WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Ken Rudin has watched and analyzed politics for more than a quarter of a century. He will be the first to tell you he has never seen anything like the 2016. The host of National Public Radio's "Ken Rudin's Political Junkie" program stopped in Wilmington Thursday to make an appearance for local affiliate WHQR-FM.
Rudin arrived in Wilmington a short time after the 2015 GOP Presidential Nominee, Mitt Romney, sharply criticized Trump during a speech in Utah. "Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud," Romney told the audience in Salt Lake City. "His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University."
When asked if he thinks Romney's criticism will push any of Trump's supporters toward a more "establishment" republican candidate like Marco Rubio or John Kasich, Rudin was emphatic. "Absolutely not," Rudin said. "There are a lot of Republicans in the establishment, and I don't even know what the establishment means anymore, what's left of it. They've been saying that for a long time, even before Iowa and New Hampshire, when the reality of Donald Trump became so important. If you ask Trump supporters they say 'this is exactly why we like him, he's beholden to nobody, he doesn't listen to the establishment, and where was Mitt Romney in 2012, I don't remember him winning anything, so why should we listen to him'."
One of the reasons state lawmakers moved North Carolina's 2016 presidential primary from early May to March, was to give it more meaning in the national political landscape. The events of the so-called Super Tuesday primaries may have taken a bit of luster out of the move. Both Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton solidified their status as the party's front-runners, and Rudin says most of the March 15 attention will be on the home states of remaining presidential candidates.
"If you look into the fall and the November General Election, North Carolina is one of the top seven or eight states, without question," Rudin said. "But right now with all of the focus on whether Marco Rubio can survive in Florida, and whether John Kasich can survive in Ohio, North Carolina is really getting squeezed out of the equation on the Republican side. On the Democratic side, it looks like it is another good state for Hillary Clinton. As we saw in South Carolina, as we saw in the southern states on Super Tuesday, the African-American community is significant for her, it's not Bernie Sanders strength clearly, and it looks like she is moving, inevitably in my view, to the nomination, North Carolina will give her that extra boost."
Rudin has analyzed the top statewide races in North Carolina, and considers Governor Pat McCrory's bid for re-election as the race to watch in November. "That is the number one governor's race in the country this year," Rudin said. "McCrory versus Cooper, everybody is watching it. We've seen this battle in many other states. It's not so much "D" versus "R". It's a business-centered Republican like Gov. McCrory, and a very conservative, ideological legislature, led by the state House and Senate. I think what makes this race so fascinating is that McCrory is surrounded by not only the Democratic opposition, but by opposition of the more social conservative legislature. That could be big trouble for him. But it's clearly the number one governor's race in the country."
"Ken Rudin's Political Junkie" show is heard on more than a dozen public radio stations across the country. To learn more about his career click here: http://krpoliticaljunkie.com/