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Entries for 'Gary Pearce'

16
While Governor McCrory and his patrons at the John Locke Foundation were bragging about tax cuts on Tax Day, Republicans in the Legislative Building were digging an even deeper teacher-pay hole for themselves and McCrory.
 
The N&O’s page one headline said: “Broad teacher raises unlikely.” McCrory proclaimed, “we’re leaving a little extra money in everyone’s paycheck.”
 
Here’s the rub for the Republicans. Everybody in North Carolina knows the Governor and the legislature shafted teachers. But who really believes they got a tax cut?
 
Democrats don’t need to overdo this. They don’t need to say: “Republicans cut taxes and didn’t give teachers a pay raise.” They just need to say: “Republicans didn’t give teachers a pay raise.” Make Republicans try to tell people they cut taxes.

 

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15
Thom Tillis is a lot like Mitt Romney, and he learned one big thing from Romney’s 2012 campaign: Don’t get on the same stage and same page with the nuts in his party.
 
So Tillis may be making the right strategic decision by ducking the WRAL debate. It’s better to look chicken than to be a punching bag or, even worse, look like you’re as far-right as some of your opponents.
 
Besides, Tillis may be up against two candidates who believe they were called by God to run. Greg Brannon says God spoke to him while he was running on the beach on Good Friday. (He works in mysterious ways!) I don’t want to put words into Mark Harris’ mouth, but he is a minister, so he might feel called from on high too.
 
It’s hard to debate with people called by God.
 
This reminds me of a little-known opponent Governor Jim Hunt had long ago. Hunt sat down with the man to discuss the race and, he hoped, persuade him not to make the race. But the man told Hunt that God had told him to run.
 
Hunt said later that he thought to himself, “Well, God didn’t tell me to run, but if He told you, I can understand you running.”
 
As it turned out, God might have told the fellow to run, but He didn’t tell him he’d win. He finished far back in the pack.

 

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14
“Will no one rid me of this troublesome professor?” (Paraphrasing King Henry II on Thomas Becket.)
 
Fifty years ago, the legislature brought shame on North Carolina, dishonor on themselves and harm to UNC when the honorables passed the Speaker Ban Law to protect college students from a feared invasion of pro-Communist speakers. Eventually, wiser heads prevailed, the law was repealed and the Communists lost.
 
Now, Raleigh’s Republican regime appears determined to purge the university of the troublesome voice of Gene Nichol, a UNC-Chapel Hill law professor.
 
Nichols committed the grave sin of criticizing Governor McCrory in a column, calling him “hapless Pat” and “a 21st century successor to Maddox, Wallace and Faubus.” The hapless-Pat line is pretty good, even though the comparison to the trio of Southern segregationist governors is a stretch.
 
But McCrory, again demonstrating the rabbit-eared sensitivity that hears a critical squeak uttered in any corner of the political arena, can’t take it. He was almost as upset as the time when the grocery store chef mouthed off at him.  Even though he was in Mississippi for a meeting, the Governor called a political ally on the UNC Board of Governors to complain.
 
A flurry of emails and phone calls ensued, as Jane Stancill reveals in her excellent N&O story. So now Nichol puts a disclaimer on his writings that “he doesn’t speak for UNC.” No more, one assumes, than Obama-hater Chris Conover speaks for Duke University when he appears before legislative committees to denounce the Affordable Care Act.
 
Clearly, Republican operatives are out for Nichols’ head. They won’t be satisfied until he is banished from the University and an example is made of him for any other pointy-headed professors who have the audacity to speak out against the powers-that-be in Raleigh.
 
You would think that someone in the Republican Party might realize how damaging this will be to a UNC system already battered by budget cuts and cheap political shots, to a state whose “brand” (if you will) was built on a great university and – yes – to their own personal reputations.
 
Ask Henry II. History is not kind to those who seek to silence the voices of dissent.
 
Plus, it doesn’t work. The victims become martyrs. And more people pay attention to them.
 
 

 

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09
This is a story about how even “good” money – that is, money spent for candidates and causes I like – can be bad.
 
It’s a story about how outside donors and independent campaigns, not candidates and office-holders, are setting the political agenda. You can walk, and run, but money talks.
 
Most every poll you see in North Carolina today shows that education is the number one issue. And the Republican legislature’s biggest vulnerability – as is Thom Tillis’s – is its war against teachers and public schools.
 
But what issue dominates the pro-Democratic TV ads? It’s not education. It’s the environment, clean air and water, and the coal ash spill.
 
Now, those are great issues. Great Democratic issues. But why is TV filled with ads about the environment, and not education?
 
Because the big donors – big national and in-state donors – care more about environmental issues than education issues.
 
This is what the United States Supreme Court in effect believes should happen: People with money should be able to decide the agenda and define the issues. The Court says that is fundamental in our Constitution.
 
You can decide for yourself whether that’s good or bad. But how many ads can you afford?

 

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08
How would Republican primary voters feel about a prominent supporter of gay marriage holding a fundraiser for Thom Tillis in New York City?
 
That would be Paul Singer, a hedge-fund CEO whom the Washington Post calls “the money man behind pro-gay marriage Republicans.”
 
The Post reported that, “Last week, Singer and other donors threw two fundraisers for Republican candidates in New York City. The first one supported Thom Tillis, the House speaker in the North Carolina state legislature….The event raised about $280,000.”
 
The Post calls Singer “one of the foremost backers of LGBT rights on the right. Since 2010, Singer has spent more than $10 million trying to get states to legalize gay marriage and get Republicans to join the battle.”
 
Tillis is walking a fine line here. He was Speaker when gay-bashing Republicans pushed through the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But he predicted that it would be repealed before very long. And he’s being pressed in the primary by opponents who would love to bash him on the gay-marriage issue.
 
Now, in fairness, Singer’s political giving also reflects his conservative views on economics and financial regulation. But we wonder whether Tillis wants Republican primary voters in North Carolina to know about Singer.
 
We’re glad to help. And maybe this is a sign of how fast public opinion is moving on gay marriage.

 

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07
Maybe the attack-Koch strategy is a good idea after all. I had questions, but I’m coming around.
 
Every story needs a villain. That lesson is as old as the Bible. (See: the Serpent, Garden of Eden.)
 
Just as Republicans here want to make William Barber of the NAACP the face of the Democratic Party, the Kazillionaire Kochs are the ideal face of a Republican Party that is firmly committed to looking out for the 1 Percent – or the one-tenth of 1 Percent – at the expense of people who want good schools, good jobs, good health care and safe water to drink and air to breathe.
 
The Kochs are perfect villains in a political environment where the public suspects there’s a corrupt link between Big Business and GOP Government. And the Kochs are just an extension of the Bain Capital brand that Mitt Romney bequeathed to the GOP.
 
Even better, there are two of them. Evil Twins!
 
And it must be working. Charles Koch felt compelled to take to the friendly pages of the Wall Street Journal to protest that “collectivists” are being mean to him.
 
Let’s pile on!

 

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04
Just as ObamaCare divides the nation politically, it divides Democrats strategically. Does it spell disaster in November, or can we score points with it?
 
The President took the ball to the basket this week. His message: 7-plus million Americans signed up. Millions of Americans can now get health care. Republicans are just obstructionists and have no plan to help people.
 
James Carville, for one, is arguing that Obamacare can be a winner in November.
 
“After Alex Sink was sunk in the Florida special congressional race in February, my fellow Democratic strategists went back to their get-out-the-vote strategy and feared another 1994 or 2010 landslide election for the GOP. Well, Democratic voters might now be motivated to stand by the administration’s top legislative achievement more than ever — the same ABC/Post poll found that Democratic support for ObamaCare has reached 76 percent, which is up 11 percentage points from January. My fellow Democrats feared we didn’t have a motivating issue ... well, Republican opposition to the law, to no one’s surprise, is at 78 percent.
 
“I like being on the side of healthcare consumer. I think that is a winning argument for Democrats.”
 
Other Democratic strategists don’t believe the story arc has changed. It still isn’t a winner, and it won’t be, they say.
 
My guess – as I blogged last week (see “Move On”) – is that this issue, like a long-running TV series, is about to run down. By November, swing voters won’t know whether ObamaCare is good or bad or whether what’s bad about health care is due to ObamaCare or just the general screwed-up system we have.
 
Something else will happen. Crisis in Ukraine? Republican overreach? Another X Factor? ObamaCare is already baked into this cake. November is seven months away. We’ve got a long way to go.

 

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03
Carter said a “celebrity” campaign was different. Now I get it. Working with Clay Aiken is unlike any campaign I’ve seen.
 
Aiken starts with the most valuable quality a candidate can have today. He is a genuine political outsider in a time when voters are disgusted with politics. And he has near-universal name recognition. He doesn’t have to buy that on TV.
 
His challenge as a candidate is – or, was – different. Call it the WTF Factor. As in “Clay Aiken for Congress? WTF?” People know who he is, but is he qualified?
 
Aiken put that to rest in his five-minute announcement video. It has been viewed more than 600,000 times. Then he walked a gauntlet of interviews in the state and national media. When people hear him and talk to him, they realize he knows the district, knows the issues and knows what people are going through.
 
Now he’s on a roll. People react to him like to no other politician. I saw it last weekend at the College Dems/Young Dems convention and at Lillian’s List this week. The room buzzes when he comes in. People watch him. They take his measure. They want to take pictures with him.
 
Aiken seizes that moment. He takes their cell phone and snaps a selfie with them. Now, “#selfieswithclay” is a thing.
 
All this explains why he has a 20-point lead in the Democratic primary. And why the DCCC has put this race on the radar. And why Renee Ellmers suddenly looks spooked.

 

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01
It’s amazing how fast politicians go from being all for openness and transparency to all-out for keeping public information from the public.
 
Take the Republican legislators’ fight to keep secret their emails about redistricting. Hmmm, wonder what they might be hiding there?
 
Then take DENR. Last Friday at about 5 pm, the department dumped 900 files and 13,000 pages of records about coal ash. Hmmm. (For the uninitiated, a 5 pm Friday document dump is the classic PR strategy for hiding something.)
 
Then, the DENR website promptly crashed. Hmmm. I’m still waiting for Republicans to howl about that like they did yesterday when the Affordable Care Act website crashed with heavy sign-up traffic.
 
But there’s a problem with that old PR strategy in a new digital media world. Now everybody, not just a few overworked reporters and researchers, can search the documents and find out what the politicians and bureaucrats are hiding.
 
WRAL provided a helpful link where you can do your own investigating. Have at it here.

 

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31
“A change is coming, and it’s blue.” That’s the conclusion of an op-ed that looked at why more young Americans are voting Democratic. And it was my conclusion after several hours at the College Democrats/Young Democrats convention in Greenville Saturday.
 
I found an impressive group of smart, dedicated and determined Democrats who are getting involved and leading now. I left with a new optimism about the future.
 
The op-ed is by Charles Blow in The New York Times, who wrote about two Gallup reports: “U.S. Seniors Have Realigned With the Republican Party” and “Young Americans’ Affinity for Democratic Party Has Grown.”
 
Blow wrote, “Part of the reason for the Democratic swing among young people is the incredible diversity of the group. Gallup estimates that 45 percent of Americans 18-29 are nonwhite. But that doesn’t account for all of the change”
 
Gallup noted, “Young adults are not more Democratic solely because they are more racially diverse. In recent years, young white adults, who previously aligned more with the Republican Party, have shifted Democratic. From 1995 to 2005, young whites consistently identified as or leaned Republican rather than Democratic, by an average of 8 points. Since 2006, whites aged 18 to 29 have shown at least a slight Democratic preference in all but one year, with an average advantage of 3 points.”
 
In other words, time is not on the Republicans’ side. As Blow wrote, “The wave of demographic change and the liberal leaning of the young can’t be held back indefinitely through obstruction and aggression.” In fact, GOP voter suppression – along with policies like gay-bashing, immigrant-bashing, minority-bashing, climate change-bashing, teacher-bashing, etc. – only accelerates and hardens young Americans’ attitudes.
 
Then mix in the rising cadre of young leaders I met this weekend. So I tell my aging but young-at-heart Democratic peers: Don’t despair. Get busy making way for and mentoring this new generation. They’re going to save our state.

 

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