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Entries for 'Gary Pearce'

10
Ricky Diaz’s work here is done. Clearly it is time for him to work his magic for Republicans all across America.
 
He gave North Carolina a year’s worth of scandals, stumbles and PR disasters. Starting with his hiring: a 24-year-old getting a DHHS job paying $85,000 a year, while teachers and state employees got no raise. That’s the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats. They can bash McCrory with it all the way through 2016.
 
Then there is the host of DHHS horrors. First, the not-so-fast NC FAST and the off-track NC TRACKS. Then 2013 ended with the Medicaid card mailing fiasco, which Diaz tried to downplay, angering the media.
 
Now there’s the food stamp disaster. And nearly 500,000 North Carolinians will always owe Diaz for making sure they don’t get decent health care.
 
All of these, of course, are the fault of Bev Perdue, Obamacare and Benghazi.
 
Secretary Wos gave Diaz a “well done, good and faithful servant” farewell. But Governor McCrory might be thinking: “Thanks a lot, pal. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

 

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09
Governor McCrory is in a box on teacher pay, and Democrats can’t let him wriggle out.
 
You don’t need to be a political genius to predict what’s coming. McCrory will try to make a big splash by proposing a pay raise for teachers this year. He has to. He and the Republican legislature have angered and alienated teachers, all educators, school board members, students, parents, Democrats and Republicans.
 
So they’ll try to do damage control in the May legislature. Call it "the Teacher Pay Shuffle." Probably a one-year raise and a vague promise about the future. (They’ll say they can’t do more because of Medicaid. Which they’ll blame on Bev Perdue, Obamacare and Benghazi.)
 
Unfortunately, Jim Hunt beat them to the punch. His op-ed Sunday made it clear than one-year-and-a-promise isn’t enough. There has to be a four-year commitment to reach the national average, which is where we were in Hunt’s fourth term.
 
Hunt set the bar that McCrory has to meet. Again.

 

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08
Thom Tillis’ campaign paid too much attention to what he said and not enough to what you see in his new TV ad.
 
It’s a perfect set-up for his opponents, whether Republicans or Kay Hagan.
 
Tillis looks and sounds like the Mitt Romney that people hated in 2012: a wealthy corporate boardroom guy surrounded by white men in suits. The ad screams: I’m most at home in the corporate suites and at the head of the conference table.
 
Not exactly a man of the people.
 
Tillis’ message, of course, is a predictable attack on Obamacare. Yes, voters are down on Big Government. But they’re not exactly high on Big Business.

 

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08
A “record-high 42 percent of Americans identify as Independents: Republican identification lowest in at least 25 years," Gallup breathlessly tells us. But those numbers may obscure the truth about politics today.
 
It’s not that four in 10 Americans swing bath and forth between the two parties – carefully studying the issues, judiciously judging the candidates and preparing to, as they say, “vote the man, not the party.”
 
It’s that politics and politicians are so hated today that people don’t want the stigma of being a “Democrat” or “Republican.”
 
Most “Independents” toe the party line one way or the other. True swing voters are rare. And they’re hard to reach. They are people, women especially, who don’t trust Democrats on money issues and don’t trust Republicans on moral issues.
 
Given the gulf between the parties today, it’s hard to conceive of an informed voter who doesn’t vote consistently with one party or the other.
 
“Informed” is the operative word here. If someone is truly undecided, they’re probably truly uninformed. And probably tuning out politicians.

 

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07
Don’t underestimate a candidate who already won 12 million Americans’ votes on TV.
 
Clay Aiken may be a surprising candidate for Congress, but he may be just what Democrats need: a new face and fresh blood that energizes new voters, especially young voters.
 
The social-media response to his possible candidacy in the 2nd District was striking, so I asked three 20-somethings what that’s about.
 
One said: “He’s got charisma. He can raise money. And he can get people excited about the race here and around the country.”
 
Another mentioned Aiken’s work as chairman and co-founder of the National Inclusion Project for children with disabilities. President Bush appointed him to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. He’s a local boy who has done well and done good.
 
A third said Democrats need “nontraditional candidates with unique voices.”
 
Aiken is that. And apparently he can handle the rough-and-tumble. After he finished second on NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump called him “tough, smart and cunning.”
 
He’s got to stop this runner-up stuff, though. One wit said: “The good news is he’s leading other Democrats in the polls. The bad news is he’s behind Ruben Studdard.”
 
Yes, he’s gay. Get over it. Democrats aren’t going to win the Phil Robertson vote.
 
Speaking of Robertson, Aiken had thoughtful comments about that flap: "There are certain things in society that we have become universally against: racism, obviously, is wrong. The treatment of people with disabilities is wrong. But homophobia is one thing that we are still a little bit accepting of in certain areas….But times have changed enough and perceptions have changed enough in the time that I've even been in the public eye, that I think we've made a lot of progress."
 
Once again, the Democratic Party is having an old debate: Do we need more “moderate” candidates who look like me (old white guys), or do we look to a new generation?
 
In a recent article about Terry Sanford, Barry Yeoman asked Mac McCorkle at Duke’s Sanford School what Sanford would tell Democrats today. McCorkle said:
 
“It would be very clear to him: Go young, and go diverse. He would be counseling people: Step aside. Be the elder statesmen. But bring in the young. They’re going to make mistakes, but they’re the future.”
 
Count me in with Terry and the young.
 

 

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07
Like a lot of politicians, Governor McCrory wants to blame somebody else for all things bad and claim credit for all things good. Yesterday, he set a land speed record by doing both within a matter of minutes.
 
First, speaking to a business group, he claimed credit for North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropping 2 percent last year. Then, talking to reporters right after his speech, he blamed the Perdue administration and Obamacare for DHHS’ Medicaid-mailing disaster last week.
 
We feel compelled to ask: If he can get an entire state economy straightened out in just one year, why doesn’t he fix DHHS?

 

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06
Millions of dollars will be spent and billions of words spilled, but only one thing will decide this election: Will voters be madder at President Obama or at Republicans in the legislature?
 
On today’s market, the outlook for Democrats is as chilling as a New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge. For two months, the news has been all Obamacare – and all bad. While Obama energizes voters when he’s on the ballot, the magic doesn’t transfer when he’s not. In 2010, his voters stayed home and the Obama-haters turned out in droves. That’s what got North Carolina in this mess.
 
If that happens again, Kay Hagan could lose, and Republicans could control both houses of Congress and keep super-majorities in Raleigh.
 
2015 would be no fun.
 
But, then, in 2016, Americans and North Carolinians would recoil at the result, Republicans will nominate Ted Cruz for President and there will be a Democratic landslide statewide and nationally.
 
There’s also a more optimistic scenario for Democrats this year: Anger at the legislature over the damage done to education could trump anger at Obama. The GOP and Tea Party could overreach nationally, like 1998, when Newt Gingrich & Co. overreached, lost big and paved the road for John Edwards’ election.
 
The point is that elections today are driven by negative emotions, namely fear and anger. No politician is popular. No politician has approval ratings above the 40s in North Carolina. By contrast, Jim Hunt stayed north of 60 percent most of the time he was Governor.
 
So keep an eye on one thing: Who are the voters maddest at in November?

 

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23
Americans are so polarized politically, we argue about Christmas and Santa Clause’s race. I propose a truce. And I’m going first.
 
Through a blessed accident of calendar, Christmas and New Year’s Day are on Wednesdays this year. That effectively wrecks two work weeks.
 
Good riddance.
 
But let’s go farther. Like German and British soldiers in World War I, let’s declare a Christmas truce. Theirs lasted only one day; let’s go for two weeks.
 
We need a break. 2013 was a year of bitter battles – nationally and in North Carolina. And 2014 will be even worse with elections.
 
So I’m suspending blogging until Monday, January 6. No picking on Governor McCrory and the Republicans. No ridiculing Fox News and the Tea Party.
 
(Unless, of course, something or somebody REALLY provokes me. You’ve been warned.)
 
I’m also going off the grid. No surfing political sites and trolling for snark and checking who’s naughty and nice. No obsessing over today’s news.
 
President Obama is in Hawaii. Congress has gone home. Governor McCrory went to the beach.
 
Let’s all give it a break. And pick it up in two weeks.
 
So, depending on your politics and your preference: Merry Christmas. Or Happy Holidays.
 
To blue and red, to left and right, to Ds and Rs and Is alike, enjoy your time with family and friends, watch movies and football, savor food and drink and – hard as it is to believe – remember that what unites us as Americans and fellow travelers in this life is far greater than what divides us.

Peace.

 

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20
Governor McCrory and Republican legislators said they would do away with “pay-to-play” and “corruption” in Raleigh.
 
Then a group of lobbyists held a fundraiser in Raleigh. It’s illegal, of course, for lobbyists to contribute to legislators.
 
But the fundraiser was for a congressional candidate named Phil Berger Jr.
 
Yes, the son of State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger Sr.
 
For the Republicans ruling Raleigh today, that apparently passes the ethics test. No pay-to-play there.
 
What do you think? And what will  voters say?

 

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18
Maybe I should apologize. But would Bob Rucho apologize? No sir! So I’ll double down, as they say.
 
My blog yesterday – warning that the next Congress might be run by people who think like Rucho – apparently ruined the Christmas spirit for some Democrats.
 
My friend Jerry Wayne Williamson of Boone (follow him at @JerryWilliamso1) wrote, “Well, Merry Christmas to you too! That's the most depressing thing I've read all morning!” Long-time colleague June Milby said, “Gary, It's the Christmas season, even Scrooge was redeemed right there at the end. Don't hit us too hard with the ghosts of Christmas past. There's plenty of time in January for that!
 
I can’t help it. And here I go again. Spoiler alert: This could really ruin your Christmas.
 
Here it is: Think about the chances that the 2014 elections could be even worse for Democrats than 2010 was.
 
Historically, second mid-term elections are disastrous for Presidents. See LBJ in 1968, Nixon/Ford in 1974 and Reagan in 1986. There are exceptions, like Clinton in 1998.
 
But here’s a disturbing poll finding from this week, a nugget that the Washington Post called “one very bad number for Obama”: The Post-ABC poll asked whether people trust Obama or the Republicans in Congress to do a better job "coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years." Forty-one percent said they trusted Obama. Forty-one percent said they trusted Republicans in Congress.
 
Let that sink in. Think about how the Republicans in Congress have done their jobs in recent years: the shutdowns, the shakedowns and the sheer nuttiness. Then tell yourself: Americans trust that crowd just as much as they trust the President.
 
This reflects, of course, the disastrous debut of Obamacare. Maybe, as some pundits predict, that will be gone and forgotten next November. Maybe not.
 
Thus far, experience tells us that when Obama is on the ballot, all goes well. Maybe it’s that people just feel good voting for him. But when he’s not on the ballot, look out.
 
And make no mistake: For better or for worse, the 2014 election will be a referendum on Obama. There is no escaping it. Even worse, there is not a lot that down-ballot candidates, from Senator Kay Hagan down, can do about it.
 
So, as Democrats enjoy Christmas and prepare for a new year, they need to plan for the worst, hope for the best and work like hell.

 

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