Inside the Beltline

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In the wake of the November 7 election, attention has already turned to 2008. Specifically, many folks are wondering how the races for Governor and US Senate will most likely shape up. Jerry Meek, who leads the NC Democratic Party, even came by BlueNC to ask for ideas on whom he should recruit to take Elizabeth Dole's seat. His entry received more than 150 comments, an all-time high for a BlueNC post.

Over the Thanksgiving break I had the chance to talk with four people who work inside the beltline in Raleigh. These people personally know each of the individuals being discussed for various seats - and they are almost unanimous in their conclusions. Here's what they told me:

1. Mike Easley isn't running. Neither is Jim Hunt.

2. Richard Moore and Beverly Perdue are both amassing war chests to slug it out for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Neither is going to back down.

3. Fred Smith and Bill Graham will do similar battle in competing for the Party of Greed nomination for governor. (For comic relief, Ferrell "MIA" Blount will most likely be running for Lieutenant Governor.)

4. It's a toss-up as to whether Elizabeth Dole will run for US Senate again. My contacts are split on the question, but none of them have real inside information. I personally hope she does run, which will shut out the rest of the wackos and give us a big, soft target. Until she declares her intentions, however, all bets are off.

5. Several of our Democratic Congressmen will consider going after Dole's seat if she appears weak or vulnerable. Etheridge and McIntyre probably think they're centrist enough to win statewide, which means neither would be especially appealing to progressives. Any anyone who's afraid of Liddy Dole right now is not someone who would inspire much confidence.

So where does that leave us? Speaking for myself, it leaves me annoyed and frustrated with the same old bullshit politics as usual.

Perdue and Moore going at it, burning millions of dollars on a destructive primary shoot-out? Not good. Sure they have every right to do what they want with their resources and their lives. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Way back in the early days when Roy Cooper was still in the hunt for Governor, people pleaded with him to drop out so the Democratic primary wouldn't be a three-way frenzy. I was really glad when he said he'd pass. But the way things are developing, maybe he should resurrect his interests in higher office and consider running for Senate. He's been a great attorney general, a strong environmentalist, and a man of his word. That's just what I'm looking for in a candidate for Congress.

And finally, there's always a chance that a Larry Kissell will rise from the hinterlands and sweep us off our feet - but that'll need to happen sooner than later. Building a truly grass-roots statewide campaign would be a daunting challenge. I guess we need to get NC-8 settled for 2006 before we start thinking such inspiring thoughts.


Beltline insider.

Speaking from inside the beltline, as I do, I would concur. Roy Cooper is a gentleman. Once when attending an event in downtown Raleigh my wife and I were leaving a parking deck when a man who arrived at a door at the same time as us stepped aside and held the door open for us. It was Roy Cooper. Of course he would step aside.

I shudder at the thought of Moore and Perdue mud-wrestling. This needs to be sorted out in 2007.

Bill Graham has already been annointed by Art Pope which hopefully is the kiss of death for any candidacy which leaves Fred Smith as the GOP candidate emerging from another late primary.

I didn't know you were an insider the beltliner, too!

Shoot. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and just asked you!

Yes, Bill Graham is the Puppetmaster's chosen one. They are two peas in a pod: they hate government, they hate taxes, they hate democracy, they hate public service, they hate anything that gets in the way of rich white guys getting their way.

Fredly is NOT the chosen one because he spends too much time slopping at the public trough on highway construction.

Don't hold your breath on the Moore-Perdue mud wrasslin. This one ain't gonna be decided until the spring of 08 primary.

I was disappointed when Cooper stepped aside.

I want to have the opportunity to vote for him. I like his style, I like his integrity, I like his values. I don't know enough about Perdue and Moore - other than that they are raising a lot of money. Cooper, on the other hand, campaigned to raise the minimum wage. That's what I'm looking for in a candidate.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

I think you're confused.

I think you're confused. Moore's made headlines campaigning for the MW increase. Cooper probably supports it to, but Moore's been more high profile.

Cooper's recent headlines

have him going after robo-callers and making them respect the do not call lists; and going after the TVA for polluting NC air. He was in the news in just the last few days on the TVA law suit.

I was confused about Cooper and Moore, too. Cooper is making a name for himself though. I think he could give Liddy a good run for the Senate. I think he could beat her. He's done a lot for NC in his short time as AG.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Inside beltine, outside loop

Just because I'm inside the beltine doesn't mean I'm inside the loop.

I agree on the Smith assessment. His campaign finance is strong but odd. He could finance himself but he has a lot of high dollar contributions from employees and their spouses and a similar pattern from employees of businesses that do business with him. He is a rich guy trying to look like he has broad support but it looks to me more like fear.

He also has received a bunch of payday loan money which keeps him in my crosshairs and with his builder/developer connections is keeping cash strapped local governments away from alternative funding options that would help pay for growing pains.

Decentralize the decision...

Anglico, you make the saddest point

Several of our Democratic Congressmen will consider going after Dole's seat if she appears weak or vulnerable...

The only way to know how weak she is is to run... Man, the Dems got to get some frickin' backbone...

If you're a serious Dem, it's time to look beyond the traditional center of power for ideas. The Raleigh "pecking order" is not going to cut it. I hope BlueNC continues to pull together suggestions from throughout the State for candidates outside the box. I'm convinced that there's a great candidate out there - man, woman, politician or not - that is far outside the blue beltline but well within reach of a Senate seat.

The nascent netroots needs to find those candidates, cultivate them, support them as not only part of RobertP's 100 county approach but to unseat a terrible NC Senator.

Dang, look at what SD accomplished over such a short time.

First problem. Throwing a net wide, well over the heads of the traditional party power brokers. So, who do you ask to find out who do you ask?

there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

Me too, Stormbear

pecking order politics

is not doing us any favors on Capitol Hill at the moment, either. I wouldn't mind seeing a spirited game of fruit-basket-turnover in some of those leadership positions ... in DC and in Raleigh.

The more I think about and read about Roy Cooper, though, the more I like him. I think he'd have a great chance running against Liddy. Did he already say, "no thanks"?

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

He said he's running for

He said he's running for re-election as AG in 2008. My guess is that he's going to stay where he is, then see if he wants to challenge Burr in 2010, who will be a lot easier to beat.

Yeah, that makes sense.

That will be an interesting race.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

The reluctance to run isn't

The reluctance to run isn't just a Democrat thing. All smart, ambitious politicians want to avoid jumping into a race and getting crushed. There are very few second acts in politics, and no one wants to get in before it's their time.

No second acts - the conventional wisdom...

Phoenix, though I've run for office, I'm not really a politician. The conventional strategies - bulk up on bucks, keep your finances close to your vest and for gosh sakes don't 'blog - just didn't appeal to me.

So, please frame my comments within that context.

If Lott, Reagan, Nixon, etc. are "too historic" of examples, consider Kissel. You've got SD ready and raring to put him into office in 2008. He came out of this "unwinnable" contest stronger for it...

A principled run by the Dems, even in a supposedly "hopeless" race, will strengthen your party. And not running someone is losing - another self-defeating ploy by a party, which almost habitually of late, that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sure, there's reasonable arguments I see for a polished professional pol not jumping in: plans to run for another office, office above their competency or comfort, not willing to move out of NC ;-), not interested in that type position, wants to work local, etc.

If that's the case, find someone of character that wants to rehabilitate NC's rep in the Senate - someone willing to work hard outside the "pecking order" - someone who understands the potential of the netroots not to carry an election but to electrify one - and you've got your candidate.

My take is there are few "named" NC pols that have winnowed their way to the top via "traditional" means that have the understanding or courage to throw all that work away... Kind of funny to see, as, with various trends - netroots, resurgence of independent grassroots initiative, etc. - the ground is shifting under their feet anyway. I think the capital they've so patiently accrued "standing in line" means less and less in this new game. How "smart" is that?

Whatever you think of Cooper, and I think he's an interesting blend of media savvy and caring pol, he strikes me as someone that can work within a new NC political framework. He probably understands he should leverage his old-world fortunes to make a place under a new sun.

Who else in the panoply of old-world candidates is ready to make that leap?

Hint: Other than filling their warchests with big (tainted?) bucks, who has started to develop political capital in the netroots community? That's the kind of pecked over candidate that should be attractive.

there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class


Etheridge could be a very good candidate. He's a moderate Dem, but he's more progressive than McIntyre. He's built up a strong base, and the fact that he's in DC means he'll have a deeper pool of money to reach into.

I'm disappointed that Moore isn't considering passing on the Gov. race and going after Dole.

'Cept us District 2 Dems

like our Congressman as our Congressman. :) Surely there's a bright star somewhere else in Democratic NC (the safer, bluier parts) that can beat Liddy "Dull", and allow a good Dem Legislator to move up to the US Congress?

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Just noticed that Etheridge

Just noticed that Etheridge will be 67 in 2008. A bit old to be launching a Senate career, maybe. Maybe. Certainly not ancient, but if he wins he won't be there for longer than two, maybe three terms.

Also, as for the 2nd, go for Brian Etheridge, Bob's son. I've had the opportunity to meet him a few times, and he's a bright guy. Young, smart, and has good political instincts. If Dad jumps into the Senate race, Son should consider stepping up into his House seat.

He's a spring chicken

compared to Liddy. She will be 72 in '08.

I liked Etheridge when he was my congressman. He has won statewide races before. He would be a very strong challenger to Dole.

Very Helpful, Thanks

Once we start talking about folks who don't live in the mountains, I start getting lost. Thanks for the update, Anglico. It's this kind of statewide conversation and analysis that makes BlueNC so damned relevant. Bev Perdue and everybody else ought to have folks over here right now talking to us because there is no bigger force for 2008 online politickin' in North Carolina.

I'd like for BlueNC to identify at least one candidate we can call our own, raise money for, go to bat for, etc. Will that candidate please step up to the plate?

Scrutiny Hooligans -

Draft Miller.

Look. If no one else is going to do this, how about we draft a candidate that already meets the "netroots" criteria? He could get major mojo over at DailyKos and MyDD, which houses one of his former consultants, and he could get Democrats across North Carolina excited with an early, aggressive run. He's got the Triangle money and the blue-collar upbringing.

As chair of a "Science Comittee" over the next two years he could do a lot to get Biotech to side with him.

He's already been smeared and outspent by Vernon, and we saw how well that went - he smashed him.

I think Rep. Miller should get into the race now and build up a warchest over the next two years, as well as a state-wide network that ends up covering every precinct in every county. Energize the base and win.
CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

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

I'm warming to

the idea of drafting Miller. I wouldn't rule out Price, but he's going to have some real Congressional power soon so losing that is a downside there.

Could blueNC find, draft and support "downthread" candidates to fill Miller's seat, too? Find a good legislator from the 13th to run and support them. Find a good candidate to fill that legislative seat and support them? Or should we concentrate our efforts on the Senate seat?

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Janet Cowell

without hesitation (to fill Miller's seat).

Hello. I am Pat Smathers candidate for Lieutenant Governor...

Hello my name is Pat Smathers and I hope you have heard by now I am running for Lieutenant Governor in 2008. I have learned that this website is an important part of North Carolina’s Democratic political scene, and have enjoyed reading people’s comments and observations over the last few weeks. After reading today’s postings while on vacation, I made the decision that it was time that I not only officially introduced myself, but that I personally started to engage a very important sect of NC voters and activists.

Over the last year I have traveled across the state speaking at local events and listening to people’s ideas. A major reason I am running for Lt. Governor, is that I see the office as a “big idea” office where ideas concerning all North Carolinians can be fully explored. Because the Office of Lieutenant Governor has one foot in the executive branch and one foot in the legislative branch, the position can directly influence and encourage lawmakers to be innovative. I am now a registered member of BlueNC, and I sincerely want your ideas, wisdom, and advice. I plan to be the voice of the people in concerns for the future of our state. I will post as often as time allows, but I also encourage you to send me direct emails to with questions and ideas. My website,, is active but there will be a major re-launch following the first of the year. For biographical information please visit the website or my Wikipedia site at With your help I will become NC’s next Lieutenant Governor by bringing fresh ideas, practical solutions, and experienced leadership with local input to Raleigh.


Welcome to BlueNC, Pat. I look forward to finding out more about you.

You're awfully kind to stop in and join the discussion and I'm confident you'll get more advice and ideas than you'll know what to do with. Whether there's any wisdom will be for you to determine!

Thanks so much for jumping into the fray. I'm not one who believes the Internet changes everything, but it sure is making politics a lot more accessible. We've been awed and inspired by how so many people are eager to be heard and to participate.

Best of luck!

James Protzman
aka Anglico

Welcome Pat Smathers

Thanking you for taking the time to reach out to the netroots. I will be certain to check out your sites, as I'm sure many others here will too.

I look forward to hearing more from you.

Amy Goodale

"Local Leadership, Statewide"

In reply let me briefly explain the driving idea behind my campaign and why my slogan is "Local Leadership Statewide".

I like everyone else who will be running as a Democrat for statewide office certainly has a core set of traditional Democratic beliefs and priorities: equal opportunities, good quality education, health care, clean environment, support for small businesses, public safety, ethical and efficient government, etc. The problem is not what we believe or value, the problem is how do we implement these values. How we take big, new and innovative ideas and make them happen. My answer is that we do it by empowering local government.

Think about this. The vast majority of services we enjoy (I would roughly estimate 85%) as citizens of this state are provided by local government. When in danger, you call your local Sheriff, police, and fire departments or medical emergency personnel. One can't discuss environmental issues without including local governments because something around 85% of all water treatment plants in N.C. and over 90% of all waste treatment plants are owned and operated by municipalities and county governments. It is your local school board that primarily educates your children and who you contact when there is a problem. Most economic development efforts (industrial parks, small business incubators, downtown revitalization programs, etc.) are either owned, managed, or operated by local government entities. Obviously, there are issues like health care where the solution cannot be primarily resolved at the local level, but I am certain whatever the solution, it will be administered and implemented locally (and don't forget the work of our local health departments and the services they provide the disadvantaged).

I am emphasizing the importance of governing at the local level because I know that local government and local state offices are where you actually get things done. Where the "rubber meets the road". I know what I am talking about based on past experience as a mayor, school board attorney, community college attorney, National Guard officer, precinct and county party chairman, as well as businessman, and civic leader.

I have no doubt about what can be done for the people of this state if we develop and support a new partnership between state government and local entities whereby local governments and offices are empowered to implement democratic values at the local level. Specifically, local governments need to be provided funds, or the ability to raise them, technical training and assistance, and continuation of programs such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund which make it possible for local entities to secure and protect water resources. There are many other ways to empower local entities, and I will be discussing them throughout the campaign, but I also would appreciate your ideas. It is very important to me that I know your ideas, because without question, I believe in the power of people.

Let me close by emphasizing that my highest priority is to get things done! Make it happen! In my opinion we do too much talking and not enough doing. As you learn more about me, I am confident you will find my best traits are leadership, leadership, and leadership, and the attributes that make it possible. I encourage you to talk to people who know me, citizens and residents of Canton, Haywood County, leaders and people in Western North Carolina and across the state who can vouch for my leadership and efforts in improving my hometown, responding to the floods which occurred there in 2004, and being "out-front" on behalf of people. As I ask for your support, it is more important that you hear what others say about me, rather than what I say about myself. Esse Quam Videri.

Thanks and welcome again.

Your emphasis on local leadership is both encouraging and appealing. As an ex-town council member in Chapel Hill, I've experienced the agony of wrestling with the legislature to try to get permission to do the good things we all agreed we wanted to do. The rubber literally met the road ... and ground to a screeching halt.

I like your emphasis on action and it seems you live that philosophy yourself. Many people swing by BlueNC with hit and run comments, but far fewer stay engaged, follow-up and open themselves up for questions, criticism or whatever may come.

There's a suggestion by Greg below that you set up your own blog here, which I also recommend. That way we can keep track of what you're saying more easily and search for things as well. Of course that cuts both ways - we get to call you to account. :)

When the time is right (probably after you upgrade and flesh out your website), I'd like to do an initial interview with you that we could feature here. Perhaps something similar to this interview with David Price.

In the meantime, good luck and don't hesitate to use this forum to test ideas, float trial balloons, refine messaging, etc. One thing you can count on for sure is good honest feedback. For example, I think your positioning around "local leadership, statewide" has a lot of merit. That said, it seems to demand more explanation than you may often have the chance to offer. I don't have a good alternative, but it's probably worth developing a dozen other ways to say it to see if one sticks. I also think you'll need to connect the dots directly from local leadership to the Lt. Gov. office in order to move the idea from an interesting concept to something that has practical relevance. It's about telling stories, and you probably have plenty.

(Don't forget, I mostly know how to lose elections, so take anything I say with a shaker of salt.)



Thanks for posting. Might I suggest you post this as your own blog entry for better readership and discussion.

Click on "create content/ new blog entry"

Paste the whole thing in. Put your name in the body or the title and, in the "tags:" line add something like:

lt. governor, 2008, pat smathers

If you mess it up I can clean it up for you after you get it posted.