Live Blog with Kenneth Lewis, Candidate for U.S. Senate

Welcome Kenneth Lewis

Kenneth Lewis is one of two declared candidates running for U.S. Senate against Richard Burr. Lewis is running to ensure that the “arc of progress” that took his family from slavery to a Duke/Harvard education and a successful law practice is available now and for future generations. He said he has the background, the experience and the insights gained from each to represent North Carolina and to lead in the Senate.

His family story is a significant factor in Lewis’s decision to run for the Senate.

The arc of my grandmother being born on a plantation where her mother was a slave to the kind of opportunities that I and my cousins were able to have, shapes the way that I view the greatness of our country and also the needs of our country. I want to make sure that that arc of progress exists for our generation and for future generations and when I go to the United States Senate I want to lead on that issue. I want to lead on making sure that we preserve an opportunity for people to grow into the middle class and to stay in the middle class. The issues I will fight for will be centered around making sure people have that opportunity.

Please join us tonight for a live Q&A with Kenneth from 7:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Please continue to use this thread to leave questions and check back in for your answers.

For some background you can visit his site or read the interview we did earlier - Part 1, Part 2.

Again, welcome to BlueNC.


Question for Mr. Lewis

First off let me say Mr. Lewis is awesome for doing this, twice! He is definitely reaching out to the online community in a strong way and I really like that. I was also very pleased that he answered my questions last time on Don't Ask Don't Tell, on civil marriage equality, and on the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, and I found his answers to all of the questions rather refreshing. Particularly this answer about DADT:

I’m a firm believer that we should not discriminate against people. That’s part of my core belief structure. We have men and women of all sexual orientations serving in the military. The idea that we would remove an officer or anyone because of his or her sexual orientation is abhorrent to me.

Given the political climate addressing questions openly, honestly, and publicly about LGBT equality before anyone else does isn't always the easiest topic to respond to. And ever since then I've been plugging his campaign website & facebook group as often as I can. You'll find it online in a number of places, including a front page story on which is a national lgbt issues blog run by Pam Spaulding who lives in Durham is also a poster here on And I'll take this moment to do so again:

So I figured this time I'll pitch an easy one, and understand fully if more pressing questions are picked instead. So with all that build up, here is is the question:

Mr. Lewis, do you have any pets? If so what kinds and what are their names?

Not that pet issues & animal welfare issues can't be phrased in a political way (whether its funding for local animal shelters, to national standards for treating food animals), but I figured I owed him an easy question, and anyone with a soft spot for 4 legged family members can probably be trusted to be right on animal issues when they do intersect with politics. And if President Obama's daughter's dog can be discussed as political news, then surely this topic is appropriate? ;)

Now I'm not ruling out asking a more serious question if a good one comes to mind, but if you wanted to open with a soft ball, I figured I owed him one!


I do not have any pets now. My youngest daughter has been lobbying for a snake, which is definitely out of the question-- although she did coax me into petting an enormous python at the recent exotic pet show at the State Fairgrounds. Growing up my family had dogs as pets. My wife and I and our kids are in discussions now about getting a dog.

Welcome back

Dogs are like legislation. Once acquired they need regular feeding, maintenance & poop scooping.


Very fun, Kenneth. And thank you again for the visit tonight. Good to get that softball question out of the way.

I recommend this breed.


Anything but a Blue dog.

Organic/Sustainable/Local Food in NC

What would you do to support Organic/Sustainable/Local food production in NC.

George Kalogridis

UPDATE: North Carolina

* Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Projects - $69,289
* Warren County - $12,495
* Coastal Harvesters, Inc. - $29,960


WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $230,000 in funding for studies to assess the capacity of the northeastern United States to produce enough food locally to meet market demands, rather than relying on food transported long distances to feed the burgeoning East Coast population. These studies will be conducted as part of the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative launched this week by USDA to connect people more closely with the farmers who supply their food, and to increase the production, marketing and consumption of fresh, nutritious food that is grown locally in a sustainable manner.

"This research project will help identify and quantify the capacity to produce food locally that meets the needs of large urban populations in different seasons of the year," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "The lessons that we learn and the information that we glean from this project also will give us important insights into how we build and sustain local production systems elsewhere in the United States and abroad." .....

Grow Food Locally

The Dept of agriculture should continue to play a role in encouraging local food production as a means toward reducing CO2 emissions in an effort to reduce global warming.

In Illinois s new law encourages local food production. The Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act sets procurement goals of local farm and food products for food purchases funded by the state.

One goal of the law is that by 2020 20% of all food and food products purchased by state agencies and state-owned facilities be produced in Illinois. State-owned facilities include prisons and public universities.

A second goal of the law is that by 2020 10% of all food and food products purchased by entities that are at least partly funded by state dollars be produced in Illinois. This category includes public schools, child care facilities, and hospitals

I particularly like policies that do multiple things at once. For instance, requiring schools and child care facilities to purchase locally grown food, reduces carbon emissions

Nice idea

Couldn't we get there also by cutting subsidies to big agribusiness operators ... big corn in particular?

More local ag

One of the dark sides of Whole Foods is that local organic producers were put in a position not unlike small publishers dealing with big chains like Barnes&Noble. They had to commit to large steady production without a solid guarantee of price or purchase.

Any ideas for a USDA supported program for marketing/distribution of local and/or organic produce and agriculture based commodities or goods, especially building blocks of a green economy?

NC Organic/Ssustainable/Local (OSL) marketing


USDA grants are for marketing OSL products.

North Carolina

* Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Projects (ASAP) - $69,289
* Warren County - $12,495
* Coastal Harvesters, Inc. - $29,960

That's the activity these grants support.

Also Albert's Organics, a division of Untied Natural Foods, the largest natural/organic food distributor in the US, is opening a fresh produce warehouse in Charlotte shortly. I have put ASAP in touch with the Albert's buyers, so we are moving forward on finding more buyers for NC OSL farmers and processors.

Locally Grown

Opps. I hit save before completing my answer.

I particularly like policies that do multiple things at once. For instance, requiring schools and child care facilities to purchase locally grown food, reduces carbon emissions, supports local economies and small businesses, and introduces kids to healthy eating habits, which can reduce childhood and adult obesity and rising health care costs. We should look for such innovative and smart governmental policies that do more with less. I am also a big fan of Watts Groceries in Durham. The food is great and many of the ingredients are locally grown.

Thanks for

addressing the OSL question.

I believe if you investigate OSL a little more you will find it has broad appeal among voters of all political stripes.

Health Care

Since Bank Run Burr chickened out of debating you last month I wanted to see what your thoughts on health care are. Do you support President Obama’s plan as it is? Do you support the public option?

Also, President Obama recently said that passing comprehensive immigration reform is directly linked to health care reform. What are your thoughts on immigration reform and how will you help make America better for all people living here?

Thank you so much for your time and making yourself available to the netroots community. Best of luck in your candidacy.

Health Care and Immigration

Health Care: We are working to get Burr into a health care debate as soon as possible.

Yes I support Obama’s Plan as stated in his address to the Joint Session of Congress.

I support a public option but would also be open to a triggered-public option if the absence of such a trigger would mean that no health care bill is passed.

Immigration: I am proud to live in a country that provides emergency medical care to all who live here regardless of their citizenship status. However, we must work to transition those living here illegally into citizenship status without punishing those who played by the rules and are currently waiting to become U.S. citizens through the current immigration process. I believe we must strike this balance in order to pass real immigration reform in the US Senate


I support a public option but would also be open to a triggered-public option if the absence of such a trigger would mean that no health care bill is passed.

How about insisting on a reverse trigger. Do a public option for ten years and measure it's impacts. If it doesn't deliver a specific result by a time certain, kill it. Create incentives.

Does signaling openness to a fall back position help or hurt the original intent in these sorts of things?

Why are you the best

What makes you the best candidate to have on the top of the Democratic ticket in 2010? In other words, how will your candidacy motivate voters to come to the polls, vote Democratic, and prevent a Republican takeover of the General Assembly?

Why will Democratic voters come out and vote for Kenneth Lewis?

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

A Different Kind of Candidate

Elaine Marshall and I are 2 very different candidates with 2 every different sets of life stories and professional experiences.

My life story presents arc of a great-grandmother born into slavery to the opportunity for me to run for the US Senate not from inside the political system but from the outside. I have also been privileged to be a part of many many communities and have had a broad array of life and professional experiences--- from the community in East Winston-Salem where I grew up, to the campus of Winston-Salem State (where spent the afternoons of my elementary school years with my dad, who was a professor there) to Duke University and Harvard Law School to representing a broad array of businesses in a large law firm as a young lawyer to starting and growing a law firm that represented entrepreneurs and and innovative non-profits in the community development arena. This broad and deep experience has allowed me to see first hand the common interests of communities that often see themselves as defined by their differences. Now more than ever, our state and our country need leadership the focuses on our common interests and the innovative ways that we can achieve success together. These experiences in my life and in my career allow me to speak to the interests of a broad audience of North Carolinians and also frame my approach to public policy. I think this will make me a different kind of candidate.

Climate Change and Green Jobs

Can you articulate the connection between climate change, renewable energy, and green jobs clearly for NC voters? What will you do to advance renewable energy and green jobs in North Carolina?

Thank you very much for reaching out to the online community, and for all your community service.

I believe global warming is

I believe global warming is an accepted scientific fact that requires us as a nation to search for renewable energy source thereby lowering our CO2 emissions. This search creates the economic environment that spawns green jobs which, in turn, will become an increasingly bigger part of our state and national economy. North Carolina is well positioned by virtue of its vast agricultural lands and farming expertise, coastal plains, mountain regions, research universities and high tech business centers to be a leader in alternative energy in the areas of biofuels, wind and solar power. Federal governmental policies the promote research and investment in these technologies will not only help address climate change and reduce our dependence on oil, but will help create the new businesses and industries in North Carolina that will lead to the next wave of good jobs and prosperity in our state.

Thanks for doing this

In what ways are you conservative?

Do you agree with Jimmy Carter's recent comments about racism in politics today?

How am I Conservative

I am not sure what label applies here. However, I am a firm believer in opportunity and hard work. I also believe that everyone has the responsibility to use their talents and abilities to work to improve the lives of others, and to give back to society. I am deeply devoted to my family, and would say that my teenagers would describe me as old school and conservative in my attitudes about their dress, the music they listen to and, the television and movies they watch.

Regarding President Carter's comments, I find it difficult and not particularly helpful or relevant to assess what is in the hearts of others. I prefer to assess people by their actions.

Net Neutrality

Candidate Lewis:

Would you support the efforts of the current FCC Chairman to guarantee network neutrality or would you support amendments like those introduced in the US Senate this week to prevent such regulations?

Background links at Ed Cone's place

Further background:

Senate Republicans react quickly to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal to expand the Federal Communications Commission's network neutrality authority. Working on an unrelated appropriations bill, Republican senators push an amendment to deny the FCC funds for developing or implementing new Internet regulations.


Net Neutrality

I support the principle that two users each paying for different levels of access to the Internet should be able to connect to each other at that given rate of access.

I would oppose any attempt to remove competition by imposing a tiered service model or through the creation of artificial scarcities

Unsustainable Debt

The federal government is almost $12 trillion in debt. OMB forecasts a debt of $23+ trillion in 2019. Last year we spent $451 billion on interest payments on this debt.

What are your plans to create a sustainable and balanced budget?


Of course it must be noted that Pres. Bush inherited a budget surplus, not a deficit. Deficit spending to fund the stimulus was based on the view by economists across the political spectrum that absent a significant stimulus package a depression could have been triggered last year. Sustainable balanced budget can only be achieved when we have meaningful health care reform that drives down unsustainable health care costs.


If you are elected to the Senate! How fast will you get rid of BlackWater in North Carolina and America?

Thank you, Kenneth

What are your thoughts on No Child Left Behind? So many critical issues have arisen recently I fear education is taking a back seat. Where does early childhood education fall in your list of priorities?

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Position relative to Burr

Is there any enacted legislation supported by Richard Burr that you would work to repeal?

Is there any unsuccessful legislation opposed by Richard Burr that you would work to enact?

Kenneth, thank you

for taking the time to engage with us here. There's already quite a few questions posted, so if you can't squeeze this one in I will understand.

On the subject of our trade imbalance, do you support tariffs and other approaches at "leveling the playing field" to protect U.S. manufacturers from cheaper imports?

Two years after you're elected

Would you more likely say

"I was a solid progressive"

or "I went along with bad ideas for political reasons."

Trick question, I know.

Kenneth, please feel free to come back

and answer any questions you don't get to tonight. You are welcome here any time. I know you are busy and we appreciate your time, but I don't want you to feel like you have to stay beyond the committed hour to answer the questions. This thread will be bumped to the top of our tracker each time a question is answered, so we will know you or a staff member has been back. This is common practice because there are always more questions than time in which to answer them.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Drinking from the firehose

You're a good man to spend time with us.

We've obviously had more questions than you can cover in an hour, so let me invite you to stick around for say ... a few months?

Seriously. There are complicated questions here that deserve thoughtful discussion. Mostly that discussion happens between candidates and people who have access, reporters, contributors. We're the people's think tank.

Thank you again for talking with us.