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15
Some perspective on the breathless reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is pumping another $6.5 million into Thom Tillis’ campaign: What does that buy, and what does it get you with still-undecided voters?
 
On the buy, it gets you about half what it would get you if you had bought the time weeks or months ago. TV ads are based on the free enterprise system. When demand goes up, the cost goes up. So a spot that you could have bought before for, say, $500 now costs you $1,000.
 
Then the second question: Given the flood of ads, from the Senate race and other campaigns, is anything new getting through to voters now?
 
Hagan’s campaign bet on spending big early. Tillis and his allies are betting big on spending late. We’ll see who’s right.

 

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15
Months ago, back when she started her campaign, Kay Hagan faced a knotty problem: She was going to get the Democratic base vote; her opponent was going to get the Republican base vote; but the Swing Voters didn’t like President Obama and, so, were on track to vote Hagan out of office.
 
Now, theoretically, Hagan could have rolled up her sleeves and gone to work to make Obama popular but, as a practical matter, Obama’s popularity was beyond Hagan’s control.
 
Hagan could also have tried to distance herself from Obama – Democratic candidates had been doing that for years. But after voting for Obamacare that looked dicey too.
 
Which left one alternative: Hagan could go to work to get the Swing Voters who disliked Obama to dislike Thom Tillis even more.
 
Then she might just win.
 
To be continued …

 

 

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14
I miss Jamie. I miss her smile, her laugh and the parties she threw. This campaign season, I’ve missed her political smarts and fundraising skills. A lot of candidates could have used her.
 
So this weekend I’ll join a lot of people – many who knew her and miss her and many who didn’t know her but were moved by her – at the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation’s Weekend of Purpose. You’re invited too, to Saturday’s day of service, that night’s celebration and Sunday’s brunch at Poole’s. Get information and tickets here.
 
The Foundation has wisely begun a strategic planning process for the future, but – as Jamie would have it – hasn’t waited to get to work. Established just a year ago, it’s already having an impact, without spending much of the money it has raised.
 
That has happened through its Raleigh Food Corridor campaign; the Gathering for Good series; the Second Saturday celebrations of food, entrepreneurs and policy; and service projects with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Raleigh City Farm, Activate Good, and the NC Fair Share Community Development Corporation.
 
Most important, it's making good on the promise to mobilize an Army of Jamies, led by her husband Nation, Executive Director Alexis Trost and an extraordinary board that includes Jamie’s parents and leaders like Joyce Fitzpatrick, Chris Sgro and Ken Lewis.
 
Coming less than three weeks before a big election, the celebration is a reminder that the work of helping people and building North Carolina doesn’t just happen in campaigns or in government.
 
As she did in her too-short life, Jamie Kirk Hahn is still inspiring people to do great things.

 

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14
If you think about it DENR’s proposal was pretty odd.
 
Last winter, when tons of water from a coal ash pond poured into the Dan River, there was consternation and gnashing of teeth. The U.S. Attorney started investigating. The Governor ordered every coal ash pond cleaned up. The legislature said Amen.
 
Then, with hardly a soul noticing, last August DENR signed off on a plan to clean up coal ash ponds – by dumping the water in the ponds directly into rivers and lakes.
 
Which sounded, more or less, like what had happened on the Dan River.
 
Which was odd.
 
And what happened next was even odder.
 
EPA nixed  DENR’s plan (and the controversy exploded in the newspapers again) then DENR announced it had simply been following orders (or an Executive Order) from the Governor. And did an about face.
 
In other words, DENR threw the Governor under the bus – which is something you don’t see happen in state government every day.

 

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14
America’s Great Ebola Freakout has produced some good lines:
 
“I wasn’t afraid of Ebola here until McCrory’s press conference lineup today reminded me that he, Wos and Tata are the ones protecting us from it. God help us.”
 
“Sarah Palin demanded today that President Obama protect America and invade Ebola.”

 

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13
First ISIS. Then Ebola. Now men marring men and women marrying women. What’s next? “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”?
 
More to the point, will video and big Page One pictures of newlywed men kissing each other sway this election?
 
Consider three things here.
 
First, yes, Amendment One passed with 60 percent of the vote. Two years ago. In a primary election with no big race. This is a general election with a big US Senate race and a lot of hot legislative races. Public opinion has moved fast since then, and same-sex marriages are happening all over the country.
 
Second, some number of the votes for Amendment One were African-American voters. They are more religious than most voters, they go to church more and their churches often are evangelical. Quite a few black preachers preached against same-sex marriage in 2010. It’s safe to say these voters will not be voting Republican in 2014.
 
Third, what’s the impact in precisely the urban areas with big college populations where sentiment runs strongest against the Republican legislature? Will these younger, college-educated voters stay home now, content that all is well? Or will this just galvanize an even bigger vote as they see that change is within their reach?
 
My guess is that same-sex marriage is at worst a wash for Democrats and very possibly a plus.

 

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10
As Halloween and early voting draw near, we political wizards examine entrails, cut up bats’ tails and consult the moon and stars to predict what will happen. (Translation: We trade rumors about polls, rumored polls and rumored rumors.)
 
Sometimes, you seek signs in what candidates do.
 
Take Thom Tillis. He increasingly looks like a losing quarterback hurling Hail Mary passes at the end of the game. Soon he’ll accuse Senator Hagan of sending federal stimulus dollars to Ebola-infected ISIS warriors so they can cross the Mexican border to get gay-marriage licenses in North Carolina. 
 
But some smart people look at real numbers. The smartest person when it comes to election numbers is Gerry Cohen, the retired General Assembly counsel. On his Facebook page, Cohen wrote:
 
“Wake County Board of Elections reports getting thousands of new voter registrations each day. Election Director says new registration is running at presidential election level and they are 10,000 forms behind. Wake has announced that completed registration forms can be dropped at any Wake County Public Library til 5 pm Friday. This folks clearly is a wave election in Wake. In fact, #‎WakeTidalWave.”
 
The numbers come from Colin Campbell’s N&O story about today being the last day of voter registration.

 

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08
The after-debate on who won is more interesting than the debates themselves.
 
You can rely on the partisans to declare victory. The media focuses on substance, issues and fact checks, none of which anybody is interested in. The stories are predictable: Candidates “clashed…traded jabs… repeated talking points…didn’t say anything new…etc.”
 
This year the popular term is “game-changer,” as in “this debate was no game-changer.”
 
Another popular trope is to say the moderator was the only winner, which is a three-fer: You avoid reaching a conclusion, you dismiss both candidates and you suck up to a big media personality.
 
The experts who get quoted have no real-world experience in campaigns and aren’t equipped to keep score. Anyway, it always takes several days for a consensus to set in on who won and who lost.
 
Take the Aiken-Ellmers and Hagan-Tillis debates. As an experiment, I watched the first and followed Twitter for the second.
 
A lot of people watched to see Clay Aiken; nobody cared about seeing Renee Ellmers. They just wanted to see if he was a joke or serious. Old hands I respect were impressed by him, but some people thought he was too caustic. A lot of people commented on his hair.
 
My take: He did well because he showed that he’s smart and serious. And the hair? Well, I haven’t seen a pompadour like that since Jim Hunt ran in 1976. As for Congresswoman Ellmers, she looked like a non-swimmer caught in a rip tide.
 
(Full disclosure: I worked for Aiken in the primary. But I made a commitment to help my friend Tom Bradshaw in his NC Senate race, and I no longer have the energy or bandwith to do more than one race.)
 
From Twitter, I take it that Hagan was crisper, stronger and more effective this time. Thom Tillis should fire his handlers for missing the most basic of all debate-prep questions: Name one issue where you differ with your party.
 
Oh well, there’s always tomorrow’s debate. Maybe we’ll have a meltdown. Or an explosion. Or at least a game-changer.

 

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07
Here’re the three tartest comments I heard about the Ellmers-Aiken debate.
 
“He has the silliest pompadour since Jim Hunt.”
 
“She was catty.”
 
“The person on stage most qualified to serve in Congress was David Crabtree.”

 

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07
Some North Carolina politicians sound today just like their predecessors in the 1950s, railing against the Supreme Court and rallying behind “state’s rights.”
 
Then it was racial discrimination. Today it’s same-sex marriage. Then – as today – the politicians were on the wrong side of history.
 
They say the state’s ban on gay marriages passed with 60 percent of the vote. Yes it did. In a primary two years ago. Want to try it again in a general election?
 
We may. We should see a sharp contrast tonight between Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan. If voters vote on this one issue – and some will – they’ll have a clear choice.
 
Yesterday, Tillis stood united with Senator Berger (for the first time in a while). They promised to resist the court ruling. Meanwhile, Governor McCrory say he would “respect” the decision, even though he didn’t agree with it. (Any bets on whether we will see any “recalculating” – as the GPS lady says – from the Gov?)
 
Last night, it was striking how gingerly both Renee Ellmers and Clay Aiken handled the issue. And Aiken reminded voters that Ellmers opposed the ban in 2012, as did he.
 
While tonight’s debate won’t provide nearly as entertaining overall as Aiken vs. Ellmers, this exchange could prove decisive November 4.

 

 

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Carter & Gary
 
Carter Wrenn
 
 
Gary Pearce
 
 
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
 
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
 
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
 
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
 
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
 
 
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