This afternoon I served as one of the co-hosts of the Jim Neal for U.S. Senate Pre-Election Party, held at the Broad Street Café here in Durham. I was there with fellow Host Committee Members Sharon Thompson, former member of the NC State House, Mandy Carter, former Campaign Manager NC Senate Vote '90 and Barbara Wujciak, LGBT Liaison for Jim Neal US Senate Campaign.
It was a great affair; most of the key roadweary campaign staffers were there, but they were pumped up about Tuesday. I also got to meet Jim's younger brother and enthusiastic booster Kelly, who worked one of the early voting precincts yesterday.
This U.S. Senate race is still up in the air, as nearly half of voters are undecided at this point, and know little about either Jim Neal or Kay Hagan. One of the amazing things that has occurred during this final stretch is that the one-to-one contact volunteers have made with voters waiting to cast their ballots (lines have been long) is that they were easily won over to vote for Jim Neal by simply drawing the distinctions between the two, as Jim is the clear progressive choice. Most of the support for Hagan is very soft, based almost solely on the fact that she has run TV ads. That she has not closed the deal with many voters is a good sign that there could be a runoff. That's why working the polls has been so critical and successful so far.
The presidential race has sucked all the air out of the room when it comes to downticket candidate races. It seems that a lot of early voters went in to cast their vote for either Clinton or Obama, and didn't bother with the rest of the ballot, which is unfortunate, given we're electing a governor, lieutenant governor, several commissioner slots in various counties, school boards, you name it. Positions that affect the daily lives of residents.
Jim gave a short talk, and again, he reiterated the fact that while he strongly represents the people and the core values of the Democratic party, he's had to battle not only his opponent, but the party power structure.
Video below the fold.