I've spoken over the past week directly with about half of the candidates to replace the late Sen. Jeanne Lucas, and with supporters of every candidate. It's been an educational process for me, and i'm about 75% certain who i'm going to vote for.
Which is, i guess, a good thing, since the first ballot will likely be cast about 9 hours from now.
Overall, the public process has been positive. All of the emails i've read on official Democratic mailing lists have extolled the virtues of the various candidates, explaining why he or she would be the best to send to Raleigh. There's been a small number of negative emails that have circulated to various subgroups of the public lists. I'm not sure how the recipients of these were chosen. Most of the senders seem unfamiliar with the use of the "BCC" field, so trying to piece together how the list was generated by the addresses mailed to could be a day project for Encyclopedia Brown, if he's so inclined.
For myself, i'll pass.
I also want to say that the negative messages, especially when passed among such a small group of people, strike me as petty. I'll have more to say about this, including some details, after the balloting. For now, i'll just state that they were not persuasive, and leave it at that.
I've sought out the opinion of a number of folks i respect, both in and out of the Party, and gotten much good advice.
The meeting tonight will start out by attempting to establish the rules of the ballot. Apparently the party's plan of organization leaves some gray area for special meetings like this. A key area of discussion will be the number of votes required to win the election (50% + 1 of eligible votes, or 50% + 1 of actual ballots?). Another will be whether all candidates remain on the ballot until they withdraw, or whether the last place finisher in each round will be automatically dropped from the ballot.
These are the kinds of details which cause eyes to glaze over around the globe, so i'm hopeful we can come to agreement on them quickly, and proceed to the important part of the meeting.
I did specifically want to mention a conversation i had with Brenda Pollard, 1st vice-chair of the county party, and a candidate for this seat. I had been quoted in several local papers as saying that i thought Ms. Pollard was not yet ready to serve in the state Senate, and that i could not support her candidacy. She called my asking for my support anyway, and despite the potential for awkwardness, our conversation was quite civilized. Ms. Pollard is a graceful human being who is a sincere asset to our party, even if my position on her candidacy is unchanged.
I'll have more to say tomorrow about this process, including congratulations to the eventual winner, and an analysis of what the balloting means to Durham politics. I'm going to quote from an email which circulated late last week in closing:
In review of several recent elections we seemed to attack fellow democrats in support of or opposition to one or another candidate which is the right of each individual and it is the constitutional right of all citizens. I hear comments about "ethics" and questionable behavior, please let us focus on the real enemy and come together in an effort to unify our party, county and Nation.
With the corruption in Washington let's talk about ethics or the lack of ethics in the Republican party, and the immoral majority. It's long over due that we stop beating up on each other or giving the appearance of such.
I am reminding my fellow democrats that we should not burn bridges, and that the enemy is the republican party and George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the Atty. General.
. . .
Again, lets be positive and stick together, we have a fight in front of us, if we are to save this nation. As we build on our strengths let us move forward together, not divided or fragmented regardless [of] who wins Monday evening. And, let's do it with honor, and integrity.
Chair, Precinct 40