Saturday, April 17, 2010

In the NC Senate race it appears that Democratic officialdom has once again unerringly managed to line itself up behind the worst candidate


With update: Charlotte Observer endorses Marshall

NC Democratic Senate contenders Cunningham, Lewis, and Marshall

"No one likes to be called a homophobe, yet some of these purported allies feel they need to closet their LGBT support in order to win/get by/soothe the outright homophobes to win an election. These creatures are the most onerous because they have no problem showing up at events to take gay money, but won't put positions on their web sites and usually dodge questions in non-LGBT settings. It never occurs to them that if they took an affirmative stand and simply called out, say, the HRC-rated 0% Richard Burr on his bigotry and hypocrisy -- a lot of people in NC know he has gay friends -- they'd do just fine. Does Burr privately feel they should be second-class citizens?"
-- a footnote explaining her use of the term "politically homophobic" in Pam Spaulding's Pam's House Blend post on her attempt to get a full position statement on LGBT rights from the campaign of NC Dem Senate contender Cal Cunningham

by Ken

I encourage everyone to read this incredibly convoluted post, which Pam begins by declaring she "really didn't want to have to write," on "campaign dealings that will curl your hair." The post, let me make clear, is "convoluted" not because of any deficiency in Pam's narrative skills but because she had to endure so much double talk and procrastination from the campaign of one of the three candidates contesting the Democratic nomination to face Sen. Richard "Bank Run" Burr, one of the lowlier and more pathetic toads inhabiting the Senate marshes.

Howie has been keeping tabs on this race (as recently as this past Tuesday), where it appears that once again, with two really good candidates to choose from, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and lawyer Ken Lewis, the weight of Democratic officialdom is lining up behind the most solidly unprogressive, or should we say the most malleable to the interests of sociopolitical orthodoxy, lawyer Cal Cunningham.

There's a wrinkle, though. Even in North Carolina, it seems, in a Democratic primary it has become important for contenders to sort of pretend to be progressives, in recognition of the growing importance of the most energized and committed portion of the party's base. At the primary stage, then, it seems important at least to keep Democratic progressives at bay by providing sincere whispered assurances that deep in their hearts they bleed progressive blue. But the more worrying -- to "centrist" hearts and minds -- the issue, the more private those deeply held progressive views have to be kept. And what issues provide a better test than LGBT ones? This is where the "political homophobia" Pam writes about comes into play.

It says something that progressives are no longer simply blown off, as Pam reports happened in North Carolina as recently as the 2008 Senate campaign:
As I mentioned back when I started covering the NC U.S. Senate race this year, my goal was to avoid what happened in 2008 when candidate-now-Senator Kay Hagan blew off LGBT reporters when it came to giving any straight answers about her views on prospective votes on DADT, ENDA, etc. if she were to take office. Clearly some Beltway drones got to her and told her "you can't do that, you'll never get elected in NC."

This year, it turns out, Pam had no trouble getting answers from the Lewis and Marshall campaigns. In fact, "out of the blue, months ago (12/10/2009), Ken Lewis and his campaign reached out to do an interview with me for the Blend." The plan she devised, she explains, was live blogs with all three campaigns, and again, the Lewis and Marshall campaigns cooperated fully, and on their own incorporated positions articulated there into their websites. But "there was only silence from the Cunningham campaign."
So, then there was that "milk carton" post of mine on April 12, NC-Sen: Where's Cal Cunningham on LGBT issues? I put it up at BlueNC and Daily Kos as well, hoping someone on his campaign would finally get a clue that I thought it was important for him to get on the record.

What do you know, on April 12 I received a call from someone on the campaign, who said they would try to make something happen. That led to a call on the 13th from campaign manager Rick Fromberg, who said that the lack of contact wasn't a blow-off, but "a scheduling problem."

For the rest of the story, I direct you to Pam's full account, which reads like an action-adventure thriller. Eventually, under conditions drastically more favorable than the other campaigns received (including receiving all the questions ahead of time), the Cunningham campaign participated. [CORRECTION: This should have read "agreed to participate." See below.] And eventually, after much private assuring and hand-wringing, the Cunningham campaign added a really fine website section headed "Equality and Civil Rights."

But considering what it took to get this out of them, do we have any reason to believe any of it would figure in a Senator Cunningham's thinking and voting once in office?


Obviously I got so caught up in the twists and turns of the story that I missed a crucial detail about the Cunningham live blog. As Pam herself kindly notes in a comment:
Cal Cunningham has not participated in a liveblog yet. His camp would only agree to a liveblog next Sunday, long after early voting began. I plan to make my endorsement on Monday, which I did tell Campaign Manager Rick Fromberg.
Thanks for correcting that, Pam!

UPDATE: In A Big Blow To Beltway Bossism.
Charlotte Observer Just Endorsed Elaine

Menendez and the DSCC Stalinists have been pulling out all stops for their patsy, but today's Charlotte Observer urged Democrats to do what's right for North Carolina, not the Inside-the-Beltway boys' club:
We believe Elaine Marshall best combines the experience, achievement, temperament and intellect to make a promising U.S. Senator.
Marshall's story is one of an underdog who has made good. Marshall became the first woman elected statewide to executive office in North Carolina in 1996, when she defeated NASCAR legend Richard Petty in a race for secretary of state. She has won re-election three times since and is the only one of this bunch to have won statewide. In 2008, she won more votes in a contested race than anyone but Attorney General Roy Cooper.

...Her 13-plus year performance as secretary of state has been impressive. She was instrumental in bringing about lobbying and ethics reforms. She brought organizational skills and technological upgrades that have vastly improved the performance of her department. She is recognized for her efforts to combat counterfeit goods and protect copyrights. And she has battled consumer fraud... She has taken on special interests and won.

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At 6:14 PM, Blogger Pam Spaulding said...

One correx: Cal Cunningham has not participated in a liveblog yet. His camp would only agree to a liveblog next Sunday, long after early voting began. I plan to make my endorsement on Monday, which I did tell Campaign Manager Rick Fromberg.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Ah, thanks for the correction, Pam. I got so caught up in the twists and turns of the story that I garbled this last one.


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