NC Senate woes

I'm sure a few of you have seen Rob Christensen's 2010 Predictions, which makes for some pretty depressing reading, this part especially:

The North Carolina Senate has been in Democratic hands for 110 years. The Democrats hold a 30-20 lead, and the GOP needs to pick up six seats. With a number of veteran Democrats retiring, this is possible...Edge Republicans.

You better believe Conservative forces are gearing up to make a concerted effort to retake the NC Senate, and we need to do some gearing up ourselves. Replacing Burr is (without a doubt) extremely important, but before you squeeze the last four bits out of your piggy bank for Washington's sake, we need to talk about Raleigh some. In case you're wondering what's at stake, let's take a look.

We can expect this little jewel (or some variation) to find its way to the Governor's desk:

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION TO PROVIDE Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution is amended by adding the following new section:

"Sec. 6. Marriage.

Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State."

SECTION 2. The amendment set out in Section 1 of this act shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State at an election on November 3, 2009, which election shall be conducted under the laws then governing elections in the State. Ballots, voting systems, or both may be used in accordance with Chapter 163 of the General Statutes. The question to be used in the voting systems and ballots shall be:

"[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST

Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State."

You're probably thinking, "Yeah, Steve, but there's no way in hell Bev would actually sign it, and there won't be enough votes to override her veto, so..."

Pay attention. This bill would require a referendum, which means two things: First, it throws the responsibility for the action into the laps of the voters, giving the politicians an "It's not my fault" out. Second, if Bev does veto the bill, Republicans can tell everybody that Bev doesn't trust their judgment enough to let them decide.

It's not merely a legislative exercise or the last throes of a dying anachronistic morality, it is a direct and substantial threat to our LGBT friends. Which means, it's a direct threat to us, because if we allow the hopes and dreams of our friends to be snuffed out, we are useless.

Okay. Deep breath. Continuing:

Here's an example of Republican empathy and understanding from Senator David Rouzer:

AN ACT requiring applicants for public assistance to undergo drug testing and demonstrate that the applicant is employed, furthering the applicant's education, or performing community service before the applicant is eligible for public assistance.

Of course, we cannot forget the dangerous little brown people, and anybody who might help them, according to Senator Austin Allran:

"§ 64‑6. Unlawful transfer or concealment of an alien.

(a) It is unlawful for a person knowingly or in reckless disregard of the fact that another person has come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law to transport, move, or attempt to transport that person within this State or to solicit or conspire to transport or move that person within the State with intent to further that person's unlawful entry into the United States or avoid apprehension or detection of that person's unlawful immigration status by state or federal authorities. Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of unlawful transfer of an alien, which offense shall be punishable as a Class G felony.

(b) It is unlawful for a person to knowingly or in reckless disregard of the fact that another person has come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law to conceal, harbor, or shelter from detection or to solicit or conspire to conceal, harbor, or shelter from detection that person in any place, including a building or means of transportation, with intent to further that person's unlawful entry into the United States or avoid apprehension or detection of that person's unlawful immigration status by state or federal authorities. Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of unlawful concealment of an alien, which offense shall be punishable as a Class G felony.

Look out, public transit bus drivers. Or even school bus drivers, for that matter...

And not only do we need to Drill Here, Drill Now! (within 3.5 miles of the coast), Senator James Forrester is apparently concerned that we're just not polluting our environment enough, so we need us one of them there refineries:

SECTION 1. The Environmental Review Commission may study the desirability of encouraging the offshore drilling exploration for oil or natural gas in coastal waters within the State's jurisdiction of 3.5 miles. The Environmental Review Commission may study whether to urge the United States Congress to pass legislation to either authorize the offshore drilling exploration for oil or natural gas in territorial waters within federal jurisdiction or delegate this authority to the individual states. Further, the Environmental Review Commission may study whether to urge the United States Congress and the United States Department of the Interior to support expanding the role of offshore drilling in our State's coastal waters and to support developing an oil refinery in eastern North Carolina in order to stimulate jobs' creation and restore the State's economy.

And God knows, we can't let anything get in the way of killing people in the name of justice, according to the guy who could soon be the top dog in the NC Senate, Phil Berger:

(a) Any assistance rendered with an execution under this Article by any licensed health care professional, including, but not limited to, physicians, nurses, and pharmacists shall not be cause for any disciplinary or corrective measures by any board, commission, or other authority created by the State or governed by State law which oversees or regulates the practice of health care professionals, including, but not limited to, the North Carolina Medical Board, the North Carolina Board of Nursing, and the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy.

Oh, I forgot this part:

(b) The infliction of the punishment of death by administration of the required lethal substances under this Article shall not be construed to be the practice of medicine.

Okay, so: The pre-inspection of the lethal injection apparatus is practicing medicine, the attachment of the device to the lucky individual, as well as the operating of said device, is not practicing medicine, and the subsequent post-mortem and death certificate authorization is (back to) practicing medicine again. Gotcha. Mengele would be impressed by your logic there, Philip.

We need to take this seriously, folks. Pinpoint vulnerable Districts/seats, probe for GOTV opportunities, take a look at viable candidates and give them whatever help we can, etc. There are some savvy politickers here at BlueNC, and any light-shedding they (you) can provide would be much appreciated.

Comments

So glad we're focusing locally, but a correction

Constitutional referenda do not require the governor's signature. Constitutional amendments already require a 3/5 majority in each chamber to pass. However, if they are rolled into another bill (very suspect, but go research the last constitutional amendment passed in NC - hint: tax increment financing of the Randy Parton Theatre fame) then they are subject to a guv's signature or veto.

Tricky stuff to amend the constitution. It shouldn't be done lightly.

 

That is confusing

So, tell me if I'm wrong on this (highly likely): Both houses have to approve by 3/5 majority before it can even be put on the ballot as a referendum, but then it only takes 50 point something percent of votes to change the Constitution?

Basically yes

The part that can get tricky is actually getting bill passed by appropriate means since holding statewide referenda carry costs to the state treasury.

Also tricky is what the amendment actually does. If it rewrites state statute in addition to (instead of ?) the state constitution, then there's more fun in the process.

This can be an issue with some versions of public financing of executive offices as well. When you're rewriting the constitution, there are often statutes that must be addressed.

 

Been thinking

I've been thinking about this one--don't have my numbers together yet, but I agree it's high on the worry list for 2010. I'll have target ideas later on, hopefully by the end of February. Early recommendations for review will be welcomed by me too.

Dan Besse

Thanks, Dan

Anything you have to suggest will be appreciated, even by (mostly) lurkers like me.

One problem is finding a competitive race close enough to make a difference in. For me, I'm pretty sure Martin Nesbitt is safe, and I doubt Democrats will even challenge Joe Apodaca. So it's tough to figure out who, exactly, to help. Joe Sam Queen? John Snow? Do they want help from the hippies of Asheville?

Dr. Jones will be a good candidate

However, she will have an uphill battle in that district if you look at the demographics there. It appears to be a "white/republican" district.

But, there are more registered women than men, advantage Jones. It will take money, of course, and a lot of support from the NCDP and a hell of a lot of grassroots work. Of course, it also depends on who the reps put on their ticket.

This site I reference is a great source of info on demographics even though it is 2007 data.

News from Wilmington

Perhaps we should be starting a statewide "Draft Leutze" movement to show our support. Saffo is out, an honorable man who is keeping his campaign promises.

It's a problem

The GOP needs 6 seats. The Hoyle seat is most likely lost, though the GOP looks like it will have a bruising primary in that race. New Hanover looks like a potential problem, and there are two seats out west that could be hard to hold on to. Soles won't be running and his seat is in a Democratic district, so that seat might not be as big a problem. But even if the GOP wins all of those seats, Dalton can still break ties. They need another seat, and it's going to be hard to get. But it's still scary.

Another problem is in NC-08. Though Christensen has been wrong about this district for a couple of years, Kissell has a possible primary from the left, and then a general election that will be tough. He won't have the internet fundraising power he had in past years, he won't have the grassroots support, and though "edge Republican" might be a little harsh, it's well within the realm of possibility. Kissell's ray of hope may come from the GOP candidates blowing their money with an expensive primary and runoff, though the other side of that coin is higher name ID for the GOP nominee. IMHO, losing NC-08 is more likely than the GOP taking the State Senate or the State House.

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

Thanks, buddy

As far as Soles' seat, I'm not so sure we can count on the Democratic majority to save us. One of the JLF boys referenced some poll that had Soles losing by 21% or so, and that dissatisfaction might linger and transfer to the next Dem candidate. Whoever it is needs to be...well, we can start with: "Not having a herd of Lost Boys tapping on the windows", and work forward from there.

They need another seat, and it's going to be hard to get.

The Republicans (probably) know this as well, and are probing for a potential upset race. And they're probably prepared to get real nasty wherever that is.

I too question the Soles'

I too question the Soles' seat as leaning Democratic. Besides Columbus we are talking about Brunswick and Pender Counties. Brunswick is one of the fastest growing counties in the state and we are talking lots and lots of Northern Republican transplants. Pender is simillar and Columbus is stagnant. With Soles gone expect Columbus to be the redheaded stepchild and stay poor and neglected. I expect the developers, builders, and related business interests to find someone very in tune with their interests ready to run, and they will of course have a R by their name. Take note also that the Brunswick Co. area sent THREE bus loads of tea party folks to Washington for their march this summer. I go there (Brunswick) often and believe me I avoid the topic of politics at all cost.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

One thought:

There's probably at least a dozen reasons why I'm not working on strategy for Democrats in the general assembly, but if I were, I'd be pushing for some sort of progress on public campaign financing. PPP says the idea is popular - even for state legislative races - and a credible promise to expand the program would, I think, go a long way toward beating the "corrupt" label that the GOP is intent on hanging on every single member of the Democratic caucus.

Unlikely

Some Dems have the mentality that they only win because they're better financed than the GOP at the state level, which is true. The GOP House and Senate caucuses aren't nearly as well organized and certainly aren't as well run as their Democratic counterparts. Public financing is a de facto concession of power. Those don't happen often, and the GOP isn't going to support public financing even if it's in their best interest. As you've noticed, the GA is happy to introduce public financing to races outside of the GA. But are there the votes to pass public financing for both chambers? Unlikely.

Ironically, there's a less costly and less popular solution - creating a full-time legislature and paying the our legislators a real salary. This would enable citizens who aren't wealthy to be members of our General Assembly, and provide less of an incentive to be corrupt. Dynamic candidates could enter the legislature without worrying about their financial security. If we pass public financing without making our legislators full-time, they still have a financial problem. Unfortunately, increasing the salaries of elected officials is always unpopular.

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 fully support public financing

Speaking of public financing, here is something I blogged about back in June:

http://bluenc.com/voter-owned-elections-chapel-hill-then-perhaps-all-nc%3F

I didn't want to let this moment go by unnoticed. Here is a segment from an e-mail I got from the Orange County Democratic Party regarding a public forum that I attended earlier this evening:

http://bluenc.com/voter-owned-elections-chapel-hill-then-perhaps-all-nc%3F
This year's Chapel Hill election is not merely a local issue -- it is important state-wide. The bill that would have extended public financing was put on hold in the Senate because they wanted to see how the Chapel Hill election goes.

The biggest vote getting in the mayoral campaign & winner was publicly financed, and the biggest vote getter for town council race was also a Voter Owned Elections candidate, despite them being outspent. I think that bodes well for the future of public financing, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

As for increases elected officials salaries to open public office to more people, I agree that is a much tougher sell. Trying to increase health benefits towards the same end in Chapel Hill was used as an attack piece against "greedy public servants"

But I would really like to see public financing take off more.

District 44

I am the Dr. Jones running for Jacumin's now open seat. The only declared Republican at this time is a Burke County attorney named Warren Daniel.

From what I understand, he is Jacumin's hand-picked replacement, and he is ultra-conservative.

I have been working on my campaign for about a year, and I plan to put everything I have into this race. I'm not sure I can put links here-- but if I can-- you can read more about me at www.bethjonesforsenate.com.

As a woman, mother, veterinarian and business owner I think I have a good chance at this seat.

It's going to be a really important year, and I hope we have many good candidates step up for the General Assembly.

Beth

Thanks for your willingness

to serve, Beth. I think you can win, too, and if there's anything we can do to help that along, you have but to ask.

Senate Dist. 15 race

Let me add to this discussion and say that I plan to give the incumbent Republican senator for NC Senate Dist. 15, Neal Hunt, a run for his money--and he is well funded, too. I am a candidate for the Democratic nomination to this seat and filing is only five weeks away.

Please see www.charlesmalonencsenate.com

But as a state employee, Vietnam veteran, and one who has run a small business, I will relate well to this North Raleigh and Wake Forest constituency. I will offer a choice for people tired of Hunt's do nothing record and support of extremely conservative social issues and his protection of banks and finance companies.

My race is a challenge, true, but as a first time candidate, I am an outsider to the powers that be and am a person ready to embrace 21st Century problems with 21st Century solutions.

I'd appreciate your consideration, too, along with Dr. Jones--who is a fine candidate from Sen. Dist. 44, as we fight the good fight to keep the lights of progress on against the darkness that would shroud the GA if the GOP takes over. Please help us in what ways you can.

Charles Malone