In the past couple of weeks, we've seen an assault from Republican media and the Charlotte Observer on the character of our mayoral candidate, NC State House Rep. Beverly Earle. She's been unfairly linked to Jim Black and attacked for helping her family. But it's clear that she's above the bunk being thrown at her lately:
Sitting there in a stylish, dark-green outfit, eyes sparkling, Earle radiates a surprising level of confidence and fire, especially for a candidate who, having hardly gotten out of the gate, has already been raked over the coals by the Observer for minor finance reporting oversights.
Her recent experience with the press is evidently on her mind when she says, chuckling, "Pleased to meet you ... I think."
The tide is turning. Earle and her campaign staff has remained optimistic. The Earle campaign has more volunteers and more money than previous Democratic mayoral campaigns. She's getting unprecedented support from both party activists and leadership, and the campaign has recruited over 200 volunteers with no previous operation in existence. Donations have come in from many sources, including Charlotte's last Democratic Mayor, Harvey Gantt, and from Bobcats owner Bob Johnson. Many Democratic groups are planning fundraisers on an impressive scale. These facts support advantages pointed out in Creative Loafing this week:
After weighing the views of various political insiders, these appear to be the factors working in favor of Earle's election:
• An energetic candidate with a new approach to governing.
• "McCrory fatigue."
• A strong history among Democratic candidates, particularly black candidates, of being able to get their supporters to the voting booth.
• Many east side and west side voters are unhappy with city government and feel ignored and taken for granted.
• She has a sizably larger war chest than McCrory's opponent had in the past two or three elections.
• So far, McCrory's challengers have been so weak, the mayor is, for all intents and purposes, untested in a serious re-election campaign.
• The perception among voters that Uptown businesses, with which McCrory is closely aligned, have a chokehold on city government.
I would add a few other factors to that list:
• While Rep. Earle and people like yours truly are supporters of the transit investment in Charlotte and stand strongly against the repeal, McCrory is tied to the transit system in a way no other candidate is. Expect anti-transit forces to vote against McCrory or not at all.
• Earle has credibility when it comes to fostering a relationship between the Queen City and Jones Street that would provide us with the criminal justice funding our growing community needs. McCrory has had six terms to build this bridge. It's somebody else's turn.
• Charlotte demographics have been changing for two decades. The partisan makeup of Charlotte gives us no excuse for not having a Democratic mayor.
This Saturday, after a fun night at Burgesspalooza, Democrats from Charlotte and parts nearby will volunteer to help elect Charlotte's first Democratic mayor in twenty years. This is clearly the year to turn it all around. There are still some hurdles to jump, but the recent showing of support is a clear indication of Democratic optimism. McCrory can be beat; all Beverly needs is your support.
Upper-left photo: MCDP Chair David Erdman and State Rep. Beverly Earle outside Bank of America Stadium
Middle-right photo: Myself and Kevin Monroe at the first Earle Tailgate