An Introduction to NC-03 (Or, how to create a Perfect Storm)

In my diary ranking the potential pick up opportunities in North Carolina I ranked NC-03 as #3, a second tier pickup opportunity. There were more than a few people who asked for more information so I thought I should oblige.

click to enlarge

Let me begin by saying that I have spent a very limited amount of time within this district. My local knowledge of the area is about zero, but I will try my best to make a case for making this race a top target in 2008.

NC-03 is one of those weird districts that looks more like an octopus than it should. This is the result of many, many different factors, including gerrymandering and the Voting Rights Act.

This district is home to a large chunk of beach property, and contains well over half of North Carolina’s beaches. The district includes tourist attractions such as the Outer Banks and Kitty Hawk, cities with long histories, such as New Bern, and a Marine Base. This Marine Base, Camp Lejeune, is home to almost 150,000 people. It also helps support the neighboring town of Jacksonville by providing about $3 billion a year in commerce.

Partisan Makeup
The registration for this district paints a much rosier view than I will. According the North Carolina Legislature, Democrats lead in voter registration 48 to 35. However, national pundits such as Charlie Cook rate this as an R+15 district. The difference is from the fact that not all Democrats are alike. This is one of those districts where we see remarkable differences between local and federal. For instance, in Onslow county (home to Jacksonville) Mike Easley, the Democrat running for Governor lost the county by under 2,000 votes. George Bush won the county by almost 14,000 votes. A large part of this difference between registration and numbers is that in past elections little effort has been put into these areas. It would be kind to say that the Democratic Party has not done any turnout efforts in this district for a long time.

Past election results
Below you will find a table (of sorts) comparing Democratic performance and amount of money spent in the last few elections. What this tells us, is that if a candidate puts up a website and pays his filing fee, he will get 30% of the vote. However, it is very clear that we have almost no idea about what could happen.
Candidate Vote Total Percentage Amount Spent Dollar/Vote
Walter Jones 99,519 68.65% $674,917 $6.78
Craig Weber 45,458 31.35% $48,371 $1.06

Walter B. Jones 171,863 70.70% $586,012 $3.41
Roger A. Eaton 71,227 29.30% $15,265 $0.21

Amount Spent is from

There was one race where a Dem spent a lot of money. That was in 2000, when a self finance candidate spent 600,000 of his own money, and raised another 400 to 500 thousand. I honestly have no idea why the guy did so poorly. If anyone out there has details about that race it would be appreciated.

Current Representation
For many years, Walter Jones Sr represented what is now NC-03. He was an old time Democrat who represented the district from 1966 until his death in 1992. His son, Walter Jones, Jr ran to replace him, and lost in the Democratic primary in 1992. Upon losing he switched parties, and was elected to the US House as a Republican in 1994. He gained national attention for starting the “Freedom Fries” movement during the run up to the Iraq War (His ally in this name change was Bob Ney) . However, beginning in 2005 he began calling for the withdrawal of troops. This change of heart has prompted many to say that he should switch parties and run as a Democrat again. I would caution against this line of thinking by giving you some statistics:

His past two rankings from the NAACP have been 43% and 15%
He has never scored below 100% from the Christian Coalition.
His past three rankings from NEA have been 50%, 30% and 17%.
His past two rankings from AFL-CIO have been 17% and 36%

And so on and so forth.

Challengers in 2008
On the Republican side, there were rumors of a primary challenge to Jones in 2006. However, these rumors were largely from national sources seeking to handicap the race. This year is different, for the simple fact that we have rumors with specific names, from local sources.

Ferrell Blount
Ferrell is the previous chair of the North Carolina Republican Party. How well did he do? Well, on Election Day in 06 he resigned before the polls even closed. He also upset a lot of high dollar donors by running ads throughout the eastern part of the state touting Republican values, with his face on the ads. What was the problem with this? Besides its obvious self-promotion, the money could have gone to much better use in NC-11 or NC-08. The rumor mill, almost immediately after he resigned, involved him running against Jones.

Joe McLaughlin
From the opposite side of the intra-party fight that has been plaguing the NCGOP for a few years now is Art Pope. Art Pope is a former legislator, who spends millions funding right wing candidates, 527s, PACs and “non partisan think tanks”. There are signs that Pope might have hand picked McLaughlin to run against Jones. Who is McLaughlin? Well, he is an Onslow county commissioner who in recent weeks has put out multiple statements attacking Jones, and has been spending some of his spare time meeting with various count party activists outside of Onslow county (but within the 3rd district).

Marshall Adame
Marshall is the lone Democrat running at the moment. A retired Marine General, Marshall has started reaching out to blogs early. Marshall, recognizing the fundraising problems presented by this race (and the partisan landscape) will be going ahead full steam in the next few weeks. With the high marine population in the district, and with Marshall’s background, this could become a very interesting run. Want an indication of Marshall’s commitment? He moved meetings around at the last minute, and drove from a consulting job he was on in New Jersey so that he could get to Greensboro and be at the Young Dems’ convention.

What this all adds up to is the early indications that we could be looking at a perfect storm. Jones’ campaign coffer isn’t empty, but it isn’t huge right now. He could very well be facing one, if not two, highly funded candidates on his right in the primary. If he gets through that, he would be looking at a well-funded, moderate Democrat with over a year of campaigning already under his belt.

I will close my diary with a rant from Thomas Brock, Democratic activist and blogger who lives in NC-03:

I'm tired of hearing about these "unwinnable" districts. Last year, Craig Weber (D-candidate for NC-03) got 30% of the vote. Pretty unremarkable, right? Except that he didn't do anything and he didn't return telephone calls and he didn't reach out to local parties for help. He didn't do anything and got a third of the vote.

With a little effort and maybe one or two hard-working volunteers in each county along with County Party support, he could've beaten Jones, Jr.

The downfall of the NC Democratic Party is that it enters each campaign season with the "we can win here, but over there isn't in play" mindset. It's a great recipe for failure, but we've got new ingredients and it's long past time for a new recipe.

NC-03 is more in play than it has been in years. It's in play and it's winnable.

(emphasis mine)


From kos

* [new] Are we forgetting the Black vote? (1+ / 0-)
Originally, I'm from southeastern North Carolina (our family home is in the seventh district right now). One of the crucial elements to winning in this district that we need to strategize is generating enthusiasm among African American voters. While I don't have demographic data in front of me, I'm willing to bet that half of all Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters in these counties are African American. While reaching out to traditionally rightward leaning communities (military retirees) by using issues that are very of-the-moment (Walter Reed specifically and the state of veterans health care generally) is--do not get me wrong--a great idea, we also have to keep our base in mind.

In fact, when you look at those Walter Jones election tallies and compare them to the likely demographics of the district, it's pretty obvious that Black turnout has to have been disproportionately low in these elections.

A Democratic challenger who hopes to win in eastern North Carolina (Marshall Adame, please take note) has to go to the African American community in this district and he or she has to listen to what it says about issues important to it and he or she has to build the interpersonal relationships in that community that will translate later on into organization and turnout.

by andydoubtless on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 11:07:23 AM EDT
[ Reply to This |Recommend Troll ]

16% of the district is African American.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

This is exactly what I'm talking about.

How to we get Democrats, not just AA Democrats, but like 75% of Democrats to the polls. Figure that out, win a magic 8 ball.

One man with courage makes a majority.
- Andrew Jackson

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

here's a quote from a diary i put up the other day...

...First, association with Veteran’s and Latino organizations; with the goal of attending the Labor Day picnics of these new friends as a strong supporter.

Next, hit the returning college students with voter registration, using the Election Day option only as a fallback. Try to get them to volunteer to join other activists in rounding up unregistered Latino and Black voters.

This puts you in a position to enter the end of ’07 hustling votes, and from here you can begin to talk about Dole’s record to an ever-widening audience. The ’08 Presidential primaries will be heating up in a big way, and the War (and its effect on Veterans) will be a giant issue for Dole to have to explain away.

Economic opportunity, and why NC is falling behind, is the next issue to exploit, and you have 7 to 9 months of ’08 to build the discussion before the last push to the debates, and then the voting.

in another commment, i referenced this article, suggesting black and latino voters can start getting involved this cinco de mayo.

as far as targeting white voters, which party will look out for their veteran children and spouses? which party will work to prevent what looks like the eventual loss of the outer banks? (in a happy coincidence, this should also positively affect voters of other races as well.)

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965


Please believe me when I say that I believe the concerns of the African American
community in the 3rd District are not that much different from anyone else who
lives there. They want to be heard. They want to be considerd. They want to be
represented in a way that clearly shows thier issues are being taken seriously
and are being addressed vigeorusly.

Nobody wants to be iqnored or marginalized. That is natural.

That being said, please let me share this. I do not want to dwell on it, or treat
it like "money in the bank" bcause they are not!

I have eleven grandchildren.
Four of my grandchildren are African American and they live in the 3rd district.

I would dare say that they love their grandpa a whole lot, and their grandpa loves them as my own life. When they see me, they only see their grandpa Marshall and I only see the children I love, who love me and think I am the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Every constituant in the 3rd District deserves to be represented by their Congressman, mayor, goveror or State representative, irregardless of their race, color or creed. The future of my grandchildren is very important to me. Just like you.

It is my sincere hope that race does not enter this campaign as an issue introduced for the purpose of deviding or margializing any individual or group in the 3rd District. What is important is that we are North Carolinians who happen to live together in the 3rd District.

Our interest should be mutual. What is good for the 3rd District is good for North Carolina and what is good for North Carolina is good for America.

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

Sorry...I didn't get fp'd quickly

This is an awesome post. Very, very nice.

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

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

Cubby, hope it is OK that I reduced the map

to make the post more front page friendly. I did not change the larger map, just made it clickable.

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

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

I dont care

Its just there so people know where it is and what it looks like.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

There was one race where a

There was one race where a Dem spent a lot of money. That was in 2000, when a self finance candidate spent 600,000 of his own money, and raised another 400 to 500 thousand. I honestly have no idea why the guy did so poorly. If anyone out there has details about that race it would be appreciated.

It was a gal, not a guy: Kinstonian Leigh Harvey McNairy. According to Opensecrets, they both spent around 1.2 million, and Jones beat her 61 to 37.

I don't know much about the details of the race, other than that she came from a prominent local family and had a solid history in education as a former public school teacher, member of the Lenoir County Board of Education, and member of the ECU Board of Directors.

She spent just as much money and didn't break 40%?

Do you know anything about the field ops, then? Or the registration vs. actual population numbers?

I still think NC-05, a long shot, is a better shot than this.

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 couldnt find anything about that race.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

have i been

inflating your record?

Or maybe I have been denigrating it...i was always under the impression sergeants were more important.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"


Thanks for doing all this research, if nothing else it's interesting.

Race, Party, and the 1st/3rd Split

Understanding why the 1st and the 3rd are shaped like interlocking fingers is key to understanding why the 3rd is such hard sledding for Democrats.

The 1st district was the original Voting Rights Act district carved out to create a "majority minority" district in NC. (The infamous snakelike 12th is the other, of course.) G. K. Butterfield's 1st is, I believe, around 54% black.

In order to create this district, though, it was necessary to start with the largely African-American northeastern counties, then take advantage of the geographic segregation that still exists along the Inner Banks, where distinct black and white towns remain long after the Jim Crow laws which created them disappeared. Hence, the 1st reaches down along the Neuse, Tar, and Pamlico rivers, as well as around the Albemarle Sound, to collect predominantly black areas, while the 3rd stretches up to incorporate the predominantly white areas and towns. Together, the two form a mostly coherently shaped double-district that covers most of the northeastern and central-eastern part of the state.

Of course, this doesn't mean that there are no black people or no Democrats in the 3rd, or no white people or no Republicans in the 1st. But the fact remains, that if you're a Democrat trying to have electoral success in eastern NC, the black vote is generally a huge part of your electoral strategy. What the voting rights division has done is essentially create a secure Democratic district and a secure Republican district out of an area that would otherwise look demographically like the 2nd or the 7th -- probably Democratic leaning, but conservatively so.

Part of me hesitates to let loose too much venom against Walter Jones, Jr. He can be a bit of a kook and a loose cannon (Freedom Fries), but over the past three years he's shown qualities which as we all know have been rare in Republicans -- the ability to admit he was wrong, to critically examine the current administration, and to check his party line against his own moral compass. He's still far more conservative than I'd like, but he's shown himself to possess a compass and an ability to get in touch (albeit belatedly) with reality.

On the other hand, if he's seeing a primary threat, the worst thing that could happen would be for a true Art Pope or Leo Daughtry-style nutcase to knock him off in the primary, then face no serious Democratic opposition, squandering an opportunity. And even if Jones eventually wins the district, it's worth having a Democrat wave the flag in the district, particularly with a bunch of important statewide races coming up.

And if any Democrat can pull it off, a retired military man would probably make a huge difference. The 3rd is, of course, home to Camp LeJeune and Cherry Point, along with eastern North Carolina's usual high population of families with members in the military at bases across the country. Gunny Sarge Adame could be just the guy we need.

Great analysis

and much appreciated. Thank you.

Any guy who runs on the ticket of

NO OLF in the 1st or 3rd district is the person for me.

Dem, Rep, dont matter to me. Just need someone to keep this fight going until the Navy finds a more suitable site (like staying at Fentress and fixing the problems up there).

Two Things in reply

First, Being from the third District, I share your determination to prevent the US Navy from achieving thier OLF goal in the District. There are plenty of suitable places for them to locate an OLF outside of the 3rd.

Secondly, I really hope that there is more than one issue you feel strongly about. Although I understand the truism, "All politics are local politics", America is rife with problems the past six years of Republican domination has brought.

The OLF is important. It will effect the very quality of life for many,not to mention the wildlife. Standup for that issue and be counted, but also stand up and be counted for the issues that effect us as a State and as a country.

The Republican Party is banking on the Democratic majority's failure to lead from the front with any courage or leadership examples that the rest of the country will emulate or follow. They are banking on you consentrating only on your ten acres.

The Republican Party are sure you will not get behind Universal Health care and Programs designed to fight poverty in America.

They are doing everything they can to silence or denegrate the bold candidates like John Edwards who has, very early on, stepped up to the plate with his vision for America.

DOn't prove them right my friend!..

Actually, if you cared only about that one issue, I do not think you would be reading this blog. Your mind may be on the OLF, but your heart is hoping and caring for a better America.

Today and Over the entire history of mankind and civilization, "Bad things happen, when men and women of good will do nothing".

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

30 percent is the "base" for that district

It's not encouraging. It's discouraging. Democratic base at 30 percent makes this a hard climb. BUT, if the counties get organized anything can happen.

What will tell you how a democrat can do is the answer to this question: how many of the counties in NC-03 are doing strategic planning? If most of them are (including the ones with the biggest D vote), then I'd feel good. If most of them are not, someone needs to get on the stick for any democrat to have a chance.(Even someone as admirable as a Gunny.)

Can't win without reaching out to voters in many ways. If you're not doing strategic planning, you're probably not reaching out to voters, either by door-to-door, phone banking, or community service.
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.


2 thoughts. From listening to Thomas, it sounds like there are a lot of activists who want to be given a voice. A candidate willing to engage them will probably gain volunteers (relatively) easily .
Second, Marshall is talking about doing this now. I think Larry announced in November of 05. By starting 6 months earlier, Marshall has the time to light a fire under the slow moving groups, like the county parties (big things take time).

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Just passing Info......

I have reached out to all of the NC-03 chairpersons. As a result I did meet with a few and have begun planning ways to reach out to those who did not reply.

I do know most county chairpersons are aware of me, to what extent I am not really sure yet , but I will be making inroads with them very soon with a little help from my friends.

Thomas Brock, Roger Eaton(2004 Dem candidate), Tony Parks and a few others have been very helpful. My Website is in progress and also a page at is going up.

In the recent past I have been quest speaker at several gatherings, such as the Retired Officers Association, Rotory, Civitans and on a few social gatherings. I will file my FEC forms within the next 10 days and will hopefully be able to be on Actblue as a candidate.

Betsy has done a great service to me by keeping my name on the radar screen of all of you wonderful, active Democrats.

It is my sincere hope that all of you will find somthing in my candidacy you can get behind and support. You have already been telling me so much about what it is to be a candidate, and I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from you. You have even improved my spelling.
I want all of you to get to know me better as I hopefully will get to know you.

On Friday the 6th of April my resignation from my Sr. Analyst position with the DoD will be effective. I will pack my car and come home to Jacksonville, where Becky is waiting for me to finally stay. Although I am not a rich man, niether am I poor and will try to be a full time candidate from next week on, untill November 2008 when I expect to have the honor of becoming the next U.S. Representative from the 3rd District of NC.

Some of you will poo-hoo this notion, based on the statictics and the demographics and many other elements of information which point to the futility of a Democtrat winning in the NC-3. I do understand where you are coming from, believe me , I do.

I will begin with the two things I do have at my disposal.

First, I have overcome the fear of reaching just beyond my grasp. Fear is a powerful thing and drives almost all of our decisions in one way or another. I have come to terms with that fear in my own life and believe I have overcome it's attempt to hold me.

Secondly, I have faith that I am pursueing that which is greater than just myself and that I will achieve it, by faith.

It is my belief that faith and vision are much like the pollen in the air. When it starts to spread it touches everything around it.

I will work to make myself credible, real, viable and, in doing so, a possibility in the hearts and minds of the Democrats all over NC and even some Republicans who treasure our State and Country over party politics.

You will know me, and we will all know where it all has led to soon enough. Hopefully, it will lead to another Democrat from NC going to Washington.

Anyway, Larry Kissell and I have already agreed to stand next to each other at our swearing in under the Dome in January 2009 ........ I can't pass up that chance.

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

Wow, wish I was in NC-3

Sounds like good things can happen in that region.

With your region having 2.5 sites for this OLF, and an eminent domain issue of over 33,000 acres, for a site that the Navy has stated numerious times is not needed, what is your stand on this OLF?

Mr. Adame, I will ask this question of any person that is running for office in NC-1 or NC-3.

You may not truely know this information and that is understandable. I ask that you investigate this OLF issue, see the contempt that the Navy has been showing to the people of NC and then act as your investigation shows. What I do ask of you is to find in your heart and mind what is out there and then make a stand. I will respect that.

There is plenty of folks out in the region that can answer your questions. If you wish, pls send me a tell, I will give you points of contact that will beable to answer your questions, or you can ask me.

You can ask me, then verify with someone else. I am game for that.

Just dont do like mr. burr and mrs. dole are doing, they have known about this for so long and still do not have a position.

Good luck in your campaign. Keep us informed of what your doing for us and where you wish to take us.

Currently, anyone that shows anykind of leadership will be miles ahead of those that wish to sit on fences and see what happens.

Glad to see your running and are not afraid to get out of your comfort zone. True leaders work on that edge all the time!

It's not about you getting to the county parties, Marshall

Although, of course, that is important. What's really going to make the difference for you is if the county parties are organized enough to help you (whether they ever meet you or not). If they are not engaging in strategic planning well, well, well before the end of this year, it is doubtful that they will be all that much help to you.

I would be glad to talk to you about the experiences I've learned about (and participated in) here in the west. Counties that plan in advance are winning (or improving tremendously). Counties that do something at the last minute improve but not like the ones that are fully engaged in a ongoing planning process that includes all factions. I'm talking about counties where Republicans outnumbered Democrats and the Democrats won every election.

Many counties are too dispirited to plan. Many parties do well enough locally (because they have the majority) so they don't bother. They fail their congressional candidates (and often a state senator or house rep). The bottom line is that the counties that fail to do strategic planning fail to attract new volunteers and fail to attract new or swing voters. And they often fail to garner the enthusiasm needed for a good direct voter contact effort. And the most important thing in winning elections is direct voter contact by sincere volunteers.

If you are serious about running, one of the best things you can do for your candidacy is meet with every county executive committee and beg on your knees for them to follow (even in a small way) NCDP Chair Jerry Meek's strategic planning guide.
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.