Mark Robinson and Michele Morrow pose a threat to women and kids, warns Anderson Clayton

NC Democratic Party Chair, Anderson Clayton speaks at a primary election night party in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

By Bonnie Fuller

April 23, 2024

The state’s Democratic Party chair believes North Carolinians deserve better than a six-week abortion ban and the defunding of public schools that could occur under top Republican candidates like Mark Robinson.

Mark Robinson, the Republican nominee to be the state’s next governor, is not going to protect the people of North Carolina, warns state Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton.

Clayton, who was elected to the Democratic Party Chair position a year ago when she was just 25, believes Robinson poses a unique threat to the people and future of North Carolina.

“Mark Robinson is not someone that wants to protect the people of North Carolina,” Clayton told Cardinal & Pine in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview. “Regardless of what your geographic destiny is right now, regardless of what your zip code, your sexual orientation, your ethnicity, your creed, anything—Mark Robinson doesn’t have the idea or the platform or the plan to make sure that we’re protecting North Carolinians.”

She points North Carolinians to plenty of evidence to back up her statement.

Robinson, the state’s current lieutenant governor, has compared abortion to genocide and slavery, and labeled women and teen girls who have had abortions as “murderers.”

He has uttered multiple anti-semitic slurs, has called the Holocaust “hogwash,” claimed feminism was “created by Satan,” called LGBTQ people “filth” and “demonic,” and has demanded that transgender women be arrested for entering a woman’s bathroom. He has further demeaningly insisted that they should “find a corner outside somewhere,” to relieve themselves.

A Mark Robinson win could mean a total abortion ban, Clayton says

If there’s any one issue that could define the gubernatorial race this year, it’s abortion.

Robinson has a long history of opposing abortion rights and has previously said he would support a complete ban on abortion, without exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. He has since pivoted slightly, focusing on a six-week ban as a first step towards a total ban.

“The next goal is to get it [abortion] down to 6 [weeks], and then just keep moving from there,” Robinson recently told a voter at an event in Pitt County.

That comment followed a 2023 radio interview in which Robinson expressed support for a “heartbeat bill,” which typically bans abortion at six weeks, before many women even know they’re pregnant.

“I’d love to pass a law. I’d love to see a ‘heartbeat bill’ proposed in our legislature,” Robinson said.

Clayton said Robinson is no different from Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president who helped overturn Roe v. Wade, and Dan Bishop, the anti-abortion GOP nominee for state Attorney General.

“I think Mark Robinson and Donald Trump and Dan Bishop and people like them have made it okay to say, ‘we hate women and we don’t believe that they should have the right to their own bodies,’” Clayton said.

“I mean the way that Donald Trump has inspired rhetoric against women and violence against women and just what he says alone should be concerning to any person who has a woman in their life. And I’d say the same thing about Mark Robinson when it comes to the threat that he poses to our bodily autonomy … in the future of the state.”

Trump nominated three right wing justices to the Supreme Court, which entrenched the conservative majority that set aside precedent and overturned Roe v. Wade, ending 50 years of federal protection for women who need abortions. Now, 21 states have enacted highly restrictive abortion bans, including North Carolina, which now bans the procedure after 12 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape and incest up to 20 weeks, for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies up to 24 weeks, and to save the life of the mother throughout the pregnancy.

Clayton fears that if Robinson is elected governor and the Republicans have a supermajority in the legislature, he will sign a total abortion ban “on day one” of his tenure.

That’s why “abortion is going to be the number one issue that we run on for people in North Carolina to make sure that folks know we’ve got to protect, not only abortion but also contraception,” Clayton said.

“We are in the fight of our lives to keep abortion access free and fair in the South, at least that 12 week abortion ban limit right now, and then also trying to make sure that going forward we can fight to ensure that Roe is codified into our state law … under Democratic representation.”

Josh Stein presents a stark contrast

In contrast to Robinson, the Democratic nominee for governor, Josh Stein, who is currently the state’s Attorney General, has a record of defending reproductive freedom in his current position. Stein was one of 24 Attorneys General, who signed on to an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, arguing that the abortion medication mifepristone should be legal in the United States.

Mifepristone, along with another drug, misoprostol, is approved through 10 weeks of pregnancy, and is used in more than half of abortions nationwide. But the Court heard oral arguments last month in a lawsuit filed by anti-abortion groups seeking to reverse the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone. If the court were to reverse mifepristone’s FDA approval, or limit access to it, it would further erode abortion rights in North Carolina and across the country.

“No woman should ever have to worry about whether she can get the medication she needs,” Stein wrote in the amicus brief. “I will continue to do everything in my power to stand up for women’s reproductive freedom.”

Stein also recently announced that the state’s backlog of 16,000 untested rape kits had been cleared up, resulting in more than 100 arrests after DNA matches.

Clayton is proud of Stein’s work ending the backlog.

“People across our state who have been victims got the answers and the due diligence that they deserve for their cases,” she said.

Michele Morrow could wreck NC public schools, Clayton says

Clayton is also urgently sounding an alarm to parents about Michele Morrow, the Republican nominee for the state’s Superintendent for Public Instruction position, which oversees an $11 billion budget to run the state’s public schools.

“She’s someone that believes in underfunding public schools and defunding public schools and making it so that students don’t have access to what our state constitution really declares, which is that every person across North Carolina deserves access to a safe and sound public education,” Clayton said. “That’s something that our state was founded on.”

“Michele Morrow wants to defund the school systems that helped me do something with my life and be able to come back to Person County and make it successful there,” said the Democratic chair, who grew up in Roxboro and graduated from Appalachian State University.

Morrow, a former nurse and stay-at-home mom of five who homeschooled all her children, has called for the state Board of Education to be abolished, which would place the guidelines for all of the state’s schools beneath her and the Republican-controlled state legislature.

She has called public schools, “socialism centers” and “indoctrination centers,” and believes teachers should be able to carry concealed weapons in the classroom, but not be required to use them to protect students against a school shooting.

She has tweeted that President Obama should be executed by firing squad on Pay-Per-View TV. She also called for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats to be executed.

Clayton is appalled that Morrow could potentially be in charge of the education of North Carolina’s more than 1.4 million public school students.

“Anyone that wants to teach our students, they shouldn’t be able to say they want to see public executions of anyone that’s been elected to public office,” Clayton said. “It’s quite terrifying.”

‘A fight for the soul of public education’

While Morrow has little in the way of experience that would prepare her for the role of superintendent, Mo Green, the Democratic nominee for the position, has “a record of accomplishment in education,” stressed Clayton.

“I believe that even just looking for qualifications this year, voters—whether you be Republican, unaffiliated or Democratic—should be saying we want someone who’s actually been in our schools to be over[seeing] them as well.”

That would describe Green, who for seven years was the Superintendent of Guilford County Schools, the third largest school district in North Carolina. Before that, he worked for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, eventually rising to deputy superintendent.

In other words, he has experience overseeing teachers and students and communicating with North Carolina’s parents.

“North Carolina is in a fight for the soul of public education” he declared last month. “My opponent didn’t send her children to North Carolina’s public schools and now she is encouraging others to do the same and would defund them by sending taxpayer dollars to unaccountable private schools.”

Morrow is an advocate for school choice, which allows taxpayer money to fund vouchers for parents to pay tuition for their children at private schools, which aren’t required to follow the educational guidelines set by the state. The voucher system means that less money goes to support public schools.

The Republican supermajority in the legislature last year approved $294 million to expand private school vouchers and end income requirements, meaning that wealthy families can now use taxpayer money to send their kids to private schools. They are now considering allocating another $300 million to voucher in this year’s session, which begins Wednesday.

Green, in contrast to Morrow, has expressed the skepticism of the school voucher system and has vowed to prepare students for success by fully investing in public education and ensuring “safe and secure learning environments for our students.”

North Carolinians ‘deserve better than what we are getting’

Clayon sees her biggest role and that of the party as to educate voters about their Democratic candidates, who if elected, will be “voting for people to have better public schools, for teachers to have raises that aren’t chump change—honestly, that’s what they got from the state legislature this last year.”

A key mission for Clayton when she took over the reins of the party last year was to have Democrats run in every county in North Carolina this election year.

“In 2022 the state party left 44 seats uncontested, which meant that 3 million North Carolinians didn’t have someone locally in their community going after them and chasing their votes,” Clayton said.

This year, the party is contesting 168 out of 170 State House and Senate seats, Clayton said proudly.

She is enthused about the candidates that she has running in districts across the state and is optimistic that despite the fact that North Carolina’s voting maps are famously gerrymandered to favor Republicans, the party can flip seats.

Republicans have got “power everywhere” in the state,” Clayton said. They hold a supermajority in the state legislature and have for years.

“What North Carolinians have got to do this year is come at this from the perspective that we deserve better than what we are getting,” Clayton said. “Anyone that’s working three jobs right now deserves better than what they’re getting, anyone that is sitting there and wondering ‘where does my next meal come from? Do I pay my rent or my grocery bills this month? What do I pay, this credit card or do I do this this month?’ You deserve better than that.”

“And that’s what we’re promising this year in North Carolina is that Democrats are going to deliver better than what the Republicans have given you for the last decade.”

Author

  • Bonnie Fuller

    Bonnie Fuller is the former CEO & Editor-in-Chief of HollywoodLife.com, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, USWeekly and YM. She now writes about politics and reproductive rights.

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