Point of Personal Privilege

It's hard for me to support Elaine Marshall. Not because of any deficiencies in her as a candidate, but because many of my friends and family members voted for Cal on Tuesday. Incidentally, so did I. Many good friends of mine have put their entire lives into the Cunningham campaign over the past year in spite of bitter experiences within politics. Good candidates we supported lost races they shouldn't have; people like John Edwards & Mike Easley let all of us down. I respect the decision of anyone who can carry on in politics in this environment.

Furthermore, I know Cal has taken many shots over the past couple of months, and even if there is a bad egg or two in Cal's nest, I believe that Cal - personally - is above reproach. There's no indication that he's anything but a stellar guy, and I'm sure he would make a great Senator. The fact of the matter is that Cal's campaign turned out to be sound and fury, as the quote goes. Cal lost by 9 points. In all honesty, the only winner Tuesday night was Richard Burr.

If this thing goes to June 22, however, I believe there will be more than one winner. Richard Burr will win, but so will Skip Stam, Tom Fetzer, Phil Berger, and the very ideas we fight against.

The Democratic coordinated campaign needs to start now. We need to work hard to beat back the strongest challenge to our majority in the General Assembly in years. The longer we go without strong action at the top of the ticket, the greater the problems will be down-ballot.

A Republican General Assembly will legislate policy more ruinous to North Carolina than anything Burr could ever do.

Since Cal has chosen to proceed, everything is on hold until June 23 - assuming there's not a recount. So I'm going to do everything to make sure the candidate best positioned to win the runoff - Elaine Marshall - gets all the support she can so that she can hit the ground running as soon as the runoff is over.

While I applaud Cal for keeping my friends employed, there are quite a few problems inherent in a runoff. I've listed them in a previous thread:

  • In a runoff, 10-20% of the voters that voted [Tuesday] will decide the election in the best case scenario...
  • If Cal wins the runoff, his combined vote totals from the primary and runoff will still likely be less than the 170K votes that would have represented 40% in the first primary.
  • ... instead of spending money to reach North Carolina's 6 million voters, the campaigns will use expensive microtargeting to reach the 50-100K voters who will vote in the runoff but will already be voting for the Dem in November.

A runoff means that 7 weeks of resources are going to be focused on voters that will reliably vote Democratic in November. Sure, any TV buys will spill over into the general public, but the money will be focused on a narrow target. The only people who will pay attention to the runoff, again, are people who have our vote in November.

While Cal is certainly within his rights to call for a runoff - and we should never put a price tag on democracy, even during a recession - as Democrats we have to consider the price to the Democratic Party. Calling for a runoff is selfish, and Cal's electability argument has been severely tarnished by his loss.

Could Cal be the best candidate come June 23? Cal had DSCC support, and just two years ago that support was enough for Kay Hagan to freeze Jim Neal out of important LGBT endorsements, raise millions for the primary, and win with a convincing 62% of the vote. Elaine didn't have the committee, she didn't have the powerful PAC's that usually line up behind strong Democratic women, and she had a holiday season that would have shattered the strongest person's resolve. However, unlike Cal, Elaine has demonstrated statewide strength, especially Down East - a vital piece of any NC Democrat's winning strategy. It doesn't matter if Elaine's natural advantages trumped Cal's institutional advantages, the long and short of it is that Elaine won and Cal didn't. It's clear that Kay was a better candidate than Cal. It's becoming clear that Elaine Marshall is as well.

I understand Cal's decision. To quote Marcus Aurelius, "Don’t form designs, as if you were to live a thousand years. Death hangs over you." There's no time like the present, and one of the reasons I voted for Cal was because we need more young people in office who understand 21st century problems. But Elaine was outspent 2:1 - which was probably closer to 3:1 or 4:1 considering the value of institutional support - and Elaine delivered a convincing victory in a crowded field. Supporters of other candidates are breaking for Elaine.

It's not in the bag, but Elaine is the best choice. Send a message - Support her on ActBlue!


Great post

Really well written, and thanks for the ActBlue page!

Quick Question

Apropos to this post, what is Elaine doing/planning to do to lead the ticket and make sure we've got a functioning statewide Democratic apparatus?

Thanks for dropping by!

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

You are so right.

I like Cal and think he has a great future in NC politics. He could take this 'opportunity' to pull the party together, help raise funds for Elaine and seal the win in November to send Richard Burr home...and come out clean as a whistle and prime to run for Governor the next go 'round...something he should give some thought.

Or if he continues with the runoff, he will likely be the nail in the coffin for the Democratic losses across the State, including the Senate seat, and he will be the blame for spending 3 million dollars for a runoff that was not necessesary and more importantly, to him at least, it will end his political career. I'd really hate to see that happen when the NCDP is short on rising young leaders as it is....Cal, the NCDP really needs you now more than ever, to do the right thing. You will not be forgotten for such a sacrifice, but will be hailed as the grim reaper of the NCDP for moving forward with this runoff.

Silence is Betrayal

Question on positioning for victory:

In reference to this e-mail I just received:

It's officially on: the polls hadn't been closed for 12 hours before Cal Cunningham officially ignored the advice of thousands across the state and filed to force a runoff on June 22nd. Fine with us, we'll just have to beat Cunningham one more time.

This week, 644 grassroots supporters have donated $21,215 in small-dollar online contributions. Help us reach $30,000 by chipping in $5 or more today!

Make no mistake: the same group of Washington insiders that tried to buy this election are going to try and defeat us again in this runoff.

They tried and failed miserably in the primary to overwhelm us with television ads and fancy YouTube videos. It didn't work because Elaine spoke truth to power on the issues facing North Carolina and because we built a strong, grassroots campaign.

So, is the plan to defeat Burr and his $5 million campaign warchest going to be a continued scoffing at "Washington insiders" while grabbing five bucks here and there? Really?

If you win the runoff, or if Cal does throw in the towel, are you going to seek help from those same "Washington insiders", or are you going to rely on repeating the word "grassroots" over and over again like a dustbowl raindancer?

Frank, You're the Carville to my Matalin

At least until June 23.

All bets are off if you call for a recount.

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

Why do you get to be Mary Matalin?

Lookuh here, Mary:

If this party can't handle a li' ol' runoff between friends, we might as well go 'head and pull the wheels off the el camino and park it in the yard tonight!

I'm cuter

“Follow me if I advance, kill me if I retreat, avenge me if I die!”

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

You asked me how to reply to this post, Frank

If you want an embarrassing, absurd example of someone telling their opponent to not seek a runoff, listen to this political pornography: Tim D'Annunzio having another implosion on one of WBT 1110 AM's myriad conservative talk shows (you have to scroll down to listen).

Granted, Elaine isn't crazy, and won by twice as many points as D'Annunzio did, and Elaine isn't telling Cunningham to step aside ... but this is certainly an example of how to lose the argument I was making.

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


You know what would be really good right now? An apology email from Elaine's campaign.

Dear world.

In rereading one of our recent emails to supporters, I found myself cringing at the tone and direction of what had been written. In the heat of the battle and the frustration with the run-off, I didn't strike the balance I should have. I'm sorry.

Politics is hard business, that's no excuse for being disrespectful. We will never use the word "miserably" in reference to an honorable opponent again.


All good by me

The fact that the Cunningham campaign doesn't know enough to position itself as an outsider and an underdog isn't Elaine's fault.

It's more than proper for Elaine (and Cal) to rail against "Washington insiders" in this electoral envorionment as either position themself for the general election.

I would love to see Elaine tell the DSCC to f#$& off and win without them, so I say do it. I think you'll find the return to be worth more than the millions in TV ads that can't save you in this election cycle.

And Cal did fail miserably in the primary. State Rep. Bruce Goforth (D-Buncombe) and Rep. Jones (D-Guilford) both admitted they got thumped in their primaries.

It's Rep. Ronnie Sutton (D-Robeson) that looks petulant when he accused his opponent of vote buying in his primary loss.

From my perch, keep on the way you're going Elaine. Cal, you need to rethink your whole strategy.


You may be right

My record on winning elections is pathetic. No one should ever listen to me on that front.

I'm sorry

...that the word miserably and our railing against Washington has offended you, that wasn't our goal at all. However, it is used to describe efforts by Washington insiders who have done everything in their power in the public and behind the scenes to defeat Elaine Marshall because they didn't like her enough.

Elaine's been fighting against that this the entire campaign and we've won to this point. Nothing we've said in this email is any different than things Elaine has said in the press, to supporters, or previously in this campaign.

While I like Cal Cunningham very much he is the vessel that Washington has rallied behind in this election something he has never been shy about, but Elaine and our campaign are going to continue to stand up to them from now until June and then November.

Got it.

Thanks for the favor of a reply. I don't agree with the approach, not at this stage in the cycle, but I understand your points. And I especially appreciate the public response.

Transparency is a good thing.

Of course

I think the biggest difference in this campaign to one's I've watched in the past is that we listen -- good or bad, friend or not. I'll take everything that's written here into consideration as we develop the message for the runoff and the general.

So...what does this mean?

Elaine and our campaign are going to continue to stand up to them from now until June and then November.

You're not going to seek funding from the DSCC or other DC power brokers? If so, that's admirable. Burr will walk all over you with a media blitz, but you'll be able to hold your head up with pride, right?


You don't have any problem with the DSCC dumping out of state money and support in our primary?

And you truly don't recognize the difference between the role party organizations should play in a primary election versus a general election?

It's a little ridiculous to have to affirm that the DSCC should help us defeat Sen. Burr. That's their job - to get Democrats elected to the Senate. Their job is NOT to decide primary contests, and DSCC involvement is a slap in the face to the 73% of Democratic voters who rejected business as usual on Tuesday.

Did you not read

the part of Mike's statement that said they were going to "stand up" to those people through November? Which I'm sure he didn't really mean, at least I hope he didn't.

And by the way, 73% of voters didn't "reject" business as usual or Cal, they picked their favorite candidate.

You refuse to learn from your mistakes Mike.

You continue to make excuses and realign yourself with that which we, DEMOCRATIC voters tell you is not working for us.

What will it take for you to listen and learn?

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

In all due respect

I really do respect your position and take things written here into consideration, but I get negative comments and even more positive comments about our message and tactics. At this point, we are comfortable with our message and how successful our online efforts have been.

That being said, don't hesitate to share your opinions at any time. I value everyone's opinion and we discuss message and tactics everyday.

Perhaps you're positive responses

are mostly coming from those that back your candidate 100%?

Likely they are the majority of who you are hearing from, and that is a wonderful situation. Still, Mike, you are missing the point or ignoring it on purpose.

Listen to those that would be with you if you were not being so ridiculously incompetent in your message. We are not Republicans that follow because we are told good news. We actually fact check and care about "words" that are used.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!


I mean it. Your opinion is noted.


I mean this. I'm not trying to bust you, I'm trying to help. Help us help you.


North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

I get it

That's why I'm not writing you off or anything.

I appreciate constructive criticism.

Crossposted to DailyKos

If you're still over at Big Orange, visit the slightly modified diary here.

Thanks ya'all for the great response!

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