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North Carolina’s Republican-dominated General Assembly has made a number of changes to the way judges are elected in the state, with many more proposals under current consideration.  They include making races partisan and changes to district lines and term lengths, even eliminating some vacancies and proposals to do away with elections for judges altogether.  Former Republican state Supreme Court justice Robert Orr is no fan of the changes.  He spoke with BPR’s Jeremy Loeb about the proposals and about the state of the Republican party under President Donald Trump.

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Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer got a resounding vote of confidence earlier this month, winning re-election with more than 80% of the vote.  She stopped by BPR to speak with Jeremy Loeb about the election results and to look forward to her second four-year term.  She also discussed possible actions the city might take in response to a legislative effort to force districts for council members, something Asheville voters overwhelmingly rejected.

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Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Asheville Citizen-Times partnered on a forum with the six candidates for the November 7th general election for Asheville city council.  It was recorded in the BPR studios on October 23rd.  All six candidates participated - Dee Williams, Kim Roney, Rich Lee, Vijay Kapoor, Gwen Wisler, and Sheneika Smith.  The topic of the forum was discrimination, and questions for the candidates related to issues around that.  Voters will elect three of the candidates to city council.

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There’s been a big change atop one of North Carolina’s most prominent civil rights organization.  The influential leader of the North Carolina NAACP, Rev. William Barber II is stepping down to lead a national effort focused on the rights of the poor.  BPR’s Jeremy Loeb spoke with the man elected to take his place, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman.  This is their full conversation.

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New York Times political columnist and frequent commentator for NPR's All Things Considered David Brooks sat down with BPR's Jeremy Loeb for a discussion about the state of our country and media during the Trump presidency.  

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The issue of how much partisan gerrymandering is too much is before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The court heard oral arguments Tuesday on a case out of Wisconsin challenging maps there for being too lopsided in favor of Republicans.  That case could have huge implications in North Carolina, which has a nearly identical political situation, and where a similar case is winding its way through the courts.  For the latest, BPR's Jeremy Loeb spoke with Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper. 

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Waynesville Democrat Joe Sam Queen lost the most closely-contested state legislative race in 2016.  Fewer than 300 votes separated him and Bryson City Republican Mike Clampitt.  Now Queen says he'll try to win back his seat from Clampitt in 2018.  It will be the fourth contest between the two in the 118th district, which includes Jackson, Swain, and Haywood Counties.  Queen won the first two before losing in 2018.  He spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb about why he's running again.

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What did indigenous peoples think of eclipses?  How did they interpret and react to them?  Those are just a few of the topics that will be covered in a class at UNC-Asheville this fall inspired by Monday's total solar eclipse that will pass through Western North Carolina.  BPR's Matt Bush spoke with the two professors that will lead the class - Juan Sanchez-Martinez (modern languages & indigenous studies) and Britt Lundgren (physics).    

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Democratic Representative Brian Turner of Buncombe County stopped by our studios in late July for a chat with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.  They covered his amendment to the Asheville districts bill, the overall redistricting process underway in the General Assembly now, a renewable energy bill signed by Governor Roy Cooper, and much more.  

Pisgah Legal Services

"They don't have anywhere else to turn."  Pisgah Legal Services executive director Jim Barrett was referring to the roughly 2,000 people that could lose access to their services due to cuts in the state budget.  Pisgah Legal Services is one of three aid groups across the state that will feel the impacts of the cuts.

This week on the WUNCPolitics Podcast, a conversation with Jeremy Loeb, Morning Edition Host and reporter at Blue Ridge Public Radio.

Jeremy joins Jeff on this politics podcast to discuss redistricting, the powerful U.S. House members from Western North Carolina, craft beer, and what he misses most about WUNC - where he used to work.

Author Steven Nash is well-versed on Zebulon Vance, and the post-Civil War period known as Reconstruction when Vance became a U.S. Senator and political powerhouse in North Carolina.  He wrote the book "Reconstruction's Ragged Edge: The Politics of Post-War Life in the Southern Mountains".

Jeff Tiberii/WUNC

Legislators are heading back to Raleigh Thursday for a special session, but it's unclear exactly what's on the agenda.  Veto overrides were originally cited as the main reason.  Now those appear to be off the table for the moment as not enough lawmakers are expected to be in attendance.  Instead, they could consider bills not taken up in the long session.  Hanging over it all is a tight deadline for correcting illegal legislative maps, and the potential for surprises.  WUNC capitol reporter Jeff Tiberii spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb about what's in store.  

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With lawmakers home from Raleigh, Western Carolina University political scientist Dr. Chris Cooper stopped by for one of our regular chats taking the temperature of politics in Raleigh and Washington.  He spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.

Jon Ostendorff/Asheville Citizen-Times

2 1/2 years on the job, Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams stopped by for a one-on-one conversaton with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.

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