The race between Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and her Republican challenger, House Speaker Thom Tillis, already stands as the most expensive Senate contest in North Carolina history. The big money reflects the high stakes: The outcome could determine which party controls the Senate and the effectiveness of President Obama in his last two years in office.
Yet for all the money and consequences involved, the race is proving remarkably empty of content. Tillis has relied on a carpet bombing of negative TV ads paid for by third parties and tying Hagan to “Obamacare.” Hagan, to a lesser extent, has relied on outside groups to hammer Tillis as anti-public education and out of touch with the priorities of women.
The state’s water supplies are threatened by coal ash and lax regulations, and fracking may be about to increase the threat. The Republican-led General Assembly has taken the state down a right-wing path that is undoing decades of progressive government. Hundreds of thousands of people are without health insurance, and hospitals are struggling because the legislature won’t expand Medicaid. One child in four in North Carolina lives below the poverty line.
The list could go on, but the point is plain. This exorbitantly funded Senate contest has taken a page from Seinfeld. It is a race about nothing. With Seinfeld, it was funny. With Hagan-Tillis, it’s sad.
Uninspiring ‘most moderate’
The problem is caused by both sides. Tillis appears to be a man who wants to be in the U.S. Senate because it’s a few more rungs up the ladder. It’s hard to tell what he really cares about.
Tillis’ lack of conviction was most clearly demonstrated when he ushered through the measure to put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot banning same-sex marriage. It was a bitterly divisive action that saw opponents in the House rise to give heartfelt and poignant remarks about how the amendment would enshrine prejudice against their relatives and friends.
Political consultants no doubt have counseled Hagan to hunker down in the middle. It’s the smart way to win the election. Matters of ideology and conviction can come afterward.
But it may not be so smart. In a midterm election that favors Republicans, Hagan will need to motivate her base and turn out Democratic voters. Not many will be fired up to vote for the nation’s “most moderate” senator in a time of enduring economic hardship. If the race is just about a coin flip, they may stay home and let it go to Speaker Thom whatever.
I especially agree with the last four paragraphs - being "most moderate" isn't anything to brag to the vast majority of voters who are struggling economically. She needs to stop listening to her consultants and get out with the people who are STILL struggling and ask them what they need. They'd tell her more jobs and an even playing field - meaning a system that wasn't rigged for the rich, the corporations and Wall Street banksters.
What will Kay Hagan do to level the playing field? Too bad it might mean moving out of the middle of the road.