Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Early Voting ---- Breaking Records

The front page of the N&O today has this lovely little story.

More than 400,000 people -- 7.3 percent of the state's total registered voters -- had cast ballots by the end of the day Monday, said Gary Bartlett, director of the State Board of Elections. The previous statewide record for early one-stop voting was 393,152 people in the presidential election of 2000.

About 500,000 voters were originally expected to cast early ballots statewide this year, but elections officials say that prediction is now almost certain to come up.

That's terrific, but election officials are saying that they still expect the lines to be really long on Tuesday. It looks like all those newly registered voters are going to case a vote. It looks like you can toss those, "Likely Voter" polls out the window. Things are wide open right now, and I don't think its possible to decipher where this is going to go.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Janet Cowell rocking web site, blog

Janet Cowell, candidate for Senate 16, has raised $10,200 since she started using online fundraising. She also blogs.

Cowell is running for the Dem. open seat left vacant by Eric Reeves.

Ballantine-crushing and political ads

New SurveyUSA numbers:

Easley: 57 (56)
Ballantine: 39 (38)
margin of error: 4

Courtesy of Eyewitness News 11 (.pdf)

Bowles and Kerry numbers not so good; down 6 and 10, respectively. Hopefully Bowles can rally -- he's got some good ads on right now. Hugh Shelton, King Burr , and the breast cancer survivor, all of which are pretty strong ads. Bowles has to pull this one out.

Speaking of ads, I love Bev Perdue's chicken ads. Thoughts?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Keever up by two!!!

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Keever (D): 43.5
Taylor (R): 41.2
Undecided: 15.3
moe: 4.5

ASHEVILLE - U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor slightly trails challenger Patsy Keever in a poll released Friday.

The survey conducted by the Asheville Center for Social Research at UNC Asheville found that 41.2 percent of residents polled support Taylor, 43.5 percent would vote for Keever, and 15.3 percent were undecided.

The poll involved 493 residents of Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood and Transylvania counties contacted by telephone between Oct. 11 and 21. With a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, the two candidates are in a statistical tie, said Mark West, director of the center and a professor of mass communication at the university.

Friday, October 22, 2004

NC-5: Winston-Salem Journal pulls quick one, endorses Harrell!

Jim Harrell is gaining momentum, picking up the conservative Winston-Salem Journal's endorsement.

Given the poll numbers we reported here last week, Harrell could be poised to pull off something crazy.

The Republican primaries for the 5th District congressional seat were so ugly, so offensive, so remote from the issues important to the district that many Republicans were heard wishing for a moderate, sensible candidate to support.

Now they have one. Disaffected Republicans can join Democrats and unaffiliated voters in voting for the Democratic candidate, Jim Harrell Jr. The Journal strongly endorses Harrell for the 5th District seat.

Ideally, a moderate Republican would have emerged to run for the seat that went up for grabs when Richard Burr decided after 10 years in the House to run for the Senate. After all, the district as now configured has a comfortable Republican majority.

Unfortunately, most of the candidates in the GOP primary seemed to think it necessary to stake out positions far to the right of the political spectrum and to emphasize emotionally charged, divisive social issues rather than talking about how to rebuild the district's economy or what to do about the rising costs of health care.

But Jim Harrell offers a moderate, bipartisan approach that ought to appeal to voters of any political affiliation. He has worthwhile ideas about how to promote a good business climate and help the district adapt to the changing economy. As a practicing dentist in Elkin, he has a medical professional's insights into practical ways to reform the health-care delivery system.

Help Jim.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"Time for a change", says Charlotte Observer

My hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer, joins the N&O in endorsing the 44th President of the United States, John F. Kerry. The whole of it is contained below. This is for two reasons. One, it pretty much sums up the case against Bush. Two, the Observer requires a registration, which is kind of a pain in the ass. Read on, though.

When a president is seeking re-election, the contest is inevitably a referendum on his service.

There is much to like about George W. Bush. After 9-11, he provided strong leadership, rallying and reassuring the nation in a splendid speech, then invading Afghanistan to strike at al-Qaida and topple the Taliban. The recent elections there are evidence of fragile but encouraging progress.

He pushed public schools to be more accountable through his No Child Left Behind program -- an effort pioneered in some states, including North Carolina. He slashed taxes and helped create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare. He assembled a Cabinet that looks like America, with blacks, Hispanics and women in key roles.

President Bush is not afraid to make hard decisions, whatever the political cost. He is a man of solid, enduring values who approaches his job with prayer, cherishes his family and loves his nation. Those qualities will earn him many votes.

Why change?

Why, then, do we think change is needed?One further quality is indispensable for the chief executive: judgment. We think George W. Bush has made the wrong choices on too many matters important to our country. We will focus on three: Iraq, the tax cuts and the deficit.

Iraq: We do not fault the president for leading America into war. Sometimes nations must act in uncertain situations because failure to do so could be disastrous. If President Bush had reason to believe the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction -- almost everyone agreed they did -- and he believed those weapons might wind up in the hands of anti-American terrorists, he had to act.

The Observer's editorial board supported his belief that Iraq must be dealt with -- by force, if necessary -- but not the way he chose to do it. While one part of the Bush administration sought support from the U.N. and major allies, another scorned the U.N. and scoffed at some allies' concerns. Better diplomacy might have produced a surer judgment about Iraq's weaponry, a broader coalition and a better post-invasion effort. If U.N. inspectors had been given more time in Iraq, what they learned might have prevented our reliance on intelligence reports that in every major way were wrong -- not only about the presence of weapons of mass destruction, but also about what might happen after we removed Saddam.

The Bush administration planned well for the battle but not for what came next. Our forces were ill-prepared to oversee the transition of power. Hesitation and confusion at the top permitted bloodshed and chaos on the streets. Miscalculations about how and where to crack down allowed the rise of the resistance that's responsible for the beheadings, bombings and street-by-street combat that costs dearly in lives and money and keeps Iraq's future in doubt. The scandal at Abu Ghraib, our inept post-war effort and our reliance on unreliable intelligence have shaken world confidence in America's competence.

Tax cuts: President Bush is not to blame for the recession or for job losses. No president is. But he could have done more to help the jobless, particularly with health care and additional benefits. And he might have used his tax cuts to do more for the Americans who need help most.

The president's tax cuts, combined with increased federal spending, did help the economic recovery. But the Americans benefiting most from the tax cuts over time will be the very wealthiest. At an $800-a-plate dinner in New York in 2000, candidate Bush remarked, "What an impressive crowd: the haves, and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base." He smiled as he said it, but he has served them well. Had he chosen to, he could have used some temporary as well as permanent tax cuts, put more money in the hands of the struggling middle class and spurred job growth by funding badly needed infrastructure improvements in cities and states.

The deficit: Under President Bush, Washington embarked on what the American Conservative Union called "a national spending spree of historic proportions." By cutting taxes while letting federal spending soar, Congress was guilty of gross fiscal irresponsibility. Democrats as well as Republicans made it happen, and President Bush went along. Ronald Reagan vetoed 22 spending bills during his first three years in office. President Bush is on track to become the first full-term chief executive in 175 years to not veto a single bill.

In a report published in January, the conservative Heritage Foundation said:

"Federal spending's drag on the economy is now over $20,000 per household -- its highest level since World War II -- and growing. Mandatory spending reached 11 percent of GDP for the first time ever. The recent Medicare drug bill represents a huge long-term burden on the fiscal health of this country. It was a massive entitlement expansion passed with no financing program to pay for it and is estimated by CBO to cost well over $2 trillion over a 20-year period. The final check for this program will come due just when Social Security and Medicare run out of money.

"Spending has increased twice as fast under President Bush as it did under President Clinton. From 2001 to 2003 total spending grew by 16 percent. Certainly the terror attacks of 9-11 placed additional demands on spending for homeland security, a strong defense, and rebuilding New York. However, this accounts for less than half of the new spending that has occurred since 9-11. What was so sorely lacking during this time was self-discipline required to balance fiscal priorities."

Recent polls find more than 50 percent of Americans think our nation is headed in the wrong direction. We agree that on many scientific policies, the environment, poverty, international relations, judicial appointments and civil rights, America needs a new course.

We're concerned, too, about how the Bush White House works. Some say it is a rigid, secretive place where on some vital issues dissenting opinions are not welcome and criticism is not heard. To some, it may be reassuring that a president can survey the past three-plus years and see no mistake worth mentioning. To us, it's alarming.

Why Sen. Kerry?

Why do we think John Kerry would do better?

We believe Sen. Kerry, like President Bush, would have gone after al-Qaida in Afghanistan and removed the Taliban government that gave them sanctuary. The course President Bush is now following in Iraq is difficult but necessary, and we think Sen. Kerry would follow it.

Sen. Kerry might have used a more deliberative approach to Iraq that could have found there was no immediate danger and thus offered options for dealing with the threat. Pre-emptive war is always an option, but rarely should be the first one. Promoting democracy abroad is the right goal; conquest isn't often the best way to do it.

The president is right, too, in saying we must combat terrorists where they are. Military force is an important part of that effort. So is working with other nations to disrupt communications, training and financing and make sure terrorists find no havens. We believe Sen. Kerry understands that.

The president calls Sen. Kerry a waffler. Some of that is nonsense, a slick misinterpretation of the astonishing number of votes a legislator takes over the years on motions and amendments and proposals that mean little when taken out of context. But some of it reflects an evolution in John Kerry's thinking as changes in circumstances lead to changes in response. To change your mind easily and often is a sign of frivolousness; to never change it is a sign of brain death. Too much certainty can be a dangerous thing.

Sen. Kerry, like President Bush, plans some ambitious initiatives during the next four years. Unlike President Bush, he promises to launch only those programs that can be funded without increasing the deficit. He promises no tax increases for households with incomes less than $200,000. Will he be fiscally responsible? We're not sure. We are sure President Bush hasn't been. Few in Washington have much credibility in that area.

Uncertainty accompanies every change. But Sen. Kerry is an intelligent man of proven courage and calm judgment who, unlike President Bush, would be dealing with a Congress controlled by the opposition, which tends to moderate actions by both parties. With deepest respect for President Bush's accomplishments, we think it's time for a change.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Winston-Salem Journal declines to endorse Bush

They don't endorse Kerry, either. But they are more than displeased with Bush's record.

The Journal has favored Republican presidential candidates in part out of a belief that Republicans are more dedicated to fiscal and personal responsibility and trying to control the growth of government. We also believe that wisely defending the country from threats at home and abroad is one of the most important jobs of the federal government, and in the past we have judged Republican candidates more able to carry out this role.

Since Richard Nixon ran against Hubert Humphrey in 1968, the Journal has endorsed every Republican candidate for president. That list includes George W. Bush when he ran against Vice President Al Gore.

... This is a presidency in deep trouble, made worse by the refusal to acknowledge the trouble.

They don't trust Kerry.
During the campaign, Kerry has said many things with which the Journal agrees. But some of them do not square with his record. Being the president of the United States is very different from being a senator from Massachusetts. Kerry is largely unknown and untried.

So we offer no endorsement. We urge our readers to weigh what they know and what they believe is important, and vote for the candidate who they believe can best lead the United States in these perilous times.

I think it's a shame that they fall for the weakest of weak talking points against Kerry: he's a Massachusetts Senator. Surely there are a lot of reasons to not like Kerry. I can't think of many, but I understand that they exist. But for an editorial board, no matter how conservative, to offer this cop-out (note the complete absence of information to back up their claim... just, his record doesn't match his ideas -- which we like -- and he IS a Massachusetts senator) is pretty shameful.

Not to mention the fact that they cite the fact that Kerry is untried, after acknowledging that they endorsed Bush in 2000 despite his "shaky" foreign policy background. An untried U.S. Senator is unacceptable, but they were okay with endorsing a governor?

I can't believe they bent this far backwards just to avoid crossing the party line.

N&O endorses Bowles

Enthusiastically, at that.

The News & Observer's editorial page enthusiastically endorses Bowles for the office because of the thoughtful and specific aims he has articulated in this, his second Senate campaign.
Bowles, 59, has effectively communicated with voters in a hopeful, positive way. In a state battered by textile plant closings, shrinkage in the tobacco industry and outsourcing in the
technology sector, he would trim what he regards as unnecessary regulation on small businesses and reduce tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas. His range of experience equips him splendidly to make headway against these challenges

He offers specific and sensible proposals for providing health insurance to thousands in North Carolina who are priced out of the market, or to those whose employers can't offer coverage. In that regard he would expand the state program for uninsured children, allow more low-income
adults to join the program, and pass tax credits for small businesses so they could offer coverage to more workers. He offers a tailored approach to tort reform, supporting a cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits but only if exceptions are made for intentional or reckless acts by medical workers.
Burr is reliably pro-business, but he hasn't come close to matching Bowles in effectively presenting positive ideas about how to bring better paying jobs to North Carolinians.

In short, there is indeed a stark choice in this Senate race. Erskine Bowles offers North Carolina a stellar history of public service, a wealth of experience in business, and a view of government that reaches out to people. North Carolina deserves no less.
I gotta say I'm more emotionally wrapped up in Erskine's race than the one for the presidency, or any other. He'll be a great Senator. Al Hunt agrees.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

BlueNC slacks off.

Our apologies. What with elections coming up and school hitting hard for those of BlueNC still in school (I don't miss midterms in the least), we have slacked off at the worst possible time.

The election is two weeks from Tuesday, and we've been MIA. That's a shame, considering there's definitely no shortage of things to cover.

Patsy Keever is only down by two, according to a Feldman Group poll. This, only days after her opponent, Republican Rep. Charles Taylor failed to show up for a forum discussion between the two. Throw on top nearly 15,000 new registrants out there, and Taylor's gotta be running scared.

In addition, WRAL5 blogged the gubernatorial debate!!! Smooth move, and they did it pretty adeptly. Comments enabled, frequent updates, good points made. Too bad the Libertarian Party (and one misinformed, wrongheaded Ballantine voter) ganged up on the comments section - it was as close as they could get to the debate.

Speaking of Ballantine, see this. Or this. Or especially THIS (registration required). Summary: Ballantine is sketchy.

Of interest: Stateline does a nice piece on the new digital political campaign.

We're back. We swear.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Richard Burr says 'No' to farmers.

For months, I’ve watched Richard Burr, and time and time again, he said he’d do everything he could to ensure we had a tobacco buyout. When he said this, I took him at his word. Time and time again, he said FDA regulation or no, he’d vote for a buyout. “Whatever it takes because that’s how important this is for our farmers,” he told my father, once. When he said this, I took him at his word.

But yesterday, Richard Burr showed his cards. Yesterday, Richard Burr showed that the support of the executives at RJ Reynolds mattered more to him than the support of North Carolina tobacco farmers. Yesterday, Richard Burr voted for a tobacco buyout that prevented the FDA from regulating tobacco. Yesterday, Richard Burr voted against provisions that would have paid farmers billions more. Yesterday, Richard Burr made a vote that will kill the buyout bill this year and probably damn it for all of time.

“The FDA is the wrong place for regulation,” he told reporters. "We already have enough regulation."

The problem with that idea is that it isn’t farmers complaining about regulation. It’s big tobacco. And it’s not all big tobacco. Phillip Morris supports a buyout with FDA regulation. It’s RJ Reynolds that Burr was listening to, and small wonder, because that company has supported him for years.

At the very least, his vote will cost North Carolina $790 million. At worst, it means the end to the legislation. The Senate is willing to bend on lots of things, but regulation has always been part of the deal. Regulation is the catalyst that has held the coalition of anti-smoking advocates, tobacco companies, and farmers together to lobby for this bill. Senator Dole recognizes that, and she has always supported a buyout with the FDA provision.

I’m so angry, I can’t even write coherently. Please help Erskine beat this guy!


The Senate about to vote to invoke cloture on the bill which includes the tobacco buyout. It is attached to a HUGELY important tax bill. And the Senate will surely vote to end the debate rather than see the $108 billion bill delayed. The buyout is going to happen, as it undoubtedly should. The buyout is more important than party politics.

That doesn't change the fact that Richard Burr would rather protect RJR than support tobacco farmers, and in doing so, he cost the rural areas of this state close to $800 million. That's unacceptable.