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23

 

There are scads of Super PACs running around attacking Thom Tillis or Kay Hagan so one more came as no surprise except when Planned Parenthood said it was going to whack Tillis I thought, Whoever heard of a government-funded group spending $3.3 million on a Super PAC? It didn’t seem quite right. Planned Parenthood spending taxpayers’ money to elect Kay Hagan – so she’d give them more taxpayers’ money.
 
But then I thought that wasn’t fair – that, after all, the Chamber of Commerce has a Super PAC doing its best to elect Speaker Tillis and what its members get from the government makes Planned Parenthood look like a piker. 
 
For example, just last month, the local  Chamber spent a quarter million dollars to help Republicans defeat a Democratic Supreme Court judge then, at the Chamber’s behest, Republicans in the State Senate sponsored a law to give pharmaceutical companies (who’re members of the Chamber) a legal pass so they can’t be held responsible when they sell defective drugs.
 
Super PACs: A new wrinkle in a very old kind of politics.


 

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20
Gary’s stepfather, Joe Dickerson, was interviewed by David Crabtree of WRAL last week.  To watch this moving interview, click the link below:


The WRAL story follows:
 
As D-day anniversary approaches, survivor recounts vivid memories

Joe Dickerson nearly died twice in 1944 – first from a near drowning and then from shrapnel.

Dickerson, 91, a retired U.S. Army sergeant, was at Omaha Beach during the Normandy campaign – the largest amphibious invasion in history. The offensive, known as D-Day, was the turning point for Allied forces in World War II.
Born and raised in eastern North Carolina, Dickerson, then a 20-year-old, led a group of 30 men into battle – many one or two years younger than him.
“They dropped the gate and there were so many getting killed going out the front that I hollered and told them to go over the side of the boat,” he said.
That decision saved several lives but, at 5 feet 7 inches and 110 pounds, nearly ended his.
“I went over the side of the boat and when I did, I went to the bottom,” he said. “I had 60 pounds on me and the water was over my head. Two men were with me...they were 6 feet (tall). If it weren't for them I wouldn't be here today. They pull at my shoulders and pulled me up to keep my head above water.”
Dickerson made it to shore, but then had to make it to the base of the cliffs.
“That was a long 400 yards,” he said.
He crawled inch by inch, his bayonet in front of him while he searched for land mines. Dickerson and two of his men made it to the cliffs, but many were left behind.
“We decided we had to go back and help the guys hurt in the water...so bad,” he said.
Dickerson made the trip back to the water, passing dead and mortally wounded soldiers along the way.
Fourteen of his men didn’t make it.
“Holding a young soldier that was dying...asking for his...mother,” Dickerson said. “’I want,’ he said...’to see...my mother.’ All you could tell him was ‘someday you'll see your mother.’ That was the worst part of it...I think about that often.”
Dickerson was wounded by shrapnel the next day. He was injured three more times en route to, and during, the Battle of the Bulge.
He received four Purple Hearts for his injuries.
The medals, along with many others, are hanging on a wall in his Hertford County home. The more recent came from the French government three months ago.
Dickerson has returned to Normandy several times, the last in 1979. He brought back sand from Omaha Beach.
He uses that sand at the funerals of his Army friends.
“When they say dust to dust and ashes to ashes, I pour this sand on the casket,” he said. “I’m glad I brought it back.”
Operation Omaha is sponsoring a free trip for veterans to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. on June 6 to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
The Triangle group will leave Raleigh on Thursday, June 5 at 1 p.m. and return the following evening. Transportation, hotel accommodations and meals will be provided. Each veteran will be accompanied by a guardian. Family members between 21-65 are encouraged to accompany their vet and the guardian. The trip is funded through donations.
First priority will be given to veterans who participated in the Normandy campaign between June 6, 1944 and August 31, 1944.

 

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19
Gary is taking a break from blogging. Here is a post from a guest Tapster:
 
We recently complained that the State Capitol Police wasted taxpayer money to install a radar gun in one of its cruisers. It seemed absurd that the Capitol Police need this capability when there are plenty of other police organizations to nab speeders.
 
So, it mystified us when a Capitol Police officer took his lunch break last week at a restaurant in northwest Raleigh that gives law enforcement officers a discount on their meals. We salute the restaurant, and wish more businesses would give a break to these overworked and underpaid heroes (perhaps expand it to teachers!)
 
But the Capitol Police officer used poor judgment to drive his cruiser to a restaurant five miles from the State Capitol and two miles from the nearest state government building. And, the officer parked around back, out of sight, mostly hidden from the prying eyes of grumpy taxpayers.
 
It’s frustrating that the officer drove past dozens of affordable downtown restaurants and drove miles from the capitol to get his discount. His response time to a capitol emergency would’ve been seriously delayed, and he further reinforced that the State Capitol Police Department is redundant and burning through state resources that could be better invested elsewhere.

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19
Gary is taking a break from blogging. Here's a guest blog from Joe Stewart, Executive Director of the NC FreeEnterprise Foundation; a nonpartisan non-profit organization that conducts research on candidates, campaigns and voter attitudes in North Carolina.

Once the match up in the US Senate race was known on primary election night, a reporter asked me what I thought the key public policy issues were that Kay Hagan and Tom Tillis would battle over. 
 
I said with the volume of ads coming from both campaigns and outside sources, any number of issues will be raised – which will resonate with undecided voters (the key group for both Tillis and Hagan) is hard to predict.

Then this past week I read a news report that leading economists say the Chinese economy may surpass that of the United States as the largest in the world sometime in 2014, two years ahead of previous predictions.
 
If indeed that comes to pass during the 2014 campaign season, the impact on the collective political psyche of the American public may well cast a long shadow over every other issue.
 
Media attention given this will be extensive, and how we slipped from the top spot and what it means for our nation’s standing in the world will be hotly debated along partisan lines.

In North Carolina, US Senate candidates should anticipate voters will want answers on how this global shift impacts their ability to provide for their family, and what’s needed to assure the future economic well-being of their children and grandchildren.

After all, even when election year issues are international in nature, all politics tends to be local.

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16

Gary is taking a break from blogging. Here is a blog from a Tapster:

We wonder if Speaker and Candidate Tillis thinks his opponent in the
fall is the singer Sting: "Every step you take, every move you make,
I'll be watching you."

How can the speaker possibly govern effectively while campaigning for
US Senate and knowing that the Hagan campaign hovers over him like a
drone, waiting to fire a missile at every decision?

This mess creates a climate for two things. One is the possibility for
a screwup when somebody trades campaign favors for legislative
attention.  That's bad, and means jail time for somebody.

The other possibility is actually worse for all of us. It is the great
likelihood that the House does nothing meaningful. Just when the state
needs creative and bold policy action, a smart politico like Tillis
will be so cautious that nothing much will happen this summer on his
watch.

All because he doesn't want to get stung.

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14
When you watch the evening news, you learn two things about people who watch the evening news. First, we vote, because we drown in political ads before elections. And, second, we have every disease and bad health condition known to medicine, especially the pharmaceutical industry.
 
We’re at risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, arthritis, hemorrhoids, dry eyes, allergies, depression and all the alphabet: COPD, BPH, ED and Low T.
 
Watching one ad after another will make you feel sick – or like turning off the TV. Even worse are the warnings about possible side effects. The scariest is “suicidal thoughts or actions.”
 
And then there’s the ever-present specter of the four-hour erection. Let’s not even go there.
 
So you have a choice when you watch: You can get depressed about the health of the body politic – or about your own health.

 

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13
We were reviewing the Board of Elections’ schedule and making plans for the fall campaign. Then Brad Crone called to say Keith Crisco would concede this morning. Then we were sent reeling by the shock of Keith’s death.
 
Suddenly, campaigns, vote counts and elections-board canvasses seemed not so important.
 
I remembered meeting with Keith in late January, just after I began working with Clay Aiken.  At Keith’s invitation, he and I met after work at a North Hills restaurant. He had hot tea, and I had a Diet Coke.
 
Keith was tall and distinguished-looking. He wore a dark business suit, black cowboy boots and a wide-brimmed white hat. He looked like a man equally at home on a farm, on a factory floor or in a boardroom.
 
It was an open, pleasant conversation about the upcoming race. No bluster or tough talk. We agreed that, whatever happened in the primary, we would work together in the fall.
 
In politics and in life, you make plans and you act as if you’re in control. Then life reminds you that you’re not in control.
 
Not one of us is guaranteed one more day, or even one more hour.
 
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:34), Jesus said, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Amen.
 

 

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12
Years ago a Democratic gnome sitting in a cloister pouring over reams of polls and demographics had a profound revelation: Most of the people who didn’t vote were Democrats. The word spread from gnome to pollster to politicians where it led to scads of mischief (all dressed in the trappings of government) as Democrats passed laws like same day voting, early voting, and moter-voter registration – all to elect more Democrats.
 
Then the Republicans took power. And set about repealing the Democrats’ laws. And then, as sure as one bad deed leads to another, started passing new laws of their own (also in the name of good government) – the way the Republican politicians saw it a pandemic of voter fraud was loose in the country and the cure to kill that nasty germ was to inoculate everyone with massive doses of Voter IDs.  
 
By the time all the political machinations were done no one had clean hands but, of course, no Democrat fessed up to doing any conniving and no Republican questioned the Republicans’ counter-conniving.
 
Until Rand Paul (who must have known he was about to stick his head straight into the tiger’s mouth) said, Everybody’s gone completely crazy on the Voter ID thing.
 
That made Paul no friends in either camp. Republicans said he’d just proven he  wasn’t tough enough to be the conservatives’  candidate for President in 2016 and Democrats said they didn’t believe a word Rand Paul said because he’d once also said the 1964 Civil Rights Act wasn’t perfect.
 
Before sundown Paul was getting shot by politicians from both sides – which makes a pretty good case he may be exactly the man we need for President in 2016.

 

 

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12
Political consultants are used to hearing – and ignoring – clients (and their friends and family) say: “People here don’t like negative ads. They don’t work.”
 
But now there may be something to that argument in the Triangle media market. Exhibit A: The failure of the Republican attack strategy against Robin Hudson. Exhibit B: Clay Aiken’s victory in the 2nd District primary.
 
Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to argue that negative ads don’t work. They do – or they can. But there is something going on here that political strategists better acknowledge, understand and use. Or pay a high price.
 
We are now probably the most sophisticated consumers of political advertising in America. Since 2008, we have seen more ads than anybody anywhere. And now the Triangle – and especially Wake County – is perhaps THE most important political battleground in the nation. So we’ll see more this year.
 
We’re especially sophisticated when it comes to evaluating negative ads. We’re skeptical when an ad claims that a judge “sided with child molesters.” That didn’t pass the smell test.
 
In Clay Aiken’s case, Keith Crisco’s negative ad may have hurt Aiken AND hurt Crisco AND helped Toni Morris.
 
This fall, strategists must recalculate their negative ads. The old formula of dark music, doctored photos, ominous music and outlandish claims not only may flop, it may create a backlash.

 

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08
I’ve been in politics longer than Clay Aiken has been alive (38 years vs. 35), but he took me to school this week.
 
Everything I’ve learned tells me that if (A) you’re massively outspent by your opponent and (B) he runs three or four ads to your one and (C) one of those is a negative attack ad that you can’t afford to answer, then (QED) you lose.
 
But Aiken won. (No, the final count isn’t done. But it’s over.)
 
How? Well, some people say it’s just name recognition and personal popularity. Or maybe the Colbert Bump. Or all the Clay fans.
 
But there may be something else here – and a lesson for us all.
 
A couple of analysts have said the campaign relied solely on name recognition. Not true. In the final weeks, short of money, the campaign had one big asset: Clay Aiken and his voice.
 
Not his singing voice. But a voice that showed he knew the issues and the people in his district.  A voice that is distinctly different from the stale, bitter rhetoric of other politicians. And, above all, a positive voice in a negative din. Amid the ugly glut of attack ads in the final days, you heard one positive voice: Clay Aiken’s.
 
He also talked to people all over the district. He went on Colbert and MSNBC (true, venues that weren’t available to other politicians). He had a microphone, and he used his voice.
 
And there was one other thing: In an anti-politics age, Aiken was the anti-politician.
 
Don’t underestimate him again. I sure won’t.

 

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Carter & Gary
 
Carter Wrenn
 
 
Gary Pearce
 
 
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
 
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
 
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
 
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
 
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
 
 
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