Jim Neal and the Politics of Innuendo

Like many here, I was very impressed with Jim Neal when he first announced he was going to run for the U.S. Senate and was flattered that he immediately reached out to BlueNC. I respected the way he handled the outing of his sexual orientation in the political arena and was fairly certain I had found my candidate.

Everything was fine until Kay Hagan reversed her decision to sit out the senate race. Many of us saw the hand of Chuck Shumer and the work of the DSCC trying to decide for North Carolinians who their senate candidate would be. We saw a Rahm Emanuel / Tami Duckworth situation looming in our future. We were quite angry.

Eventually, things quieted down and we enjoyed the blog posts being written by Neal volunteers. As far as I was concerned, I wasn't going to have to revisit this decision and could spend my time sizing up the rest of the races.

Several weeks ago I noticed a change in the Neal campaign. Instead of the positive campaign I had expected from Jim Neal, the campaign went negative, almost hostile. I first noticed it when Mark Binker blogged about it. I was a bit shocked, but too busy to look into the story behind the press releases, though I mentioned it in a comment at BlueNC.

Recently, it happened again. A couple of days before our scheduled live-blog with Kay Hagan, the Neal campaign accused Hagan of using her legislative influence to prevent other Democrats from supporting Jim Neal. Again, it was Mark Binker with the story, but Doug Clark who more clearly defined Neal's accusation. With the BlueNC Governors debate and Kay Hagan's live-blog approaching, I didn't have time to dissect what was going on.

That time has come.

The "Where's Kay?" Campaign

The first press release from the Neal campaign that I thought crossed the line came out on March 14. It was titled, "Where's Kay? State Senator Blows off Debates, Voters". It makes the following claims or accusations:

  • Kay Hagan ignored a debate invitation from the League of Women Voters and Public Radio East.
  • Kay Hagan has refused other "unscripted exchanges before the voters".
  • Kay Hagan has ignored a request from WTVD-TV for a debate.
  • This prompted an email from Judie Burke of the League of Women Voters to Andrew Kain, Jim Neal's campaign manager. In it she told him that Rob Christensen had been informed of the debate after his article on March 9 in the Raleigh News & Observer. In the email to Christensen, Burke listed those who had agreed to attend the debate and they included Hagan, Lassiter, Neal and Staley. She said that Mr. Williams had also been invited since he had recently filed to run.

    This exchange prompted another release from the Neal campaign on March 15. In this release the campaign makes the following claims or accusations.

  • Kay Hagan has made another public reversal of position.
  • Kay Hagan failed to meet the deadline to participate in the debate.
  • Kay Hagan came forward only after the Neal campaign made public that she had failed to inform Public Radio East she would be attending.
  • Kay Hagan has failed to respond to an invitation from WTVD-TV to debate her opponents.
  • The final press release in this series came in Neal's statement to the press the day of the debate. In this release, the Neal campaign makes the following claims or accusations:

  • WTVD-TV in Durham, WLTT in Wilmington, statewide African American Caucus and the Young Democrats of North Carolina have all offered to stage debates.
  • Kay Hagan only agreed to the League of Women Voters / Public Radio East debate after unilaterally changing the format.
  • The other senatorial candidates were excluded from the discussion about the format changes.
  • It's time to check some facts

    After speaking with folks involved in these events I have verified that the Neal campaign has been less than truthful.

    Here's what I learned:

  • Kay Hagan did NOT ignore the debate invitation from the League of Women Voters and Public Radio East.
  • Kay Hagan has NOT refused to face Neal in "unscripted exchanges before the voters" .
  • Kay Hagan has NOT ignored the request from WTVD-TV to schedule a debate.
  • Kay Hagan did NOT make another public reversal of position.
  • Kay Hagan did NOT fail to meet the deadline to participate in the League of Women Voters debate
  • Kay Hagan did NOT come forward and agree to the debate simply because the Neal campaign claimed she wasn't planning to debate.
  • Kay Hagan has NOT failed to respond to WTVD-TV's efforts to set up a debate.
  • Kay Hagan did NOT unilaterally change the format of the League of Women voters / Public Radio East debate
  • The other candidates for U.S. Senate had the same opportunity to offer format suggestions in developing the League of Women Voters debate.
  • WTVD-TV and the Alliance of Black Elected Officials have offered to host a debate and have contacted both parties.
  • WLTT and Young Democrats of North Carolina either have not offered to host debates, or have not set dates and formally sent invitations.
  • Almost every accusation or claim made by the Neal campaign is false or so distorted it doesn't resemble the truth. The following information from interviews I've conducted with principal participants tells a more accurate version of events.

    According to Judie Burke, President of the League of Women Voters the Hagan campaign had not ignored the invitation to debate or responded past the deadline. Also, with an email dated March 9 from Burke to Christensen listing Hagan as having accepted the invitation, it is obvious that Hagan's acceptance was not in response to the Neal campaign's March 14 accusation that she had ignored the invitation and it was not a public reversal.

    Burke also said that every candidate was given the chance to make format change requests. She said that the Hagan campaign made several suggestions, but the only one that was used was the request that the debate be 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes. Ms. Burke said the League discussed it and agreed that it made sense. However, she was adamant that every candidate was welcome to make requests or suggestions in regards to the debate format. In other words, Kay Hagan did not unilaterally change the debate format.

    I also checked with Megen George, the woman in charge of organizing the debate for Public Radio East. She is the news director, features producer and host for The Down East Journal. Megen said that while bringing the Hagan campaign on board took longer than the other candidates, the Hagan campaign did not miss any deadlines and did not ignore the request to debate. Megen said that once Colleen Flanagan was brought on board the Hagan campaign as Communications Director the process moved along more quickly. She also said that all the candidates wanted Kay Hagan to participate in the debate and that the Neal campaign would check in periodically. She said that the first press release came out several days after the Neal campaign had checked with her to see if Hagan was particpating. At the time of the phone call, Hagan had still not confirmed, but did so before the first press release was issued. The Neal campaign had not called back before publishing their release.

    It also isn't true that Hagan has avoided "unscripted exchanges before the voters". She's participated in numerous forums with Jim Neal including Think Tankers (Wake Forest), NC Association of Bankers, Charlotte/Meck Black Political Caucus and they will be at the Orange County Democratic Party forum.

    A forum the Hagan campaign missed was one sponsored by the Young Democrats of North Carolina that would have been held in Greensboro if a snow storm hadn't resulted in it being cancelled. Kay Hagan had a prior engagement that prevented her from attending that particular forum. In speaking with Zack Hawkins, President of Young Democrats of North Carolina, he indicated that Young Dems did schedule a forum that Senator Hagan could not fit in her schedule and if she had attended she would have arrived very late. He also indicated that Young Dems wanted to schedule two debates, but those have not been solidified and invitations have not gone out.

    WLTT radio - The Big Talker F.M. - out of Wilmington is home to conservative talk radio host, Curtis Wright. He interviewed Jim Neal on his radio talk show and his television show. At the time, the station was helping coordinate a gubernatorial debate but was having difficulty getting Richard Moore and Bev Perdue to participate. Wright casually floated the idea to Neal that if Moore and Perdue wouldn't participate maybe Hagan and Neal could take their places. Wright says he took the idea to the other participants and they felt it would not be fair to the gubernatorial candidate who had agreed to the debate, Retired USAF Colonel Dennis Nielsen. Wright and his producer Aimee Robbins both say the Hagan campaign was never contacted and the idea never went any further.

    There is a debate scheduled that will be hosted by the North Carolina Alliance of Black Elected Officials (not the statewide African American Caucus as is claimed on Neal's press release) and they are working out the details with WTVD-TV in Durham. I spoke with Mark Falgout from WTVD who said the Hagan campaign had not ignored the station's request to schedule a debate, but that they had first contacted the campaign in November and they are just now finalizing details.

    To be fair, I checked Kay Hagan's press releases during the time period the Neal releases were published. This release is the only one that mentions the debate. There are no negative attack releases coming out of the campaign directed at Jim Neal. The only releases coming from the Hagan camp that could be considered negative are directed at Elizabeth Dole.

    Embellished Endorsements

    In a post here at BlueNC, dancewater published the completed questionnaires for two of the candidates for U.S. Senate. Jim Neal was one of them. On the questionnaire he lists a group of endorsements. Here are just a few:

    List endorsements from organizations and/or individuals:
    Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg
    E-Quality Giving
    CORRECTION: Blue NC DID NOT ENDORSE PER NEAL CAMPAIGN
    Pam’s House Blend
    Howie Klein, co-founder of the Blue America PAC
    David Salie, the director of the groundbreaking on-line fundraising operation
    John Ross Hendrix, a former candidate in the race
    James C. Hormel, Ambassador
    Hillary Rosen, a member of the Democratic National Committee
    Bob Kerrey, former U.S. Senator

    Almost immediately James and I noticed and posted about the erroneous BlueNC endorsement. The campaign contacted Progressive Dems and had that retracted. Then Pam Spaulding spoke up and said that Pam's House Blend also had not endorsed Jim Neal, though she was personally supporting him.

    Honest mistakes, right? Only here's the deal. In politics, when you are putting together a list of endorsements you double check to make sure that you can list that person or entity as an endorser. This isn't simply listing your supporters. An endorsement is more formal than a simple statement of support and is supposed to carry more weight and meaning.

    One of the more prominent people listed as an endorser, former Senator Bob Kerrey has said that he did not endorse Jim Neal. I spoke with Senator Kerrey last week. He said that Jim Neal is a good man and that he likes Jim. Kerrey, however refused to endorse Jim Neal when asked. According to Kerrey, he told Jim that he didn't know the other person running, but that he does not endorse in a primary. Kerrey was very clear about this when we spoke. As a matter of fact when he returned my call he responded to my greeting with, "This is Bob Kerrey. I hear I've endorsed Jim Neal." He sounded quite amused and I got the feeling I wasn't the first person to contact him about his "endorsement".

    There was one other item that jumped out on this questionnaire. Under the question about the candidate's relationship with labor there is this claim:

    Because this is my first run at elective office, I am not eligible for union endorsements, because based on the rules of the AFL-CIO I must have a public voting record to be considered for endorsement for the office of U.S. Senate.

    This is completely untrue. I spoke with James Andrews, President, North Carolina AFL-CIO and he said that while a legislative voting record will be considered if one exists, it is not necessary in order to apply or receive an endorsement from the group. He also mentioned a previous candidate for U.S. Senate who had no prior voting record and who received an endorsement. That man's name is John Edwards.

    Jim Neal Accuses Kay Hagan of using Legislative Influence to Intimidate Prospective Neal Supporters

    On March 23, Mark Binker wrote an article with this lede:

    RALEIGH — Kay Hagan's chief rival in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate has accused the state senator of using her status as a powerful and politically connected committee chairwoman to intimidate his potential supporters.

    The problem with Neal's accusation is that he does not back it up. He doesn't even come close. In the same article, Neal gives this description of his "proof":

    "There is an inside machine that is working very hard to lock down the money in the state," said Jim Neal, a Chapel Hill investment banker and Greensboro native. On the stump and in phone calls to potential donors, Neal has told audiences that potential supporters were being "muscled" by political operatives friendly to Hagan.

    "Someone will agree, 'Jim, I'll throw a fundraiser for you.' And then all of a sudden we won't hear from them for a while and the next thing you know, they're throwing a fundraiser for Kay (Hagan)," Neal said when asked to describe how this muscling worked.

    Basically, what Jim describes happens all the time in politics and it usually has nothing to do with anybody being forced to support one candidate over another. Usually, it has very much to do with the process of choosing a candidate you think can win.

    Last cycle few, if any, moneyed Democrats backed Larry Kissell in this state. He was an untested candidate, much like Jim Neal and they didn't think he could win. Big donors do not want to sink money into a candidate that they think has no chance of winning. It happens all the time.

    Doug Clark commented on Binker's article in his blog post on March 24.

    It initially sounded like whining from a little-known, first-time candidate who, not surprisingly, is having trouble raising money. Potential donors naturally would be skeptical about sinking money into the campaign of a guy who stands little chance of knocking off Elizabeth Dole, especially when the same potential donors are being hit up by better-known Democrats like Bev Perdue, Richard Moore and, yes, Kay Hagan, the party's leading Senate candidate.

    But Neal seems to be saying more.

    :::snip:::

    As in, "Support me and I'll return the favor through the legislative appropriations process"?

    Or, "Support Neal and I'll punish you through the legislative appropriations process"?

    There are words for that: Bribery and extortion.

    Doug's exactly right. If Neal is going to accuse Kay Hagan or her "operatives" of extortion then he had better be prepared to back those accusations up with some names or he had better be prepared to back down.

    I called Andrew Kain, Neal's campaign manager. I asked if they planned to give us any names to back up their accusations. He said the Binker article spelled it out accurately and that it wasn't in their best interest to expose the people who had gone back on their commitments to raise money for Neal. In the Binker article, Neal is not quoted as saying Kay Hagan is directly doing the arm twisting which makes me wonder why the campaign would sit idly by if Binker and Clark have misinterpreted what Neal is saying.

    Kain emphasized that they don't know who is doing it, but that there have been people who committed to support Neal or hold a fundraiser and then the campaign never heard from them again. He said they don't know if it's Hagan, the state party or the DSCC, but they know it is happening.

    I asked the Hagan campaign if Kay was involved in this in any way and they said she is not. I emailed Jerry Meek and asked if the state party was involved in any political arm twisting and I have not heard back. I also called the DSCC and spoke with Matt Miller the communications director and he said the DSCC is not trying to muscle people into supporting Hagan.

    That leaves us with some very serious allegations and no backup whatsoever, just some vague claim that they, "know it's happening".

    Conclusion

    In a political season where people have touted one presidential candidate over another because he represents a new kind of politics and where people openly embrace the "politics of hope", I can't believe a Democratic candidate would conduct his campaign in such a divisive style. It's especially hard to swallow since Jim Neal has worked hard to draw parallels between himself and Barack Obama. Personally, I don't see these parallels.

    Early on I had such high hopes. I expected negative campaigns from Perdue and Moore and expected dirty campaigning in the presidential primary. I didn't expect such ugliness from Jim Neal. I thought he was different. Apparently, I was wrong.

    The following were interviewed to verify information:

  • Judie Burke, President, League of Women Voters
  • Bob Kerrey, former senator and President of The New School in New York
  • Megen George, News Director - Features Producer and Host for The Down East Journal, Public Radio East
  • Mark Falgout, Special Projects, WTVD-TV - I'm sorry Mark, I didn't get your exact title
  • Zack Hawkins, President, Young Democrats of North Carolina
  • Aimee Robbins, Producer, The Big Talker at WLTT
  • Curtis Wright, Host, The Big Talker at WLTT
  • Andrew Kain, Campaign Manager, Jim Neal for Senate
  • Matt Miller, Communications Director, DSCC
  • James Andrews, President, North Carolina AFL-CIO
  • Comments

    You pegged it nctodc

    Hagan was covered and in vivid detail.

    The fact is Jim Neal has no legislative record to run on. The easiest thing to look at is how his campaign is being run.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Well put

    Thank you for saying this, because that's the impression I got also.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
    -Edmund Burke

    I used to be President of PDNC

    and I blog, here and there, sort of.

    When I was President the pus war insanity that was the PDNC listserv took up way more time than any have dozen blogs would have.

    I'd much rather post on BlueNC.

    I'd really like to be more involved in PDNC, but the few times

    I've tried to engage, I was met with either condescension, or the attitude that "we always do it this way." So I pretty much gave up. But I'll give it another try, because I have faith in LoftT. I'll wander over there, pay my dues, and read a bit before I post.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
    Pointing at Naked Emperors

    I had a big long comment ...

    but it got eaten by the machine. Here was the punch line:

    **********************

    Ugliness? I guess my threshold has been raised by all the slime flying from the Clinton campaign over the past two months. And to paraphrase myself when people accuse me of being obscene ugly, I say:

    You want to know what's ugly? What's ugly is a state Senate that cut taxes on the rich when it could have helped everyone. What's ugly is a state Senate that voted to give away our clean air so Duke Energy could make more money. What's ugly is the homophobic way some of the Democratic party elders operate in both Washington and North Carolina.

    One additional point:

    In the Binker article, Neal is not quoted as saying Kay Hagan is directly doing the arm twisting which makes me wonder why the campaign would sit idly by if Binker and Clark have misinterpreted what Neal is saying.

    It would have been more than magnanimous for Neal's campaign to go back to reporters and tell them they misinterpreted his comments. We'll see what he has to say.

    Obscene <Perk>

    Dang. You've been obscene?

    Was this before ya'll decided to tone down the use of F-words and stuff? I hate that I joined BlueNC after "reform."

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
    -Edmund Burke

    You missed it

    Yep, you sure did. I used to be a wash-yer-mouth-out-with-soap-and-water kinda guy. Now I'm all goodie two shoes.

    Me too

    I think the new James is taking a toll on me. Back when I was Anglico, I was more than happy to say fuck you at the drop of a hint. Now I'm all repressed. And schizophrenic.

    Cripes man, go to the fridge and have a bottle/glass

    of whatever adult beverage you have available, pick some evil-doer like Blackwater, or Cheney, or that scumbag that cut you off today, close the door and give them a good cussing.

    I hear Elliot Spitzer is working on a self-help novel and a dvd - Spitzer Your Stress Away. You might want to buy it when it comes out. :)

    Person County Democrats

    I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

    As the saying goes

    it's the perfect word . . . You all know how the saying goes, so I'm not going to tax my memory to retrieve the lines.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
    -Edmund Burke

    I am amused by people's phobias about "profanity"

    Words are pretty much harmless, in and of themselves. Context is everything.

    I can take a "profane" word, substitute something benign, or even nonsensical, and somehow people believe it is then acceptable.

    "Frack you!" Somehow is OK. "Fuck you!" isn't.

    In both instances I wish to convey a suggestion to the listener about how I view his opinion. In the second instance, I am sure he will understand what I said with all due venom implied.

    Of course, I can use people's insistence on "clean" language to make a point.

    I can invite some to take their own Cheney and ram it up their Rumsfeld.

    It does make for a more colorful discourse.

    Liberalism as a badge of honor!
    No apologies, no excuses.

    Liberalism as a badge of honor!
    No apologies, no excuses.

    Quite creative.

    How fortunate that the President's name is Bush and the VP's name is Dick. Hmm.

    I know - every 9th grader in the world has made that joke. Count me in.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
    Pointing at Naked Emperors

    Can't take her anywhere

    You can take the woman out of Jersey but you can't take the Jersey out of the woman

    "jump in where you can and hang on"
    Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

    Article Timing?

    I'm new to Blue NC, and based on everything I've read and heard, I really like Jim Neal and plan to support him. Based on the poll, it looks like many others feel the same way I do.

    Two observations I've noticed about Blue NC and the race though...

    1) Kay Hagan's picture was up on the front of Blue NC for at least a week on Blue NC (while Jim's wasn't).

    2) This article was posted just after a poll was launched showing a lot of Jim Neal support.

    Does anyone else think this is a little weird?

    Not weird

    I can tell you from personal experience that keeping up with the front page blocks is a pain in the butt. And I assure you there is no conspiracy behind any scenes. We're all doing this in our spare time and, frankly, it's a lot harder than it looks.

    Kay's post was up for six days, after the live-blog, but no days beforehand. Our normal approach is three before, three after. I took it down today when I realized it had overstayed it's welcome.

    Really?

    I seem to remember links to the thread where questions were to be asked BEFORE the live-blog session.

    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    Those links went up the day of the live-blog up top

    They were in the lower block before the debate. I have also featured Jim Neal in the top blocks for other things - events, etc. This wasn't planned, Robert.

    James is swamped with work and I've been doing my best to keep up. My husband has been out of town 24 days out of the last 30. I haven't been able to be here as much because I'm making up for the time he normally spends with the girls. I basically took a weekend off and didn't get something up in place of Kay's link. I'm sorry that offends your sense of fairness. Now that we've dealt with this straw man......



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Yes, for once I decided to work on something of my choosing

    James can also tend to the top boxes.

    Most days the time I have allotted to this site is taken up by the techie/help desk/planning stuff. This week, I worked on something that I felt was important. Glad you think you can judge my intent. Maybe I was selfish in doing something I wanted to do and I didn't shift the top boxes or put anything fresh in them, but it had nothing to do with leaving the Hagan piece up longer.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    I'm not judging your intent, just your actions.

    There are a lot of coincidences here, and they probably are just coincidences, that happens.

    1. Kay Hagan has a live-blog that you describe thusly "I am very impressed with Kay Hagan. Very."
    2. You make a comment about BlueNC being in blogger love with Jim Neal.
    3. Kay Hagan's picture and lead-in remain in the top box for longer than any other live-blog, including the Gubernatorial debate, even after an email asking why she has remained in the top box for so long.
    4. On the morning after James posts a poll about who folks are supporting in the Senate race you post your anti-Neal diary to the frontpage.
    5. On the morning of an endorsement by the widely-read Americablog, you post your anti-Neal diary so that the 70,000 readers who might follow the link: "And, BlueNC has a lot on the race." get to see our frontpage dominated by your analysis of why his campaign is full of lies.

    Is the idea that these are coincidences harder to believe than the idea that the campaign filled out a questionnaire incorrectly, that Hagan's campaign has been avoiding real debates and spinning it, and that Jim Neal doesn't want to out supporters who are being coerced by the mainstream establishment?

    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    Take off the tin foil hat

    1. A lot of people were impressed with Kay Hagan. I believe I was also impressed with Jim Neal after he live-blogged with us.
    2. BlueNC is in blogger love - we all were. Some are falling out of love. It happens.
    3. I never received an email from anybody about the Kay Hagan live-blog being in the top box. It wasn't intentional. I didn't have anything else to put up there and yes, I was working on something else.
    4. I told James I was posting this piece. He was aware of it. Why don't you ask him if he posted those polls for some nefarious reason. He was aware I'd been working on this piece and I had messaged him to let him know it was going up soon. He then posted the polls. Want to blame me for that again, Robert?
    5. I had no clue Americablog was going to endorse Neal. No clue. John doesn't send me his posting plans ahead of time. No big conspiracy here.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    And, should I walk backwards and bow as I leave the room?

    You posted a nasty piece that called the Neal campaign liars. I guess we're supposed to sit back and think you did it out of the goodness of your heart for the democratic process? If you are going to go throwing around those accusations, then people are going to question your intentions. Especially when there are so many coincidences.

    Of course, we can believe your version of the coincidences, but then folks might also believe the Neal campaigns version about fundraisers being suppressed but not being willing to stick out their necks. Or, the Neal campaign version that a questionnaire was filled out incorrectly, or the Neal campaign version of the roadblock they've run into trying to get Hagan to agree to a real debate.

    I guess there are two sides to every story and sometimes no one is lying, everybody's just spinning.

    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    You questioned and I answered

    you questioned and I answered again.

    I will continue to answer when you question my intentions.

    What accusations did I throw out that I didn't back up with facts, interviews and a well-reasoned argument? You call yourself an old-fashioned blogger and explain to me that this is someone who drops and bomb and doesn't have time for research. I take the time to research instead of just dropping a bomb and now I'm the bad guy?

    I posted a piece that pointed out the lies being told by the Neal campaign. Yes, it is nasty to have to write about lies like that, but it is also important to know the person you are voting for. You do recall that I've been a Neal supporter from the beginning and I'm deeply disappointed in his campaign.

    You don't have to believe my post, but I would like for you to at least have the guts to tell each of the ten sources that you think they are liars. There has been one debate, one is scheduled and one is in the works. The Neal campaign didn't say they were having a hard time, Robert. They said Hagan was ignoring invitations to debate. That is a flat out lie. I guess you think all those people who worked with both campaigns setting up debates - I guess you think all those people lied when they said Hagan did not ignore their invitations.

    You think it's OK for a volunteer to lie on an endorsement questionnaire - sorry but the bit about the AFL-CIO endorsement wasn't made up by a simple volunteer - but you think it's OK to entrust something like that to a volunteer with no supervision whatsoever? Really? I haven't seen the campaign explain how something as important as this was entrusted to a volunteer who didn't know what he or she was doing, but I think that's sad. This is going out with Jim Neal's name on it. These things are important. How sad and unprofessional and it certainly doesn't bode well in the general if he's the Dem nominee.

    Nah...I don't require any genuflecting or anything....but do me one itty bitty favor. If you will gently slide your hand up your backside you might be able to extract your head before too much damage is done.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    I think the response below is enough for me.

    When given an option of trusting the Neal campaign or the Hagan campaign, I'll come down on the Neal side every time. I don't trust people who write budgets in the dark and then come out to tell you how cutting funds for old, blind people is the only way to stop "white flight" from North Carolina.

    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    p.s.

    way to take my personal email out of context and misconstrue it. I'll make sure to ask you if we're on the record next time we chat, Mademoiselle Journaliste.
    \
    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    Yeah..I almost didn't

    but you questioned my intent over and over and over again. So I did.

    I see the operation wasn't a success.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Try as I might

    I can't find a single place where Betsy called anyone a liar.

    She states what was said, and what she found when she looked into the matter.

    The Neal campaign has now responded to the issues, and most of what we see is several honest errors, some difference of opinion and some misinterpretation.

    Nothing sinister jumps out.

    The fact that Andrew Kain took the time to come on and address the issues IN DETAIL and admit to errors is to Jim Neal's credit.

    Impugning Betsy's character for having questions and asking them is not accomplishing anything, and reflects badly ON US.

    Liberalism as a badge of honor!
    No apologies, no excuses.

    Liberalism as a badge of honor!
    No apologies, no excuses.

    Thanks Kosh

    You see.....We're not supposed to ask the tough questions. BlueNC really isn't any better or different than anywhere else. I've put up with insults all day from people I figured would at least look at what I'd written closely enough to see that it was methodical and well researched. They couldn't argue with what I'd written so they attacked me. Sad, really.

    I appreciate your support and I know just how much you do not support Kay Hagan and how much you do support Jim Neal. It means a lot to me that you've backed me up all day on this.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Thanks, both of you

    I have long lurked on progressive blogs, rarely posting. Much of what is said seems to be people shouting at each other from their own, separate mountaintops. It's a struggle to keep one's mind open - I find it difficult, myself, and still struggle to remind myself to back out of my corner to look at an issue from more than just my perspective. I get irritated at the tendency not to critically examine the people we're backing, what I think of the "team-ism" of political discourse. (Sorry for the jumbled metaphors.) Candidates/leaders aren't perfect; all have flaws and deserve to be questioned.

    Betsy, this (the original post) is an impressively well-written and well-documented post. You should feel proud of it, both for the detail that went into it and for the courage in writing it, knowing that some people would not read it with an open mind. Thank you for writing it.

    Kosh, I often don't like the tone of your writing and - in an instance of my own mind being closed - figured that you'd be one of the people attacking Betsy. I'm really impressed and oddly kind of heartened by the way in which you are following this with an open mind. I'm sorry that I was so closed-minded and assumed how you'd respond. Thanks for reminding me to keep my own mind open.

    Thank you thinc

    I appreciate your kind words. I received more email than usual in response to this piece and not one was negative. I was pleasantly surprised.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Here.

    After the long list of things:

    Almost every accusation or claim made by the Neal campaign is false or so distorted it doesn't resemble the truth. The following information from interviews I've conducted with principal participants tells a more accurate version of events.

    That might be a fancy way of saying liar, but it is still calling someone a liar.

    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    Isn't this horse dead yet?

    Can we quit with the 'judging' for a bit and rely on Betsy's statement of her intentions?

    Don't we know or trust one another well enough to take each other at his/her word? Whether we do or not, I think as a matter of practice we OUGHT to allow a person to say what she means and not respond by arguing that she doesn't mean what she says.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
    -Edmund Burke

    A suggestion then.

    the grunt work - like keeping boxes current is only going to get more stressful as the primary approaches and then the election kicks into high gear. I have a feeling there won't be as much of a lull until labor day.

    So why not train some of us other front page people to take care of the grunt work on the boxes? That way no one can call favoritism or anything James or Betsy, and it will ease the work load with more worker bees to do it. I run two websites and am familiar, not with drupal, but with content management systems at least as complex. Robert is smart, so is Greg. There's no reason that we can't spread some of the work out so you're not so stressed.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
    Pointing at Naked Emperors

    Because it isn't a matter of training

    Most of the time it is a matter of finding the proper content. If there's content - something other than rants - that can be featured we will fill all three blocks with it. Produce the content and the blocks are easy to fill.

    Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Response, Andrew Kain, Campaign Manager, Jim Neal For Senate

    I’m Andrew Kain, campaign manager for the Jim Neal for Senate campaign. Thank you for the opportunity to address the points raised by Betsy Muse and describe the events as they happened as I can recall them.

    Let’s take these points one at a time:

    1a. Kay Hagan did NOT ignore the debate invitation from the League of Women Voters and Public Radio East.

    1b. Kay Hagan did NOT fail to meet the deadline to participate in the League of Women Voters debate

    When the Jim Neal campaign sent out this release: http://jimnealforsenate.com/press-releases/wheres-kay-state-senator-blows-off-debates-voters/, I personally called both Megen George of Public Radio East and Judie Burke of the LWV to confirm Kay’s attendance at the debate. I received no response within 12 hours, so I decided to go ahead and make this information public, in the hopes that Senator Hagan would agree to debate. We also thoroughly checked Senator Hagan’s website, and there was no mention of the debate or any travel to Craven County, New Bern, or Craven Community College.

    When informed, after the release went out, that Senator Hagan did, in fact, agree to participate in the debate, we released this correction: http://jimnealforsenate.com/press-releases/hagen-reverses-course-again/.

    As far as failing to respond by the deadline, here is a quote from Mark Binker’s blog post, dated March 14th: Update: I'm told by the Hagan campaign that she has agreed to do the League of Women Voters forum, just confirming earlier this week.” http://blog.news-record.com/staff/decision08/us_senate/

    The deadline for the agreement was Thursday, March 6th. “Earlier this week”, as reported by Mark, as a statement from the Hagan campaign, would have been the week of March 10th-14th, clearly after the March 6th deadline.

    2. Kay Hagan has NOT refused to face Neal in "unscripted exchanges before the voters"

    It is the belief of the Jim Neal campaign, and others in the BlueNC forum, that candidate forums are not “unscripted exchanges before the voters.”

    Candidates rarely, if ever appear on stage together, and are not given an opportunity to address holes or errors in their opponents’ presentation. They do not have the opportunity to pose or to respond to questions from each other.

    One can argue that this understanding of the term “exchange” is a matter of opinion and interpretation. I hope I have clarified what the Neal campaign means by “unscripted exchanges.”

    3.

    a. Kay Hagan has NOT ignored the request from WTVD-TV to schedule a debate.

    b. Kay Hagan has NOT failed to respond to WTVD-TV's efforts to set up a debate.

    c. WTVD-TV and the Alliance of Black Elected Officials have offered to host a debate and have contacted both parties.

    From Betsy’s blog: (I apologize, I do not have the formatting skills of many of the bloggers): “I spoke with Mark Falgout from WTVD who said the Hagan campaign had not ignored the station's request to schedule a debate, but that they had first contacted the campaign in November and they are just now finalizing details.”

    Since early November the Jim Neal campaign has been in regular contact with Mark Falgout of WTVD about a debate, and immediately expressed our enthusiastic acceptance. In late November - early December the Neal campaign sent Mark several potential dates in March and/or April to conduct such a forum.

    Since that time, the Neal campaign and WTVD have discussed the status of the debate on at least 6 occasions. Each time the message was “Senator Hagan’s campaign is thinking about it.” Jim Neal’s campaign took 2 days to respond formally with dates and times to conduct such a debate. The salient point, as Betsy has noted, is that half a year has passed and Senator Hagan’s campaign has yet to find time to appear on WTVD.

    With fewer than thirty days remaining before the primary, a cynic might conclude that the lack of response sounds much more like trying to run out the clock. Regardless, this is a matter of opinion and perspective. When this release (http://jimnealforsenate.com/press-releases/statement-to-media-at-craven-community-college-new-bern-nc/), dated March 28th, was written and released, Senator Hagan had yet to agree to a debate, and to my understanding, has still yet to agree, not simply to terms, but in general. In fact, as of 2:16pm Monday April 7, Senator Hagan has not agreed to debate on WTVD.

    4. WLTT and Young Democrats of North Carolina either have not offered to host debates, or have not set dates and formally sent invitations.

    From Betsy’s post: “In speaking with Zack Hawkins, President of Young Democrats of North Carolina, he indicated that Young Dems did schedule a forum that Senator Hagan could not fit in her schedule and if she had attended she would have arrived very late. He also indicated that Young Dems wanted to schedule two debates, but those have not been solidified and invitations have not gone out.”

    Our press release (http://jimnealforsenate.com/press-releases/statement-to-media-at-craven-community-college-new-bern-nc/) stated that they have offered to debate, which as of March 28th, when discussed with Zach Hawkins on the phone, they had. The Neal campaign has expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of debating before the Young Democrats of North Carolina.

    Also from Betsy’s Post: “WLTT radio - The Big Talker F.M. - Out of Wilmington is home to conservative talk radio host, Curtis Wright. He interviewed Jim Neal on his radio talk show and his television show. At the time, the station was helping coordinate a gubernatorial debate but was having difficulty getting Richard Moore and Beverly Perdue to participate. Wright casually floated the idea to Neal that if Moore and Perdue wouldn't participate maybe Hagan and Neal could take their places.”

    We received an invitation on the air from Curtis Wright, and Jim agreed without hesitation. At no point since that conversation has anyone from WLTT contacted the campaign to retract the invitation. Further, the date of the debate, March 28th, when our campaign sent this release (http://jimnealforsenate.com/press-releases/statement-to-media-at-craven-community-college-new-bern-nc/) was the same day that the WLTT interview took place.

    5. Kay Hagan did NOT unilaterally change the format of the League of Women voters / Public Radio East debate

    This is the debate agreement that every candidate signed. In this agreement, it is stated clearly, in the very first paragraph, that the debate was to be 90 minutes. The moderators of the debate and the Hagan campaign agreed to change that format to 60 minutes. At no point in those discussions was the Neal campaign consulted about the change.

    Two days prior to the debate, in a conference call with myself and other members of the Neal campaign staff, Megen George of Public Radio East informed us that the debate was to be 60 minutes long. Asked how the change in format came about, she answered that it was one of several format changes requested by Senator Hagan’s campaign, and that Public Radio East and the League of Women Voters wanted to make sure Senator Hagan participated and therefore made the decision with the Hagan campaign to shorten the format to 60 minutes. We referred to that as unilateral decision, in that our campaign was not consulted, included or asked to participate in the decision-making process, but rather informed of the decision. Again, reasonable people may disagree on the choice of words to describe the decision making process, but the facts are clear – changes were made in the format without input from all candidates’ campaigns.

    6. The other candidates for U.S. Senate had the same opportunity to offer format suggestions in developing the League of Women Voters debate.

    The Terms for Participation agreement, linked above, includes no invitation or request for the participants to offer or suggest changes to the terms or format suggestions.

    In fact the only reference to changes in the forum appear in the final clause: “Matters concerning the conduct and broadcast of the forum which may arise prior to the commencement of the forum, but which have not been covered by the Terms of Participation, are subject to the agreement by the candidates and Public Radio East and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina…” (emphasis added) The length of the forum was covered in the first clause of the Terms of Participation.

    To be clear, the Neal campaign was never asked for, nor did we offer, any format suggestions, either before or after it became known that Senator Hagan’s campaign had requested changes.

    7. Kay Hagan did NOT come forward and agree to the debate simply because the Neal campaign claimed she wasn't planning to debate.

    The Neal campaign has never claimed to know the motives behind the timing of Hagan campaign’s decisions to appear or not appear in forums.

    8. Kay Hagan did NOT make another public reversal of position.

    At the time of this release: (http://jimnealforsenate.com/press-releases/hagen-reverses-course-again/), we were under the impression that she had publicly reversed her position on the debate.

    On Endorsements:

    I am the first to admit to having erred in compiling a list of endorsements, and I want to thank Ms. Muse and Blue NC for the opportunity to set the record straight on this point.

    We don’t list our endorsements on the website. There is a simple reason for that. The basis of our entire campaign is that each person has ONE VOTE. Therefore, Governor Mike Easley’s opinion should not matter any more or less that mine, or Ms. Muse’s, or Mr. Protzman’s.

    The Progressive Democrats of America questionnaire was the only questionnaire I recall asking for a list of endorsements, and it was in response to their request that the erroneous list was compiled.

    When I realized, thanks to the help of Pam Spaulding, and others, that we had mistakenly listed BlueNC, rather than Blue America, whose endorsement we did receive, we retracted it immediately.

    As far as Pam’s House Blend, let me apologize publicly to Pam and all of her readers that I misinterpreted her personal endorsement as an endorsement from Pam’s House Blend. Again, this was an error, and I apologize for the misunderstanding.

    Jim has known Senator Bob Kerrey for some time in Mr. Kerrey’s role as President of the New School. The Neal campaign has been asked to send a formal letter requesting Senator Kerrey’s endorsement, which we did. I assumed that meant that Senator Kerrey had agreed to endorse.

    The statement regarding the AFL-CIO endorsement was written by me. I confused theory and practice. In theory, and in the rule book if there is one, no one is excluded from obtaining an endorsement. Practically speaking, though, it is particularly difficult for a first time candidate from outside the political establishment challenging an incumbent with a lengthy voting record to secure an endorsement from organizations that make their endorsement decisions for the most part on a legislative record. Those who have such a record have an advantage. That said, the lesson is never say never.

    On “Arm-Twisting”

    Arm twisting is part of politics. That’s not a complaint nor an indictment. It’s a fact. No one in the Jim Neal campaign has ever accused Senator Hagan, the NCDP, the DSCC, the DNC, or the Senate Democratic Caucus of bribery or extortion.

    I spoke with at least one statewide elected official who wanted to endorse Jim, but was backed off, saying to me, on the phone, that he had important business in the budget, and he has a responsibility to his constituency to get the necessary funding to do his job.

    It is my responsibility, both ethically and politically, to respect that office holder’s wishes and not make his name public.

    These are the realities of politics. One of the very reasons that we are running this year, is because the system, whether in Raleigh or Washington is broken. We all know it, and most of us, whether in polls, blogs, or with our Democratic voice, choose to make it known.

    Conclusion:

    I would never claim that I am above mistakes. It is only fair to have them pointed out; accountability is the cornerstone of ethics – in politics and in life. I don’t feel it is fair, however, to impugn the integrity of Jim Neal.

    We as Democrats have a responsibility to thoroughly and openly vet our candidates. That is the reason we have primaries.

    I want to thank BlueNC for the opportunity it affords citizens to address issues and concerns such as Ms. Muse’s. Only 30 days left…you have a tremendous responsibility, not only in the Senate race, but from President to Governor to State Insurance Commissioner. I hope Jim Neal earns your support, yet whoever you choose, I deeply appreciate your thoughtful engagement in our democracy.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew Kain

    Campaign Manager

    Jim Neal for Senate

    Thank you, Andrew.

    I very much appreciate the detail, the thoughtfulness and the tone of your response.

    Thank you, Andrew

    The post and its comments are being forwarded to most of the people interviewed.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    I support Jim Neal and I support Betsy Muse

    While there is something to be said for tempering by fire in a primary I also want a primary candidate who can say "my opponent is good, but I am better for North Carolina, because I propose to..."

    I am sick of nasty primary games on all sides. If there is to be a tempering fire I say let it be us and not campaigns tearing at each other. Betsy's post was methodical. Andrew's response was methodical. There are still unanswered questions but at least the questions have been asked.

    Jim Neal has earned my support. He doesn't need to spend it attacking Kay Hagan (and vice versa for Hagan attacking Jim Neal). If Jim Neal is to win against Liddy Dole he needs the support of Hagan supporters. Alienating blocks of Democratic voters is not the way to win in November.

    Both would make fine candidates like Harvey Gantt and Erskine Bowles before them but in the end that's not enough. It wasn't enough for Gantt and Bowles. There has to be some fire in the belly that motivates a roar in the general election and that doesn't come from squeaking through the primary.

    I support Jim Neal and I support Betsy Muse

    Thank you, Greg



    Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



    ***************************
    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Another view

    In full disclosure, I've been working with the Jim Neal campaign essentially from the beginning. I have not been part of the day-to-day operations since early this year and have had little to do with most of the press releases you reference. However, I do have some first hand knowledge of some of your accusations. I am not speaking for the campaign. I’m just setting a few things straight.

    First, this is not a negative campaign. Perdue-Moore is a negative campaign. Neal’s objective is not to slander or deride Kay Hagen, but to pressure her to engage in debate. Neal believes his best chance to win is to let people see and contrast the two candidates in public televised debate. Hagen believes her best chance to win is dominate the airwaves with a million bucks while no one has the money to question her.

    Second, when Jim Neal first got into this race, prominent Democrats were impressed and excited. They thought they had a horse--a tall, attractive man who exuded self-confidence and charisma, had a firm grasp of the issues, could work a room and had connections to money. Over the next few months, that support disappeared when Jim said, on this blog, that he was gay. Sometimes, it’s easier to think people got scared or muscled away than to think that they are narrow-minded or bigoted.

    In addition, a prominent elected official who had pledged to support Jim at the end of February called back a week later to say he had to rescind his offer because he had business in front of Hagen’s Appropriation committee. Neal probably should have kept his mouth shut but that’s where quote came from, based more on frustration than reality. Early in the campaign we made a decision to leave Jim basically unscripted, particularly when talking to the press. We want a campaign that is different and more accessible than traditional poll-driven efforts. When you do that, you get the real Jim Neal, warts and all.

    Third, Kay Hagen has been elusive and, coincidentally or not, became more engaging after the Neal campaign made the accusations. I worked with WTVD to set up a debate. We agreed to three of the four dates in March that the station proposed but as of February, nobody from the Hagen campaign had called them back. March has come and gone. If there is a televised debate in the works right now, that’s news to me.

    Finally, the people you interviewed, for the most part, have a vested interest in staying on good terms with both campaigns. They are certainly not going to tell you the Hagen campaign has been uncooperative.

    Betsy, I think you got spun. If I had to guess, you decided to investigate these accusations after at least one and probably several conversations with someone from the Hagen campaign you clicked with. They gave you the information and the people to contact and said “Go see for yourself.” But in reality, they had you convinced before you made the first call. That's what they are paid to do.

    Actually, Mr. Mills, you are wrong

    I had already started looking at the press release flap through Binker's blog post and had mentioned here on BlueNC that I wasn't happy with the direction the campaign was going. I can't find the comment quickly, but it was a while ago and it was long before I'd emailed with Colleen about Kay's live-blog.

    The people I contacted were on a list I made myself after going through each press release and making a list of the organizations mentioned and simply looking them up on Google, calling the organization and asking who was in charge of debates. I did that with WTVD and WLTT. I already knew who Zach Hawkins was and found Judie Burke's name through League of Women Voters and Megen George's name through Public Radio East. I knew who Jerry Meek was and I called DSCC and told them why I was calling and they initially sent me to the Deputy communications director (a woman) and I left a message and it was Matt Miller who called me back. AFL-CIO - I called the number I found on contact information in their web site and first had Jeremy on the phone and he connected me with James Andrews. I'm 45. I've been around long enough to know when I've been spun or fed a line of BS.

    Nice of you to think you know what happened. I guess this was your time to look silly.



    ***************************
    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    I guess I should add.....

    I've worked with a good number of media/press/communications folks. I'm not exactly in the dark as to what they do. I don't mean to be sassy Mr. Mills, but it's just so much fun to have someone assume I'm a rube when gosh, golly, gee! I'm not!



    ***************************
    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Thats funny

    "You got spun" says the guy who cant even spell Hagan.

    She might be less elusive if your google searches brought up a senate candidate and not a town in Germany.

    "Keep the Faith"

    "Keep the Faith"

    also posted in the new thread

    I think Betsy was right to ask tough questions of a campaign. Calling out a campaign to make sure it is acting on the up and up when motives or actions appear to be questionable is something I would expect of citizen journalists.

    What's also impressive is that the Neal campaign actually responded to a blogger's detailed charges, and in a very public way, point by point. That shows a great deal of respect for Betsy Muse and by extension, the BlueNC community.

    I only wish that the Hagan campaign had that same level of respect for members of the BlueNC community.

    I submitted a set of very specific questions on LGBT issues for the Hagan liveblog and the response only raised more questions (this is discussed at length in Kosh's well-documented diary).

    The initial questions posted to the thread:

    Senator Dole has not supported any legislation before her that would extend civil rights to LGBT citizens. What are your positions on matters under consideration in the U.S. Senate that will profoundly affect gay and lesbian taxpaying citizens here in NC. Below is legislation already introduced or about to be introduced that you would cast a vote on during your term if elected.

    1. Federal hate crimes legislation. Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592 / S. 1105).

    2. Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). One version has already passed the House. It would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Gender identity is included in the other version of the bill.

    3. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal, which would allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. This has been introduced in the House and will likely be introduced in the Senate.

    4. The Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 2221, S. 1328), that would enable an American citizen to petition for immigration sponsorship for a same-sex partner, and the INS would treat the relationships between opposite and same-sex couples in the same manner under the immigration code.

    ***

    LGBT voters and allies in the NC (as well as thousands of my readers around the country) would also like to know your positions on these civil rights issues...

    * Regarding civil marriage. In her consistent position in favor of restricting rights of LGBT citizens, Senator Dole voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment in 1996.

    During a Feb. 25 forum at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, you conveyed to attendees that the definition of marriage should be left up to state law. - How is that reconciled with 1967's Loving v. Virginia, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated state bans on interracial marriages? Should that have been left a state matter? - Would you be in favor of overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act in full?

    * What legal rights should tax-paying gay and lesbian couples NOT have access to if you believe that extending civil marriage is inappropriate at this time. Do you believe that there should not be parity with opposite-sex married couples regarding: - inheritance rights - hospital visitation rights - equal pension and health care benefits - and the over 1,100 other legal protections government affords couples via civil, not religious, marriage?

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Sen. Hagan's liveblog response:

    Pam - I’m close to John Edwards on this - I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and that it’s fundamentally a state issue the federal government has no business getting involved in. But I take a back seat to no one when it comes to equal opportunity and fairness. I oppose ANY form of discrimination and I believe that partnerships should be protected when it comes to financial issues, hospital visits, employment, and housing issues.

    My follow up comment in the thread:

    I'll take it from your answer that you would, in fact, support passage of the bills I mentioned upthread, specifically federal hate crimes legislation, transgender-inclusive ENDA, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal and The Uniting American Families Act if you were the Senator from NC. I assume this is what I can report to my readers? Please confirm, since I want to be accurate. Many thanks.

    There was no response to the follow up. Knowing the breakneck speed of liveblogging can result in unclear or non-specific answers, I emailed the Q&A to Communications Director Colleen Flanagan and asked her:

    While I appreciate Sen. Hagan's response given the limited time allowed, her answer is incomplete in terms of any specificity, given the pending legislation referenced. The query could have been answered with a simple "Yes" or "No" on how she would vote after each bill. Given her response, it's unclear whether it is a declaration that she would vote for passage of the pro-LGBT bills in question.

    If she opposes any form of discrimination, that's in direct conflict with her initial statement that civil marriage (and I was asking about civil, not religious marriage) should not be available to lesbian and gay couples.  Does her answer mean that Sen. Hagan: a) supports separate but legally-equal-on-paper civil unions? b) states extending a patchwork of legal recognitions without any recognition of the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution?

    Thanks in advance for the clarification and an on-the-record response; I plan to share it with readers of my blog and BlueNC.

    No response.

    Since I received emails from Flanagan on other occasions, and said my email to her mistakenly went into a junk filter in the past, I made sure to send this particular message not only through another email account as well, but also to her BlueNC private message account. I left my cell phone number.

    No response.

    I later learned that not only had I not received any reply from the campaign to clarify Sen. Hagan's positions on LGBT legislation, other members of the BlueNC community who independently sought a follow up response didn't receive a reply.

    As I mentioned in another thread, this does not bode well for an improvement in constituent services if Sen. Hagan is elected our senator. The only conclusion I can draw is that her campaign is only willing to engage with a certain segment of citizen journalists, community members and MSM journalists Hagan is comfortable with.

    The questions I asked are ones I that would ask of any candidate who would represent me. They weren't "gotcha" questions, or vague general ones. Hagan is supposed to represent all of us as a U.S. Senator, and if she is not willing to respond to questions about pending legislation, then I'm left to believe that she has no intention of supporting those measures. I suppose Sen. Hagan could support all of the legislation, but her answer left it open to interpretation (though it would be simple enough to confirm with a reply that Kay Hagan would vote in these cases to affirm extending civil rights to LGBT citizens, not curtail them).

    North Carolina voters who are advocates of LGBT civil rights have a right to know a U.S. Senator candidate's position, and, as I showed yesterday in my interview, a lieutenant governors candidate's position on these matters. It speaks volumes about a candidate and their campaign when basic questions are go unanswered.

    Whatever problems people may have with the Neal campaign, or even Jim Neal himself, the fact is that this response by Andrew Kain shows tough questions are not ignored, and that he has respect for the person posing them. In fact, I can't think of a single time when I've posed a question to the Neal campaign that I was not given the courtesy of a reply.

    Does that alone make Jim Neal the better candidate? No - but it does indicate that if we ask tough questions, we'll actually know more about his positions to make an informed judgment on May 6, and he is more likely to be a more responsive elected official. He should return to BlueNC do a liveblog to answer any and all questions about his positions; he's already offered to do so.

    I'd prefer that the charges stop flying back and forth and we get down to learning more about the candidates' positions on the issues in the time we have left before the primary.

    --
    Pam Spaulding
    Durham, NC USA

    Pam's House Blend
    www.pamshouseblend.com

    --
    Pam Spaulding
    Durham, NC USA

    Pam's House Blend
    www.pamshouseblend.com

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