EDITORIAL: Phil Berger, bergermeister

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Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger

NC Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger is not one of ours — his redrawn District 26 currently covers the entirety of Rockingham County with possible Democrat voters in the northwest quadrant of Guilford County excised by the most recent redistricting.

But the most powerful Republican in North Carolina has been at the source of everything awful the NC Legislature has done since the GOP took over in 2011: HB2, the defunding of teachers and schools, environmental deregulation, the dismantling of the UNC System, our gerrymandered districts, quashing free municipal wifi, blocking public access to police body cameras… good god there are so many more outrages they would take over this whole space.

Suffice it to say, Berger is the sort of guy people are referring to when they say, “The bastards are winning!” And he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Last week, the Rockingham County Board of Elections voted along party lines to disqualify Berger’s opponent in his next election, Jennifer Mangrum, his first serious challenger… perhaps ever. Berger ran unopposed in his first election in 2000, back when it was still called District 12. In his eight successful re-election bids, he has run either unopposed, against token Democrats or, once, a Libertarian and, in 2016, a write-in campaign by an Elon professor,

Mangrum’s different — a UNCG professor who says she moved to Reidsville this year specifically so she could stay in Berger’s district and run against him on the ballot. She has said she will file an appeal with the state board of elections.

Then this week, Berger gave everyone in the state a reason to root against him.

The state budget process capped off just before midnight on Memorial Day, when Berger and House Speaker Tom Moore released it, without any input from Democrats in either the Senate or the House.

The content of this budget is unimportant — it’s the process here that makes Berger and everyone on his team anti-American. No open deliberations. No public hearings. No committee discussions. No deliberations and no opportunity for amendments.

The 758-page, $23 billion budget, which most legislators saw for the first time on Tuesday morning, is set to be voted on this week, with a predetermined outcome as long as all the Republicans keep their mouths shut and stay on board.

This is what happens when the bastards keep winning, and then stack the deck to make it impossible to lose.

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