A couple of days before the BlueNC blogger bash I decided to vote for and volunteer for Kay Hagan. While I don’t see eye to eye with her on some issues, she has the experience, the passion and the integrity that I look for in a candidate. She also has the commitment to fundraising and the ability to appeal to a very diverse array of voters and that is what it will take to beat Elizabeth Dole.
Kay has put together an amazing and very professional campaign team. I’ve made it no secret that I appreciate a campaign that is well run whether it is full of professionals or full of volunteers. You can’t win a statewide race for the U.S. Senate constantly flying by the seat of your pants, never knowing what is coming out of your press office, or not knowing what is written on your campaign literature. Unfortunately, that pretty much describes the Neal campaign. It took a comment from James Protzman to open my eyes to the fact that Jim Neal will play like he practices and the result won’t be pretty.
As most of you know, I did not hesitate to back Jim Neal when he first announced he was running for Senate. For months we had waited for someone to announce. James and I had email conversations about the fact that it was getting late in the game. Will and I had the same conversations. I was thrilled to hear that someone was stepping forward and while I hadn’t met Jim in person, I trusted what I heard from others and what I learned in his visits here at BlueNC. I was fine with that until March and honestly I didn’t bother taking a closer look.
Unfortunately, Jim’s campaign team decided to go negative. I was already tired of the negative campaigning from the presidential race and the sniping between Moore and Perdue. I expected better than that from Jim Neal. I said as much back in March. If the negative campaigning had stopped I would probably still be a Neal backer. Unfortunately, it didn’t. That prompted me to take a closer look.
All along there have been few details on Jim’s business background. Others have commented here and there that Jim has a sketchy business history. I noticed that he doesn’t name the most recent companies he worked for, which is odd since he’s basically applying for a job and his work experience is all we have to go on. In his campaign literature, he is attributed with having experience in health care management, however his resume doesn’t list any health care related companies.
RxMarketplace, the only company listed that might be seen as health care management, was incorporated in November of 1999 and by January 2001 had laid off 31 of its 33 employees. One year and two months doesn’t give a wealth of health care management experience. Where else did Jim work to be able to make that claim?
On top of this, many of us had looked at Jim Neal’s fundraising experience and figured he would have no trouble raising money. The day the news broke that Jim was running, Robert left this comment:
Not just a businessman.
Submitted by Robert P. on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 5:02pm.
Note that he raised money full-time for John Kerry and Wes Clark. That brings Sen. Kerry's PAC into play (interesting, huh?) and also Vote Vets into the sprawl.
Add to that his connections with Erskine Bowles and what we have is probably a top tier FUNDRAISER if nothing else.
One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
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That appealed to folks, but quite frankly his fundraising has been paltry and with less than $18,000 to finish out the primary race, he obviously didn’t raise enough to run an effective campaign. Something just doesn’t seem right.
Then I noticed Jim was contradicting himself. He was going after special interest endorsements, which usually result in direct or indirect special interest money, while at the same time claiming that he wasn’t taking special interest conributions. It’s not a strong negative, but it added to my unease.
The campaign literature that was available at the Union County Democratic Convention and that was brought by the campaign to the BlueNC Blogger Bash gives this quote – and it is in quotations so I assume these are Jim’s words - about the war in Iraq.
”Our current policy in Iraq is placing an unacceptable strain on our military families and our budget. It is time to begin the sensible redeployment of troops away from Iraq and back towards Osama Bin Laden and his followers. Our troops have done everything we asked of them – and I don’t want to see any more of them die or suffer injury. Our military is too important to be used for one party’s political gain.”
Imagine my surprise when several days later I saw that Jim was saying something completely different. His answer to the same question from The Independent Weekly bore no resemblance to Jim Neal’s answer in his campaign literature. Same question. Two different answers. In the Indy Jim says:
b. Evaluate the war in Afghanistan. What troop levels and funding should be allocated to fight that war? What is our goal there, in your view? What should our policy be? What legislation should be introduced to address those issues?
We missed our window in Afghanistan and should also withdraw from that theatre. Our original purpose, to punish those who attacked us on 9-11, was never realized, mostly because of the poor decision to invade Iraq. It is time to put these foreign policy blunders behind us, and move on and redirect the resources here at home. Our policy should be to withdraw from Afghanistan and leave the fate of the country with Afghans and their allies in the Middle East.
So, which answer is it? Why does Jim’s quote in campaign literature say one thing and Jim’s answer in the Indy questionnaire say another?
The thing is, none of this sent me completely to Kay Hagan’s camp. I was asked shortly after the Politics of Innuendo piece if I would be a county captain. I turned them down. I had planned to remain neutral. You can ask anyone with the campaign. I was called by three different people and I explained that I planned to remain neutral and wasn’t really sure which candidate would receive my vote.
Then James Protzman wrote a comment about Richard Moore. In it he made this statement:
People play like they practice. If a person is willing to run a sleazoid campaign, it's a pretty safe bet he or she will also run a sleazoid administration. Just look at George Bush.
That’s truly when I started to finalize my decision. I looked at how Jim Neal was practicing. Including:
Yes, I looked at how he was practicing and I tried to picture what a Jim Neal Senate office would look like and if he plays like he practices a Jim Neal Senate office would be one great big giant clusterfuck.
I want a Senator who is competent and honest, who has integrity and passion. I want a Senator who can connect with the voters of North Carolina instead of talking over their heads. I want a Senator who knows more about North Carolina than she does about Wall Street. I want a Senator who takes this seriously enough to surround herself with competent professionals instead of children who get on the chat board running next to the live feed of a debate between Senatorial candidates and make fun of the way someone dresses, how another person talks, calls candidates names and ridicules the student moderators. Finally, I want a candidate who is running to win. I’m voting for Kay Hagan.