Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Ahnold at the RNC....

Nobel Economics Prize winner... I mean well-respected actor... I mean bodybuilder with unimpeachable ethics when it comes to controlled substances... well, anyway, Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger just addressed the Republican Convention in New York. Gentle readers, all four or five of you will, perhaps, forgive us for venturing from the realm of narrowly defined North Carolina politics, but we needed a break from reading our Tort Law (Subtitle: Suing People for Fun and Profit).

The main thing we want to point out is the ridiculous callousness of Conan the Barbarian's "Economic girly men" comment. The transcript will probably be available here soon. Setting aside the flippant tone of this post thus far, textile workers in North Carolina who have their jobs shipped out are not "economic girly men." Nor are steel workers in Michigan or West Virginia, nor are those employed by small businesses who don't have healthcare, and nor are the millions who aren't being provided with the training they need to transition to a services/information based economy, and so have left the workforce.

Mr. Freeze accuses us of economic pessimism, and thus implies that he and the President are economic optimists. If ignoring the fact that economic hardship exists in this country and exists to a greater degree under his administration than in the previous one is what passes for optimism in the President's lexicon, we are happy to cede the term to him.

However, if optimism is about looking at the economic situation in America and knowing that we can do better, and if its about having faith that the working and middle classes can, given the chance, live better lives than the ones they are living now, and if its about wanting to give those people the leadership they need to get that chance, we suggest an alternative.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Blogging the Bowles Event Live!!!

We're here, it's 7:23, and the room is starting to fill. There are 400 seats laid out, and I'd estimate that 250 of them have warm, enthusiastic bodies in them. The reason more people aren't sitting is because they are busy paying dues in order to join the Young Democrats.

Update II

Now, its 7:31. And I'd say we're at capacity. Justin Guillory, President of YD - UNC has taken the stage, and folks are starting to quiet down.

Update III

And Guillory is speaking, and the crowd is pumped. I dont see a single Republican --- so it looks like no protests tonight. Every time Justin pauses, the crowd claps. Doesn't matter what he says. That's kinda funny.

Update IV

Time is officially 7:35, and folks are standing in the back. There's not a seat left.

Update V

Meg Scott, the Secretary of YD - UNC has taken the podium, and unfortunately, its a little bit tall. That's ok though...

Update VI

Gotta close the laptop because Erskine is standing directly over my shoulder, and I think it's gotta violate journalistic integrity to have the man you're writing about read your posts before you make them...

Update VII

*Breathes sigh of relief* He's gone off to shake other peoples' hands.

Update VIII

It's now 7:41. Tom Jensen, chair of Student for Bowles, is talking about students getting involved! He's talking about keeping folks pretty active until November. That's exciting. And he's just made a joke about sounding like Howard Dean --- people laughed, but I think it fell a little bit flat.

Update IX

Time 7:45 --- Erskine's on the stage. He's a lot more comfortable with this group than he was two years ago. Best story so far? He said he had a fellow recognize him today. Erskine asked, "Well, who am I?" Guy replied, "You're the weatherman!"


Update X

Time 7:47 --- Erskine tells the story about his Uncle Sam and the obituary his wife had printed. He tells it at every event I've ever attended. Good to know some things don't change!

Update XI

Time 7:49 -- This is Erskine's seventh event today.

Update XII

Time 7:50 -- Erskine's talking about his plan for the state. Every single part of his platform is available to be downloaded on his webpage. Go here, look for the Issues page and follow the link. There are PDF files that explain how every part of his plan will work, how much it will cost, and how he will pay for it without raising taxes.

Update XIV

Time 7:54 -- Erskine's actually talking about policy now. Speech so far is really economy focused.

Update XV

Time 7:56 -- "We have the greatest health care system in the world, but we have the worst health care delivery man can concieve."

Update XVI

Time 7:57 -- I'm just going to slide into analysis for a minute here. I've seen Erskine speak live five times now. But I haven't seem him this focused before. I haven't seen him this energetic before. He's breaking up his speech with anecdotes about people he's met on the campaign trail -- a little girl named Katie, a truck driver from Greensboro -- It's really working.

Update XVII

Time 8:00 -- "I think this new prescription drug plan is crazy. It makes me so mad I could spit."

Update XVIII

Time 8:01 -- "I don't think any of those ideas I've just talked about are Republican ideas or Democrat ideas. I think they're good ideas."

Update XIX

Time 8:03 -- "I've got an opponent in this race. I hope you never learn his name. This opponent of mine goes around this state bragging about how he votes with this administration 96% of the time. I'm gonna tell you what: I'm not going to do that. But when we have a Democrat administration, I'm not going to vote with them 96% of the time either. We don't need a rubber stamp."

Update XX

Time 8:04 -- And he's done. But questions are next.

Update XXI

Question One: Would you support a tobacco buyout with FDA regulations.
Answer: "Yes, I support FDA regulation, but I tell you what, I want this tobacco buyout to happen with or without regulation but that's what so many rural families need.

Question Two: What can be done for education in tight budget times.
Answer Two: "We can be much smarter in controlling these unfunded federal mandates...I'm sure most of you have heard of this program called 'No Child Left Behind.' I'm not a fan of it....You've gotta give people the resources to get the job done..."

Question Three: What about Bill Frist's obscure use of parlimentary tactics...how important is a Democratic majority in preserving the civility and integrity in the Senate?"
Answer Three: I'll tell you what, if we don't win North Carolina, we have no chance of winning back the Senate -- That's how important this seat is. But I think we want civility in the Senate and ideals

Question Four: How proud to be a Democrat are you?
Answer Four: "My daddy told 'I don't care what church you raise your kids in as long as you raise them as Democrats.' People tell me 'You brag about being the White House chief of staff but you don't brag about which administration it was in. ' I tell them, 'What adminstration do you think I worked in?' ... I'm very proud to be a Democrat."

Question Five: Where do you stand on military benefits?
Answer Five: "I think the thing that galls me is that the current members of the House voted to give themselves a pay raise but voted against giving our military a pay raise."

Time 8:13 "Thank you all very much. I'm glad to be here."

BLUE NC EXCLUSIVE!!!! MUST CREDIT BLUE NC!!!

Sorry for the headline. But I've always wanted to do that.

We (and by we, I mean myself) am going to be blogging NC Democratic Senate candidate Erskine Bowles visit to UNC's campus tonight LIVE. Show starts at 7:30, so be sure to check it out!


Matt


Sunday, August 29, 2004

NYT: Abolish the Electoral College

The New York Times wrote an absolutely breathless editorial today. The conclusion? The Electoral College needs to go.

Four years ago, I spoke to a civic organization in my hometown about the need to preserve the Electoral College.

Today, the editorial board of the New York Times admitted that they were wrong in once supporting the College, and it's a really strong argument.

I've always thought the Electoral College protects voters in states like North Carolina from getting overwhelmed by voters in big states with dense metropolitan areas.

But more and more, it seems that the Electoral College harms minorities in every state. Until recently, it seemed like being a Democrat in North Carolina didn't make one bit of difference. Right now, I'm cautiously optimistic that my vote my count for something in this presidential election.

But with the no EC and with the statistical seperation between presidential nominees being nonexistant, the popular vote is actually a better protector of my rights as a minority.

Anyhow, go read the edit. It'll probably be a hundred years before the Times admits a mistake again.

Buildling Expectations...

In 2000, just before the first Presidential Debate, there were probably three people in the country who expected Governor George W. Bush to hold his own in each of the debates against Vice President Al Gore. One of those people was the President himself, and those other two folks were his closest advisors, Karl Rove and Karen Hughes.

And the funny thing about it is this: the Republicans kept telling the world that Al Gore was going to win. They kept saying "Al Gore is a master debater, and the Governor will make his points, but keep in mind that Al Gore is an incredible debater." The Gore camp wasn't about to deny their candidate was an incredible debater, well-versed on policy and incredibly articulate. And the media, of course, picked up on this and continued to repeat it. By the time the debate began, anyone who'd watched the news would have been surprised to see Governor Bush form coherent sentences or prevent himself from drooling on camera.

Of course that's not what happened. Al Gore did a great job, but George W. Bush held his own. And because expectations were so low, everyone thought that the Governor wiped the floor with the Vice President.

Lowering expectations: it's a well-documented strategy that now President Bush's people have used time and time again. They love to tell their audiences that President Bush is a common man, someone who isn't used to high-falutin' language or numbers or facts. Then when W comes out and seems half-way credible, they claim victory.

Well, someone from John Kerry's camp is paying attention.

I know a lot of you watched the Daily Show last week when Mr. Kerry made his appearance. Most of the back and forth made very little difference. But one thing that he said stood out. Just before the end of the show, John Kerry told Jon Stewart, "The president has won every debate he's ever had," Kerry said. "He beat Ann Richards. He beat Al Gore. So, he's a good debater."

Looks like John Kerry is trying to build expectations back up again, and that's both an uncommonly wise and uncommonly deft strategy from this campaign...


Flavaville Follow-up

Following up on the news that Rep. Alex Warner will switch to the dark side, the News and Observer reported in Under the Dome on Thursday that Warner will be unable to run as a Republican against freshman Representative Rick Glazier, who beat him in the Democratic Primary for House District 45. That is because the rightful heir to the GOP nomination, Robert Lawrence, refused to step aside.

According to the article, Warner also declined to run against Senator Tony Rand, saying, "As important as Tony Rand is in his position as Rules chairman for the Senate, his expertise in the Senate and his success in that environment, why in the world would anyone want to change that picture? He not only delivers for his county, but he delivers for this geographic area."

The cynic in us asks, 'Know what else Senator Rand delivers? Tons of money. And votes.' The cynic in us also wonders if Representative Warner regrets saying all those nice things about Mr. Lawrence selling himself short last week...

Saturday, August 28, 2004

NC-11: Keever pulls within margin of error

Stephen Yellin at The Stakeholder reports that a new poll from Dem. pollsters at The Feldman Group shows Patsy Keever only down by three points to incumbent Rep. Charles Taylor in the 11th District. This is at least four days old, but I hadn't seen it anywhere.

Taylor: 49
Keever: 46
Undecided/other: 5
MoE: 4.4

Yellin also includes some of the better analysis I've seen.

NC-11 is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the state (in the western section), and includes the city of Asheville, a liberal oasis in a conservative, rural swathe of land. Despite this, the district is quite winnable for John Kerry due to heavy job losses in the district, and this is one reason why Keever, a Buncombe County Commissioner and a retired teacher, can win.

Another reason is Taylor's weakness as an incumbent-he's garnered just 55% in the last two elections against the same opponent, despite GOP tides in the area in both years. He's recently come under heavy fire for a banking scandal that occurred in his company (he's another Congressman, Inc.), and a brand-new poll from The Feldman Group (D) confirms his vulnerability. In a head-to-head poll, without attacks or biographies, Taylor leads by just 49-46 over Keever. In addition, the poll shows Kerry virtually tied with Bush in the district as well,
removing any coattails for Taylor.

Keever is probably our best pickup opportunity in the state, and can use all the help she can get.

If you can, give her some help here.

We're fighting back...

Literally. I'm serious. Never let it be said that we Democrats are afraid of standing up for ourselves. Just watch the video.

*EDITORS NOTE: We don't approve of punching Bush-Cheney supporters. In almost every case, such action is irresponsible and unlikely to win support to our cause. That's something we all have to keep in mind, no matter how much personal satisfaction it might deliver.

John Edwards --- Superstar

The New York Times carries a really good portrait of John Edwards. The conclusion? The rest of the world is starting to learn what we in North Carolina have known for awhile --- namely that JRE is a helluva politician. But the really interesting thing to me was the explaination of how Edwards is campaigning in his role as the Vice Presidential candidate --- a job generally reserved for hatchetmen, slash-and-burn party hacks, and general, all-around bomb throwers --- without compromising his optimism or faith in the American people.

The best part?

"But Mr. Edwards's natural style is not the cutlass of Richard M. Nixon or the stiletto of Bob Dole. Instead, he excels at snatching an opportunity, weaving his own life's history into his speeches and capitalizing on endearing moments."

Oh, and then, there's this:

"Mr. Edwards generally sticks to his message, assailing the Bush administration on Iraq, the economy, health care, a tax system that Democrats say favors the rich. He often does a half-dozen local television interviews in a row, answering mostly the same questions. Somehow, he sounds as though he is answering each question for the first time. "

Definitely worth a read!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Women's Rally for Kerry-Edwards!

This Thursday, August 26, the North Carolina office for the Kerry-Edwards Campaign is having a rally at the Bicentennial Plaza, just outside of the NC Museum of History, in Raleigh at 5:00.

I'm sick of the GOP thinking this state is going to be an easy victory for President Bush, and this is a great chance to send notice to everyone that this simply will not be the case.

If you're interested or need directions please let me know!


Friday, August 20, 2004

A Little Action on the Side

I've got a guest post going at OrangePolitics.org.

Seems that Bob Dumas, the host of G105's morning "Showgram" is organizing a Heterosexual Pride Parade in Chapel Hill. Not exactly on our normal political radar screen, but well within bounds of the current cultural debate surrounding gay-marriage and the climate it provokes.

BREAKING NEWS --- Rep. Warner to switch to Republican Party

Big news out of Fayetteville as long time Democratic Representative Alex Warner is expected to announce that he will switch parties and join the Republicans in a press conference today at noon.

In July, Warner lost a hard-fought primary against freshman Democratic legislator Rick Glazier. There is speculation that Warner is switching parties in order to attempt a rematch for the November general election.

Acccording to the Fayetteville Observer, "Republican 45th District House candidate Robert Lawrence said Thursday that the state Republican Party has asked him to not run so that Warner could step in as a Republican. Lawrence said he would consider it."

Many speculate that Warner could steal the support of conservative Democrats away from Rep. Glazier while mobilizing the district's Republican base. In that scenario, Warner has a very good chance of winning back the competitive district.

But Warner doesn't seem so sure. He told the paper that "Lawrence is selling himself short."

"'He stands a pretty good chance of beating Rick Glazier in November himself,' Warner said. Republicans already have about 36 percent to 37 percent of the vote, Warner said, and he could add the conservative Democrats who backed Warner in the primary."

We will continue to follow this situation, and provide updates as they become available.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Winston-Salem Journal--Foxx beats Robinson in 5th District runoff

The Winston-Salem Journal says that, "The expensive and explosive fight among Republicans hoping to succeed Richard Burr in the 5th Congressional District ended last night, with state Sen. Virginia Foxx easily defeating Winston-Salem City Council Member Vernon Robinson."

Foxx will face Democrat Jim Harrell Jr. in the general election in November.

We at this blog have said lots about how crazy Vernon Robinson's politics are, but our relative silence concerning Sen. Foxx doesn't mean that her policies make sense.

Some of you may remember Sen. Foxx from her appearance on the Daily Show with John Stewart when correspondent Mo Rocca was sent to Chapel Hill to cover the controversy surrounding the summer reading book, Approaching the Qu'ran.

The web-archive of the telecast is no longer available, but I can assure you that Sen. Foxx told Mo Roccan (though I paraphrase) that she was sure "terrorists are glad that Carolina freshmen are reading that book."

Sen. Foxx simply does not belong in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Early numbers from Journalnow.com

The Winston-Salem Journal is reporting that Foxx has an early lead.

North Carolina polls closed at 7:30 tonight, and early results show Virginia Foxx leading in the 5th Congressional District race.

Foxx, a state senator, has 60 percent of the vote as of 8:35 p.m., and Vernon Robinson, a Winston-Salem City Councilman, has 40 percent, according to the State Board of Elections.

In Forsyth County, Foxx is slightly ahead with 50.41 percent of the vote. Robinson has 49.59 percent, with 11 out of 66 precincts reporting.

And by early I mean reeeal early.

They're also showing a 55-45 lead for June Atkinson over Marshall Stewart in the Democratic runoff for state superintendent.

Monday, August 16, 2004

SurveyUSA: Bowles 50, Burr 42

SurveyUSA just came out with a poll that's all around a little less cheery for Dems. than last week's N&O poll.

Bush: 51, Kerry 45

Easley: 51, Ballantine: 44

Bowles: 50, Burr: 42

Of interest:

Households earning less than $40K/Yr. split ticket and vote for GOP Bush at top of ticket and Dems. Bowles & Easley down-ticket. ... Easley up 13 in Triangle, candidates tied elsewhere.

In contrast, a poll conducted last week by the N&O, WRAL and WUNC gives the following numbers:

Bush/Cheney: 48, Kerry/Edwards: 45

Easley 51, Ballantine 35

Bowles: 47, Burr 39

NC:5 - Playing on your fears

Tomorrow's runoff election ends the debacle that was the 5th District Republican primary, and the conclusion will come as either another embarrassing loss for Vernon Robinson or another few years of embarrassing representation for North Carolina.

Robinson's latest lunacy? This piece of work reported by the AP. Only a short while after the arrest of Kamran Akhtar, the Pakistani who was found videotaping the skyline in Charlotte (and several other cities in the region), Robinson uses the scary episode to bully his would-be constituency once again.

Robinson's ad shows a picture of Akhtar. In the ad, an announcer says: "This is Pakistani terrorist Kamran Akhtar. He got arrested videotaping targets in Charlotte, North Carolina. He came here illegally, across our Mexican border."

Then Robinson speaks. "I'm Vernon Robinson and I approve this message because Akhtar didn't come here to live the American dream. He came here to kill you."


Cute.

Even better: the resignation with which Tom Foxx, husband and campaign manager to Robinson's runoff opponent Virginia Foxx, responds to the ad. Sigh, Vernon's at it again.

"That's his tactic with everything he does," said Tom Foxx, Foxx's husband and campaign manager. "If the guy was a terrorist and there was proof of that, that'd be one thing. But you can't make the giant leap."


Thursday, August 12, 2004

A Safe Seat Gets Even Safer

According to the News and Observer, Kim James, a Republican from Chapel Hill has withdrawn from her race against State Senator Ellie Kinnaird D-Orange.

" 'I have family obligations that are not going to permit me to run right now,' James, 37, a mother and UNC-Chapel Hill student, said Wednesday.

She sent a letter last week informing Orange County election officials of her decision. They forwarded her note to state elections officials, who acknowledged the withdrawal this week.

Kinnaird is seeking a fifth two-year term in the Senate. As legislative districts have been redrawn several times during her tenure, she often finds herself campaigning in new territory. This is the first time the district has included Orange and Person counties."

The North Carolina Republican Party has said they plan to enter a new candidate. If they find such a person, he or she will have to file one week from today--75 days before the election--to appear on the ballot.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

And now...the rest of the story...

In yesterday's Under the Dome, the lead item talks about this year's absences in the state legislature. The N&O rightly points out that Senator David Weinstein D-Lumberton missed twelve or more days in this year's session. What the column neglects to mention is that Senator Weinstein missed those days because his wife had been diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, she passed away in June.

To me, that's a perfectly justifiable reason for leaving session. Missing twelve days of work when the person you love is diagnosed with a terminal illness is in not dishonorable.

Unfortunately, yesterday's Under the Dome read a bit like a high school detention slip sent home to your parents. The implication was that Weinstein and all the other legislators mentioned in the column were failing to do their proscribed duties, that they were letting down their constituents. I can't speak for the others, but with Senator Weinstein, that's simply not the case. Above all else right now, eh deserves our patience and our respect. Too bad the N&O didn't take the time to look into the story more thoroughly.


****UPDATE****
Turns out, that the N&O did take the time to investigate the story, twenty-four hours after the original column ran. I have to admit, their correction of the record was tastefully done. But still, that was a fairly sloppily handled bit of journalism.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

More Interesting Stuff In NC-5

Months ago, Bob Dole's vice presidential candidate, Jack Kemp, endorsed Vernon Robinson for the House of Representatives. Then, just weeks before the election, he announced that he had withdrawn his support and asked his readers to vote for Ed Broyhill instead, saying, "Robinson was running a very negative and aggressive anti-immigration campaign, which I believe is contrary to the core values of the party of Lincoln."

Just last week, everyone's favorite paleoconservative, Pat Buchannan fired back with his column in The American Conservative. He says, "Jack believes being pro-illegal is good politics."

A little further down, he gets to the heart of his argument, "Since Bush took office, his free-trade policies have produced a net loss of 2.6 million manufacturing jobs, one in every six in the USA. The textile and apparel industries in the Carolinas have been especially hard hit. These jobs have historically been the access ramp to the American Dream for blacks, Hispanics, single moms, and working poor. Is Vernon Robinson wrong to want to stop shipping these jobs off to China? "

That's funny because the crux of Jack Kemp's argument for withdrawing his endorsement was specific to Robinson's anti-immigration policies. But for the purpose of this race, a war with words between two pundits doesn't really matter.

Well, where exactly does Mr. Robinson stand on immigration, you ask?

Here is what Mr. Robinson has to say:

Our immigration policy is nuts. Over 400,000 foreign students have overstayed their student visas, and we simply have no idea where they are! Over thirty thousand of these are from Muslim countries, and they’ve simply disappeared.

Most of those missing Muslims pose no threat to America, of course, but it only takes a handful of would-be “martyrs” to cause real problems, as we learned on September 11th, 2001.


The mastermind of the Twin Towers/Pentagon attack, Khalid Shaik Mohammed (whom we have captured), recently told U.S. officials that Al Qaeda is planning to carry out future attacks, including the firebombing of the Washington Metrorail, by smuggling terrorists, equipment, and toxic chemicals over our unguarded Mexican border!


We have troops in 120 countries around the world (including half a million in Iraq and Afghanistan), but we won’t defend our own borders with Mexico and Canada -- even after our mortal enemies tell us in advance that that is how they are going to hit us next!


With the communist North Koreans bragging that they will sell a nuclear bomb to Osama Bin Laden, why in the world do we refuse to defend our borders? Remember, a ragtag band of these Arab misfits used public transportation and a handful of box-cutters to kill more Americans in the 2001 World Trade Center attack than the Japanese killed at Pearl Harbor.


The next time they come at us, they may be armed with more than box cutters. How much more damage could an organized terrorist do with a nuclear bomb that he simply drove across the Mexican desert into San Luis, Arizona one night, like a common drug smuggler?


The threat is real. Vehicles routinely crash the border gates at the Otay Mesa ports of entry near San Diego, a few miles from an international airport in Mexico. Occasionally these gatecrashing vehicles get through. We have no idea who is in them, or what their cargo is. I will make it my personal mission in Congress to put an end to this madness. Enough is enough...

Part of the reason these immigration problems go unchecked is that there are now so many immigrants in the country that too many Republicans and virtually all Democrats actually compete to see who can pander to them the most. Washington Mayor Anthony Williams has even argued that these illegal aliens should have the right to vote! That’s where I draw the line.


This pandering is what created the explosion of so-called “sanctuary cities.” A sanctuary city is one whose liberal city council has forbidden its police officers to report illegal aliens to the I.N.S. so they can be deported.


New York City repealed its sanctuary resolution after four illegal aliens raped an American woman there last December. Three of the four had been picked up by the police before and should have been deported, but because of the sanctuary resolution, the cops had never informed the I.N.S. that the aliens were in custody.


My alma mater, the United States Air Force Academy, recently found it had 23 illegal aliens working for it – more than the number that carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks. But these illegal aliens were actually working for a military service academy!


Juan Hernandez, the head of the “Mexican Ministry for Mexicans Living in the United States” makes no bones about his intentions. He says he wants to increase the flow of Mexicans into the United States so as to turn our culture and influence American policy toward Mexico. He told Congressman Tancredo that we are not really “two [separate] countries; it’s just a region.” That offends me greatly.

These are not racist observations – these immigration problems threaten our national security, our fiscal security, and our national culture and identity.


Strange that most of the September 11th hijackers were legal immigrants in the United States on student visas and that most of immigrants to the United States, legal or illegal, aren't terrorists and harbor no aspirations for becoming martyrs. Strange that none of them sought refuge in North Carolina. Strange that Robinson singles out immigrants from Muslim countries when most illegal aliens aren't from Arab states in particular, countries where a majority of citizens practice Islam in general, or even nations that harbor terrorists who seek the violent overthrow of the American government of any stripe. Turns out that many of the groups that publically profess to seek the violent overthrow of the United States government actually live in the (get ready for this) United States. And don't doubt their sincerity. Ask the people of Oklahoma City if you don't believe me.

Edwardses backtrack to repay debt

Here's a great story in the N&O.

The Edwards family gave up a day of campaigning with John Kerry in New Mexico to hold a rally in Kansas--a state that is locked into the red column.

Of course, it was Elizabeth Edwards' idea. Apparently, a dedicated crowd of supporters gathered around the train tracks in Kansas on Friday to wave at the Democratic candidates as they went through. The train didn't stop however, and rather than disappoint the several hundred people hoping to see the Johns, Mrs. E made a promise that her family would be back.

For almost anyone else, this makes little or no sense. You don't spend time or money in places you can't win. But thanks to Mrs. E, what would otherwise be a puzzling day of campaigning is now going to pay off. Several thousand people showed up in the pouring rain to hear the vice presidential nominee. Oh, and lest I forget to mention it, the press showed up too. I'm willing to bet the news coverage of the event alone will make up for any lost time or cost. But if the campaign reaches out to Kansas, I'm willing to bet the Democrats of that state will come to the Kerry website and make a donation.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

A wild ride in NC-5

Vernon Robinson: "Our ability to raise money shows how strongly our message resonates with the people of the 5th District."

Out-of-area cash fuels Robinson's fund-raising

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, candidate Vernon Robinson raised $307,000 during July, compared to the paltry $38,000 raised by state Sen. Virginia Foxx, Robinson's runoff opponent for the Republican nomination.

"During the reporting period, Robinson received more than 400 contributions from donors who have given at least $200 during the primary campaign. Nineteen of those donors live in the district.

"Over the same period, Foxx received 43 contributions from donors who have given at least $200. Thirty-three of those came from within the district."

In addition, reports filed between July 29 and Aug. 6 listing contributions of more than $1,000 received by the candidates show Robinson raised $34,610 from 12 contributors, all out of district. Foxx raised $6,500 from four donors, two of whom live in the district.
Robinson's higher profile outside the 5th District probably has a lot to do with his frequent shenanigans: dropping off a 1-ton cement monument of the 10 Commandments outside Winston-Salem City Hall, sponsoring offensive anti-immigrant radio ads and blasting his opponents at every turn, among others. After all, as his own campaign brags, "Jesse Helms is back! And this time, he's black!"

The article fails to mention Democratic Surry County Commissioner Jim Harrell's fundraising, although he has consistently trailed far behind his GOP counterparts in the heavily Republican district. Opensecrets.org reports that Harrell has raised almost $165,000 in the race, with roughly $77,000 on hand. Compare that to Robinson's $1,981,000 raised, and his $273,109 on hand. Foxx raised $629,277 and has $146,516 on hand.

Foxx has been endorsed by several of the other GOP candidates since the primary, and most mainstream Repubs. should fall behind her rather than Robinson, who has a tendency to produce some pretty outrageous quotes and headlines. But Robinson, who came in first in the primary and obviously has a lead in the cash race, has a big head start.

The question is this: If Robinson wins the nomination in the Aug. 17 runoff, does Jim Harrell suddenly have a chance? The district's conservative and Harrell's way behind in name ID and cash, but if the Republican nominee is so far off the beaten path, could turnout be dampened enough that Harrell might keep it close? Is it worth trying to flood Harrell with money for the general election if he's facing Robinson?

Friday, August 06, 2004

Black says Kerry will help economy

The News and Observer reports that Speaker Jim Black and Virginia Governor Mark Warner organized a conference call to tell reporters that President Bush's econonic and trade policies have hurt North Carolina's economy.

Two interesting things to point out:

First, writer Rob Christensen notes that when a journalist asked Speaker Black about John Edwards' economic record in North Carolina, Black, "seemed stumped." That may well be the truth, but Christensen doesn't fully explain why he got that impression.

Second, I find it strange that NC Governor Mike Easley continues to avoid public support of the Kerry-Edwards campaign. He didn't come to the rally in Raleigh, he didn't attend the Democratic National Convention, and now, Speaker Black is sitting in on conference calls for the campaign with governors from other states. It's not about John Edwards--Governor Easley stumped for the North Carolina Senator in Iowa. I have to wonder if it's association with the Democratic Presidential candidate that Easley is trying to avoid.