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North Carolina - Democrats

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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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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06
A group of politicians called Justice for All North Carolinians have had an ad on TV slamming liberal Judge Robin Hudson for ‘siding with child molesters’ in a Supreme Court decision. 
 
Now if that sounds like a little political fact twisting – it is.
 
Here’s what happened: The state legislature passed new laws on child molesters, including new punishments like wearing electronic monitors – which was without a doubt a good idea.
 
Next there was a lawsuit – that landed in the Supreme Court – over whether to apply those new laws retroactively to varmints (child molesters) who’d been convicted before the laws passed.
 
Of course, it’s an old and cherished democratic principle politicians (and legislatures) ought not to have the power to pass a law one day then prosecute people who broke it the day before – it’d be like giving politicians the power to say, Sure, it was legal when you did it but it’s a crime now.
 
But in the hands of a group of politicos out to win a Supreme Court election standing up for an abstract democratic principle (which is what Hudson was doing) didn’t mean squat – in fact, it morphed into ‘Robin Hudson sides with child molesters.’
 
Judge Hudson’s not my cup of tea. But, now, there’s another abstract principle at play in her election that has to be weighed alongside her ideology: What is the consequence if Robin Hudson loses because a Super PAC told voters a lie?
 
And the answer is: More lies.
 
So here’s a perplexing dilemma: Which matters most? Defeating Robin Hudson and encouraging more lyin’ in politics?
 
Or electing a liberal Judge and demonstrating lying backfires?

 

 

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03

There’s been a lot of political foolishness going on over in Greensboro and I’ve been watching it pretty closely, working with one of Phil Berger Jr.’s opponents in the Republican Primary, Bruce VonCannon.

The other day Berger’s Super PAC broke bad and issued an edict: Voters, they said, ought not to trust Bruce VonCannon to oppose Obamacare.

Now, you might wonder, How can that be? A Republican candidate for Congress not opposing Obamacare?
 
Well, according to Berger’s Super PAC, the answer goes like this: Last December, Bruce VonCannon hired a prominent Republican lawyer with the Arent Fox Law Firm in Washington to handle his campaign’s financial reports with the Federal Elections Commission.
 
Now, in and of itself, that doesn’t sound too bad. But Berger’s Super PAC wasn’t done. It revealed another horrible fact: Arent Fox, it said, has a Democratic partner who’d lobbied for Obamacare.
 
And, to be frank, that’s true.
 
Just like it’s true Arent Fox represents Rand Paul and Ron Paul – which, of course, led Bruce VonCannon to ask Phil Berger, Jr. a simple question: Do you think Rand Paul can’t be trusted on Obamacare too?
 
Then, later on that same day, a friend called and pointed out an even odder fact. Phil Berger, he said, had hired Parker Poe (Terry Sanford’s old law firm) to be his attorney – which led to a final even simpler question for the folks at Berger’s Super PAC: Would you all say that proves Phil Berger, Jr. is for the Food Tax – or would you say there’s something wrong with that kind of thinking?

 

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02
Paul Tine is a rare and endangered species: a centrist Democrat who represents a Republican-leaning district in the N.C. House. The Democratic Party needs him – and more like him.
 
I met Paul for the first time at a fundraiser this week. He’s young, smart and candid. I know his district, House 6, which covers Dare, Hyde, Washington, and parts of Beaufort County. It has some of the poorest parts of the state, along with the beach, resort and retirement areas of Dare.
 
He was straightforward in telling his liberal-leaning audience that the issues important to them aren’t always what his constituents care about. They’re worried about just getting from Point A to Point B in places that depend on ferries that get delayed, bridges that get shut down and roads that get washed out.
 
Listening to him, it struck me that if he were in politics for personal ambition alone, he’d probably be a Republican. They’d love to have an articulate, attractive businessman with his record and family – his wife Whitney, who may be a better politician than he is, and their two sons.
 
So he’s got guts and principles, and I like that.
 
And I liked the karma. The reception was at the home of Joyce Fitzpatrick and Jay Stewart. Joyce and Jay bought the house from Al Adams, the former state representative from Raleigh. Al was Terry Sanford’s law partner and protégé. I suspect Terry had been in the house talking politics more than a few times.
 
To channel my inner Lloyd Bentsen: I knew Terry Sanford. Terry Sanford was a friend of mine. I worked with Terry Sanford. And I know what Terry would have said if he’d been there: “We need Paul Tine. And you need to help him.”
 
Listen to Terry. Help Paul. Click here.

 

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30
Democrats contemplating a comeback need to contemplate this. The Republican Party is spending at least $650,000 on “a blistering attack” against Justice Robin Hudson of the state Supreme Court.
 
Democrats need to face a sobering reality: They are up against a rich and ruthless opponent, one who will spend any amount and say anything to seize and hold power.
 
You can whine about it, you can complain about money in politics or you can hope that nobody believes an ad that accuses Hudson “of siding with child molesters.”
 
None of that does any good. There is only one solution, one antidote to the Pope-Koch Axis of Evil. Some rich, hard-headed individual who cares about North Carolina needs to step up, see what works and put up the seed money.
 
What works are independent-expenditure ads that destroy the opponent. That’s what politics has come to, like it or not.
 
Art Pope learned that lesson. For 20 years, he pumped millions into the John Locke Foundation. He got nowhere. Starting in 2010, he pumped millions into independent campaigns, and he started winning.
 
This is not rocket science. But it’s expensive, and it’s a rough game.

 

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24
Thom Tillis is already vulnerable over the sex scandal in his office, and he will invite more scandals if he remains Speaker in the short session. Those scandals will be about legislation, campaign contributions and pay-to-play.
 
It’s obvious why he wants to stay as Speaker: So he can raise money – either for a GOP runoff or for the fall campaign. So everything that happens in the House – every bill, every issue, every vote – will prompt sharp-eyed researchers to see who had a stake in that issue and who gives Tillis money.
 
If Tillis thinks the sex-scandal ads sting – and boy, do they ever – wait until he sees the pay-to-play ads.
 
On top of that, Tillis has shown an uncanny gift for turning a negative against him into an even bigger negative against him. Witness his shifting stories about where he went to college and, now, whether he “fired” the staffers in the sex scandals.
 
Between the primary and the session, Tillis could emerge as a badly wounded candidate. While Kay Hagan amasses a big war chest and a lot of ammo.

 

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21
Democrats are no doubt playing in the GOP Senate primary, but some of the parallels being drawn may be exaggerated.
 
Rob Christensen compared Democrats’ strategy against Thom Tillis to what Democrats did in Missouri in 2012 to help re-elect Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. There, Republicans nominated a Tea Party nut who promptly lost to the otherwise-vulnerable incumbent.
 
Yes, Democrats are running ads targeting Tillis in the primary. Both the Hagan campaign and Senator Harry Reid’s PAC are playing that game.
 
But Tillis is going to be the Republican nominee. And while I’m no expert on Republican politics, Tillis should win on May 6 without a runoff.
 
The more plausible strategy is to damage Tillis now, when people are looking at the Republican candidates. And it’s working. The negatives against Tillis are adding up. As Carter noted, the Speaker hurt himself by using taxpayers’ money to pay off staffers who had affairs. Remember Pearce’s Law: the worst wounds in politics are self-inflicted.
 
Now, it would be sweet for Hagan if Tillis is forced into a runoff. He then has to spend more time and money, as well as take more hits. And he has to decide whether to remain Speaker during this year’s legislative session. If he does, House Democrats should beat him like a piñata.
 
What’s important is that Democrats are learning to play hardball.

 

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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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