Monday, May 17, 2010

Ex-NASCAR driver weighs in on the 8th District race

Former NASCAR driver Lake Speed is featured in a new TV ad for Republican Tim D'Annunzio in the 8th District GOP runoff.

Speaking on behalf of We The People NC, a Tea Party offshoot that has endorsed the Hoke County businessman, Speed calls D'Annunzio "a Christian who knows the Constitution and our founding principles very well. Like our nation's founders he's pledged his life, fortune and sacred honor restoring our nation to its principles."

D'Annunzio faces Harold Johnson in a June 22 GOP runoff. His ad will air nightly in Charlotte on Fox.

Johnson, a former Charlotte sportscaster, has had his own NASCAR help. Dale Earnhardt Jr., team owner Felix Sabates and racing figure Ray Evernham have made contributions. Three-time Cup series champion Darrell Waltrip wrote a letter soliciting support.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Winners and losers

Some observations about Tuesday's primary:

-- It was not a good day for Charlotte's Black Political Caucus. Despite distributing thousands of copies of its endorsements, a slate pushed by state Rep. Beverly Earle and her counter-caucus were the ones celebrating Tuesday night.

The Earle slate, consisting of Sheriff Chipp Bailey, Sen. Malcolm Graham, Rep. Becky Carney and House candidate Rodney Moore, beat the Black Caucus slate all around. And while the Black Caucus-endorsed Senate candidate Elaine Marshall carried Mecklenburg, most African American precincts went for Ken Lewis, a black attorney from Chapel Hill.

-- A sign of trouble for Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell? While he won 63 percent of the vote in the 8th District, his little-known opponent, Nancy Shakir of Fayetteville, won Mecklenburg County with 51 percent.

-- Turnout in Mecklenburg was one of the lowest in the state at 7 percent.

-- State Rep. Nick Mackey -- another candidate endorsed by the Black Caucus -- carried just two of the 21 precincts in his state House district.

-- Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham needs to work in Mecklenburg. He finished third behind Marshall and Lewis. The handful of precincts he carried were generally suburban areas, and he didn't carry them by much. He won one with 12 votes to Marshall's 11.

-- What to expect from a June 22 runoff when people are on vacation and otherwise occupied? Not much. In 2008, when North Carolina had a runoff for state Labor commissioner, less than 1 percent of Mecklenburg voters showed up. Statewide, turnout was 1.8 percent.

-- Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, a Democrat-leaning firm, found plenty for Democrats to worry about in the Senate results.

"What the turnout numbers do show is a disturbing lack of interest from Democratic voters," he wrote. "The 426,000 who cast a ballot in the Senate primary represents a 32 percent decline from the 628,000 who did in 2002, and this is despite the fact that after the 2008 election cycle there are more registered Democrats in the state than ever."

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Black Caucus vs. the Counter Caucus

When voters go to the polls in Mecklenburg's predominantly African American precincts tomorrow, they'll meet volunteers handing out some of the 28,000 flyers with the endorsements of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus.

And they'll also get a flyer endorsing other candidates -- most of whom were not endorsed by the caucus.

Helping lead what might be called the counter-caucus is state Rep. Beverly Earle. Though she was endorsed by the caucus, she's not happy that some friends and colleagues were not. So she'll be promoting a slate urging the election of fellow Democrats, state Rep. Becky Carney, Sen. Malcolm Graham, Sheriff Chipp Bailey and House challenger Rodney Moore.

"I support my colleagues," Earle said.

So why support Moore, who's running against another one of Earle's colleagues, Rep. Nick Mackey?

"I support most of my colleagues," she said. "Why should I support him if he's putting somebody out there to run against me?"

Earle believe Mackey is behind the candidacy of Rocky Bailey, who's challenging her in the primary. Mackey has denied it.

Caucus chair Gloria Rembert said she'd heard of the counter-slate. She acknowledged that there has been more blowback over this year's endorsements than ever before.

Said Rembert: "You and I will both know tomorrow what the voters say.”

D'Annunzio top self-funder in NC -- and one of top in country

Republican Tim D'Annunzio has crossed the $1 million mark in contributions and loans to his 8th District campaign.

The Hoke County businessman gave his campaign another $50,000 on April 29, bringing his total to just over $1 million.

Only three House candidates in the country -- and none in North Carolina -- have reached deeper into their pockets, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

D'Annunzio faces five challengers in the GOP primary for the seat held by Democrat Larry Kissell.