by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“In this race, I’m the moderate by far,” Wiley Nickel proclaimed during an October 1 interview with WRAL News. This assertion of moderation comes as Nickel, a former Obama administration staffer and current state senator, seeks to win over independent voters as the Democratic nominee in North Carolina’s 13th congressional district. Yet those most familiar with Nickel’s work in the North Carolina General Assembly, including members of the press who have followed Nickel’s voting record closely, find his moderate branding to be a stretch.
“You’re campaigning as a moderate, I’ve covered you in the state legislature for a long time and you’ve often voted to the left of your caucus,” veteran North Carolina statehouse reporter Laura Leslie recently said during an interview with Nickel, before going on to ask, “why should voters believe you?”
Leslie has a point. Senator Nickel, for a recent example, refused to support the compromise budget Governor Roy Cooper (D) enacted last year, which was approved with a bipartisan vote in the North Carolina House and Senate. Though nearly all of his fellow Democrats in the state legislature voted for that budget, which provided another round of personal and corporate income tax relief, Wiley Nickel was one of only seven state senators to vote against it. …
… In announcing his opposition to the bipartisan budget, Nickel made clear he would rather state government spend additional taxpayer dollars than see families and employers to keep a greater share of their earnings. “North Carolina already has the lowest corporate income taxes in the South but has failed to invest in our teachers and our public schools,” Nickel said in a statement announcing his opposition to the bipartisan budget. “Corporations need to pay their fair share so we can invest in a world-class public education system.”