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Last week on this blog, Carter did that voodoo he does so well: attack tax-and-spend Democrats. His target was Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker

Here was the money punch:

“From 1992 to 2001, under Republican mayors, Raleigh never raised property taxes. Now, under Mayor Meeker we are staring at the second tax increase in three years. What’s driving all these tax increases?

“Well, in Raleigh, city government has gone on an unbridled spending spree. Under Mayor Meeker the City Council is spending money like there is no tomorrow.”

Now, Carter got that first Republican mayor (Tom Fetzer) elected. So Democrats should pay attention. That dog can hunt.

We can outfox that old dog. But here is how not to do it:

  • Look like an elitist who cares only about downtown and sneers at the suburbs;

  • Spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars on projects that look like foolish follies in a 30-second ad – let alone a close examination.

  • Spend the money on projects like a $20 million subsidy to the Marriot family to build a downtown hotel, a billion-dollar rail system that even the federal government won’t fund and ever-rising costs for the convention center and parking deck.

Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of Raleigh Democrats want to go.

Democrats should never lose a Raleigh election. Fifty percent of the voters are registered Democrats, and only 35 percent are Republicans.

That’s why John Odom’s at-large campaign flopped last year. He ran a turn-out-the-base campaign. But turnout campaigns don’t work when you’ve got only 35 percent of the vote.

Democrats are just as clueless if they think voter registration – and impact fees – are the automatic keys to City Hall.

Private polls last year showed unease about the Mayor’s spending policies. Fortunately, Meeker didn’t have an opponent who could take advantage.

Don’t count on being lucky next time. Hope is not a strategy.

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