Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Black caucus endorsement a 'coup' for Roberts?

A few months ago, in the heat of the Nick Mackey controversy, some black Democrats vowed to punish Mecklenburg commissioners chairman Jennifer Roberts at the polls.

Roberts, after party activists chose Mackey as sheriff in a disputed -- and later overturned -- party election, was among those who voted to make his erstwhile rival Chipp Bailey sheriff. "There will be some awfully angry African Americans in this community," predicted one black Democrat.

But at Sunday night's closed Black Political Caucus meeting, Roberts ended up with one of the group's three endorsements for at-large seats. Democratic Party chair Joel Ford said this morning that there was spirited debate. One of the people pushing the endorsement of Roberts and Dan Murrey, both white Democrats, was Harold Cogdell, the only black at-large Democrat.

"By joining with all three and by unifying the ticket .... it's a no-brainer, it's a slam dunk," said Ford. "It's the dream team."

Without strong African American support for Roberts, or for that matter Murrey, both could lose. It also would threaten continued Democratic control of the county board.

Republican commissioner Dan Ramirez wasn't impressed by the caucus vote. Virtually every candidate endorsed is a Democrat.

"They lost all credibility as a caucus," he said. They should call themselves the black Democratic caucus."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kissell -- Hunt-ing for votes in Charlotte

They both wore white shirts and ties, with rolled up sleeves and earnest looks. It was hard to tell who the candidate was this afternoon as Democrats Jim Hunt and Larry Kissell walked door to door in Charlotte's Cherry community.

Hunt was helping Kissell in his 8th District race against Republican Rep. Robin Hayes. Before an evening fundraiser, they campaigned in the mostly African American neighborhood near uptown.

"Folks, I'm down here because we need to make some changes in Washington," Hunt told two men pulling out of a driveway on Cherry Street. "Haven't they messed it up up there? We need a change."

Hunt went on to tell people that Kissell, a former textile worker, "knows about the working people." Hayes, he reminded them, is the fifth richest person in Congress.

A few people greeted Hunt as a celebrity. Some appeared to barely know him.

Bounding up Mike Pugh's front porch, Hunt extended his hand.

"I'm former Gov. Jim Hunt," he said. "I bet you voted for me a few times, didn't you?"

"No," replied Pugh, 55. This is the first time I've ever voted."

Friday, September 26, 2008

North Carolina the new Ohio?

Could North Carolina in 2008 play the role of Ohio in 2004?

That's what NBC political analyst Chuck Todd says he's hearing from folks in Barack Obama's campaign.

“(They) tell me they think in four weeks we will be talking about North Carolina more than we will be Ohio,” Todd told Dave Wagner of Flashpoint, a public affairs show on NewsChannel 36.

“They do believe the voter registration advantage that they have had in this state which started with the very competitive primary during the spring is allowed them to change the face of the electorate.”

You can catch Flashpoint Sunday at 10:30 a.m. In addition to Todd, the show features Davidson political scientist Susan Roberts, and me.

In his segment, Todd also talks about North Carolina's U.S. Senate campaign. Political analyst Charlie Cook also weighs in on the race in a column today.

Republican Senate hopes are looking more dismal around the county, he says, adding that GOP prospects "in Minnesota, Oregon, and North Carolina have dimmed a bit in the past month or two." To read the entire column, click here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two new polls show tight race in N.C.

Two new polls show a tight presidential race in North Carolina.

A CNN/Time poll released this afternoon shows Republican John McCain leading Democrat Barack Obama 48 percent to 47 percent among registered N.C. voters. That's well with within the 3.5-point margin of error.

A survey of registered voters by the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute found McCain ahead 43 percent to 42 percent. Libertarian Bob Barr got 2 percent. When poll-takers asked undecided voters who they're leaning to, McCain's lead moved to 47 percent to 44 percent, with 8 percent undecided.

The margin of error in the Civitas poll is 4.2 percentage points.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Joe Biden: Lots of walking

When Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden was in Charlotte Sunday, he ridiculed Republican John McCain's statement that the economy had made progress under President Bush.

"I could walk from here to Greensboro,” he told a crowd at a Phillip O. Berry Academy. “I wouldn't run into one person who thought we'd made economic progress unless I ran into John McCain.”

A few days earlier, he was in New Hampshire.

"I can walk from here to Manchester, and I doubt I'll find anyone who said the fundamentals are strong and the economy's roaring, unless I run into John McCain."

This week he was in Michigan.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I could walk from here to Lansing, and I wouldn't run into a single person who thought our economy was doing well, unless I ran into John McCain,” he said.

If he ever DID run into McCain, they wouldn't necessarily talk about their political differences. Biden always prefaces his criticisms with testimony about their long personal friendship. In Charlotte, he talked about a call he made eight years ago after McCain was roughed up in the S.C. GOP primary.

"Where do you want me John?" he recalled asking. "I'll show up where ever you want to testify for your integrity and character."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Charlie Cook: Headed to a 'photo finish'

ELON -- By any objective measure, Democrats should be running away with this presidential election, political analyst Charlie Cook said this noon.

The economy is down. The party of an unpopular president is trying to stay in power. The Democratic candidate has a wide edge in money and field organization.

"Pratically every factor you point to suggests (Barack) Obama ought to win this relatively easily," said Cook, publisher of the Washington-based Cook Political Report. "But he hasn't been able to put it away."

Cook, at Elon University for a speech tonight, spoke to around two dozen reporters and editors this noon in a political science lab. In addition to the presidential race, he also talked about North Carolina's U.S. Senate race, and why incumbent Elizabeth Dole faces a tougher than expected race.

Cook said while Obama will do well with black, Hispanic and young voters, he hasn't been able to close the deal with white voters over 50. Because "They've never met anybody like Barack Obama .... We're headed toward I think a photo finish," Cook said.

He said the dynamics that are helping Obama help Democrat Kay Hagan in her race against Dole, who at one time looked almost invincible.

"A year ago, we never thought we'd be talking about it," he said. "It's not about (Hagan) It's a referendum up or down on Elizabeth Dole, and to some extent Republicans. And Kay Hagan is a vessel....

"In a normal year, Elizabeth Dole wouldn't have anything to worry about. This isn't a normal year."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Edwards canceling all appearances

Looks like we won't be hearing from former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards for a while.

Edwards has canceled a scheduled Oct. 14 speech at my alma mater, the University of Illinois. He's also canceled appearances at New York's Hofstra University and Salem State College in Massachusetts.

The Illini Union Board, which was going to pay Edwards $65,000 for the speech, posted this statement from Edwards on their Web site:

“I have decided to avoid any public engagements until after the election in November. Nothing is more important than electing Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I don’t want my appearance at these events to be a distraction from the important issues of the election, or from the important purpose of these meetings.”

Edwards' star has fallen since he admitted to an affair with a former campaign worker, an affair first reported by the National Enquirer.

This week Enquirer editor David Perel said the same reporters -- what he called "the Edwards team" -- was in Alaska looking into members of Gov. Sarah Palin's family.