It's hard for me to support Elaine Marshall. Not because of any deficiencies in her as a candidate, but because many of my friends and family members voted for Cal on Tuesday. Incidentally, so did I. Many good friends of mine have put their entire lives into the Cunningham campaign over the past year in spite of bitter experiences within politics. Good candidates we supported lost races they shouldn't have; people like John Edwards & Mike Easley let all of us down. I respect the decision of anyone who can carry on in politics in this environment.
Furthermore, I know Cal has taken many shots over the past couple of months, and even if there is a bad egg or two in Cal's nest, I believe that Cal - personally - is above reproach. There's no indication that he's anything but a stellar guy, and I'm sure he would make a great Senator. The fact of the matter is that Cal's campaign turned out to be sound and fury, as the quote goes. Cal lost by 9 points. In all honesty, the only winner Tuesday night was Richard Burr.
If this thing goes to June 22, however, I believe there will be more than one winner. Richard Burr will win, but so will Skip Stam, Tom Fetzer, Phil Berger, and the very ideas we fight against.
The Democratic coordinated campaign needs to start now. We need to work hard to beat back the strongest challenge to our majority in the General Assembly in years. The longer we go without strong action at the top of the ticket, the greater the problems will be down-ballot.
A Republican General Assembly will legislate policy more ruinous to North Carolina than anything Burr could ever do.
Since Cal has chosen to proceed, everything is on hold until June 23 - assuming there's not a recount. So I'm going to do everything to make sure the candidate best positioned to win the runoff - Elaine Marshall - gets all the support she can so that she can hit the ground running as soon as the runoff is over.
While I applaud Cal for keeping my friends employed, there are quite a few problems inherent in a runoff. I've listed them in a previous thread:
- In a runoff, 10-20% of the voters that voted [Tuesday] will decide the election in the best case scenario...
- If Cal wins the runoff, his combined vote totals from the primary and runoff will still likely be less than the 170K votes that would have represented 40% in the first primary.
- ... instead of spending money to reach North Carolina's 6 million voters, the campaigns will use expensive microtargeting to reach the 50-100K voters who will vote in the runoff but will already be voting for the Dem in November.
A runoff means that 7 weeks of resources are going to be focused on voters that will reliably vote Democratic in November. Sure, any TV buys will spill over into the general public, but the money will be focused on a narrow target. The only people who will pay attention to the runoff, again, are people who have our vote in November.
While Cal is certainly within his rights to call for a runoff - and we should never put a price tag on democracy, even during a recession - as Democrats we have to consider the price to the Democratic Party. Calling for a runoff is selfish, and Cal's electability argument has been severely tarnished by his loss.
Could Cal be the best candidate come June 23? Cal had DSCC support, and just two years ago that support was enough for Kay Hagan to freeze Jim Neal out of important LGBT endorsements, raise millions for the primary, and win with a convincing 62% of the vote. Elaine didn't have the committee, she didn't have the powerful PAC's that usually line up behind strong Democratic women, and she had a holiday season that would have shattered the strongest person's resolve. However, unlike Cal, Elaine has demonstrated statewide strength, especially Down East - a vital piece of any NC Democrat's winning strategy. It doesn't matter if Elaine's natural advantages trumped Cal's institutional advantages, the long and short of it is that Elaine won and Cal didn't. It's clear that Kay was a better candidate than Cal. It's becoming clear that Elaine Marshall is as well.
I understand Cal's decision. To quote Marcus Aurelius, "Don’t form designs, as if you were to live a thousand years. Death hangs over you." There's no time like the present, and one of the reasons I voted for Cal was because we need more young people in office who understand 21st century problems. But Elaine was outspent 2:1 - which was probably closer to 3:1 or 4:1 considering the value of institutional support - and Elaine delivered a convincing victory in a crowded field. Supporters of other candidates are breaking for Elaine.
It's not in the bag, but Elaine is the best choice. Send a message - Support her on ActBlue!