Barry Yeoman

Barry Yeoman is a freelance journalist in Durham, North Carolina. He has covered his state’s political landscape for 30 years. Follow him @Barry_Yeoman

Recent Articles

How To Steal (or Nullify) an Election

North Carolina Republicans are doing their damnedest.

AP Photo/Gerry Broome
In an election that left Democrats with little to crow about, North Carolina offered a handful of bright spots. Mike Morgan, a veteran jurist who in 1964 helped desegregate his local public-school system, flipped the partisan balance of the state Supreme Court by unseating a Republican incumbent. And Attorney General Roy Cooper, who took firm stands against voter suppression and anti-LGBT discrimination, racked up a knife’s-edge lead in the still-undeclared gubernatorial race. With some county results still contested, Cooper is currently 6,470 votes ahead of Republican Governor Pat McCrory, out of almost 4.6 million cast. Now, there’s talk among Republicans of restoring their majority on the Supreme Court by legislative fiat—and concerns that lawmakers might try to intervene in the governor's race, too. Two days after Morgan’s victory, the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh think tank that serves as a policy shop for the legislature’s GOP supermajority,...

Democrats Make Gains in North Carolina Against Backdrop of Voter Suppression

Changing demographics, combined with the three-year effort by state Republicans to suppress minority and youth turnout, led to close races.

(Photo: Barry Yeoman)
By 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Raleigh ballroom where North Carolina Democrats had earlier been whooping in anticipation of a presidential victory had nearly emptied out. Stragglers were sitting on the floor, eyes fixated on their phones, or yelling back at two large monitors tuned to MSNBC. Earlier, the network had projected a Donald Trump win in North Carolina, a swing state long considered a key to a Hillary Clinton victory. The down-ticket news was equally disheartening. Deborah Ross, the former state ACLU director, had lost her bid to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr. The GOP had seized several statewide posts traditionally held by Democrats, including education chief. And Republicans maintained their supermajority in the state legislature, which over the past few years has restricted voting rights, cut school and safety-net spending, and passed House Bill 2, a broad and costly assault on worker and LGBT rights, best known for its restrictions on transgender bathroom use...

Equality Becomes a Talking Point in North Carolina Gubernatorial Race

With the state’s demographics and political makeup shifting, backlash against anti-LGBT law may help send Democrat Roy Cooper to the governor's office. 

AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool
Ian Palmquist was running errands last Tuesday when the North Carolina gubernatorial debate came on the air. As the 39-year-old gay activist drove around Raleigh, listening to his car radio, he couldn’t help but feel like something in this most purple of Southern states had shifted. Democrat Roy Cooper, the state’s four-term attorney general, was bludgeoning Republican Governor Pat McCrory for supporting House Bill 2, the law that forces many transgender women into men’s restrooms, and vice versa, in public buildings. The law, passed in a one-day special session last March and signed that night by McCrory, also handcuffs local governments from safeguarding LGBT civil rights and from setting employment standards for their contractors. “House Bill 2 has to be repealed,” Cooper was saying. “It writes discrimination into our law and it has been a disaster for our economy.” The Democrat ticked off a few of the repercussions, including PayPal’...

Can Moral Mondays Produce Victorious Tuesdays?

North Carolina’s protest movement has galvanized the state’s progressives, but couldn’t stop 2014’s Republican tide. Its leaders say they’re only just beginning.

©Jenny Warburg
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENNY WARBURG This article appears in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Derick Smith arrived at the kickoff site for North Carolina’s 2014 Moral March on a raw February morning. He zipped his brown thermal hoodie up to the neck and soaked in the view from Raleigh’s Shaw University. It was a human kaleidoscope: Shriners in fezzes; physicians in white smocks; fast-food workers carrying signs saying, “America can’t survive on $7.25.” Lesbians and gay men with rainbow flags stood alongside alumnae sorority sisters. Scanning the crowd, Smith saw a checkerboard of black, white, and brown faces. They extended, it seemed, to the horizon. The marchers, estimated in the tens of thousands, had gathered to protest the recent demise of North Carolina’s moderate political tradition. The previous year, the state’s Republican legislative majority had slashed school budgets and jobless benefits, turned...

Watch Party Dispatch: In the Durham Bubble, N.C. Progressives Caught Off-Guard By Hagan's Defeat

Tar Heel progressives may not have loved their senator, but they worked hard to re-elect her—and thought they would.

(AP Photo/The Wilmington Star-News, Jason A. Frizzelle)
Just before 10 p.m. on election night, Debby Dowlin climbed onto the long wooden table at 106 Main, a cocktail bar in Durham, North Carolina. An organizer with Credo SuperPAC —which ran field operations to defeat five Republican candidates for U.S. Senate—Dowlin had been working to prevent Thom Tillis, the state House Speaker, from unseating Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. “We’re really hoping to clinch that,” she told the bar’s patrons. “We may have different feelings about Kay Hagan”—whose lackluster first Senate term and middle-of-the-road campaign failed to electrify voters. “But it’s good to know we all have a person we absolutely agree cannot be in the Senate. We cannot let the extreme right take over North Carolina.” It was the last moment of optimism for Bull City liberals. The evening started with hope. The Durham People’s Alliance, a progressive watchdog group, had set up a large video screen at...

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