This is number seven in a planned series of 50 entries between now and November, looking at each of the 50 states in terms of every race on that state's ticket--Presidential, Gubernatorial, Senate, House, State legislatures--the whole pack of cigarettes. Special attention paid to identifying and promoting the most important contests per state.
This time, we look at North Carolina, the state that made Barack Obama the Democratic nominee for President!
Previous diaries in this series:
Texas, Part One: http://www.dailykos.com/...
Texas, Part Two: http://www.dailykos.com/...
North Carolina is a complex state politically, defying geographic boundaries. On the Atlantic end, there is the outer banks, where more of the houses are vacation homes than primary residences. The lowlands east of the Research triangle are basically Democratic-leaning, with red islands of military base cities and white enclaves (Greenville, Jacksonville, Fayetteville). The research triangle itself, in the middle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, and surrounding areas) is blue territory, getting bluer, and the fastest growing population center in the tarheel state, which bodes well for our long term prospects here. Further to the west, the political landscape becomes more mountainous and pretty solidly Republican with the blue islands of Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Asheville.
Next, there’s BlueNC, the premier progressive blog of the Tarheel State, and a great source of news and information.
PRESIDENT: Leans GOP, but with a very tantalizing promise of hope. While Virginia to the North is a genuine almost toss-up state that is certain to be hotly contested, North Carolina is more of an uphill climb, and could either become very close, or just thrown to McCain as a gimmee, depending on what the Obama campaign does. The most likely outcome if Obama decides to go all out here is a replay of the 1990 Helms-Gantt Senate race or the 2006 Ford-Corker Tennessee race, in which polls show the race surprisingly close and then the Republican desperately goes racist and ekes out a disappointing win.
Nevertheless, if I were an Obama strategist, I would say go for it, even with the odds against him, for the following reasons:
- Due to the long primary season, Obama has already committed the resources to build a base of support here, and McCain has not. Obama can do what it takes to keep the race competitive here without expending too much more. This is the case in all of the swing states that had late primaries, whereas, say, Tennessee is at more of an Obama disadvantage.
- This is a national race, not a statewide race, and what McCain does to win Southern states will have consequences in other states. Both Helms and Corker drew outrage nationwide when they stooped to their racist "white hands" and "call me, Harold" advertisements. But tough cookies, that was what it took to win with a majority of the only votes that mattered in those statewide races. If McCain tries those dirty tricks in Dixie, however, it may well win him the solid south, but it will also cost him votes in the west and midwest, possibly putting Obama over the top in EVs.
- While Obama can win without the south, McCain cannot win without carrying North Carolina and every other southern state. By keeping these states competitive, we force McCain to spend time and money campaigning here that he will be unable to spend in Ohio, Missouri and Colorado. And McCain will not find a corps of ready volunteers in the south. There are many who will hold their noses and vote for him to avoid getting a Democrat elected, but they will not canvas and they will not be enthusiastic. McCain’s expenditures in the south will have to come from the outside. Meanwhile, Obama will have no shortage of volunteers in the south who will be as motivated and enthusiastic as any volunteers we’ve seen anywhere.
Now onto other races. And here, I’ve had a lot of fun researching NC.
I admit it. I swoon for smart, powerful, liberal political women. From the determined college girls who rule my area’s local Democratic Headquarters to the Speaker of the House, if they’re liberal, I thrill to the sight of a woman defeating an icky, reactionary, backwards Republican neanderthal. Especially since they so often look like they’re having fun doing it. And North Carolina is maybe the premiere state of 2008 in the formidable females category. And they’re good looking (iron) belles, too, for the most part!
Here’s Kay Hagan, who just won her primary and the right to take on Elizabeth Dole for US Senate. Because we have so many top tier Senate contests, this one is relegated to the Second Tier for now, and because of the long primary, Hagan is at a severe cash disadvantage, maybe one that will cause the DSCC to ignore her in favor of the many, many other promising races. That means it’s up to us.
I peg Hagan’s position right now as similar to Claire McCaskill’s in Missouri in Spring of 2006. Most people were writing her off, but as we know, that race tightened and tightened and she eventually won and has been doing us proud ever since. Hagan can, too. Wanna see Dole go down in November? Then go show Kay some love (and if you’re like me, you can have some fun imagining her loving you back). I linked to her biography page, simply because her pictures and her accomplishments are so inspiring.
UPDATE: A Rasmussen poll now puts Hagan and Dole neck and neck already, even shows Hagan with a 48-47 lead! Could be, now that we've settled on a nominee, we're already BEYOND where McCaskill was in Spring of 2006!
Bev Purdue is another powerful woman, and the odds-on favorite to keep the North Carolina Governor’s mansion in Democratic hands. Vital for redistricting purposes, so the GOP is guaranteed to go to the mat to take it from us. Most pundits noticing that the only really competitive races for Governor in 2008 are the GOP seats in Missouri and Indiana, feel compelled to point up North Carolina for the sake of fake "balance". Nevertheless, the odds are with us here, but we shouldn’t get complacent. Go Bev!
Our candidate for Lieutenant Governor is State Senator Walter Dalton.
For Secretary of State (vital in NC redistricting plans), Incumbent Democrat Elaine Marshall.
For Attorney General, Incumbent Democrat Roy Cooper, an up and coming rising star in the Dixie Democratic party.
Our nominee for State Auditor is Beth Wood, taking on an incumbent Republican.
For State Treasurer, after the incumbent Democrat was defeated in the gubernatorial primary, we have nominated the powerful Raleigh businesswoman/city councillor Janet Cowell. Lesbians and heterosexual males won’t be sorry if they click on her link—she has that "girl next door with wicked smarts and business acumen" look that always makes me want to jump through hoops and roll over. I’ll bet she can balance the state budget on two chairs and a beach ball, and make it look easy!
Finally we have the incumbent Democratic state Education Secretary, June Atkinson, reportedly another easy win
All of these offices except for the State Auditor are currently held by Democrats.
The North Carolina House of Representatives has 68 Democrats out of 120, so losing four seats would tie it. The whole House is up every two years, so Tarheel Democrats will have to be careful. Due to population growth in the blue parts of the state, we’ll have an excellent chance of consolidating our hold on the state if we can hold on to the trifecta through the next census.
The State Senate is 31-19 Democratic and in no danger of flipping by the time of redistricting.
District 1—G.K. Butterfield (Inc D)—Safe Democrat
District 2—Bob Etheridge (Inc D)—a potentially competitive district, but safe for Etheridge barring some unforeseen disaster
District 3—Walter Jones (Inc R) v. Craig Weber(D). Not presently on the map. Jones, a former Democrat and the son of Democrats, is best known for bringing us "Freedom Fries", but he’s also one of those rare Goopers who occasionally challenges Bush for reasons of conscience, especially rare in the South. In fact, Club For Growth tried and failed to primary him this year. In my more optimistic moments, I dream that Jones will be inspired by the pervasive shittiness (oops, pardon my Freedom) of the GOP to take "Freedom Leave" from the party and come back to the Democrats. Could be that’s the best way of bringing the 3rd back into blue.
District 4—David Price (Inc D)—Safe Democrat. This, along with parts of the 2nd and 13th, is the solid blue Research Triangle district.
District 5—Roy Carter (D) v. Virginia Foxx (Inc R)—not on the map right now. This one, along with the 6th and 10th, are the solid red Appalachian districts in the west. Vern Robinson, the crazy wingnut who aspires to be "the black Jesse Helms" (kinda like aspiring to be the "lesbian Pat Robertson" or the "Jewish Goebells", as if pandering to people who want to destroy you is going to get them to invite you into their disgusting club) is from around here.
District 6—Teresa Sue Bratton (D) v. Howard Coble (Inc R). Not on the map for now, just like the 5th above, but if you’re like me and swoon for med school grads and professors with glasses, click her link anyhow. I’m glad we’re fighting these tough nut districts with everything we have.
District 7—Mik McIntyre (Inc D)—Safe for McIntyre, though the district itself is not safely blue.
District 8—Larry Kissell (D) v. Robin Hayes (Inc R). OK, NOW we’re talking. This is the single most likely district in North Carolina, maybe in all of the Confederate States, to boot out a Republican incumbent in the general election. Kissell almost did it the last time around despite being ignored by the DCCC. And the DCCC does learn from its mistakes, and is not ignoring Kissell this time. And he’s not ignoring us, either. This is a genuine progressive netroots candidacy in the heart of Dixie, and it deserves every bit of love you can scrape together. Perfect for those of you who want Democrats but who refuse to support blue dogs in districts that supposedly won’t elect any Democrat other than blue dogs. Here’s your chance to prove that progressives can win anywhere , if we want it bad enough!
District 9—Harry Taylor (D) v. Shitty Sue Myrick (Inc R). I’m frustrated that this charlotte based district has been so hard to win. The problem is that too many democrats have been cut right out of the heart of it and put in the 12th. This one is uphill, but winnable in a wave year.
District 10—Daniel Johnson (D) v. Patrick McHenry (Icky R). McHenry belongs in a special category with Jean Schmidt, Adrian Smith, Bill Sali and that lady in MN-6. Loudmouthed blowhards who manage to hang on in solid red districts but who may end up doing us favors outside their districts by inspiring voters elsewhere to shrink from the Republicans in disgust. The race is not now on the map, but we can do something for Johnson. First prize is, he gets in. Consolation prize is, McHenry continues to embarrass the Republicans.
District 11—Heath Shuler (Inc D)—Republicans still say they have a chance to oust first term Democrat Shuler. I say this is a safe Dem hold.
District 12—Mel Watt (Inc D)—along with the 1st, a specially carved minority district. Safe D.
District 13—Brad Miller (Inc D). They did their worst against our Brad last time around, and failed. This time, he’s getting easier treatment. Safe D. Oh, and he posts on Kos occasionally, too.
REDISTRICTING NORTH CAROLINA: With a little luck, we’ll hold onto the solid state legislature and the Governor’s mansion, and will be able to run the table on redistricting after the 2010 census. Is there a way to tilt the delegation further in our favor at that time?
The answer depends on whether you’re willing to sacrifice the two minority districts. And here, there’s no one right answer. It seems to me that it would be better to have a solid blue Democratic delegation of whatever color than to have a couple of black Democrats continually outvoted by white Republicans in surrounding areas. But then again, I’m white, and the reasons for those districts existing simply aren’t there for MY consideration. The value of having "one of your own people" representing you in Congress may be something I just can’t fathom, not having walked in certain shoes. So we can agree to disagree.
Here’s the 3rd District, the only GOP one in east NC:
It’s a shameless gerrymander, and NC Democrats could get rid of it, but ONLY by swapping voters with the black 1st district. The other nearby districts, the 2nd and 7th, are already dangerously red and could not be further diluted without an unacceptable risk that those districts might flip to the GOP. So, there’s your choice. Jones and Butterfield canceling each other out, or two white Democrats. What’s it going to be.
Farther west, here’s the 12th:
To make THIS piece of earthworm roadkill, they took every black Democrat out of both Charlotte AND Winston-Salem, leaving the surrounding 5th, 6th, 10th and 9th districts virtually uncompetitive for Democrats (the 8th is also contiguous and Republican, but that one is actually likely to change this year. Go Kissell!).
Mel Watt has been around since 1992. It seems to me that it would be a good idea, at least to put enough of Blue Charlotte into the 9th to get Sue Myrick out, and take a chance that the rest of the 12th has come to like and trust Watt enough that they’ll continue to vote him in without a black supermajority. He regularly gets very high victory margins.
And that’s North Carolina! As you can see, it’s a VERY happening state in 2008. Good luck Tarheelers, and let us know what we can do to help!