Don't Forget to Vote TODAY

Hey folks--I'm a long-time reader around here, though this is my first post on BlueNC.

I'm breaking my silence to ask that you PLEASE vote on Tuesday (June 24th) in the Democratic run-off for NC Commissioner of Labor.

I encourage you to vote for my friend Mary Fant Donnan. Mary is an incredibly knowledgeable, passionate, and talented leader who I believe would excel as head of the Department of Labor.

Mary joined this community last week for a live chat. If you have any doubts before heading to the polls, please read her thoughtful answers to the questions posed by BlueNC readers.

Updated by James: Election results here.


I second that endorsement.

I ♥ NC General Statute § 163‑211.

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

I thought it was Font?

That was the only reason I voted for her, I figured she'd kick the Helvetica out of Cherie Berry.

I did, I really did

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.



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


As all of you know, I endorsed Mary Fant Donnan. We had 1.2 million votes in our race on May 6th. I took my parents and 2 friends to the polls and they were the only 4 votes cast ... so far.

I've posted detailed reasons for my endorsement for her on other BlueNC blogs so I'll keep this short and sweet.

Mary's other endorsements:

NC Academy of Trial Lawyers
People's Alliance
Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People
Equality NC
Charlotte Observer
Independent Weekly
Southern Pines Pilot
Wilmington Star-News

To my knowledge she has earned every ‘formal’ endorsement that's been made and John Brooks has not received any, including NC Progressive Democrats.

Please spend a few minutes out in the heat and vote.

Robin Anderson for Labor Commissioner

The PDNC never made any endorsements in that race

I already made my point about the value of some of those endorsements.

The PDNC is a PAC, and they only made one endorsement in the primary - that was Dan Besse. The PDNC is not really a part of the Democratic party - it's not an auxiliary organization and it doesn't follow the NCDP Plan Of Organization.

The PDNC never endorse Mary Fant Donnan either. Neither of them asked for the PAC's endorsement, nor was it offered.

Please take time to get out and vote today - and please vote for John Brooks for Labor Commissioner.

Chris Telesca

Thank you, Taylor

I hope you don't mind that I added a graphic before putting your post on the front page. I was about to put up a reminder and yours did the job. No need to duplicate.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

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

I endorse John Brooks

I was the first one in line at 6:30 - and I voted for John Brooks.

NC needs a strong Labor Commissioner who has experience actually protecting the workers of the state. John has that experience - 16 years - and has more pro-labor precedents to his credit than any other Labor Commissioner before him or since him.

After 8 years of Cherie Berry, NC workers need someone who can hit the ground running, and who already knows how to do the job. We need a friend for the working men and women - who will enforce the laws on the books and advocate for newer and stronger laws.

Any of you who have seen John at Democratic party functions knows that he respect the laws and rules. That is the reason he was on the Council of Review. He wants to make sure that NC workers are treated with the respect that they deserve and that the Law calls for.

Get up from your computers and go out and ask working men and women in NC who toil and sweat to earn a living what kind of person they want to be their next Labor Commissioner. Ask someone who has lost a limb or who has other workplace injuries (like me - occupational asthma) who they want to be their specialized attorney general: do they want a passionate advocate for workers rights, or do they want a consensus-building policy analyst?

If you ask this person who was scarred for life in the workplace who I want for Labor Commissioner - I picked John Brooks.

My 2 cents

and my vote go to Mary Fant Donnan.

Sometimes, to be effective, you have to be something other than obsessively combative and inclined to make a federal case out of everything.

Sometimes, it makes sense to listen to and work with others.

Knowing when to be firm and when to build consensus is a critical leadership skill, imho.

and sometimes you have to make a federal case out of something

is your health and safety worth it?

What good would working with an employee do for an employee who was fired from a job for complaining to OSHA? Do you think that would get the employee his or her job back? And if that employee got fired, how easy would it be to get a new job with another employer?

when all you want to do is make deals and keep things out of court, employers think that you are a patsy and are easily taken advantage of.

taking things to court is the only way that the REDA law could be used by ordinary North Carolinians when they get their right to sue letter from Department of Labor.

In the 8 years Payne ran DOL - there was not one lawsuit that established a precedent for REDA cases to be handled by plaintiffs attorneys. The same goes for Berry. That would not have happened under a DOL run by John Brooks.

IMHO - Payne didn't know when to be firm - he was never firm enough for working people in North Carolina. You may say that made sense from a policy standpoint, but try looking at it from the viewpoint of a working person whose health has suffered and now is out of a job.

That is why I didn't like the Payne administration. And when I have a choice between someone who worked for Payne (and maybe had a hand in crafting the decisions not to enforce certain laws) and someone who has enforced the laws and has the court precedents to prove it - I choice the guy who has the guts to take people to court to help working people in this state.

How can people who are in favor of clean water, and helping immigrants take such a stand with the office that stands to help them the most? You don't want IRV to enforce laws against illegal immigrants, but you also don't want DOL to enforce workplace health and safety laws?

Where do you live - Neverneverland? Sometimes you gotta be tough.

I am supporting Donnan for Labor Commissioner

and I have passed on that recommendation on to all my contacts here in Person County.

Donnan has a strong resume, great energy and she took the time to come to an event up here in the sticks.

Get out and vote folks. No excuses. All polling locations are open today.

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?


my precinct (Wake 07-07) has 943 votes cast in the May 6 Democratic primary for President. I voted at 8:00 am today, 90 minutes into voting, and was voter #1 at my precinct. Does this tell us anything about whether voters think this office should be elected at all and/or whether we should have runoff primaries for those kinds of offices?

looking sad all over

I was a little concerned when I was in the 70s at my normally very active precinct. But then my co-worker arrived, and she was in the SINGLE DIGITS a little after 9 AM. Oy vey.

early voting in Mecklenburg

We had 88 people early vote here.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

I was #8 at 9am.

A very busy precinct where most people vote as they drop their kids off for school. But, no school. I saw a lot of people dropping kids off and just walking right past without voting.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

she has a strong resume?

Not saying she is doing this, but I guess people have never padded their resume and/or stressed certain skills that aren't really applicable to the job.

One thing I never heard her say in all the times she has spoken is specifically what she did while at DOL to protect working people. Can she point to one solid policy she helped craft that helped working people - that protected someone's health, job, or wages?

John also has great energy and he has been dedicated to the Democratic party for years. He has worked within the party for a long time. He helped to form the Wake County Progressive Democrats. And he has been working with the Industrial Commission for years - actually working with employment law cases. So he has much more relevant employment law experience.

And I have passed that recommendation to all my contacts all over the state.

What I don't understand is why people who call themselves progressive are supporting someone who worked for a guy (Payne) who never enforced the REDA law and showed way too much deference to employers in those kinds of cases.

I recommend Donnan.

We have the chance today to choose between two Democratic candidates who believe in our principles. Without doubt, either would represent a vast improvement over current Commissioner "What, me worry?" Berry.

For the role of heading an executive branch of state government, given more than one candidate with acceptable policy stances, I look next at individual skills and background. John is a passionate advocate. However, Mary is an advocate as well. In addition, she brings more of the mediator/administrator/outreach skill set needed to effectively implement Democratic policy priorities in this challenging executive post.

Some quick points about Mary Fant Donnan:
--Donnan is committed to restoring the Labor Department's role as a strong watchdog for workers' safety and health.
--As the director of research and policy at the Labor Department under outstanding former Commissioner Harry Payne, Donnan has the experience to understand the job and how to do it right.
--Donnan has the support of Payne, the state AFL-CIO, the NCAE, Equality NC, both of the former candidates in the Democratic primary (Robin Anderson and Ty Richardson), major newspapers around the state, and other endorsing groups. Endorsements do not tell us everything by any means, but a clean sweep of such good organizational endorsements is a powerful clue.

Finally, Donnan will present the strongest challenge this fall to the incumbent Labor Commissioner's poor record. She can address what's needed going forward. Policy coverage won't be dominated by debate over who was at fault for the problems of two decades ago. It will focus, as it should, on how to fix the problems we face today.

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

With all due respect

You are comparing apples and oranges. The people of North Carolina elected John Brooks to this very job 4 times. That means he already has the experience on the job to do the very job he is running for. He's already done it! And on top of that, he's been working in a related field of employment law (over at the Industrial Commission) so he has much more relevant recent experience for the job.

I don't take much stock in the support of Harry Payne. As someone who filed two complaints with Payne's DOL (one OSHA complaint and one REDA complaint), I know that neither were investigated with the sort of thoroughness that one would be led to believe. The OSHA inspector couldn't even find out if the local ventilation fan was working by turning on the power switch. He fell for a dummy fan installation. As for the REDA case, that inspector wouldn't recognize pretext if the pretext ran up and smacked her upside the head. And as far as the public's right to know - I guess that doesn't apply to the public wanting to know how the DOL is supposed to investigate REDA cases. Because when I wanted to see the REDA investigation manual, Payne's employees were not every cooperative.

As far as the AFL-CIO, that's more of a personal favor to Harry Payne than to any particular job that was done while at DOL - because in all the times I have listened to Donnan speak, she never refers to any particular policy that she implemented to say that this saved jobs, or this saved lives, or this resulted in more money being turned over to employees, or this resulted in more employees being better trained for jobs, etc. It's all too general for my taste.

That is not to say that Mary Donnan wouldn't be a better Commissioner of Labor than Cherie Berry. I have a brick out in my front yard that could do a better job than Cherie Berry. But right now we have to chose between two Dems for the job. Based on my actual experiences dealing with the Payne-led DOL back in 1995, and my years of research in employment law in the Duke Law library, and my years of working with him in the NC Democratic Party, and based on his years of friendship with P.R. Latta, I vote for John Brooks.

I can say this with absolute certainty - I would not have been treated the way I was mistreated by the Payne-led DOL if John Brooks had been in charge at DOL.

Chris Telesca


John Brooks was Labor Commissioner in 1991 when a fire at a chicken processing plant in Hamlet killed 25 workers. Management had blocked the fire exit under the pretext of preventing workers from stealing and Brooks' office had NEVER inspected the plant.

Sorry, Brooks had his chance and was defeated for reelection in the 1992 primary for his inaction that led to this disaster.

not a Brooks supporter

but this was not his fault. The plant had never registered with the SOS. Labor had no idea this plant existed.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

Two Stories

I've heard Brooks and his supporters make two contradictory statements. First it was that he did not have the staff to inspect the plant, which was the excuse he made for some time. Of late it has changed to his office did not have the authority to inspect it.

What we could pay for with what this runoff is costing us

1,210 four year olds in pre-k for a year or
139 teachers for a year or
161 school nurses and supplies for a year or
tuition for 7,440 students to Community College

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

If you had IRV

you would still be counting the votes until July, and implementing IRV would cost North Carolinians $40 million dollars more by 2030 than what it would cost to do a $5million runoff every 4 years - if you needed it.

IRV is forever - meaning you always have to pay for the cost of the software (which doesn't yet exist, so we don't know how much it will cost), the hardware (ours won't tabulate IRV), the increased voter education costs (which our state legislature will skimp on and so IRV won't be well understood), the cost of training poll workers and election administrators (many of whom are already overburdened by the technological changes caused by HAVA and will quit if we force IRV on them), and the increased costs of larger ballots and other documentation.

You have choices in this life. You can either have a threshold that is firm with runoffs that Roberts Rules recommends with publicly financed runoff campaigns, or you can have the manufactured preferential majorities (or a plurality in the case of this primary election) that you wouldn't be done counting until July.

And we seem to be forgetting that the SBOE stated very clearly in March 2007 that IRV posed risks to the May 2008 primary. Have you all drunk so much of the IRV koolaid that you are willing to risk an election meltdown just to be able to try this confusing, complex and expensive voting method that people mistakenly call "voting reform"? People used to say the same things about DRE touchscreens - do we need to have election meltdowns to prove IRV is not all it's cracked up to be?

I was number 16 at just

I was number 16 at just after noon. But I ain't tell who I voted for. :>)

I'm a moderate Democrat.

I took 2 other people

and we were 5, 6 & 7 at high noon.

'Hoping for 1%'

'Hoping for 1%'
Turnout is extremely light in today's Democratic runoff election for N.C. labor commissioner.

"It's what we kind of expected," said Michael Dickerson, Mecklenburg County's elections director. "I'm still hoping for 1 percent to tell you the truth."

He expects just over 2,000 Democratic voters in the county.

Democrats Mary Fant Donnan and John Brooks are running for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Cherie Berry in November.

One Charlotte voter was only the second to vote in his southeast precinct at 9:40 a.m. -- more than three hours after polls opened.

Despite the expected light turnout, elections officials had to open precincts around the state, including 195 in Mecklenburg.

The cost to Mecklenburg taxpayers: around $400,000.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

record lows

25th in mine at 1:30. And mine is typically a high-performing Democratic precinct in a competitive district.

I've sent out multiple waves of emails last week, yesterday, and today. I'm calling the people in my cell phone memory now.

It would be a shame to lose a chance to beat Berry to random flip-a-coin decisions by a 1% turnout. Arrgh!

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

I voted around 4:30 and was 10th

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

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

#43 at 7pm

I was #43 at 7pm. Instant runoff voting works in other states. It could work here in North Carolina.

We are losing 100,000 acres of prime forest, farmlands and open spaces for parks and recreation to development each year.

"Jesus was a community organizer while Pontius Pilate was governor."
--Jim Hightower

where does IRV work in other states?

If we had IRV in NC for the Labor Commissioner race, we wouldn't know the results until we tabulated the ballots from the largest counties. Here in Wake County, we'd still be tabulating 150,000 ballots votes until the middle of July. That is assuming there wasn't an election meltdown from the risks the SBOE knew IRV posed to the May primary election as early as March 2007. That does not include doing "audits" to make sure you got the first count correct.

And for each additional statewide race, it would have taken another 7.5 weeks to do each additional race without an audit. If you had enough races requiring IRV tabulation, you'd be counting them past the November election.

turnout in Mecklenburg

So far our highest precinct is at 2.32% and the lowest is 0.01% (1 out of 7643). We have 8 precincts so far where only one voter showed up.

I am guessing there has been a massive undervote today.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

Donnan up 2:1

at 9:00 with a third of the counties reporting. That's encouraging.

74% in Brooks home county

She got 74% in Wake.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

modern technology

It's remarkable to get voting results and breakdowns so quickly - especially without all the other race 'hoop-la'. 50,000+ total votes and counting - it's rewarding that many voters are interested in labor. It looks great for Mary - perhaps I will be able to go to sleep fairly early after all... with a smile, of course.

Robin Anderson for Labor Commissioner

Hi Robin!

Yes, we can be happy with these results. Union County is going for Mary with almost 100% reporting in and 78% going for Mary. She spoke at Democratic Women a week and a half ago. Never underestimate the power of Dem Women here in Union County.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

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

Mecklenburg 86% for Donnan

0.83% turnout, my precinct didn't even do that good: 0.53%

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

Cabarrus went 85%

for Donnan. 0.77% turnout. MYYYYYYY wonderful precinct had 1.91% turnout, SLIGHTLY above the state.

Power of Davidson

Highest turnout in the county with 2.7% ... Mary won the two Davidson precincts 150-8. I don't know anyone who has ever won 95% of the vote in Davidson.

I ♥ NC General Statute § 163‑211.

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

The technology wasn't always working today

many UNA voters who voted a Democratic ballot in May weren't allowed to vote a regular ballot today and had to vote a provisional ballot.

And the SBOE "Clarity" website doesn't give citizens all the information that is collected at the polling place. It doesn't give you stats on provisional ballots, undervotes or overvotes. Having all the data can help us determine if there are any problems due to fraud or clerical error.

I hope you will all join me in asking the SBOE for all the voting data - not just the pretty pics and charts.

Greene County

Had both the Labor runoff, and the Dem. primary for State Senate 05 up for grabs today, and turnout was 28.26%. This is a good thing.

Brooks won in other counties where they had runoff elections

Greene County
Mary Fant Donnan (DEM)
41.84% 874
John C. Brooks (DEM)
58.16% 1,215

Pitt County
Mary Fant Donnan (DEM)
46.56% 1,738
John C. Brooks (DEM)
53.44% 1,995

Wayne County
Mary Fant Donnan (DEM)
49.48% 1,483
John C. Brooks (DEM)
50.52% 1,514

So it seems when more voters came out - more of them voted for John Brooks.
If we would have had more runoffs in other parts of the state, the race would have been more interesting.

No - it means that when voters were energized by a local race

more of them showed up, and more of them knew about Brooks. In those counties with other races, there was obviously more local press about the local races - that also included the Labor Race.

He didn't campaign in those counties any harder than he did in the other counties.

Also remember that Donnan was listed first on the ballot followed by Brooks. Sometimes that is how voters cast votes when they don't know anything about the candidates.

Even with that handicap, higher voter turnout favored John Brooks. Lower voter turnout favored the other candidate. Had there been other races on the ballot of local interest, he might have won.