For those of you who don't know, Little Ricky Martinez, the conservative columnist at the N&O, is married to Donna Martinez, who works at the John Locke Foundation. He shills for the Puppetmaster for free, while she gets paid to do it as a full-fledged member of the Puppetshow itself. If it all sounds like part of the vast right-wing conspiracy funded by Art Pope -- the millionaire who uses his 527 organization to illegally buy elections -- it is.
Today's interview by Ms. Martinez with NC State professor Andrew Taylor, however, reveals the Puppetshow for what it really is: irrelevant. Go take a look (I'm linking today to make a point) at the dazzling discussion about the North Carolina congressional races. Here's some of what you'll find . . .
Martinez: A huge group of people have filed, and in fact Professor Taylor, our primary is May 2. So there are some folks who have to win in the primary before they can actually get to the point where they can challenge the incumbent in the general election. In your view, what are the most interesting races for us to watch for the primary?
Taylor: Well, one of the interesting ones not to watch is in the 3rd district, where a lot of Republicans thought that Walter Jones was being sort of out of order for criticizing President Bush for a long time. He doesn’t have a Republican challenge in the primary, which is interesting.
Martinez: And he had called for a timetable for pulling our troops out of Iraq, and his district is heavily military-friendly. So folks thought that he had basically done himself in.
Taylor: Right — the national Republican party would be annoyed by that and try to encourage someone to run against him…I think some of the more interesting ones, although some of the other incumbents have primary challenges — notably Charlie Taylor in the 11th for Republican and David Price in the 4th for Democrat. I think those have relatively quick-started the campaign. I think perhaps the most interesting primary race will be to see who gets to challenge Taylor in the 11th and who gets to challenge Robin Hayes in the 8th. These are Democratic primaries and these two guys are the two people that the Democrats believe are the most vulnerable in North Carolina. I think emerging from those primaries will be Tim Dunn in the 8th district, an Iraq War veteran.(Editor’s Note: following the taping of this interview, Tim Dunn withdrew from the primary race). Democrats across the country have been running candidates, encouraging Iraq veterans to run as Democrats. And then Heath Shuler in the 11th, Heath Shuler —
Martinez: NFL quarterback, right?
Taylor: Exactly, and a former University of Tennessee quarterback as well. So he has some good name recognition as well. So Taylor and Hayes, I think, are probably the candidates who are going to be watching their opponents’ primaries the closest.
Martinez: That Hayes races should be rather interesting as well. As I recall, he got into some political hot water over his vote for CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement. He’s in a district that’s heavily textile and manufacturing, and had said, evidently, that he was opposing CAFTA. Then at the last minute, changed his vote and put that thing over.
Taylor: Yeah, and Charlie Taylor, of course, also voted for it and said he didn’t know whether he had voted for it. So both of those candidates, I think, feel some pressure. Hayes has always had problems on trade issues because he’s wanted — there has been pressure for him to vote, especially under President Bush’s tenure, to vote the way the president wants, but that’s generally being in free trade positions — got pressure from his constituents not to. But he’s survived two relatively, or at least on paper we thought they would be relatively tough challenges — from Democrats in 2002 and 2004. So we don’t know, you know, whether we should expect him to lose in 2006. He’s a survivor.
Go read the story, because despite the lame questions, the good professor has some thoughtful observations to share. Too bad they're exactly a month too late.
PS If you get to the CJ site, be sure to check out the column by John Hood's secretary about sidewalks to nowhere. Looks like the Puppetshow took Friday off.