What the hell is going on in North Carolina?

I'm back.

After nine months living in Rising Sun, Maryland, I'm back in Chapel Hill. After nine months of helping my father-in-law die, I've returned to North Carolina, resolved more than ever that this beautiful state will not meet the same fate.

During those months away, I traveled to New York City more than a dozen times by train to meet with clients in Manhattan. I've been working with these clients since 1997, so we always have a lot to talk about, ranging from family to ACC sports to the weather to the economy and more. But this year, a new topic crept into our conversations. It started last spring with a question from an executive at a global professional services firm. "What the hell is going on in North Carolina?"

After years of admiration for our commitment to education and environmental stewardship, this person has taken notice of the extreme about-face imposed on our state by a radical Republican agenda. This person influences hiring and expansion decisions not only for her company, but for many other businesses as well. This person has already written North Carolina off.

Special thanks to Thom Tillis, Phil Berger, and Art Pope. In one short year, they have done what most states couldn't accomplish in decades. We're number one.


Moving day

This is from Thursday in Maryland, where the stuff of 200 years of history was moved from my wife's family farmhouse into a moving van for the trip south.

Led by those who only know how to destroy

Nearly every piece of legislation written and pushed by Republicans tears down something that had been built for the people of our state. Legal protections from corporate abuse or medical mistreatment; the freedom to vote without being run through a gauntlet; regulations and inspectors that keep potential polluters from poisoning us and our environment; well-funded schools and dedicated teachers for our most precious resources; the list goes on and on.

At least the bull in the china shop has an excuse: There simply wasn't enough room for him to turn around.

Republicans weren't forced to go in the direction they did, they chose to. They chose to line up one group of citizens after another and tear away a piece of clothing that had protected them from economic cold. And as long as we let them remain in power, they'll keep on doing it, until comparing North Carolina with third-world countries would be more appropriate than comparing us to other states.

It saddens a lot of people to

It saddens a lot of people to hear all of the name calling. I think that the true culprits are in Washington, not the states. If educational funds were not funneled to the feds there would not be all these problems.

There is more to an online casino than just the baccarat and the money and the more you wager the more you can win and have fun.

Welcome back!

Sorry for your family's loss, James. Don't know how you managed to do all you did under such circumstances.

Here's my stab at cheering you up: I think there's been a happy development during the last few months in North Carolina. You can sense a change in the air. It's as if the far right has had its run.

I've been speaking to groups here and there of late and you can sense that some life has crept back in to progressives. They may be frustrated with many of the Dems in power. They wish the Prez was more of a -- for lack of a better word -- fighter. They understand that the Governor is flawed. They are ticked off at the Dem lawmakers who sold out during the 2011 legislative session.

But, having said all of this, they realize fully that things ain't gonna get better if they stay home or wave the white flag. To the contrary, it seems to me that people understand that the next 12 months are a real opportunity.

If the President and the other Dems won't fight -- really fight -- for what's right, these people are saying "well, by golly, we'll just have to drag them along with us."

This is what we're seeing in the Occupy movement. And while it remains scattered and disorganized I really think it's the harbinger of some good things to come.

So, in the immortal words of Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo (not that you ever really left, but because it just seems appropriate): "Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win."

I've got a crazy thought

I keep hearing from LGBTs, Democrats, and Unaffiliateds that they don't on the amendment this May because they think its the Republican Primary only.

If someone were to primary Governor Perdue it would clear that confusion right up since elections would be going on with both sides. It could be an issues focused campaign, it could raise awareness that Dems can vote in May, it could be used to raise awareness about Art Pope's money in politics, it could be used for other progressive issues, and to give liberals another choice in May. And since there isn't much chance that Perdue would be going down in a primary it would free up whoever ran to say what they actually believed.

I think an issues based campaign that also lets people know they can vote in May even if they aren't republicans could make a big difference on whether or not the marriage discrimination ban passes.

I know it's a crazy thought... but Protzman for Governor 2012 has a nice ring to it.

A nice ring

Very funny.

I couldn't even win reelection to the Chapel Hill Town Council. Too conservative. Ha!

Seriously, maybe someone should primary Governor Perdue. Faison is making a lot of noise about it.

Where would he be

Would he be to her left, to her right, or about the same?

My thoughts on the value of a primary challenge were issue awareness, give the more progressive-minded folks among us an option to express our interest in things moving that direction, and to make sure everyone knows they can vote in May when the amendment is happening, not just the republicans.

I wouldn't want the result of the primary to be something that forces Perdue to the right, or makes it more likely that Pat is the one controlling the veto pen.

Hard to say

Mr. Faison? Are you running?

My dream candidate and dream governor would be Joe Hackney.

Please recall how much good a primary did

... Elaine Marshall. Different circumstances yes, but I doubt anyone can forsee how contentious such a primary would be. Plus, I really don't want Faison to be governor. If anyone, Hackney would be preferable.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

I hear you

and agree with you for the most part.

My main interest in the May ballot is defeating the Dastardly Republican Anti Marriage Amendment ... DRAMA for short.

We have to stop the freakin' DRAMA. Maybe lots of primaries would help? What do I know.

My thing is

My thing is that it doesn't have to be a damaging primary.

Someone with a little cred from having held local office or having some other platform/soapbox/bully pulpit I think would be the most useful for this, but I think any average joe democrat who can scrape together the filing fee and get a friend to help them set up a website, could still be helpful for the amendment so that every Democrat would know they can vote in May.

Maybe lots of primaries would help? What do I know.

I think that's right, I think if Democrats realize they can vote in May that's one big step, and if there are contested elections in May they'll be more likely to turn out and vote and that's another step. And having primary at the top of the state ticket seems like the single biggest thing an individual could do to make that happen.

Agree. No primary has to be damaging

... but political furies are not easily contained once released.

I am not sure why the gamesmanship is necessary. Polls show the NC electorate opposes the amendment. Any dem worth the ink on his or her voter registration card should be well motivated to vote against that POS bit of legislation. How about taking the resources that would be wasted in a bunch of contested primaries and put them into opposing the amendment? A campaign could be created (NCDP?) to focus just on GOTV and voter ed on this issue.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

Should vs Will

There is a long distance between should and will.

Any dem worth the ink on his or her voter registration card should be well motivated to vote against that POS bit of legislation.

(emphasis added)

Should is the distance between registered voters and likely/actual voters.

Should is the distance between the 2008 general assembly and the 2010 general assembly.

Should is the distance between the wake school board's make up being reasonable or not.

Should is the distance between the dems that voted for hagan and those who voted for marshall.

And the motivated piece is also a big one. Plenty of people believe this is a bad amendment. But many don't understand 2 things. 1) they don't realize they can vote against it b/c they're not republicans (which is something I've seen even with Democrats at PFLAG meetings and LGBT student group meetings), and 2) They don't realize this amendment goes a lot farther than existing law so they don't see the need to make the effort to vote against. Having a primary challenge would address issue one because democrats would know they can vote against it, and it would address issue 2 because even if the message that this amendment is worse than existing law doesn't reach them, they will still vote against it if they're at the polls anyways for something else, even if they wouldn't have made the effort over this.

Should/Motivated are some pretty big qualifiers. All eligible to register to vote folks should register, and all registered voters should be voting, and all actual voters should be making informed decisions, but there are huge gaps in all of these things. We can't rely on people should do the right thing as a factor to motivate huge turnout in a likely low turnout non-contested primary election.

Ok, so you'd have dems beat the crap out of each other

during primary season, possibly ceding the GA for another 2 years AND the governor's mansion. Then even if the amendment fails in 2012, they'd reload and try again after passing voting restriction legislation which a rep governor would gladly sign.

You seem very trusting in fate to work out in your favor on both sides of this issue - that contested primaries will turn out the voters you want AND not hurt dems' chances in Nov. 2012. And just to remind you, dems don't always vote as dems in NC. The folks you'd most want to primary would be those representing the most progressive districts. You'd be primarying the heart and soul of what's left of the progressives in the GA making them easier prey for any Pope-ish election buying. You go primarying at random and you will likely turn out a lot of voters (dems) that you'd wish stayed home.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

A few things

I'm not necessarily advocating for a serious challenge and certainly not a damaging one, I'm advocating for a Kucinich or Gravel type challenger. One to keep them honest and share the liberal side of things and to make sure that Democrats across the state know they can vote in May because so many that I run into every day don't seem to know they can vote on the amendment.

I'm envisioning, if no serious challenger like a Faison jumps in, that some liberal with a little council experience or county commissioner experience or other platform like a radio show or a widely read blog or something gets into the race just enough so that there is someones name at the top of the ticket. I wouldn't envision that being damaging to the governor, if anything it'd make her look more moderate and centrist come the general election by comparison which I don't see hurting her. James Protzman, Dan Besse, Jim Neal, or someone of that nature comes to mind, but it could just as easily be a former college or young dems president.

they'd reload and try again after passing voting restriction legislation which a rep governor would gladly sign.

A governor cannot sign into law or veto a ballot initiative.

Non-partisan statewide primaries are also possible

Namely, the 2012 races for Justice Newby's seat on the NC Supreme Court.

Personally, I consider that the most important race in the state in 2012.

There are also 3 statewide Court of Appeals seats up for election in 2012. A statewide primary can easily be arranged by any idiot (witness some of the statewide judicial candidates in the past four years) to make sure folks know they are "able" to vote.

Not that think there's anything wrong with serious primaries for Perdue and others, but there are other statewide offices on the ballot.


I like this:

One to keep them honest and share the liberal side of things

Perdue has taken some bold (and Progressive) steps in the last session, using her Veto stamp to try to reign in the GOP's slashing frenzy. But she's also been pushed to the center/right several times, mainly because (imo) her only opposition resides in that area.

As we saw with Jim Neal, a strong Primary opponent can pull the focus of the debate in a certain direction, and (hopefully) force the eventual winner to make some irreversible commitments on some issues that might have been left out in the absence of such a challenge.

All that said, I'm not sure Faison would be the best choice to "reshape" the debate. During the Party Chair live-blog thing, I found many of his responses...dismissive, I guess you could say. Nothing wrong with the behavior of General Assembly Dems in the past, "Nothing to see here folks, move along." In fact, their behavior was a mix of both good and bad, and if he can't see (or won't admit) that, I don't see him as any sort of a game-changer.

Not to mention: As active as Faison's been online (Twitter, etc.), the fact that he hasn't shown up here is a message of some sort...


Office holders are afraid of BlueNC. They think engaging with extremists like us will taint them, either that or they think it's not worth their time.

Hagan used our platform for her election agenda and then disappeared from view. Same for Kissell. Love 'em and leave 'em. It's no wonder so many people have so little regard for so many politicians.

Just a campaign won't work

Part of the reason why folks are wondering what the hell is going on in NC is because the NCDP and state and local parties around the country have been gutted by OFA. Weak party-building in 2009 and ZERO in 2010 and 2011.

Why? Because a strong Democratic Party run from the grassroots up will challenge Obama and his Wall Street minions on all the items on his ever-changing agenda - none of which seem to go along with the Democratic Party platform.

I do hope that the NCDP gets its head out of the sand and starts to fight back and build the Party so that we can win back our majorities. Because win or lose in 2012 - Obama is finished. He can't run anymore, and if we don't win back majorities in 2012 or 2014, we are screwed. But win or lose - he's got no business deciding the direction, staffing or anything else do to with the Democratic Party at the national, state, county or precinct level. He's done such a crappy job of it so far that we can't afford to let him run the Party anymore.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Which primary? The first or second?

Cal Cunningham and his conservaDem/DSCC/corporate backers didn't accept Elaine Marshall's victory after the first primary.

How the Perdue camp or the Democratic Party doesn't see that she needs to not run in 2012 is beyond me.

Perdue: Announce that you won't run again by Jan 1. You'll be doing the Democratic Party a great favor.


I'd add...

I’d add that I’m not anti-Perdue. I think her Governor’s pen has signed into law good stuff like the LGBT inclusive anti-bullying bill, I think it has saved us from bad stuff like some of the voter suppression efforts coming out of the General Assembly by use of the veto, and I think it has sent a message on things like women’s rights and the environment as well in some cases.

She has a far from perfect record, but I think it’s better than anything we’d see under a Governor McCrory where there would be no checks or balances against a GOP led state House and state Senate. At the same time I think there is an opportunity here to encourage the Democratic Party not to forget about the left in NC and to raise awareness that anyone can vote in May, not just republicans, and I think that could go a long ways towards defeating the marriage discrimination amendment.

I wouldn’t want the primary challenge to be so damaging that if Governor Perdue was the winner of the primary, that McCrory would be more likely to win the general election thus giving complete control of the legislative and executive branch over to the GOP. The ideal primary challenge campaign that I envision is one without mudslinging, that remains positive and progressive.