad you could join us. Since this is a political podcast and keeping with tradition, what's your first memory of politics?

Kyle Villemain: You know, my first memory of politics would've been Obama's 2008 election and I was sitting there in a, before UNC tore up its old track, it had, you know, stands there next to this beautiful track in the middle of campus. And James Taylor came and played a concert in support of Obama's election. And I have a vivid memory of me sitting there listening to, to the concert that night. And that was my first kind of taste of politics and went from there. 

JD Wooten: Wow. Okay. So first memory, managed to involve both Obama and James Taylor. That is a great story. 

Kyle Villemain: I'm trying to tick all the boxes.

JD Wooten: Perfect. All right, so we'll get to all the great work you're doing at The Assembly in a moment. But first, you're a native North Carolinian and a UNC-Chapel Hill grad. Where did you grow up, and any experiences in those early days that really stand out in leading to where you are today?

Kyle Villemain: Sure. Yeah. So I, I grew up in Carboro. My mom's from California, my dad's from Illinois, but I grew up here from really pre-K onwards. Went to UNC-Chapel Hill, went through public schools in Chapel Hill-Carboro, and ended up graduating UNC in 2015. And I think, that time was interesting to me. I was very much in a bubble. Chapel Hill is a bubble, for better and for worse. And it really wasn't until later in college and then post-college that I learned that North Carolina is a state much larger than that. But I really had some formative years in the Triangle and really came to love public universities for what they can be. And that set me on a trajectory through public higher education in the years to come. 

JD Wooten: So when you were at Carolina, you were a staff writer on BluePrint, a nonpartisan student publication of UNC-Chapel Hill. Was that your first experience in journalism? 

Kyle Villemain: You know, I guess it was. I was on BluePrint for a short period of time and wrote a few articles. My biggest time at Carolina was actually in student government and I think probably my most formative experience was being VP of the student body my senior year and getting to understand how complicated, at times nasty and just strange, higher education politics was. But I did have a little bit of experience doing journalism and really just loved being able to communicate tricky things on paper. But it really wasn't until much later in my career that I got into journalism proper. For a long time, politics was what I thought I would be doing, and was what I did right out of college.

JD Wooten: Fascinating. As I understand it, you landed a job working as a finance director for Congresswoman Annie Kuster in New Hampshire. What led to that role? 

Kyle Villemain: Yeah, so Congresswoman Kuster amazing woman. She's now maybe fourth or fifth term by now, and she is long time New Hampshirite. So I graduated Carolina 2015, June of 2015, about 18 months out from the election, knew I wanted to be on a campaign. Not many campaigns were hiring, right, 18 months out from election day. And I was having coffees, on coffees, with coffees, and coffees and ended up getting to know the northeast DCCC finance person. And lo and behold, here was this DCCC frontline race that was hiring. You know, at the time it was a finance assistant role and it was just a finance director. And then myself and I ended up being on that campaign for about 18 months. It was fascinating. I learned that campaigns are, are tough, very hard grind, and a lot of, of rinse and repeat, right? You've just got to execute. You've got to do the groundwork. One of the nice things about being in New Hampshire in the presidential year is that there are lots of shenanigans happening around you. And that was, I mean, that was a blast to see it. The Democratic primary that year was quieter. But the Republican primary was just, you know, very rambunctious, and I got to see that firsthand, and you know, really, really enjoyed my time there. Congresswoman Kuster won that year. It was a strange year all around, but she won that year. Ended up not going to DC though, and instead came back to North Carolina to work as a speech writer.

JD Wooten: What you were talking about, just taking me back, you know, the primary season 2016, I hadn't even thought that far back in the world in so long. And you know, just thinking back to the things that were yet to be determined by the New Hampshire primary, that later, you know, turned out unexpected that whole year. And as far as finance director goes, I've come to believe finance directors are, and the whole finance staff really, some of the unsung heroes on political campaigns. I don't know that finance directors are really ever loved by anyone. The candidates don't like all the pressure on the call time and few supporters love hearing from a finance director yet again, you know? But it's tough work and it's got to be done, so hats off to you on that. 

Kyle Villemain: Well, I think what I learned was, if you are friendly enough and persistent enough and you put in the time, you can raise real money. I mean, I think we raised something like 4.3 that year, which is an insane amount of money for politics. You know, numbers have only gone up since then. But you know, it was a lot of personal touches. New Hampshire's a place where everyone wants the candidate in their backyard multiple times before they know the person, which is a fun personal touch. It must be exhausting for the candidates, but it was a great place to kind of learn how retail politics works and how to raise some money. 

JD Wooten: Yeah, that retail politics that some of the states and some of the districts get to try out, as opposed to the laying low, but running enormous TV ads sprinkled across the states. It's very different. 

Kyle Villemain: Well, as a journalist, I like when candidates actually talk to people. It's one of my biases. 

JD Wooten: Isn't that nice when they do that? You came home to North Carolina after that election and ended up working as a speech writer. How'd you make that shift? 

Kyle Villemain: No one plans to be a speech writer or very few people plan, right? It is kind of the job that you stumble into, and this was no exception. I knew people within the, the Folt, Carol Folt's team because of my time in student government, and they needed someone to kind of be a glorified body man, right? You know staff events, write some talking points, poll strategy memos, and, you know, data points. I was intrigued and excited and it kind of melded my love of policy and the kind of, you know, how do you get policy done? The kind of politics side with the communications and writing and how do you craft the best message and put together the story in the right way. So I was with her staff for about a year, got to know her well. And then ended up going down the hill from UNC-Chapel Hill to the UNC system office, which oversees all 17 institutions to work for Margaret Spellings when she was UNC system President, and I was her speech writer. And really that was my first time that got to see how higher education politics works at a really high level. And through that, learned how state politics works and doesn't work in North Carolina. 

JD Wooten: So I have to ask, because I'm a huge fan of The West Wing, and it might be the best pop culture portrayal that I know of, of that high level speech writing, is it anything like that?

Kyle Villemain: I'm probably closer to Toby than Sam in terms of my grouchiness level when I'm writing things. You know, many fewer walk and talks. The hallways are not great places for dialogue like in The West Wing. I think a good speech writer, what they're doing, it's less about beautiful words on paper, which I think sometimes that's how speech writing is seen, right? Like what's the best turn of phrase you can do? It's a lot more about how do you take a principal's, kind of a leader's thoughts, help them organize them, help bring in other things that will enrich them, and then think about how that needs to be presented to an audience for it to really resonate, right? It's kind of like editing a journalist's work. I mean, not to transition too much here, but it's taking someone's thoughts, distilling them, making them really punch, and then helping get that into the world. So it's less, less, what's the the quipiest thing I can put at the top of this speech, though sometimes that's nice. It's a lot more about how do we help someone organize and present complicated ideas. 

JD Wooten: I love it. And I'll follow the lead. So then in 2021, you launched The Assembly. You did so with a great piece explaining some of the background and brainstorming that went behind that as well as your vision, and I'll leave a link for our listeners in the show notes to that article so they can see some of that, but could you share with us some of that background and how The Assembly came to be?

Kyle Villemain: Yeah. You know, my time at the UNC system showed me that there were good journalists covering UNC -- Joe Killian, Kari Travis, James Dansel was still at the N&O writing about higher ed -- but there were still so many stories that I knew about because I was on the inside, so to speak. Good stories, bad stories, but undercovered stories. And UNC is one of the best covered institutions in the state. Maybe the General Assembly and UNC, you know, being the two places that have the most human effort going towards them on the journalism side. And so there were that many stories not being told at UNC, my mind immediately said, okay, what else is getting missed, right? What else is not being reported on? And started talking to smart people about what it would take to give journalists, reporters time, weeks or months, pay them well to go deep on big stories about place and power, and then publish them, send them out by newsletter, get people to pay a few dollars a month to support it, and see if it works. I mean, I was flying by the seat of my pants here and just had this kind of gut that there were too many really good reporters in the state. Too many interesting stories and too many people who gave a damn that those three things needed to be kind of bound together in a better way, and so we launched The Assembly to try to do that. 

JD Wooten: All right, so that's the background and the vision. How would you say it's been working out so far? 

Kyle Villemain: Well, we're still alive, which is great. We're alive and growing and, and so it's going well. I mean, things are going quite well. We've had a great reception over the last 18 months. We've broken some big stories about UNC, but also about politics and higher ed and politics and environment and culture stories and the whole nine yards. It is a slow slog. I think one of the things that is tough, is that we're in such a fractured environment for how you get news already. And so there's no single place that you know, if X person or X thing highlights The Assembly -- this new outlet's work -- then everyone knows about it. There's no like, kind of gatekeeper, no stamp of approval, but which is, which is good, right? Gatekeepers can be bad. But it also really means that you've got to go to all these different groups and slowly introduce yourself time and time again. And that's a lot of fun in some ways, but it also it's slow. And so, we have just been focused on doing great reporting finding really good reporters to do that work. And month over month, we're reaching more people, and getting to pay more people to do good journalism, and that's the end goal here.

JD Wooten: That's brilliant and very reassuring. I think that what we see so much in our news feeds are, you know, of course the old mantra, if it bleeds, it leads.

Kyle Villemain: Right.

JD Wooten: So you get your local emergencies and crimes and that sort of thing. But then outside of that, so much here in North Carolina has become national news or it's, in my opinion, a little more superficial because a lot of the traditional media outlets are just spread so thin, trying to cover so much, so I could certainly understand how there's a hunger for what y'all are doing here. 

Kyle Villemain: And I will say this, there are a lot of really good journalists out there in North Carolina right now working full-time jobs at other outlets. We really see ourselves as another piece to the puzzle. You know, a longer, deeper form of coverage that is a supplement and an additive to what is out there. So it's not like we're walking into this empty void, right? And no one else has been here before. We're coming in to be an additional force for journalism in North Carolina that is giving a type of coverage, longer, deeper, nuanced has dropped off. That there's far less of today than there was 10, 15, 20 years ago. 

JD Wooten: Sure. I think a good healthy media consumption for most people would be some balance of daily, weekly, monthly type periodicals. 

Kyle Villemain: That's right. 

JD Wooten: Now, I don't know if you need like the minute by minute play that you get with the Twitter feed, but aside from that. So any, any bumps along the road that y'all have had to adjust for so far, or things been kind of panning out? 

Kyle Villemain: Oh my gosh. Yeah. What bumps have we not hit? Yeah, there's, there's been all sorts of challenges. You know, I was talking to a group of students this morning and they were asking the same thing. They were in a media entrepreneurship class, and I think I spent 20 minutes talking about the difficulties of the technology behind doing very simple things like publishing with, you know, a way to capture people's emails and get them to pay after they read a certain number of articles. Things that are very easy for me to say here that one would think are very easy to do are very, very hard to do. And if I had a dollar for every bug that we've had in a tech thing, we'd be fully funded. So a lot of technology hiccups that have gotten much, much smoother. But we still have a little ways to go. And we're doing a couple other shifts to make that happen, but, you know, that's, that's been tough. Just raising the money, right? We pay journalists more than we make right now. And we've raised some money from donors and investors to make that happen. About 30% of the company is owned by North Carolinians who have given 5, 10, 20K checks to help support us. And so that's been transformational in allowing us to do this thing. But the kind of journalism we do is really expensive. Having a reporter spend a month or two months on a story is not cheap. Making sure that you commission a photographer and pay them well to really capture the essence of the characters, that's not cheap. We have two really phenomenal editors, John Drescher, who was at the Washington Post and used to lead the News and Observer, and Kate Sheppard, who used to be the Senior National Editor up at Huffington Post. We're recruiting really good talent to come work for us to make these pieces great. But none of that is cheap. And so I think one of my frustrations is that matching -- and you see this in politics all the time, right? -- matching a message and an idea and a venture that resonates with people, and then getting them to give you money in a timely fashion to make the thing. There's a lot of work that goes into that. So that's been, that's been a hiccup. But we've pushed through it. And so, you know, funding and the tech behind it. The one hiccup we haven't had is finding really good writers to do really good pieces. There's no shortage of that talent in North Carolina.

JD Wooten: Yeah. The content that I've seen come out you know, I haven't read a piece yet from y'all that didn't reflect that ethos of just like, yeah, okay. Somebody really dotted their i's and crossed their t's on this, or, you know, the team I should say. And I think the work product that y'all put out certainly echoes everything that you're saying. As much as I want to ask about your favorite article so far, I'm willing to bet that's kind of like asking a parent about their favorite child, but instead, how's this for someone that's never read anything from the assembly? Aside from the introductory article that you did that we just talked about, what's a good piece or two or five, whatever you want to do, that we could leave links to and that you'd recommend somebody check out.

Kyle Villemain: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I'll give a couple. We did a piece last year, the 30th anniversary of the Hamlet, North Carolina chicken plant fire. If I have my facts right here to I think 25 North Carolinians died in this fire, it triggered just a, a national outcry, right, and a and a push to reform regulations around how to federal agencies oversee food and worker safety at food manufacturing plants. A new MOU was signed between the USDA and the Department of Labor. And our reporting on the anniversary of this fire showed that that MOU had never actually been implemented. That these two agencies weren't talking to each other weren't doing the things to help prevent another tragedy like this. Congressman Price, based on our reporting, pushed in Congress for legislative language that would force these two agencies to revisit that MOU, that language passed the floor. The Washington Post wrote up kind of a, a retrospective about our piece, Hamlet, the push in Congress. It's an example, right, of a deeply North Carolina story. We talked about this in a really human centered way, the people who were deeply affected by this fire were at the forefront of this story. But it also broke news that two federal agencies weren't doing what they said they would do. And it prompted powerful people to take action. And that's, that's good journalism. So there's kinda an example of accountability journalism that we're proud of. Another piece that we did this summer a veteran and writer named Barry Yeman did a long look at the United Methodist Church split in North Carolina. There's a schism between the two sides of the church that disagree vehemently on a number of things. And Barry really dived into a single congregation in Statesville that was managing this. The pastor kind of characterized his church is everything from flaming progressive to darn near fundamentalist, I think is his quote. And it's this congregation that is navigating, you know, is it going to stay together? Is it going to split again? A really human story about a big institution that's not often covered, and you know, that is deeply rooted here in North Carolina. A Very different example, but another type of story, that really should be covered. And then my third and final, we've done a lot of higher ed coverage reporting on on Speaker Moore's actions down in Wilmington for a chancellor search down in at UNC-W that many felt crossed the line. We did a big profile of Peter Hans, who is the President of the UNC system. We broke big news around the Nicole Hannah Jones discussion at UNC-Chapel Hill over the summer, and the involvement by a major donor in that search. So, our pieces run the gamut, but what I want each piece to do is to surprise a reader, to give them some new information they didn't have before. We're not a progressive outlet, we're not a conservative outlet, we're a curious outlet, and we try to go after stories that are deeply interesting and that we think people who give a darn are going to care about. 

JD Wooten: So you mentioned earlier that the reception has been pretty good. Overall, what would you say, kind of the reception in North Carolina, especially in the higher ed and the power circles, maybe they don't love disruptive players all the time, but then others maybe do, how's that relationship building gone?

Kyle Villemain: Yeah, it's gone better than I thought it would. We have landed some punches that I think have hurt those who the punches have landed on. And we're going to continue to do that. But what we've found is that when you report on people deeply and capture what they think is their best argument, you don't have to give it equal weight with another argument, but you've got to do the best you can to say, here's how the players are thinking. When people see their arguments reflected and they see the care taken in a story, they generally come away, if not happy, content. We haven't gotten, and maybe they just haven't told me, but I'm sure they would, we haven't gotten a lot of like, just bridges burned to ashes, right? We've got a lot of pushback and a lot of folks who felt a story, you know, did X, Y, or z. People keep talking to us. And people keep reading, and keep engaging, and I think there's just a hunger for, you may be right, you may be wrong, but you're deeply invested in a fight. And seeing that fight captured to the closest that you can get to truth, people like that. And so we'll see if it keeps it up. We'll see if we can continue to have good relationships with folks across the state. You know, that's not our top priority. Our top priority is delivering really darn good journalism. You know, if people keep talking to us, that's always a plus. 

JD Wooten: Absolutely. So anything new or exciting we should be on the watch for with the assembly in the coming months or year?

Kyle Villemain: Well, you know now we're a little bit of everything for everyone. We do politics, and higher ed, and religion, and we did a piece about NASCAR, and piece about Merle Fest, and so, you know, we're a little bit, little bit of everything. We'll keep that, but we'll, we'll also start to do more on certain things. In the jargon of journalism, this is, you know, targeted content for targeted audiences. Giving people who really know a thing more about that thing. So look for us to do a lot more about higher education, a lot more about the courts and criminal justice, and more about certain cities. And so we'll start hiring folks who are, you know, in Wilmington, and in Greensboro, and in Fayetteville, as examples. We'll start having a newsletter that you can read if you just want to know about higher ed and things like that. So you know, we're going to continue to be kind of, a broad magazine for the state. But we'll also start doing more things on certain kind of niche topics and I guess I'd say, if you really want to get us to focus on something, reach out, and tell us and we'll take a look. We are only as good as the tips, and advice, and insight that come to us from readers and folks across the state.

JD Wooten: That's all very exciting. I look forward to seeing all that come to fruition. So we've covered a lot of ground. Any closing thoughts for our listeners? 

Kyle Villemain: Pay for journalism. It's important. 

JD Wooten: It's a good investment. 

Kyle Villemain: It really is. It's not that much money. And it's, you know, I think what's so striking is that we, if, you know, 10,000 people across the state, which is, what is that? That's like 0.1% of the state, paid for news from us, right? Cause I'm being biased here. But that's a really big newsroom. The costs are not astronomical to provide exceptional journalism for a state. But as you're thinking through, you know, where is my money going? In addition to supporting, you know, political candidates of your choice, and civic institutions of your choice, let me just put a plug for supporting whatever journalistic outlet you think is really killing it. That goes a long way.

JD Wooten: Well, Kyle, I know this is going to come as a huge surprise to you, but you're not the first guest who's put a plug towards the end of the interview. 

Kyle Villemain: No way. 

JD Wooten: Right? No, I will echo that the investment in journalism is critical to make sure that y'all can do the work you're doing. And as someone on the outside, I will echo that and just vouch for that. And also, you know, disclosure as a subscriber, I will also say the price that you're charging is almost offensively low, but thank you for that, compared to the quality of what you're delivering. So...

Kyle Villemain: JD, we're going to use Offensively Low as a new marketing slogan for our price point, which is $4 a month for anyone listening, and $40 a year. So you're right, it almost does make you question what the heck we're pricing it at. But we tried to keep it low. We want as many people as possible to be able to be subscribers, and everyone can read one to two free articles a month. We, we were trying to make sure that people who can't pay, even if it's $4, can still access great journalism. 

JD Wooten: I do not want you going and putting yourself out of business because I want you here when I come back next week. 

Kyle Villemain: We're cheaper than a $5 footlong, which is suspect...

JD Wooten: I mean... 

Kyle Villemain: Maybe we should have, like the Subway rule, that we've got to be at least a foot long price. 

JD Wooten: I'm not going to talk you into raising your prices on the podcast. I might lose some fans here. So how can people find The Assembly

Kyle Villemain: So, we're online: You can sign up for our newsletter. It comes in three times a week: Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. I think it's a particularly fine newsletter. I'm a big fan, but you can subscribe online, sign up, get our newsletter, read our stuff. You can always reach us at or and would love to hear from folks. 

JD Wooten: Well, Kyle, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Kyle Villemain: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

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JD Wooten: Thanks again to Kyle for joining us today, and to everyone for listening. Links are in the show notes to learn more about The Assembly and to find ways to get involved in the midterms. Reminder, the Carolina Democracy Podcast is not affiliated with or authorized by any candidate, candidate’s committee, or other political committee or organization, and does not endorse any candidates. If you have questions or comments, send me an email at And again, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and share this episode with a friend. Together, we can achieve a better North Carolina for everyone!


Interview with Kyle Villemain
Closing Notes